It’s been nearly a decade since Kim Kardashian’s before and after contouring photos went viral in 2012 (quite the flashback, I know). Yet, the sought-after technique is just as popular, if not more, now — although the desire for that heavy-handed, dramatic contour has faded somewhat. A good portion of the credit is due to celebrity makeup artist Mario Dedivanovic’s artistry and ability to sculpt the faces of Hollywood’s top A-list celebrities, including Kim K and the whole Kardashian family to boot. And thanks to the new sculpting sticks from his makeup brand Makeup By Mario (which launched on Sephora today), Dedivanovic’s go-to contouring techniques are easier than ever to try at home.
As all makeup trends tend to do, contouring has drastically evolved from when it emerged over 10 years ago. “I think how the general public uses contouring in their everyday life is what has really changed,” Dedivanovic tells TZR. Now, he says people are embracing a more naturalistic effect, with less product and fewer layers. “That [type of] contouring really only works for heavy lights and for different forms of media,” he says.
As it turns out, the makeup artist and brand founder is loving this newer, more natural take on contouring, especially in the younger generation. “Also, with the previous generation that helped propel the contouring trend,” he adds. “I think they are also going in a softer direction.”
In terms of his client roster — and, well, the beauty industry in general — he says everyone is into a less dramatic, almost undetectable contouring these days — a change that even he (who helped to pioneer that sculpted look) is happy to embrace. “You have to evolve your look, you can’t constantly do the same look for years and years,” Dedivanovic explains.
Whether you’re just trying contouring for the first time or consider yourself a pro, and you want to learn how to achieve that barely there but perfectly snatched effect, Dedivanovic has quite a few makeup tricks up his sleeve to share. Below, he gives TZR the low-down on how to achieve a natural, beautiful contour.
Apply Product To The Proper Areas
Rather than placing the contouring product right along the hollows of the face — which he says is how everyone was originally taught to do years ago, but can be quite harsh — Dedivanovic recommends applying it slightly above the hollows of the cheek area, working it back towards your ears. According to the makeup artist, placing your product on this particular part of the face is more forgiving (and easier to apply) in order to sculpt and shape your face.
Once you’ve applied the product to the area, (he uses his stick cream contour directly onto the skin, but a brush and powder will work as well) he says to blend it upwards and outwards so that it’s giving a bit of warmth to the skin while also adding a subtle lift. Make sure to work it into your hair slightly so you don’t have a harsh line.
Blend, Blend, & Blend Some More
Fully blending in the contour is one of the easiest ways to ensure it appears natural. Luckily, Dedivanovic’s sculpting sticks make that a breeze. “The brush on the sculpting stick has five nubs, and what those nubs do is centralize the product and make it very effortless to blend, without leaving streaks or lines,” he explains. “When you blend, it just melts into the skin, and it becomes part of the skin so you’re not leaving any texture.”
Making sure you work the product into the skin is crucial no matter what product you use — a damp sponge will be ideal for anyone new to a cream contour product — so that the shadow effect looks as natural as possible. Remember, you’re trying to mimic a hollow or dip in your cheeks where your cheekbone curves outwards from your face.
How To Choose A Color
“One of the biggest issues that I saw reoccurring with sculpting and contouring was actually the color of the product — [it was] way too red, way too grey, or way too yellow, and that’s very unnatural,” explains Dedivanovic. Therefore, he set out to make the process a little less stressful for consumers. “The goal was to make the overall collection very neutral so that [the products] fit a lot of different skin tones.”
For the color range of the sculpting sticks, there are six categories — light, light medium, medium deep, dark, dark deep.” As you’re picking a shade, don’t feel like it has to be exactly spot on (but, be wary of going too dark). “When you’re dealing with contours, thankfully you don’t have to match it perfectly to your skin,” he explains. “Essentially, you’re just trying to go a few shades deeper, and since the formula [of the sculpting sticks] is sheer, you don’t have to stress or worry that it’s too dark.”
If you’re new to shopping for a contour product, but have a foundation or concealer that you adore and looks great on your skin, try picking up a new one in a shade that’s a few shades darker than what you’d normally wear.
The Secret To A Natural Finish
According to Dedivanovic, the secret to achieving a natural contour revolves around the color you land on. “You can’t use a color that’s so much darker than your skin or that’s extremely orange or red, it has to be more of a neutral tone that blends into the skin nicely.” On top of color, the application technique also plays an important role. “Just put a little bit on and build if necessary,” he suggests.
Additionally, when it comes to contouring, one of the biggest mistakes the celebrity makeup artist sees is people using contour products to areas that don’t need it. “Especially when you’re getting into things like the nose — that stuff is very obvious,” Dedivanovic explains. “That’s made for [camera] lighting.” Start with contouring your cheekbones and then work your way up to other areas of the face when you feel more comfortable with your technique.
When To Choose A Cream Vs. A Powder
Dedivanovic says choosing between a cream or powder contour product really boils down to personal preference. “Some people love a cream formula because it’s easier for them, while others are more comfortable with a powder,” he explains. “I’ve noticed you’re either a powder or a cream person.” However, the expert uses both formulas to lock everything in. “I prefer to use a little bit of cream, and then I finish off later with a little bit of a powder to set it all day.”
If you’re not quite sure which formula works best for you, take your skin type into consideration. “Some people who are very oily, they’re going to be more attracted to powders,” he says. “And also when it comes to powders, you don’t necessarily need a contour powder — you can use a bronzer.” Ultimately, he says it's doing the same exact thing. “If you’re hitting bronzer along your cheekbones, you’re essentially shaping or sculpting the face.” Lastly, for those with dryer skin, Dedivanovic believes creams work nicer as they’ll help to enhance the skin and give it a little bit of a glow.
Now that you’re received a crash course in Dedivanovic’s contouring tips, try them at home with a few of the best contouring products available right now (including his brand new Makeup by MarioSoft Sculpt Shaping Stick).
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