Contouring Sticks and Palettes

5 Things to Do/Try/Buy with Jordan Maunder

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I’ve seen a few of these contouring stick “kits” popping up around the beauty stores and such and while I’m intrigued I’m also a little bit intimidated.

I’m usually up for trying anything, within reason, when it comes to makeup but these sticks seem like they’d be hard to blend. Some of the before and afters that I’ve seen are pretty amazing, but I guess I’m not confident enough in my limited skills to think I could pull off the same effect.

I also feel like contouring is personalized to each woman’s face, you know? Like, where *exactly* do I need to contour to make my cheekbones pop without looking like a skeleton?

Anyway, if I had more free time I’d try to pop into Sephora and see if a makeup artist could give me a quick lesson with the sticks, just to try it.

I also have to tell you that when I stumbled across the Kevyn Aucoin palette in my contouring kit search, I was reminded of the Making Faces book that I have.

I got this book when I was about 14 or 15, if I remember correctly. And I cannot tell you how much I looked at it. I loved flipping through the photos and seeing the transformation unfold as Kevyn worked his magic. This book had a bit of an impact on my interest in makeup/beauty at an early age. Oddly, despite the fact that I talk much more about makeup on the blog these days than hair products, I never wanted to be a makeup artist. I always loved doing hair the most.

And I miss it! I’m thankful that I still get a chance to do my mom and sisters’ hair when they are in town. And perhaps one day I’ll get back to doing hair when the boys are older. I wouldn’t trade a single thing for being able to stay home with them-and work from home as well-at this season of my life.

Anyway, somehow I ran off on a major tangent from talking about contouring. I’ll wrap this post up by saying if you haven’t browsed through Cara’s Makover Monday posts to see her contouring expertise, you are missing out. OH and she did a video on nose contouring recently too.

Do you contour on the daily? Or save it for “fancier” events and such?


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Angela says · 03.19.15

I am a little hesitant about the whole contouring thing. I think I would need someone to show me as well. I occasionally apply a bit of highlight and bronzer but mainly just for special occasions. I see these kits and sticks everywhere now, so many to choose from.

Jenny says · 03.19.15

I really love the Clinique contouring sticks. I’m very pale and was hesitant to try because the bronzer was so dark. However, I was quite surprised at how well it blends. The girl at the Clinique counter gave me a quick tutorial on how to use them. It takes less than 5 minutes to contour. Clinique Bonus days begin soon at Macy’s

Jenny says · 03.19.15

I received the Making Faces book around the same age, and that’s when my interest in makeup really took off! Kevyn worked magic.
And contouring can be tricksy… especially for a super pale girl like me. Honestly, I’m hoping the contouring craze will die down this year. For the record, Michelle Phan’s (emcosmetics) contouring/highlight stick is very easy to blend, and the shades are light enough that it’s not intimidating! 🙂
Jenny // Mish Mosh Makeup

Kate says · 03.19.15

good to know!!

valerie says · 03.19.15

i’m admittedly super intimidated by contouring. Every time I’ve attempted this effect I end up washing it off because I can’t get it blended all the way and I even have that blending puff. All of the video tutorials are extreme. I’d love to see a light contouring video. I’m not looking to have KK makeup effects.

Andrea says · 03.19.15

I have Cara’s Maskcara HAC foundation, with the blush and highlighter. It’s life-changing and I don’t see myself using anything else for a long, long time! I have fairly acne prone skin with dryness, and it makes me feel better about my skin than anything ever has!

Kacie says · 03.19.15

I have been using one the Smashbox kits for awhile now, and love that it has some instructions on the inside of the compact as to where each of of the 3 colors go. I really only use it when I go out on weekends, or during the week, if I feel that my face looks really blah. Which lately, is ALL the time.

I’ve almost ran out of the lightest color, so I’ve been trying to find something that just has that color – which I feel adds the most to my face. I may have to try one of the lighter sticks if they’re sold separately. I do like the powders, though.

Diane says · 03.19.15

Started using the Too Faced cocoa contour kit, it’s great and easy to use! It comes with 3 different examples to help you contour more/less dramatically.

Amy Hays says · 03.19.15

I have that same book. I remember going to Barnes and Noble and looking at it several times before I decided to buy it. I have always loved makeup and after my boys are all in school (I have four boys. 10, 8, almost 7, and 3) I hope to work in a Sephora/Ulta/Bare Minerals boutique or salon just to be around that environment. I often wonder if the all the contouring looks too “fake” up close and in person. I don’t know anyone personally who contours that much to see if it looks believable in person.

Renee says · 03.19.15

I’m wondering the same thing! I would love to see what it looks like in person.

Lindsay says · 03.19.15

I contour on a daily basis, but that doesn’t have to be an extreme thing…it can be something as small as highlighting the brow bone and cupid’s bow, and changing the placement of your products. I just recently started blending my blush up to my temples rather than my ears, and its made a huge difference.

