THIS Is How You Do Contouring

Photographed by Alexandra R. Gavillet.
By now, we've all seen them: the terrifying tutorials that make the people applying their makeup look like something out of a horror film. Blame Kim Kardashian, blame YouTube beauty gurus, blame whoever you want: Contouring is having a serious moment. And, women in search of their cheekbones are watching in terror as they're being told that they need to paint multiple lines on their faces in order to find them.
Because of this, there are scores of people who are either scared of contouring or have absolutely no idea how to do it properly. "The tutorials that exist out there are very extreme examples of contouring," said makeup artist Rachel Wood. "Most women who are going out day-to-day don't need all of that. It's way over-the-top." She summed it up: "When contouring is done right, it's like Spanx for your face. When it's done badly, though? It's granny panties."
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To see it for ourselves, we asked three staffers to show us their best contouring skills. Then, we asked Wood to go back and correct whatever was wrong with their attempts. It turns out she was right: Most of us are totally in the dark when it comes to this feature-defining skill. Click to see the light.
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Photographed by Alexandra R. Gavillet.
Everdeen Mason, SEO editor
Our first volunteer was Everdeen, whose very first contouring attempt is pictured here. "It's a nice first try. She has a good glow," said Wood. "But, it's a little haphazard and uneven on the sides. The products she used make her skin look dry."
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Photographed by Alexandra R. Gavillet.
First, Wood focused on concealing and contouring under Everdeen's eyes. "Create a 'V' shape, like a peace sign, with your fingers and place it under your eyes," she said. "Wherever your fingers land, that's where your concealer should go." Why not the typical circle? Wood explained that this can make you look like a reverse panda. Plus, the triangle helps bring attention to the tops of your cheekbones.

"Use something that's a shade or two lighter than your foundation," Wood advised. "It should be a little brighter and more peachy."
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Photographed by Alexandra R. Gavillet.
For the shadow, Wood reached for another cream concealer — but this time, one that was two shades darker. "You want to draw an isosceles triangle from the midpoint of your ear to about the center of your iris," she said. Use a mirror to find the eye's center. "Make sure the end of the triangle points to the corners of your lips."
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Photographed by Alexandra R. Gavillet.
"Use a rosy blush with a shimmer highlight to make the apples of your cheeks pop," said Wood. But, don't overload your face with this pink shade. "Put the majority of the color on the apples of your cheeks, and then flick whatever is left on the brush up toward the ear." The apples of your cheeks are the parts that are fullest when you smile.
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Photographed by Alexandra R. Gavillet.
Wood also gave Everdeen's lips a contour, using the same shades she used for her highlight and shading. "Use the darker shade under the lips, and then create a 'V' with your concealer on your cupid's bow," Wood said. This gives the appearance of fuller lips.
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Photographed by Alexandra R. Gavillet.
Everdeen's "after" looks glowing and gorgeous. But, was she a fan? "I definitely still look like myself," she said. "Someone in CVS actually stopped me and said I looked good, so I guess it worked!"
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Photographed by Alexandra R. Gavillet.
Sarah Azpeitia, UX & product design
Sarah had fancied herself a contouring pro, but Wood said her look was a little light-handed. "I don't see the contour," she said. "Her foundation is super shiny, so it's overtaking the look of her cheeks. She needs to draw more attention to the contoured cheeks and tone down the makeup in the middle of her face."

Wood added that Sarah was already good at evening out her skin tone, which would make fixing her makeup easy. In order to do that, Wood focused on toning down the makeup in her T-zone and punching up the cheeks. "We'll stick to a matte finish," she said.
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Photographed by Alexandra R. Gavillet.
Instead of taking off all her makeup, Wood powdered the areas of Sarah's face that were overly dewy.
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Photographed by Alexandra R. Gavillet.
Next, Wood moved on to the contour. "Instead of the triangle, like we did on Everdeen, I'm pushing the pigment directly under Sarah's cheekbones," she said. "It goes under the bone, and then blends into her hairline." Wood suggested using an angled contouring brush to get the exact shape. "Hold it so the fuller part of the brush is toward the top of your cheekbone," she advised.
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Photographed by Alexandra R. Gavillet.
For a highlighter, Wood once again turned to concealer. This time, she applied it using a different technique, dotting it along the jawbone and under the eyes. "Make sure you're dotting along the top of the cheekbone and then from your earlobe sloping down," she said. Blend with your fingers or with a brush in an upward, swooping motion.
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Photographed by Alexandra R. Gavillet.
To accent the jaw even more, Wood swept on the same bronzing powder she used for the contour along the jawline — starting at the earlobes.
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Photographed by Alexandra R. Gavillet.
Wood decided to give Sarah a little nose contour, too. Using different shades of Lorac concealer pens, she drew a light line down the bridge of her nose and two darker ones on either side of it. "Use a shade darker [than your foundation] for the two lines, but one shade lighter down the center," Wood said. Then, blend them downward for a seamless finish.
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Photographed by Alexandra R. Gavillet.
Sarah was extremely happy with the final result. "I look chiseled, in a good way," she said. Her contour was now more apparent, and her highlight looked a touch more toned-down.
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Photographed by Alexandra R. Gavillet.
Samantha Baker, assistant to the chief revenue officer
Samantha's contouring know-how was intermediate, and Wood said it showed in the way she had applied her makeup. "It almost looks like she drew on a dash under her cheekbones," she said. "She used a great color for herself, but it's a little misplaced, a little stripy, and a little too horizontal."
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Photographed by Alexandra R. Gavillet.
Since Samantha has a higher hairline than the rest of the girls, Wood wanted to position the contour around the side of her head. "Create an 'L' shape with your fingers, and then place your thumb directly under your cheekbone," she said. "This is where you're going to want to concentrate your color."
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Photographed by Alexandra R. Gavillet.
Wood swept a bronze shade along the shorter part of the 'L,' and then flicked the pigment up along the side of Samantha's face. This concentrated the color under the cheekbone instead of on the forehead, which made for a more natural look.
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Photographed by Alexandra R. Gavillet.
On Samantha, Wood used a shimmering highlighter. "It adds a nice texture to the rest of the makeup," she said. It's important to make sure you're placing this shade properly, said Wood: Keep the pigment far enough away from your eye to avoid looking sickly. "Paint on another 'L' shape," she said.
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Photographed by Alexandra R. Gavillet.
Since Samantha has big, beautiful eyes, Wood wanted to contour them so they'd pop even more. She started by brushing on a neutral, flesh-toned base, using Buff from Lorac's Pro Palette 2.
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Photographed by Alexandra R. Gavillet.
Using a pointed brush, Wood applied a brown shadow along the browbone. "Lift the brow a bit with your finger, and then sweep the shadow on in the space it creates," she said.
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Photographed by Alexandra R. Gavillet.
Wood then used the same illuminizer to draw attention to the center of the eye. With a concealer brush, she dabbed the pigment into the middle of the lid. "You should also use it right under the brow to draw light there," she said. "It will look like an instant eye lift."
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Photographed by Alexandra R. Gavillet.
We were floored by how much more open Samantha's eyes looked. The contouring also drew attention to her cheekbones, which helped her entire face appear more glow-y.
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