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TikTok’s ‘Spot Contouring’ Hides Breakouts Better Than Concealer

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TikTok has really come through in the makeup department lately. Whether you're struggling to perfect smoky winged eyeliner or you need a little guidance to apply your blush so that it looks believable, the app's beauty content creators have you covered.
Of all the clever tricks that go viral daily, one has caught my attention lately: how to contour a pimple.
I know what you're thinking: contouring is all about accentuating your features, like cheekbones. Why would you want to contour a breakout? But in a recent video with 206.7k views and counting, beauty expert Huda Kattan, founder of makeup brand Huda Beauty, proved that the four-step technique is better than shovelling on the concealer for blanketing sore, red spots.
Using a small, angled brush, Huda circles her breakout with a powder that she would typically use to highlight her face. In the centre of the spot, she taps a little bronzer powder, a product she usually uses to add definition. On top goes a layer of foundation, blended in with a damp sponge, and a little face powder. The result is pretty impressive, to say the least: the breakout almost disappears.
Before I go any further, I want to say that skin texture is our friend. Pores are important for healthy, functioning skin, and unless you're a plastic mannequin, no one's face is seamlessly smooth. Thanks to beauty brands like Skin Proud and inspirational makeup artists like May on Instagram, lots of us are no longer afraid to show off our natural texture — breakouts, pigmentation and all. Sometimes, though, you might not be too confident with your bare skin on show. Add into the mix the scourge of unsolicited skincare advice and it's no wonder lots of us feel better with a touch of foundation. Anyway, makeup is a free choice — and it's fun! I'm not telling you that you should be covering up your breakouts. It's simply an option.
With that out of the way, I had to give this a go. With the help of online, UK-based dermatologist service Get Harley and a more consistent skincare routine, I'm on track to accepting my hormonal acne. But I do get the odd rager of a spot. This particular one made itself known on my right cheek. Usually, I'd let my skin 'breathe' while at home but I made a beeline for my makeup bag to see if this would actually work.
Taking a tiny brush like Huda, I used the highlighter and bronzer shade in my trusty Charlotte Tilbury Instant Look In A Palette (which I refuse to throw away even though it has been discontinued). It's very handy so if you're looking for something similar, I'd recommend Vieve Dimension Face Palette, $77.22, which features bronzer and highlighter shades as well as blush, or MAC Studio Fix Sculpt & Shape Contour Palette, $81, available in different shades to suit various skin tones.
@jacquelinekilikita ‘Spot contouring’ is the best way to conceal a breakout. IB: @hudabeauty #beautyinatik #beautyhacks #breakouts #makeuphacks #acne ♬ Dreamy Vibes - Ocean Bay Jazz
I panicked halfway through as the bronzer shade seemed to accentuate the colour of the spot, rather than hide it. But I had to trust the process. Huda uses a foundation stick, which is probably a lot better for concealing as it's thicker in texture than a liquid foundation, but I only had the latter to hand. The trick is to use a damp sponge (we rate the MECCA MAX Beauty Bullet Flawless Sphere, $9) to gently pat the foundation over the spot. Once that had been absorbed, I daubed on a layer of translucent powder.
Breakout contouring taught me something new: that I'd been using my concealer all wrong. It's the first thing I reach for when I want to minimise the appearance of a raging hormonal spot but contrary to the name, it isn't really fit for tucking them away. Concealer is mainly used to blanket dark circles and discolouration, which is why all the makeup artists I've spoken to have encouraged me to buy the product in one or two shades lighter than my actual skin tone or foundation. Concealer basically brightens dark areas so when applied to my spots, it has always highlighted them. No wonder they then look more obvious.
I think the touch of highlighter combined with the bronzer helped to create the illusion of flatness, rather than a mound. But lighting and angles are key. Head on, the spot was virtually undetectable. Though it was swollen and painful, I kept doing double takes every time I looked in the mirror because it was so well camouflaged. Underneath my blusher, it was almost gone. This is the smartest hack for pictures, whether you're headed to an occasion or simply taking selfies. But it won't erase a spot in person. Though flesh-coloured rather than angry and red, I could still see a slight bump when I turned to the side. And that's a given. Makeup is incredible but it's not magic.
Later that day, the spot (which I had obviously picked and prodded that morning) started to head into flaky territory as usual. As the powder settled into my skin, it accentuated the peeling skin, so I would use much less next time. Overall, though, this is the way to minimise the appearance of a spot — not dumping on concealer. Huda knows best.
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