As someone with less-than-ideal features, I find contouring the magic solution to creating shadows and highlights where my face needs it the most. Contouring works beautifully in real life, and even better in photography.
The thing is, contouring isn't the easiest thing in the world. For instance, bad blending can make the contour look unnatural and obvious, and the wrong products can make your face look dirty, or end up bringing out features that you wanted to hide in the first place.
Now when you are looking for a shading product, you want a cooler brown tone, to mimic the grey that is naturally present in shadows. Reddish brown tones tend to look unnatural and a little bit dirty on the skin. Choose a contour colour about 2-3 shades darker than your skin, and only use a tiny amount at a time, and slowly build intensity.
When you are looking for a highlighting product, you want something with a more yellow tone, so that it looks more natural on the skin. Pinky tones can look slightly ashy on the skin. When picking a shade, find something about 2 shades lighter than your skin, so that the highlight is quite prominent. However if you are picking out something with shimmer in it, then stick to colours about 1 shade brighter than your natural skin colour.
After trying many, many, many different types of products (and methods, but that is another story for another post) I finally found some products that work beautifully, and I want to share them with you!
Let's start off with highlighters:
1. L'Oreal Paris Light-Reflecting Lumi Magique Concealer
I received #3 Dark, which isn't quite suited to my skin tone, but the light reflecting qualities of this concealer are beautiful. I've used this as a highlight on skin tones darker than mine, and they turn out beautiful, without making the skin look ashy or grey. In fact, it gives the skin a lovely glow when photographed. It also has the lightest texture of all these highlighters, which makes it easy to blend.
2. Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat
I use the colour #2, and this is great when you're looking for a subtle highlight that photographs beautifully. The Touche Éclat is a beautiful light-reflective concealer that blends into the skin very well to create a subtle highlight. The light-reflecting pigments in the concealer pick up beautifully in flash photography. Bear in mind that with light-reflective pigments, it is best not to layer too much on the skin, because it might cause a flashback in photos.
For more information about makeup products and how to avoid flashback in photography, see this post.
3. Collection 2000 Lasting Perfection Concealer
This is one of my favourite highlighters, because it is very obviously lighter than my skin, and is quite pigmented, so the highlight shows up well on the skin. It does not contain light-reflective pigments, and as such can be layered to create a more dramatically contoured look.
This concealer has a more salmon-pink tone to it, so if you have warm-toned skin, I suggest looking for a more yellow-based product to highlight.
One thing to note about this concealer is that it does oxidise slightly on the skin, so be sure to check it out in store first to make sure that you are picking out the right colour for your skin.
4. Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer
This is also one of my favourite highlighters, though I need to get it about a shade lighter so that the highlight is more prominent on my skin. This cream foundation/base product is highly versatile and can be used as a foundation, concealer, or highlighter, depending on the colour that you purchase.
It is quite a bit thicker than the other products I have mentioned above, but so long as you have prepped your skin well (moisturiser, primer if you need it, etc.), then it is very easy to blend into the skin.
Once blended, this product creates a beautiful highlight that stands out both in real life and in flash photography, but that also looks perfectly natural and gives the skin a nice healthy look.
1. YSL Touche Éclat #2; 2. Collection 2000 Lasting Perfection Concealer #1; 3. L'Oreal Paris Light-Reflecting Lumi Magique Concealer #3; 4. Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer in SX05
And now on to the shading products!
1. Illamasqua Powder Blush in Obey
This powder blush from Illamasqua is a light, slightly orange-toned powder, more suited to lighter skin tones. I personally do not use this on my cheeks, as I prefer a slightly darker, more cool-toned colour. It is, however, perfect for my crease, and I often use this to tie together a look, no matter what eyeshadow I am wearing. To do this, I simply sweep this slightly above my crease using a fluffy blending brush, blending away the edges of whatever eyeshadow I am using as I go.
2. Sleek Face Contour Kit in Medium
This is a contour colour that I absolutely adore. Though it comes off looking very orange in the pan, it is actually quite natural on the skin, and is easy to apply and blend onto the skin. It is my favourite powder contour, and you'll see me use it in a lot of my videos.
The only issue that I have with this kit is that whilst the shading colour is perfect for my skin (used with a light hand, of course), the highlight colour is a little dark, and doesn't highlight my skin at all.
3. Tom Ford Shade and Illuminate in Intensity One
When you talk about contour products, there is only one product to rule them all, and that product is the Tom Ford Shade and Illuminate palette. It is so easy to use, and looks so natural on the skin, it's like magic. Even the most novice of contour-ers (probably not a real word) can use this with ease - the colour comes out subtly, and yet gives you the most beautiful, natural-looking contour you could ever hope to create. Whilst not the cheapest product out there (let's face it, this costs an arm and then some), it is undeniably the best product I have ever used to contour my face.
Here are swatches of the abovementioned contour products:
I hope you guys enjoyed this post. If you have any questions, please email me or tweet me (or leave a comment on Instagram), and I will get back to you as soon as I can! I will also be writing a post on contouring methods, so if you want some practical tips on how to contour your face, look out for that post! :)