Maiko says · 03.19.15

I love love the Anastasia kit and the chubby sticks and I so do want to try the Kevin Aucoin palette, he always makes some of the best products.

Kim says · 03.19.15

I’ve been on the lookout for a contouring palette for a while since Id love to start experimenting! Thanks for sharing those!

Kim .. Best purchase you’ll ever make and how to be featured!

Heather says · 03.19.15

I, too, have Cara’s HAC pack…and I’m addicted to HAC-ing. I usually do a light HAC for my daily make up and play up a slightly more dramatic HAC for special occasions.

Lauren says · 03.19.15

I have the Making Faces book. I, too, bought it as a teenager. I loved it- he was so talented! Like you, I decided to stick with doing hair.

Gwen says · 03.19.15

Color Me Beautiful had contouring products YEARS ago & my consultant provided great instruction. I’ve continued to contour for years using other products. It’s not that hard & you don’t have to buy special products to do…just the right shades.

Stephanie says · 03.19.15

Kate! I’m so happy you posted this. Thanks! It couldn’t be more timely. I just purchased my first contour kit on Monday and afterwards I was searching your old posts for your advice on contouring.

I purchased the Nars Contour Blush in Paloma. (I’m pretty fair but this was better on me than the lightest shade.) The woman I work with at Nordstrom also showed me the Anastasia kit. She said she loved it but didn’t recommend it for novices or for people who didn’t have a great deal of time to devote to learning how to contour.

I asked if contouring was going to go away soon (I was sort of hoping it would) but she said that it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. It’s been too successful in helping women achieve definition in their faces and no one is going back anytime soon. I’ve worked with her several times. She’ll tell me if a product is too overpriced or not worth buying so I don’t believe she was telling me this about contouring to try to sell me the palette.

She also said kits are the way to go. If you’re going to contour and you don’t want to fuss, it’s the easiest and safest way. If you try to come up with your own colors and mix and match, you’re prone to more errors, looking overdone, or not done enough.

Jennifer says · 03.19.15

I hear ya, Kate! I use bronzer daily but save the highlight/contour for date nights and events. And FYI- the Clinique sticks are great! Very smooth and creamy and easy to blend and work into your skin. They look more intimidating than they are when you first “draw” them onto your face and are like whhhhhat did I just do… But once you start blending away they look great!

Kellee says · 03.19.15

Congratulations on little Luke, he’s so precious! Thanks for the contouring post! I’ve used the L’Oreal TruMatch Super Blendable Crayons and found that they blend really well. Another video that has some great tips, and has helped me learn how to contour is Kandee Johnson’s “How to Contour like a Contouring Artist”:
Enjoy your snuggles with your newest little man! They grow up too quick! …says the mom of 5 and 8 year old boys. Where does the time go!?!

Holly says · 03.19.15

I was so happy to see this post, as I have been considering buying a contouring kit. I haven’t been “into” makeup for very long, so the contouring seems daunting and drastic, but I’d like to give it a try!

Sara Rodriguez says · 03.19.15

I was OBSESSSED with that book too! I would read it over and over and tried to contour playing in my room when I was like 15. I learned so much from studying the pictures. I love knowing I wasn’t the only one that loved the book! 🙂

Taryn says · 03.19.15

I tried the Josie Maran Creamy Concealer pen for contouring. It goes on very nicely, but I’m sure I could be doing a much better job. If you end up going to Sephora to do a contouring session let us know how it goes!

Ashley H. says · 03.19.15

While it may not be the best (I’m not a pro at makeup at all…so I have no clue!), Sephora has a Contouring app…webpage thingy…that seems like a decent starting point. It’s only available on mobile, but it was pretty easy to use and kind of fun to get the results! Here’s the link…

Melissa says · 03.19.15

Contouring isn’t as scary as it looks, I promise. 🙂 The key is to use the right colors for your skin tone, and to start with a little and build up from there. You can always add more but once you’ve done too much, there’s no going back. I go back and forth between cream products and powder, depending on what kind of look I’m going for and how much time I have to do my makeup. For everyday I just blend a little matte bronzer under my cheekbones, my jawline, along the sides of my nose, and up on my temples. It just takes a moment and I like to keep it really soft looking so I don’t use a ton of product. I’m very fair and I don’t want to look like I have a ton of dark makeup caked on my face! And I dust just a little highlighter (I like Mary Lou-Manizer) on top of my cheekbones and down the center of my nose. When I use cream, I use a darker concealer and the Real Techniques Expert Face Brush. Again, start with the tiniest amount of product. I use stippling rather than rubbing to apply it, with a very light hand. I don’t start really pressing it into the skin until I’m sure it’s the right amount of product. It sounds complicated but it only took a little bit of trial and error.

My feelings on highlighting and contouring is that it’s supposed to enhance the features you already have and add soft dimension to the face, not try to carve out new features altogether. I love using it for brides and for portraits (I love playing makeup artist for friends!).

