Has contouring gone too far?

Photo via mymakeupbrushset

By Nidhi Pattni

Contouring, for those who have been living under a rock, or have been doing more important things with their lives (in which case, good for you!); is a make-up technique where you dip a brush into a powder, cream or liquid, a few shades darker than your skin tone and deepen the natural edges or ‘contours’ on your face. This trend began as a way to make your face appear slimmer. However, now it has become a way to accentuate various parts of your body.


With tutorials all over social media, anyone can achieve that defined jawline, or the Michelle Pfeifer nose.  It is a very creative invention that has fascinated millions all around the world and has proved itself to be a revolutionary (and now essential) addition to our regular make-up routines. But a question many have asked and continue to ask is: has this trend of contouring gone too far?


What originated as a method adopted by stage actors- using soot and chalk in the mid 1500’s to appear more expressive in their performances- has now turned into a cosmetic phenomenon (Xue, 2015). Contouring has been ongoing for centuries; however, it was only recently brought to our attention by reality star Kim Kardashian. Her Instagram provided a before and after shoot showing her 100+ million followers how to go from a normal face (Urgh, who wants that- right?) to one with ‘perfectly’ defined features.



But the problem with contouring as pointed out by critics of the technique is that it has now expanded to include the neck, legs, abs, and even such a concept as ‘boob contouring’. Think of any part of your body, and it’s a guarantee that you will find a tutorial by a make-up guru on how to contour it. The concern critics have expressed is, where does it end? And how much do we have to cover up or in this case, sharpen up to feel confident and attractive? As valid as their concerns are, I believe that they don’t have a lot to worry about.



For generations make up has been a way for people to express themselves. Whether it may be a light dab of blush before leaving for work or a carefully constructed routine including every imaginable beauty product under the sun. Make-up serves as a way for people to feel more presentable, and hence ready to face anything that comes their way throughout the day. Contouring also helps those who feel insecure about their ‘imperfections’ feel a bit better, and there is nothing wrong with that. But also, contouring is fun! Being able to define and play around with your own unique facial features is liberating and there is an art to it. And this art connects people globally as they share ideas and pictures of their experience with contouring with the world through social media, and that’s incredible!



Sometimes though, we all feel like without applying any make-up, we look ugly and undesirable. I’ve even heard my close friend so lovingly say about herself “I look like I’ve been run over by a truck” when she forgot to put on concealer one morning. And with the existence of social media and a blessing bestowed upon mankind known as the comment section, there is an excruciating amount of, let’s call it ‘criticism’ for those who choose not to contour their cheekbones, or weren’t even aware that their slightly asymmetrical nose was a problem. Not to mention the price tags on those popular products is often equivalent to a whole weeks’ worth of meals- I wish I was exaggerating. (Which is why I will save your piggy bank so that you don’t have to resort to eating dust for all your meals, just hang in there till the end of this article!)


Make up is a choice, contouring the bridge of your nose or the one knee you find a bit chubbier than the other is a choice, not an obligation. If you believe that defining your physical features makes you feel fierce and powerful, that is your prerogative. But if you’re someone like me that uses make up only on special occasions, and when your passport picture needs updating, then that’s perfectly alright too. The main message to take away is: make up is a choice, and you can exercise that choice as extravagantly or as minimally as you desire. Just don’t let the Kardashians fool you into thinking that Kontouring is the only way you can look Kool.

If you do decide that contouring is the way forward for you then here is a step-by-step guide on contouring (you’re welcome!) :


Affordable products for contouring that won’t break the bank:

  • Sleek Makeup Cream Contour Kit, £7.90
  • Mac Studio Perfecting Stick, £16.50
  • L’Oreal Infallible Sculpt Contour Palette, £5.92
  • Maybelline New York FaceStudio Master Contour and Highlight V-Shape Duo Stick: £6.06