So I got in a Twitter fight (not really!) with a IRL friend of mine (again, not really) but we had an in-depth discussion about contouring: how, and why, and wherefore do I hate it so much?
When I first became aware of contouring, I instinctively roiled against it. It just seemed bizarre to me! I mean, I’ve technically done contouring before in stage makeup in the form of age lines. You draw inside your smile lines with dark pencil and then light pencil. So technically, I guess I’ve done contouring, and I don’t see anything weird about that! However, contouring on the whole face just seems…like strange! Faces already have dimension, drawing new dimensions on them sounds to me like painting highlights and shadows on a statue. WHYYY? It’s just like those old 3D pictures you used to see when we were kids, with the red lines and the blue lines. I didn’t get it.
Then I tried it! I tried it! I actually tried putting light and brown on my face and I looked like I’d streaked face dirt on myself to be an extra in a community theatre production of Les Miserables. Which is cool, but like, no. Not for me.
So after my Twitter feud strike through discussion of contouring with my pro-contouring friend (who is way better at contouring than me, I’m sure), I kept mulling it over in my head.
Contouring isn’t like the kind of makeup I enjoy. I mean every word I just said, so listen carefully: Contouring isn’t the kind of makeup I enjoy.
So I’ve determined that there are two kinds of makeup:
- Makeup that looks “like you, but better”and
- Makeup that looks like makeup.
I, obviously, prefer the second kind: makeup that looks like makeup. OBVIOUSLY. That black lipstick selfie was from a day when I walked to Rite Aid and the bank and nothing else. Black lipstick every day.
Contouring, however, is clearly in the first camp: makeup that is meant to look “like you, but better.” It requires a light touch and lots of blending.
But Meghan, you protest, because protesting is so trendy these days (hear, hear!). Meghan, how do I know if my makeup is the number one kind or the number two kind?
I’m glad you asked, and I’m glad you’re protesting. Keep doing that, it’s working.
The way to tell if your makeup is “makeup-makeup” or “like you, but better” is to ask yourself this singular question:
“If I apply this makeup wrong, will it still look good?”
That’s it. If your lipstick gets smudged, does it look punk rock? If you don’t blend your eyeshadow, does it look high fashion? If your mascara creases under your eye, does it look grunge?
If your contouring isn’t done properly, does it look edgy and cool? Be honest! No. It doesn’t look good. It looks like you’ve done something wrong — and I refuse to believe it’s possible to do makeup wrong. Therefore, contouring simply cannot exist in my reality.
I can’t get excited about contouring. That’s it. And I think I deserve credit for the personal growth it took for me to go from “WTF contouring BLEAGH” to “That’s just not my thing.” I own more glitter makeup than all my face makeup put together, including all foundations, powders and blushes. I’m not really interested in shaping my face, so much as I am intrigued by color combinations and runway makeups. Nope, uh-uh, sorry, contouring just isn’t for me. But you enjoy it, though. That’s cool. Not here to throw shade at contouring… not even under your cheekbones. That’s…that’s contouring, right?