Which Contouring Product Is Right For YOU?

PHOTOGRAPHED BY ERIN YAMAGATA.
Let's face it: Contouring can be daunting. All the tracing, blending, and color-matching can overwhelm even the most adept makeup maven. If the technique weren't scary enough, new chiseling products continue to hit the market, making the options limitless.

So, liquid, cream, or powder? That's exactly the question we asked professional makeup artist Elisa Flowers and YouTube guru Maryam Maquillage. Thankfully, they've demystified each type of contouring product and shared their tips on how to master the look, every time. Ready to showcase your expertise to the world? Check out their advice, ahead.
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Powder Contour
Skill Level: Makeup Novice
If you've never tried contouring before, Flowers and Maquillage both suggest reaching for a powder product over more difficult to control creams or liquids. "Powders don't have the same color payoff as liquid or cream [contouring products]," says Maquillage. "Even a beginner can use it — you can apply it over your foundation and it won't have a dramatic effect." Powder products are also great for those with oilier skin types, she says.

When it comes to choosing your shade, Flowers recommends going from colors that veer more toward the taupe, brown, or gray side rather than warm, orangey ones. "The shades that work best are the colors you would [naturally] see in the shadows on the face," she says.

Nyx Highlight & Contour Pro Palette, $24.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
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As always with contouring, you don't have to sculpt your entire face if you don't want to. But if you do, Flowers suggests using an angled blush brush like this one. "It fits perfectly under cheekbones to create sculpted looks," says the artist.

After dipping your brush in your contour powder and tapping off any excess product, start by brushing the powder over your temples, moving down to your cheekbones, and finishing along the jawline in a "3"-like motion. You can even pinch the brush hairs together and apply a bit of product down the sides of your nose to give the illusion of a higher bridge.

Sephora Collection Pro Angled Blush Brush #49, $32, available at Sephora.
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Liquid Contour
Skill Level: Makeup Experimenter
Although liquid products require slightly more blending than their powder counterparts, they provide the most natural effect. Plus, you don't need anything more than a deeper foundation and a blending brush.

According to Maquillage, the key is having one foundation that's one to two shades darker than your skin tone and another that matches you perfectly. Flowers likes this one from Bobbi Brown because it will create a sheer, contoured effect while maintaining some luminosity on the skin.

Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation, $50, available at Bobbi Brown.
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After buffing a foundation that matches your skin tone over your face, trace a line directly under your cheekbone starting at your ear and ending perpendicular to your iris using a foundation brush and your deeper foundation. You can also draw a line along your jawbone and the top of your forehead. Once you've got your lines down, use your foundation brush to blend the deeper hue into your skin, says Flowers.

Maquillage likes using a method she calls "uncontouring" (see it in action here). This involves buffing the deeper foundation all over the perimeter of your face, making sure to avoid the center (like your nose, chin, cheekbones, and middle of your forehead). Then she buffs her lighter foundation over the center of the face, slightly blending over the deeper foundation to eliminate any harsh lines. "Any skin type or skill level can benefit from this because it [doesn't] require you to draw lines," says Maquillage.

Dior Backstage Foundation Light Coverage Fluid Brush, $45, available at Nordstrom.
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Cream Contour
Skill Level: Makeup Master
Although cream contouring products are thicker and therefore the most challenging to blend, "if you get the technique right, it's the most professional-looking and can have the most dramatic result," says Maquillage. That's why Maquillage and Flowers pull out their cream products for events, eveningwear, or occasions where there will be flash photography.

Maquillage recommends reaching for a cream palette like this one from Motives, which allows you to mix and match colors to find the perfect shade. A stick product (like this one) is also a great option, says Flowers, as the pencil-like shape makes it easy to apply.

Cream products are great for those with normal or dry skin types. "If you have oily skin, I suggest you stay away," says Maquillage. "It blends in with the oils on your face." If you have very oily skin, stick to powder or liquid contouring products.

Motives Mavens Sculpt Series, $38.50, available at Motives Cosmetics.
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The technique for drawing on your contour lines is pretty similar to liquid contouring. Simply grab a brush (or use your fingers) and trace under your cheekbones, along your jaw, and over the top of your forehead. The tricky part: blending.

Although you can use your fingers or a foundation brush to blend cream contour into your skin, both Flowers and Maquillage suggest using a damp sponge and stippling or making bouncing motions as it will help blend the product more seamlessly.

"When I think I'm perfectly blended, I blend again," says Maquillage. She suggests sitting by a window for natural light, or investing in LED lights to make sure you can see the effects of your contour. "It's really all about practice," says Maquillage. "Sometimes I'll take a picture...the camera picks up things that you can't really see."

Once your face is perfectly blended, set your work with some translucent powder (Maquillage likes Dermablend's Loose Setting Powder). "You should never leave a cream or liquid contour unset," she says.

Beautyblender The Original Beautyblender, $20, available at Sephora.
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