Six Second Hacks: How To Contour Like A Pro (AKA Better Than Kim Kardashian)

Everyone bloody loves contouring these days - but do you have to spend lots of money on a fancy kit? And will you look like you've got mud on your face?

Six Second Hacks: The Best Contouring Kits That'll Work Even When You're Not A Contouring Pro

by Stevie Martin |
Published on

Contouring is a big deal, and it's terrifying. As in, what looks good in photos/on YouTube tutorials actually looks crackers in real life, and it just takes one stroke too many to go from 'Your cheekbones look so sharp' to 'Have you been mud-eating with your face?' And nobody wants to look like they've been eating mud with their face, unless it's part of your job title.

I remember the exact day I started contouring, because it was October 31st and I went to a party dressed as Maleficent. After buying latex that didn't work, I decided to contour my cheeks to create killer bones and everyone was like 'Oh my god Stevie you should do that on a daily basis but not green' so I did. But I do it subtly. And I don't go all over, it's just about putting a stripe of darker colour in the hollows of your cheeks, something light a little bit above that, highlighter over the top and blending like the world is ending in two hours unless the population deems that you've blended an adequate amount of bronzer onto your face.

But do you have to spend shitloads on contouring kits to get Maleficent-worthy cheeks? No. I tested out four kits of very varying prices, and the results both surprised me and made me feel smug because I bloody love a bargain. For all the brush fans out there, I'm using a Smashbox one that's angled for contour purposes because I am a boss. Other brushes are available, and just use whatever you feel comfortable with unless it's a brush for your hair or a mop. These won't work as well.


Price: £35

Ease: Very easy to blend. Comes with both handy guide AND a mirror, but doesn't tell you what order to use the colours in so I just went for darkest, middling, then light. Which apparently is the exact wrong order. Light to dark, dudes. Go light to dark.

Did it look good? Alright so the darkest shade is pretty full-on so you need to use a tiny, teeny bit and build it up rather than slapping a load on and hoping for the best. The result was very dramatic (not sure if it comes across in the ole vines, but trust me) and dramatically matte - so probably use alongside some sort of creamy highlighter. But it's really, really good: blends well, felt nice and fully contoured my face in, like, a stroke. Also, I have dry skin that is the same texture as the pages of an old book, but this powder format didn't go on patchily. It glided on like a bird gliding over the aforementioned old book.

Verdict: 7/10 as probably would have been better off being a bit less full-on, giving you the option to go subtle or balls-out Maleficent.


**Price **£9.99

Ease: Easiest so far. Blends perfectly and the highlighter helps to mask any rogue strokes. Big mirror, for the mirror fans, and no instructions - so this is one for the mavericks.

Did it look good? I love this one, it's my favourite. Not only can you go matte, if that's your thang, but there's also a highlighter that gives a really nice rosy sheen. Never thought I'd non-ironically write the words 'really nice rosy sheen' but there you go. This is probably best for lighter skin, because of the pink tones you can use - but that's optional if you just want to go contour-y and bronze-y. I used the pink, and it made me look way fresher than the pure browns, in case anyone gives a shit about what I personally like to put on my face. Anyway, this looked fresh and pretty and the brown was subtle so you can build it up which, as we've discussed previously, is a really good thing while contouring.

Verdict: 8.5/10 because nothing can go higher than nine unless it falls out of a cloud and comes complete with a small lamb that never grows old (sheep aren't as cute as lambs). But I really, really like this and would recommend anyone wanting to put something on their cheeks, to give this a whirl. And then put it on their cheeks. According to someone who knows more about beauty than me, it's 'fast becoming a cult classic'.

Barry M

**Price: £6.49


Ease: No mirror, mirror fans but went on really well so just use one of your other million mirrors.

Did it look good? Yeah! This was exactly the same as Smashbox, except it had a step-by-step guide (you're supposed to put the light powder on first, and then get darker, rather than the other way around. I had no idea) and you could build up the colour slowly rather than going balls to the wall with your first stroke. Plus it's way cheaper. I'd say, if you've got the cash and you've got an olive or dark complexion, go Smashbox - but if you don't have a spare £35 kicking around for contouring, then this is a right winner.

Verdict: 7/10 Still quite matte for me and I'd have preferred some highlighter options but overall really great

Laura Mercier

Price £35

Ease: Er, this is for people who are, like, really into contouring and aren't overwhelmed by all the different creams and little cards that say things like 'Quick fixes: Shorten your nose: apply to the tip'. Which one do I apply? There are 70,000. And it's a cream! Also I didn't realise I wanted to shorten my nose, but now I do. This compact comes across like a stern, very appearance-oriented, aunt at a family party: 'SHORTEN YOUR NOSE, GOOD LORD STEVIE'. It's also cream based which is, oddly, way harder to use.

Did it look good? Again, this is really one for the contouring pros. The contouring cream felt like it'd work way better, but it just looked like I had mud on my face and it dried in these weird patches which was disappointing. Also the highlighting powder had next to no pigment and didn't really do anything. Considering how serious this looks, and considering how expensive it is, it was a bit of a disappointment - but this could just be because a) my skin is dry and didn't react well to the cream (if you've got oilier skin then it would probably work a treat) and b) I'm crap at makeup. 'Why are you filming tutorials?' I hear you cry. Because I'm representing the average woman-on-the-street, OK, and the average woman-on-the-street would find this compact a bit hard to use and also really intimidating. And small compacts should never be intimidating because they're compacts.

Verdict: 4/10 sorry Laura. I was really excited about this one, but sometimes simpler is better (like your incredible under-eye concealer which is basically God)

**Summary: Smashbox is great if you've got £35 to burn/don't have pale skin and want to really get those contours looking deep (is that how you refer to a good contour? Anyway), but Barry M's similar palette is just as good and can be both subtle AND dramatic. Sleek was the favourite, because it works with a paler skintone, and Laura Mercier was terrifying and stressed me out. Basically, you don't need to fork out silly money for good contouring kits; doing it on a budget works just as well. **

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Follow Stevie on Twitter: @5tevieM

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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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