I'm going to let you in on a little secret: Contouring still confuses the shit out of me. It has filled up my inbox and conversations for about a year now, but any information on how to do it, what it involves, and why I should care has kind of gone in one ear and out the other. (Yeah, yeah — worst beauty editor ever — blah, blah.) What I do know: It's a classic makeup technique that the Kardashians have recently popularized and everyone's going bananas over — and taking to extremes.
Let's start from the beginning. Contouring is, essentially, "working with the contrast of light and dark," said makeup artist Nick Barose, while painting the face of our beauty director Megan. It gives the illusion of sky-high cheekbones and a slimmed-down nose — without going under the knife. Contouring soon evolved into baking, which sets your makeup, erases pores, and highlights the high points of the face. This quickly spiraled into strobing, which is basically contouring with just a highlighter. That gave way to clown contouring, an idea conceived by makeup artist BellaDeLune, who wanted to stand up to makeup-shaming haters. (That last one is a more artistic, fun, and selfie-worthy take on the other techniques we've mentioned.)
Are you still with us? Good, because we're only halfway done. Let us introduce you to cleavage contouring (we kid you not). It's actually a pretty genius trick for ladies who don't feel like splurging on push-up bras or want to enhance their girls a tad. And then there's vontouring, which we have absolutely no words for, except all of the questions (Like What? Why? How? for starters). Unlike the others, that procedure requires surgery to remodel your nether regions — not simply picking up a makeup brush. But still, the spread of the contouring craze is evident.
The phenomenon shows no signs of slowing down. Just this week, there's been talk about tontouring. Developed by Marissa Carter, founder of the Cocoa Brown self-tanning line, it's a new way to define your face with self-tanner. While it might last longer than your everyday makeup, it's also a little riskier (read: ridiculous) and doesn't bode well for those with naturally darker complexions. The most recent trend — henna contouring — is bound to make you feel incompetent at makeup. Inspired by clown contouring, makeup and henna artist Sahur Saleim created a new approach to sculpting the face. The result: beautiful, ornate designs that 80% of us probably couldn't copy.
It's been a long time coming, but I think we've officially hit peak contour, ladies and gents. If only we could rewind to the pre-Keeping Up with the Kardashians days, and all of this would magically go away. We now have seven new renditions of the contouring craze — eight if you count hair contouring — and the number is sure to increase. What's next? Maybe some brotouring (that's brow contouring, not contouring your bros), bumtouring (we could seriously see this becoming a thing), or heck, even toetouring! The possibilities are endless. Chiseled body parts for all! Sigh.