'How to contour' is up there with the most googled beauty questions, including 'how to apply foundation over acne' and 'how to get fuller lips without fillers'. We've all seen the tutorials on YouTube but the results, whether pros use cream or powder products, tend to be pretty dramatic, and sometimes, not very wearable (we're talking stripes, splotches and muddy finishes). According to makeup artists, though, a different, more foolproof way to achieve razor-sharp features is gaining popularity in the industry: sculpting under your makeup as opposed to on top of a foundation base – and it might just revolutionise your makeup game.
"Contouring first, under your makeup, will result in much more of a subtle, natural finish," explains Jessica Blackler, makeup artist and founder of unisex cosmetics beauty brand, Jecca Blac. "It will help achieve a better blend without a single stripe in sight." The trick is to start on clean, moisturised skin without a scrap of foundation or concealer, and cream formulations work best. Try the Sculpt & Soften Palette, £30.
While you can absolutely use a flat or fluffy brush to essentially 'paint' the product on, Jessica prefers patting on cream bronzer (which should be up to two shades darker than your skin tone) with her fingers. "This warms up the makeup so that it melts and blends more seamlessly into your skin. Creams are great to use on other parts of your face, too, such as eyelids and under-eyes, where the lighter shade can be used as a concealer or brightener. They are also super buildable and easy to layer up so that you can achieve a classic daytime look or a more full-on dramatic effect simply by using more product."
According to makeup artist Ariane Poole, contouring pre-foundation isn't a brand new technique. In fact, it's been around since the '80s. But in our quest for understated makeup, it's making a comeback. "When it comes to this technique, you have to contour with quite strong colours because they then sit under makeup," says Ariane, "but the finished result looks a hell of a lot more natural."
Once you've drawn, patted or painted on your contour, apply your base on top. But you don't have to go all out with foundation. "While this contouring method is great for foundation wearers, you don't have to use anything heavy," explains Ariane. "You can even apply a BB or a CC cream over the top." Jessica seconds this: "I’d actually recommend using a lighter foundation instead of a heavier, full coverage product because you may hide the contour completely if the base is too thick."
To blend everything in, Ariane and Jessica advise stippling or pressing the contour and foundation into the skin. "You don't want to smudge the cream contour underneath," says Jessica, so enlist a relatively soft sponge, like a BeautyBlender. "This bit is optional," adds Jessica, "but to finish, you can apply powder on top of the foundation afterwards to set the cream base."