DISHING DIRT FROM MY SOAPBOX
Ladies, and some of you gents, I’d like to talk to you about the makeup phenomenon known as ‘contouring’. As you may know, it’s the skilled art of using various shades of powder to create a beautiful sculpted face. Cheekbones are defined, imperfections disguised, jawlines accentuated.
Let’s just stop right there. Now, I may not be best placed to advise on makeup. Anything more than a flick of mascara and a dab of lippy and I risk looking like a bloke in drag. (Statement necklaces – same effect). So although I’m not au fait with all the tricks of the trade and the finer art of makeup application, I do know the difference between ‘attractive’ and ‘dog’s dinner’.
For the benefit of anyone like me, whose makeup bag consists of 4 items, all from the 1980s, contouring goes something like this; You put highlighter on the bits you want to stick out and shade on the bits you want to …. well …. be in the shade.
Some joker decided the highlighter should be silver. Don’t use silver. You’ll look like the man from the moon. Only use silver if you know all the words to ‘I Lost My Heart To A Starship Trooper’. The darker shades are mostly the colour of shit, so be very careful how and where you use these. Once you’ve applied your highlights and shading, all the tutorials stress that the key to getting this look right is to ‘blend blend blend’. The best way to achieve this is with good quality brushes. I believe B&Q’s are very reasonably priced and they do a set that ranges from a 2½ inch down to a ½ inch (for those hard to reach places. Nostrils I guess). Then you apparently repeat the whole process for a further 17 layers.
My advice would be to try and smile a little as you apply your layers, as you risk concreting yourself into Resting Bitch Face, even less attractive than the pantomime you’ve just painted on.
A crucial point to remember with makeup contouring is that it’s an optical illusion. A trompe l’oeil of the face. And as such, like any optical illusion, it only works when viewed from a specific direction. Front on, you’re sculpted and chiseled, with all the lumps and bumps that Mother Nature gave you smoothed into a vision of Vogue-ready glossiness. From the side however, it’s just stripes of shit and silver. You can of course complete the look with classic (no, not class-y) Crayola Crayon Eyebrows. One (one) that the Neanderthals would be proud of.
In summary, contouring is not for the faint-hearted. Or the inexperienced. Or anyone with only a 40 watt light bulb.
My fear is the ‘contourers’ are not looking how they think they look. Daylight is your friend. Full face mirrors are your friend. Your friend is your friend. It’s not right that an aim to be beautiful is scaring small children.