Welcome to Beauty In A Tik, where each week we put TikTok's viral beauty hacks and innovative trends to the test.
Some beauty trends fizzle out before they have the opportunity to go viral. If you ask me, this includes the jellyfish haircut (basically two haircuts in one: a short bob with much longer layers underneath) and feather eyebrows. No judgement if you like either of them, of course, but it wouldn't be untrue to say that they didn't take off in the way that trendsetters expected.
One beauty movement that continues to evolve, however, is contouring. The makeup technique, which plays with light and dark shadows to add structure and dimension to the face, goes back centuries but it's likely you'll associate it with two things: drag makeup (where it's often playful and exaggerated) or the Kardashian-Jenners (that picture of Kim sporting a network of contour lines is cemented in the beauty archives).
If TikTok is anything to go by, contouring is going nowhere fast. From latte makeup to clean girl makeup, many adored beauty trends consist of a generous swipe of cream or powder bronzer to enhance bone structure and to lend the skin warmth. But a lot can go wrong. 'Why is my contour patchy/not blending/not showing' are just a few commonly googled questions. You'd be forgiven for stepping into natural light and noticing that your makeup looks more stripy than seamless.
That's exactly why makeup artist and TikToker Melissa Murdick found viral status recently. Their easy contouring tutorial has amassed 7.6 million views and climbing — and it's nothing like the tips and tricks you've likely seen on social media in the past. In the video, Melissa does away with the stripes or dots typical of most contouring tutorials. "This spot right here is such an underrated contour spot," says Melissa, referring to the hollow right in the centre of the cheek. "This is what I do on a lot of my clients because I hate that full stripe," adds Melissa. "It can look really unnatural."
Using a small concealer brush and Kiko Milano Sculpting Touch Creamy Stick Contour, £11.49 (which can double up as bronzer), Melissa stamps a minimal amount of product in the centre of their cheek and blends gently from there. They suggest going over the blended product with your foundation brush to make things a little more flawless. The result is sculpted, bronzed cheeks and no streaks in sight.
"This is the first makeup tip I've seen that makes sense in 7 years," wrote one of Melissa's followers. Another, who amassed 30.7k likes in agreement, said, "I think you just solved my lifelong struggle with contour." I'm not usually a fan of contouring (it's much too fiddly for me) but something about this method swayed me. Using a minimal amount of product, it appears to do the most: instant shape and structure and a subtle, bronzed glow.
To contour, you can use bronzer or a dedicated cream or powder contour product, the latter of which tends to be cooler in tone. I used Vieve Modern Radiance Cream Bronzer in Light, £28, and Hourglass Ambient Soft Glow Foundation Brush, £51, to punch a little product into the hollow of each cheek. If you need some extra help, simply suck in your cheeks. Like Melissa, I enlisted my foundation brush (Vieve Foundation Brush, £27) for blending as the product already on the bristles will help blend things out further.
The shadow that this product placement created was so natural and believable, it's no wonder Melissa's video has gained millions of eyes. Actually, I could probably have got away with using a lot less product. If you're a fan of the no-makeup makeup look, just doing this is probably enough but next time I'll add a dab of blush to the top of my cheeks for a little more colour. To tie my makeup together, I took what was left on the brush and blended it into my hairline and down my jawline.
Though it found fame on TikTok, this is a tried-and-true technique, says celebrity makeup artist Maria Asadi, who has spotted it backstage at fashion week over the years. Essentially, it emphasises your natural contours by working with the bone structure you already have. "Some people ask, 'Well, how do I find my natural facial contours?' I'd recommend stepping into a room with dim lighting, preferably a bathroom that has overhead lights," says Maria. "This will show you where you naturally have shadows." If you can't find your natural contour, apply the product in the centre of your cheek and blend up and out towards your temple.
This viral contouring technique is a little more subtle than what we've seen in the past. "Some people don't necessarily want a full-on, chiselled cheekbone," says Maria. "This is a much more natural method." When it comes to the product, Maria rates mostly high street brands. "They just nail the tones. In my kit I have No7 Perfectly Bronzed Dual Bronzer, £12.95. I love this because on one side it has a warm-toned bronzer and on the other side the shade is much cooler. When I combine the two with a contour brush, I get the most perfect shade." Contours look best when they are a balance of warm and cool shades, says Maria. "Cooler, ashier tones mimic the natural colour of your shadows but warmer hues balance them out so that the result isn't grey."
Lastly, if you'd rather stick to a cream bronzer, try Revolution Fast Base Contour Stick, £6.99, Rare Beauty Warm Wishes Effortless Bronzer, £25, or Fenty Beauty Match Stix Matte Skinstick, £23. Maria also uses No7 Stay Perfect Stick Foundation, £14.95, in two shades darker than the skin tone. "This is the best way to find a good contour colour that is natural," she says. It gives you structure but looks like it's coming from within, rather than a layer of makeup.
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