Contouring Made Easy: Try This Low-Key Look That Anyone Can Do

How to contour for a soft everyday look

By Erika Stalder Apr 04, 2015 12:05 AMTags
Watch: How to Contour Like Kim Kardashian West

Think contouring is complicated? Despite what we see from lengthy Kim Kardashian-inspired tutorials, it doesn't have to be.

E! Style Collective member and YouTuber Carly Cristman does it without the help of makeup artists, airbrush tools or even multiple brushes. The result doesn't deliver the type of severe, carved up complexion that comes to mind when we think contouring. But that's precisely the point.

"This isn't a serious contour," she explained. "It's just a little bit of shadow that will slim and lift the look your face."

Using just a couple of products that you likely already have in your makeup bag and just one brush, this version of shade and highlighting takes the look (and skill set required to achieve it) down several notches to a simple method that's suitable for everyday wear, not just #makeitvain #indaclub nights.

"You're using a little bit of bronzing powder on your face like you normally would," Cristman assured us, "just in different areas."

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Find natural light: To start, Cristman suggested finding a place to do makeup that offers natural light—this will give you the most realistic results, rather than a supernaturally chiseled face.

Start with cheeks: After applying her base makeup look (foundation, concealer, powder), Cristman made a fish face and swept powder bronzer atop the sunken-in areas of the cheeks (below the cheekbones), starting from the hairline at the temples, moving down.

"You want most of the product to land near the temples so you don't end up with a big bronzer spot in the center of your face," she advised.

Shadow the forehead: Next, she dusted bronzer across where the forehead protrudes and the sun would naturally hit. Just like with foundation, the key to natural-looking contouring is to blend, blend, blend. Cristman connected the bronzer on her forehead to what she had applied on the temples, buffing away any lines.

Bronze the jaw and neck: When the sun hits our skin, it doesn't bypass the neck and jawline—and neither should we when creating a second-nature contour. Cristman ran her loose powder brush along the jawline and the neck to give fluidity to the look.

Narrow the nose: Professional makeup artists will often choose an eyeshadow brush to contour the nose. But for simplicity's sake and a softer effect, Cristman used the same loose powder brush as with the other steps to add bronzer to the sides of the nose, making it appear more narrow.

Highlight: To further narrow the nose and make cheekbones pop, Cristman applied a cream highlighter to the bridge of the nose and cheekbones, tapping the product with her fingers to fade harsh lines. Either powder or cream highlighters can work. "There's no need to buy something new—just use the products you already have," she noted. 

Contouring never looked—or felt—so effortless.