Marcela says · 03.19.15

I contour every day but I use powders. My face is usually pretty oily, and it’s gotten worse during pregnancy, so I can’t use creams to contour because I’ll look shiny all day, even if I use a setting powder. I feel like contouring with powders gives a little bit of a softer look and it’s easy to build up.

Lee Ann S. says · 03.19.15

I love contouring. It makes such a difference on my face. I was intimidated by it, but went to Sephora and the girl showed me how to do it on my face correctly. Videos had me wanting to do it all wrong, because I have a round, small face. I have drier skin, so she chose a cream (Lancôme stick to be exact) and worked with me for about 30 minutes teaching me the tricks. I would have chosen powder if left on my own because the cream seemed scary. I’ve had it for a week and have been asked if I have lost weight. I smile knowing that it is all the magic of a little color and blending. I am far from being a makeup and beauty guru, but it really is simple to do when you are taught correctly. I want to go back and hug Constance because I love love love the look it gives me.

Hannah Dawson says · 03.19.15

I save the contouring for fancier events. It takes too much time to do it every day! I really want to try the Smashbox Contour Sticks. I’ve seen rave reviews about them on YouTube.

Emma Walker says · 03.19.15

I am really curious about those contour sticks!

Emma | With A City Dream

Marjorie says · 03.19.15

I need a contourning set quickly but it must be easy to use. Sticks look great!

Clever Girl Reviews says · 03.19.15

Being sure pale, I find that nothing really has the right undertone to work for me. It’s never taupe/purple enough to look natural in daylight.

Jennie @ The Diary of a Real Housewife says · 03.19.15

I love contouring! I agree that is really is different for each face. You have to know what you want to hide and what you want to highlight! I tried the stick and powder and like both. I usually use the stick and go over with a little powder to help blend.

Kristi Craig says · 03.19.15

I’ve never tried contouring because I honestly don’t think I’d be able to do it right. Some people make it look easy, but I don’t think I need to add an extra step to my routine. More power to ‘ya though if you can do it!

Whitney says · 03.19.15

i keep looking for a page 2 where you show us which ones you tried and what you thought. We need a video 🙂

Juanita says · 03.20.15

i’m jumping on the contour band wagon also…i just purchased the mac blush in taupe, which i’ve heard is a great blush to try for contouring. much cheaper than a lot of the kits. so, i think it’s great to start with. i hate paying so much for something i may only use a few times with my make up routine. i’m more of a less is more. although, i looove make up.

Lucy says · 03.20.15

I am desperate to try the Clinique Contouring Sticks. Come next pay day, they shall be mine!

Lucy x

stace says · 03.21.15

I am 50+ now (when did THAT happen!) and I aim to be my best – which translates into less makeup, more artfully placed. So I enjoy your straightforward and honest approach. Plus, it’s fun to watch you as you shift into your family mode! My “baby” is 15 now, and it is with great fondness that I watch you discover and refresh for me, what those early days were like with babies. So fun! Thanks for what you do – I read your sight daily and truly enjoy it. On to the Smashbox Contour Sticks. I’m not a contourer at all – seems like way more than I will deal with. However, I happened to be in a Sephora – closest one is an hour away. I noticed that contouring is the big thing these days. Displays everywhere. I tested the Smashbox on my arm and was truly amazed at how easy they are to blend. I will not be jumping on the bandwagon – just not gonna add that to my routine. But I am nonetheless amazed at how wrong my idea of a contour stick was. I was thinking heavy and waxy – and they are so light and blendable. Very cool! It was fun to check them out. In the end I happily walked away with a tube of S&G Hand Food, my first beauty blender Solid (OMG SOOOO good for my blender and all my brushes, so easy to use, love love it) and my first Z-Palette. Looking forward to weeding through my collection, organizing them in the “Z” and tossing the rest for spring. Light and bright. Thanks for the inspiration!

Tyana says · 03.22.15

never tried a stick, I just use a d arker powder

check out my newest post

Priscila says · 03.23.15

i like to contour when i feel like. Mac harmony blush has been amazing to countour my face,i use a large angled face brush and it looks very natural, subtle but at the same i noticed a huge diference on my face shape. the color is also great for my cheeks. Have you heard of Sephora’s pocket contour class? i learned a few tricks from it, it’s awesome.

D says · 03.24.15

I am a little late getting to this thread, but I had to spread the word! Thank the sweet Lord for Kat Von D’s Shade and Light Palette!!! I am brand new to contouring, and this one came highly recommended from my makeup artist former roommate. The powders are super finely milled, have no shimmer (YAY!), and blend like a dream. I am incredibly pale (Mac NC10/15) and I can even use the darkest powder in the kit- that’s how much of a wonder these powders are. I use a Real Techniques sculpting brush for shadow, and a flat foundation brush for highlighting. It doesn’t turn me into Kim Kardashian, but it certainly gives me a little oomph!

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Courtney gahm says · 04.01.15

Sephora has a site that will tell you your face shape and how to contour for your face shape. I think that the link is on the Sephora website. It is very helpful.

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