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Powder Contouring Tips for Beginners

Hey, sis, have you ever scrolled through Instagram, stumbled upon makeup artists sporting perfectly sculpted, goddess-like faces, and wondered, "How on earth do they do it?" If your answer is a resounding "Yes," then you're in the right place. Welcome to our guide designed just for you — beginners who want to dip their toes into the magical world of contouring.

Contouring is a makeup technique that plays with shadow and light to sculpt, define, and enhance your natural facial structure, effectively making you the Michelangelo of your face. Sounds fancy, right? 

While it might seem like complicated makeup wizardry meant only for influencers and celebs, it's actually much simpler than you think — especially when you have 10PM Curfew, the fastest-growing female lifestyle, beauty, and fashion network, in your corner.

What Actually Is Contouring?

Let's start with the basics — what exactly is contouring? At its core, contouring is all about creating shadows and highlights to emphasize your facial features. Think of it as a mini facelift without going under the knife… and who wouldn't want that?

Now, there are two main types of contouring: cream and powder. 

Cream contouring gives you a more dramatic, Kim K-worthy finish, but it's also a bit like playing on hard mode. It takes time, skill, and practice to master. So what's a beginner to do? That's where powder contouring comes to your rescue. It's like learning to ride a bike with training wheels — less intimidating, easier to correct if you mess up, and still gets you to the same destination of a beautifully contoured face.

What Tools Do You Need for Powder Contouring?

Alright, so you're sold on the idea of powder contouring, but what do you need to start? Here's the rundown:

  • First off, you'll need a contouring palette

    . But before you grab the first one you see, remember that the right palette depends on your

    skin tone

    and undertones. If you're more on the fair side, choose a palette with cool, ashy tones. For our darker-skinned beauties, a palette with warmer tones may be your best bet.

  • Next up, brushes!

    Think of them as your magic wands. A good angled contour brush is a must-have for precision, and a fluffy brush is perfect for blending to achieve that natural finish.

  • Finally, a mirror

    — Preferably one with good lighting, so you don't end up looking like a zebra. 

Step-by-Step Guide to Powder Contouring

Alright, tools at the ready, let's get into the contouring process:

Step 1: Prepare Your Skin

Always start with a clean canvas. Hydrate your skin and apply your base makeup (foundation/concealer) as you normally would.

Step 2: Determine Your Face Shape

Is it round, square, oval, or heart-shaped? Knowing your face shape will guide where to place the contour. Trust us, it's worth taking a selfie from above and examining it closely — and no, this is not an excuse to procrastinate on Instagram.

Step 3: Apply the Contouring Powder

Armed with your angled brush, apply the darker shade from your palette to the areas you want to define. Typically, this includes the hollows of your cheeks, the sides of your nose, your jawline, and your temples. 

Don't panic if it looks a bit intense at first — we promise it's all about the blending.

Step 4: Blend, Blend, Blend

Now comes the most critical part. With your fluffy brush, blend the contouring powder until there are no harsh lines. The goal is to make it look as natural as possible. If someone tells you that your makeup looks 'blended to perfection,' you know you've aced it.

Step 5: Highlight

To enhance the contouring effect, apply a lighter powder (your highlight) on the areas where light naturally hits your face. This includes the tops of your cheekbones, the bridge of your nose, your cupid's bow, and the center of your forehead.

What Are Some Common Powder Contouring Mistakes and How Can You Avoid Them?

Every contouring journey comes with its fair share of silly missteps — and that's okay! We've all been there. To help you skip past some of these common beginner errors, here are some of the most common powder contouring mistakes and how to avoid them.

Using the Wrong Shade

Choosing the right contour shade is like finding the perfect pair of jeans — it needs to fit you just right. Using a contour shade that's too dark can leave you looking muddy rather than sculpted. Try sticking to a shade that's two shades darker than your skin tone for a natural look.

Skipping the Base

Applying contour over bare skin can result in a patchy appearance. Always ensure you start with a good base — usually foundation or concealer — to get an even application.

Not Blending Enough

This one is the contouring equivalent of a wardrobe malfunction. Harsh, unblended lines can end up looking like stripes, and we're going for natural chic, not tiger vibes. Remember, blending is key when it comes to contouring.

Over Blending

On the other end of the spectrum, over-blending can make your contouring effort disappear entirely. It's about striking that perfect balance — blend enough to avoid harsh lines but not so much that you lose the contouring effect.

Ignoring Your Face Shape

Different face shapes require different contouring strategies. An oval face will need a different approach than a square one. Identifying your face shape will guide you on where to place the contour to accentuate your features.

Contouring Everywhere

When it comes to contouring, less is definitely more. You don't need to contour every inch of your face — focus on the key areas like your jawline, the hollows of your cheeks, and the sides of your nose.

Skipping the Highlight

Keep in mind contouring isn't just about creating shadows; it's also about emphasizing the high points of your face. Don't skip the highlighter. Apply it to areas where light naturally hits your face — the tops of your cheekbones, the bridge of your nose, your cupid's bow, and the center of your forehead.

Using the Wrong Brush

Brushes matter, bruh! Each brush serves a purpose. Using a brush that's too big or too small can affect the precision and blendability of your contour. Go for an angled brush for application and a fluffy brush for blending.

Applying Too Much Product

It's easy to get overzealous with your contour powder but remember: it's always easier to add than to take away. Start with an itty-bitty amount and gradually build up for a subtler, more natural look.

Neglecting Your Neck

We've all seen it — a flawlessly contoured face...and a stark, untouched neck. To avoid this telltale sign of contouring, make sure you extend your contour down to your neck for a cohesive and natural look.

Using Shimmery Contour

Contouring mimics natural shadows, and last we checked, shadows don't sparkle. Avoid contour products with shimmer or glitter. They can disturb the natural look you're aiming for. Stick to matte finishes for a subtle and realistic effect.

Applying Blush Incorrectly

Blush can enhance your contour, but only if applied correctly. Avoid placing it too close to your contour lines; instead, aim for the apples of your cheeks, blending upwards and outwards.

Contouring in Bad Lighting

Lighting can dramatically affect how your contouring looks. Always apply makeup in a well-lit area, preferably with natural light. This will help you avoid any unfavorable surprises when you step outside.

Ignoring Your Skin Undertone

Just like with foundation and concealer, considering your skin's undertone can help you choose the right contour shade. Cool undertones may prefer ashy tones, while warm undertones might go for more terracotta hues.

Using a Heavy Hand

Contouring is all about subtlety, so be gentle. Applying too much pressure can result in harsh lines and an unnatural look. Light, feathery strokes are the way to go for a flawless blend.

Wrapping Things Up

And that's it — a comprehensive beginner's guide to powder contouring. With a bit of practice, a lot of patience, and a sprinkling of self-deprecating humor, you'll be a contouring pro before you know it.

But most importantly, remember to have fun with it. Makeup is all about self-expression and enhancing your natural beauty. It's not a chore or a means to fit into a particular mold. So go ahead, experiment, make mistakes, and laugh them off.

At 10PM Curfew — your go-to for female lifestyle content — we're excited to see you on this contouring journey. Whether it's your success stories, hilarious fails, or a simple shout-out, we want to hear it all. After all, the journey of makeup is always better when shared. So don't be shy, and keep us posted. 

Happy contouring, sis!


How to Determine Your Face Shape | Vision Center

How To Determine Your Skin Tone | Empire Beauty School

Cupid's bow | Cambridge English Dictionary

How To Keep Your Skin Hydrated | The Skin Institute