June 10th, 2014
Ever since Kim Kardashian posted photos of her light and dark-striped face on Instagram, contouring has been the ultimate buzzword, blowing the much used tips and tricks of the professionals into the stratosphere. Brands have rushed to release new waves of contouring products to satisfy demand, from high street to high end, and we at Warpaint have been earning our stripes and testing them out.
These three blush and highlight combos caused quite the stir when they were released in April, if only for the name. A blush that acts as a contour? Madness and yet somehow it works. The contour colour is soft and warming, one that could easily be a brown-based blush. Yet when used to contour it adds surprising depth to the face, creating gently pronounced, natural-looking angles that you didn’t even know were there. The included highlight shade is a dream as well, distinctly flesh-toned rather than anything too yellow or golden. It is not sparkly in the slightest but leaves a gentle eye-catching sheen just where the light would naturally catch.
The infamous Double Wear’s latest incarnation has been in the form of a raved-about BB cream and these highlighters, which haven’t received as much attention as we think they deserve. Available in eight shades, all the way from Extra Light to Deep, these can help to create a gorgeous candle-lit glow effect on the face, drawing attention to the high-points of the face. The formula is smooth and quite light, which makes it effortless to blend into the skin, with no edges left behind. They can even be combined together to create a glowing contoured effect that is great for summer. Pick a shade a few shades darker than the skin you’re working on, dot a couple of points under the cheekbone and blend up and around the temples and forehead, then highlight as normal with a paler shade.
This cream-to-powder formula comes in three shades rather than the usual contour/highlight twosome, allowing for a more natural contoured appearance. The brown contour shade has a slight grey undertone, which accurately imitates shadow on the face. Although quite intimidating when first layered onto the skin, it blends out nicely and a little goes a long way. This is certainly one of the more pigmented options, so start light and layer up gradually, blending as you go. The peachy tone is designed for the centre of the face – forehead, nose strip, cupids bow, and chin – while the soft yellow cream highlights under the eyes, also helping to banish any dark circles. The kit also comes with a flat foundation brush to apply, making this four-in-one kit very good value indeed.
Contouring can pose something of a problem for pale, cool-toned faces, as the traditional bronzers or contour products often pull too far into the warmer shades, leaving an orange cast to the skin. Hollow has been hailed as the hero of the pale-faced beauties, a cool pale taupe which can be used anywhere – eyes, lips, face or cheeks. It is slightly ashy, perfect for imitating natural shadow cast by non-existent cheekbones, and lasts for hours. Use sparingly and build up slowly for the best effect, to avoid the unfortunate tell-tale edges which cream products can leave.
This pressed powder duo comes in a good sized pan with a lovely skin-flattering brown which has been chosen for its aptness to suiting almost all skin types. From fair to more olive-toned, darker skin, the brown shade is subtle and uplifting, adding a bit of life and colour into the face as well as creating sharper contours. The highlight shade isn’t overly shimmer-y either, nor is it too yellow: a great no-nonsense piece of kit which has won a place in many MUA bags.
This product has a cult following, and it is little wonder why. This unique blend of brown, grey and red pigments creates one of the most natural shadow-effects of any of these products, drawing reticent cheekbones forward to give a chiselled and enhanced structure. That ‘je ne sais quoi’ effect of killer cheekbones can be found in this finely-milled powder. Don’t be put off by the darkness of the shade; use a light hand and slowly buff in to cheat your way to dreamy bone structure.
Practice is key to mastering contouring, and with many of the big hitters costing a pretty penny we were surprised how well the Sleek offering compared. With three colour offerings – Light, Medium (pictured) and Dark – it pairs a really lovely warm brown shade with a faintly shimmery highlight shade to prevent a greyish pallor to the skin. They also offer a great trio palette with the same shades as well as a blush or bronzer shade for £9.99. With this quality at this price, you can afford to practice buffing away for hours to create sleek, sharp cheekbones.
To get the most out of these products you need to ensure you’re using the right brushes to do them justice. For cream products the synthetic bristles of the Real Techniques brushes work a treat. Try the Contour Brush from the original Core Collection (£21.99 for four brushes), or the Duo Fibre Contour Brush from the new black-handled limited edition Duo Fibre Collection (£23.99 for three brushes, exclusive to Superdrug).
For angled contour brushes to fit under the cheekbone, we like the Crown Brush C405 Angle Contour Blush (£8.29), MAC 168 Large Angled Contour Brush (£27) and the Sigma F40 (£15.50). If you prefer a rounded head to get into the nooks of the face, the Zoeva Face Shape Brush 110 (£7.95) is the one to look out for.