Why The Face Contour "Trend" Needs To Die

OK so maybe I am being a little dramatic with the title, but after reading this blog, tell me what you think about contouring.  I am seriously interested in hearing what your thoughts are whether you are a professional makeup artist or just a woman trying to stay in trend. 

Ladies (and Gentlemen), if you have been on the internet or part of any social media in the last decade, you know about the contouring trend that seems to never die.  Honestly, it seems over the years we have just added more and more products to make the makeup style even more complicated and overdone.  As you can tell I am sure, I am not a fan of the over the top techniques and “tutorials” people are posting on social media.  There is an art form to contouring and should be left to the professionals, and simplified for the everyday woman. We are overwhelming our clients ladies and gentlemen, and it's time to break it down.  

I saw about a year or so ago, some other frustrated artists tried to change the trend by creating a new one.  This trend was called “Strobing” and it gave me hope!  As different opportunities to learn and see demonstrations of this trend, I heard more and more pro’s tell people to remember that “strobing is not contouring, once you add the darker contour part, you're no longer strobing”. Somehow this still didn't register in peoples minds.

If Mona Lisa had today's  Makeup Artist...


Now, when I am talking about contouring do’s and dont’s remember, this is just my opinion. This is not the end all be all.  With my experience these are just things I would advise my clients and other beginner makeup junkies to be aware of.  Make sure to read the definitions I provide and the differences between them before thinking that I hate and despise ALL contouring. That is NOT the case.  I contour everyday, but there are ways to do it and not be overdone!

First of all there are many different types of contouring, heres a few as key when reading this blog:

Natural Contouring - a light subtle form of shaping the face with different products both wet, dry, or both. 


Dramatic Contouring - A form used in performances or photography to amplify and exaggerate ones facial (and also body) shape. 


Strobing - Adding light to the face to illuminate ones features without showing the hollow parts of the face. This look is purely about light. 


Highlight and Contour - Something that should be used only for dramatic effect and/or used by strippers. (sorry not sorry) Typically demonstrated by the "Instagram Makeup Artist" (Another blog about the Instagram makeup artist is coming soon...)

Aright, so that stripper comment probably pissed a lot of you off, but lets be real? When was the last time you saw someone with a heavy highlight and contour and thought “wow that’s really classy” or “she pulled that off well” because I can barely count that many times thats happened on one hand.  Typically when I see this it’s done to extremes. Don't get me wrong….there are some lovely Instagram photos I have seen with heavy editing and filters applied that make the dramatic contouring look fantastic…in photos.  Wait till you see these girls in real life.  Let’s just say the term “baking” is not far off from reality because the product is CAKED ON THEIR FACES. 

I think a light natural contour for the average woman on a daily basis is a gorgeous thing to learn and practice.  Remember that adding contour to your routine is not simple, natural or dramatic, and you're going to add more time and products to your day.  When I apply a natural contour on myself or someone else, I typically use a powder product to do so. Of course I have cream based products to contour, but its usually not necessary.  

80's contour should stay in the 80's ladies, unless we are dressing up for themed party!

80's contour should stay in the 80's ladies, unless we are dressing up for themed party!

If you are a performer on stage? By ALL MEANS using a heavy foundation or concealer as a base to contour your face is a fantastic idea. It adds to the illusion of the character you are trying to portray. The trend set by “She who shall not be named and rhymes with Slardashian” is a fantastic way to really show how good you are at completely changing your look to transform yourself into another person. This is what I am referring to when I say “Dramatic Contour” and should only be used and created by trained professionals.  Ladies, please refrain from contouring your face this way to shop at Target.  There is no way anyone will appreciate all that work under fluorescent lights! 

Speaking of lights, let’s talk about strobing for a second. I actually love this trend for editorial and runway looks. This is gorgeous and really highlights perfected skin.  On someone with not so perfect, or perfected with proper products skin? NO NO NO. Not everyone can pull this off! It’s ok to say “nope this is not for me” and move on. The products I suggest for people trying to pull off a strobing look would be MAC Cream Colour Base, NARS “The Multiple Stick”, or any Hourglass Highlighting powder. Remember to add light to the face where if a natural light was hitting your face, thats where you would add product.  You're amplifying the light that is already there, not creating light where there is none. 

Highlight and Contour…the old dreaded trend that WILL NOT DIE. Alright, look I am totally guilty of adapting parts of this trend into my routine. I am also a professional and I know how much is too much and for what occasion. I am not wearing three different foundation shades, a sculpting powder, and a highlighting pen set with banana powder and then topped off with an illuminating powder.  This is the kind of drama in dramatic that no one wants to see. You look ridiculous. This is TOO MUCH for everyday. No one should be spending this much time and this much product changing their face.  While I respect the art form, have more respect for the ART form!  You are butchering and altering someones face to the point that they are unrecognizable.  Sure, as a professional I know how to do this. If you ask for it, I will list out and try to convince you all of the many reasons why I do not recommend this. The only time I condone this is if you are going as a stripper for Halloween or performing in Cirque du Solei. Then I got you covered!

Last but not least, here are my product recommendations for Highlighting/Strobing and Contouring:

Highlighting and Strobing Products:

  • MAC - “Emphasize” powder (MAC Pro, subtle pearlized finish without shimmer) 

*Natural Contour

  • MAC - “Accentuate” powder (MAC Pro, natural pinky glow)

*Natural Contour

  • NARS - “Copacabana” “The Multiple Stick” (Shimmery glow, cream-based)


  • YSL - “Touche Éclat” Radiant Touch (Color veil, no shimmer, brightening)

*Natural Contour/Dramatic Contour

  • Trish McEvoy - “Shell” Eye Brightener Pencil (light pink cream colored, no shimmer)

*Natural Contour/Dramatic Contour


Contour Products:

  • MAC - “Sculpt” powder (MAC Pro, warm toned brown, matte, buildable)

*Natural Contour/Dramatic Contour

  • MAC - “Shadester” powder (MAC Pro, richer warm toned brown, matte, buildable)

*Natural Contour/Dramatic Contour

  • MAC - “Correct and Conceal” Palette (May need more that one, includes color correctors)

*Dramatic Contour/Highlight and Contour

  • NARS - “Concealer Stick” (Crease proof, blendable)

*Dramatic Contour/Highlight and Contour

  • Anastasia Beverly Hills - “Contour Cream Kit” (3 shades of highlight and 3 contour)

*Dramatic Contour/ Highlight and Contour