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Next-Level Contouring Tips from the Kardashians’ Makeup Artist

By Wendy Rodewald-Sulz / April 3, 2015

Rob Scheppy with Kendall Jenner. Photo: via Instagram
Makeup artist Rob Scheppy didn’t invent contouring, but he’s a big part of the reason the technique is everywhere right now. As a core member of the Kardashian-Jenner glam squad, Scheppy has created major cheekbone envy among the sisters’ legions of fans and social media followers. So who better to give contouring advice than the master sculptor himself? Scheppy offered these pearls of wisdom at an editor event for Tweezerman’s new Brush iQ collection this week (he’s the face of the line). If your own attempts at contouring have fallen flat so far — trust me, I’m right there with you — these tricks might be just what you need to fake bone structure that rivals a reality star’s.

Cream or liquid makeup looks more natural than powder.

Those one-size-fits-all contour palettes that have become ubiquitous at Sephora aren’t your best option for a natural look, according to Scheppy. You’re better off working with foundation shades that you can select individually. To find the right colors, start by choosing a cream or liquid product that’s an exact fit for your complexion. Then choose two more shades, one that’s a notch or two darker than your match, and another that’s one or two shades lighter. He prefers a warmer color palette — grayish shades can make you look like you have a beard. 
As for those powder palettes? Use them as a final step to set your makeup. Scheppy likes Charlotte Tilbury’s Filmstar Bronze and Glow palette. He dusts the bronzer over the contoured areas of the face (cheekbone hollows, under the chin) and the highlighter over the high planes (tops of cheekbones, bridge of nose). 

On deeper skin tones create highlights, not shadows.

If your skin is on the deeper end of the spectrum, contouring the hollows of your cheeks with an even darker shade will make your complexion look muddy and unnatural. Instead, focus on using a lighter color on the areas you want to bring forward — the tops of your cheekbones, the bridge of your nose, the area under your eyes, etc.

Use the right tools.

Contouring is too precise of a job to leave up to your fingers. Scheppy uses a damp, teardrop-shaped sponge to prep the face with moisturizer and to blend out the makeup. He uses a pointed foundation brush to apply the darker contour shade to the hollows of the cheekbones and the perimeter of the face — the pointed end helps with precise placement. For the highlights on the tops of the cheekbones, he uses a flat foundation brush to apply the lighter shade. All three of these tools are included in the soon-to-be-launched Tweezerman Brush iQ Mini Face Contour Brush Set — and in portable sizes, too. 

Don’t make yourself look like a face chart.

You know those photos of faces with brown and white lines drawn all over them that tend to pop up on Pinterest and Instagram? Don’t do that. “I blend as I go as opposed to drawing the whole thing on and then blending,” Scheppy says. It’s easy to apply way too much makeup if you do it all at once.
Instead, work from your ear forward to apply the contour shade in the shape of a Nike swoosh. The color should be more concentrated on the outside of your face and should fade away as you get closer to the center.

Contour your whole face, not just the cheekbones.

I’ve always wondered what was the point of contouring around the hairline. Sure, putting a darker shade in the hollows of the cheekbones makes them look sharper; going under the chin creates a stronger jaw. But the hairline step isn’t just for those who want to make their foreheads look smaller. “You want it all to seamlessly work together,” Scheppy explains, and balancing the color is key. If your makeup is darker on the perimeter of your jaw, it should look the same on the northern border of your forehead. He suggests actually blending the contour shade into your hair to avoid looking like you’re wearing a bad lace-front wig. 

You don’t need to contour 24/7.

With all the emphasis on contouring these days, I wouldn’t blame you for thinking you need to be doing the technique every single morning. But really, contour makeup isn’t necessary for most situations — and if you’re, say, tossing a ball at the dog park in broad daylight, it can make you look overdone.
Scheppy says, “This is makeup for a photo. This is like selfie makeup, but it might not necessarily be to go to work.” Of course, if your last name is Kardashian or Jenner and you spend your waking moments in front of a camera lens, photo shoot makeup is everyday makeup. For the rest of us, daily life is contour-optional. Love thy natural cheekbones, am I right?