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Monday, 23 February 2015

Contouring Products 101

Contouring seems to be all the rage at the moment so I thought I'd share the products I have tried and tell you a bit about what I think of each...
I recently purchased the newly released Clinique chubby stick sculpting contour (£19 hereI feel like this is designed for the everyday person who maybe isn't a makeup expert but wants to have a go at contouring like the professionals. I find that using a cream contour product gives a more defined look than a powder. Sometimes I like to use this and top it with a powder product if I want my face to be really scuplted, but I reserve that for evening wear.

The reddish brown shade does look a bit scary and very warm at first. It's definitely not something that those who prefer a more grey based contour would like, but it definitely doesn't appear quite as red toned once it's blended in. Personally I quite like a slightly warm contour but hopefully Clinique will bring out more shades if this becomes a popular product.

As far as application goes, the the chubby stick design means that you can literally just draw it onto your face where you want it. Being a cream product, it's easy to blend it out using either a brush or fingers. I like using the Real Techniques buffing brush and I find it easiest to start with a little bit and build it up with another layer if I want a bit more colour. You could also, of course, use a stick concealer a few shades darker than your skin in a similar way, but I was curious to try a cream product designed for contouring.
swatches left to right: S&G, L'oreal, Benefit
The Soap and Glory solar powder (£11 here) is a matte bronzer (for contouring beginners, remember that if you use a bronzer, it needs to be matte) with 2 shades, a lighter and a darker .I generally just swirl my brush across the 2 and apply but you could apply the lighter as a general bronzing shade then use the darker as a slightly more intense contouring shade if you wanted to. Some people don't like using a bronzer as a contour but I like to use this as a sort of quick contour-ish product. I sweep it under my cheekbones and blend it upwards so it warms up my cheeks too, using the Real Techniques blush brush. I really enjoy this product and the one pictured is actually a back up because I literally have a tiny bit left around the edge of the pan in my current one. I like to use L'oreal Glam Bronze (£7.59 here) in the shade golden bronze and Benefit Hoola (£23.50 here) in a similar way, although both of those are a bit darker and more pigmented so it depends on the look I'm going for.
swatches left to right: Sleek contour, Sleek highlight, Seventeen contour, Sleek highlight
Then I have a couple of different contouring kits that contain both a contour and a highlight.The Sleek contour kit (£6.49 herecontains another warm contour, more of a matte bronzer really in my opinion. I have the shade 'light' in this (there are 3 shades) but even the lightest shade still packs a punch so I use it with caution. The highlighter is lovely but very strong so is something I would only really use for evening wear.

The Boots Seventeen Define and Conquer (£5.99 herealso contains both a contour and a highlight. The major difference between this and the Sleek one is that the highlight shade is almost matte, which I appreciate as it's also good for setting undereye concealer and keeping the area bright. I did a review of this one back in October (here). My first impressions were very good and I still like it, but I have come to the conclusion that this is more a Summer product for me because the contour shade really is quite warm (warmer than the Sleek version). I can then use it as a quick contour/ bronze shade, blending it up onto my cheeks too, like the bronzers I mentioned above.
NYX blush in taupe (£6 here) is different from the other products I use for contouring in that it is much cooler in tone. This is good in that it looks very shadow-like, but I feel like if I wear this on its own with a blush, it can actually be a bit too cool toned on me. My favourite way to use it is to bronze up my face using the Soap and Glory solar powder first, then use the Real Techniques contour brush to put a little of this right underneath my cheekbones in a more concentrated area. It just steps up my everyday quick contour a notch. I do this when I want my face to look particularly sculpted, usually for evenings out, special occasions or when I'm going somewhere I know photos are going to be taken.
TheBalm's Bahama Mama (£15 here) is technically a bronzer but I find that it's a really quite cool toned one with not a lot of red or orange in it at all. The shade is somewhere between the Soap and Glory etc bronzers and NYX taupe, making it a good in-between. This one has such a smooth creamy texture that's pretty amazing quality.

Do you have any favourite contouring products that you think I should try?

Em x