To Contour or Not to Contour (and How the Hell to Do It)

Whether it’s an ad in Vogue, a photo on Pinterest or a how-to video on YouTube, we’re all thinking the same thing: How does drawing brown lines around my face make me look beautiful?

f5c6e89f8eb9e8472f5451799e3b55faThis on-trend beauty craze known as “contouring” is all the rage from the runway, now, to everyday. While it seems counterintuitive to streak your face with shades of brown, pink, and white, contouring is actually a subtle trick that plays up the definition of your facial structure.

Although I was a skeptic at first, I decided to try my hand at it. With a few strokes of a brush and some dabs with a sponge it’s really easy to do, and quick, too (full-on contouring kit optional)!

Strokes of Genius
You’ll need the following:
Angled brush
Blush brush
BeautyBlender Sponge or Foundation Brush
Concealer brush
Kabuki brush


Started from the Bottom…

To kick things off, I always start out with my three holy grail products: moisturizer, primer, and foundation. This sets up a nice canvas and the combined primer and moisturizer action ensures that every bit stays put.

My favorite moisturizers are Clinique’s Dramatically Different Moisturizer, Dior’s Capture Totale One Essential, or Josie Maran’s 100% Pure Argan oil.
As far as primers go, my go-to’s are Dior’s Airflash CC Primer or Smashbox’s Iconic Photo Finish Foundation Primer.
Finally, for foundation I use Dior’s Diorskin Nude Skin-Glowing Makeup SPF 15.

Beauty Grammar Schoolb3ca109536ba548e6b84bda01862ffad

It’s time to contour. There are three steps to it, and it all comes down to placement and shape. I found what works best is to go straight back to grammar school math class: geometry, that is.

I like to start with highlighter/concealer (Dior Hydra Life BB Eye Créme, Benefit Boi-ing, and NARS Concealer are three terrific ones to try) and draw three upside-down triangles: one dead center between the eyebrows, and one on each side underneath the eyes.

Blend up and outward with either your fingers or a concealer brush— this prevents dragging and pulling of the sensitive, thin skin around the eyes and helps to better direct the light.

Next, the brown stuff. If you prefer powders, BareMinerals’ All-Over Face Color in Warmth is perfect, but if you prefer creme sticks, my good friend Lauren over at GritStyle recently introduced me to the amazing Sonia Kashuk Chic Defining Contour Stick (only $11 at Target!). Both work beautifully.

With either, trace lines along your hairline, jawline, cheekbones, and nose. It looks dark at first, but not to worry– it’s time to blend!

Using the BeautyBlender sponge (or an angled brush if you used the powder), stipple the product up and outward into your skin, taking care not to stray too far from the original lines you drew.

As soon as that’s blended, add a nice rosy flush with a blush of your choice. Some favorites include Tarte’s 12-hour Amazonian Clay Blush, BareMinerals’ Blush in Laughter, and Nars’s The Multiple Stick in Orgasm. Blend up and outward on the apples of your cheeks.

Screenshot2015-01-17at113013AM_zpsfd34a3e0Finish off with a translucent finishing powder and you’re good to go!

(If you want to get really fancy, you could even upgrade to a full-on contouring kit, like Laura Mercier or Anastasia Beverly Hills. Let me know how those work out!) Either way, you’re sure to rock it like Kim K.

santa’s good(skin) list

From sipping hot cocoa and sledding (if Tennessee ever decides have a proper winter) to movie marathons and last-minute gift shopping, nothing beats the winter holiday season.

While the holidays are great, however, winter can really take a toll on your skin. You wear it every day, and with all of those upcoming parties, you’re bound to have at least one camera flashing away at you, so here are some tips to save your skin from the wicked winter winds, and hopefully, from an undesirable spot on Santa’s naughty list.

1. Bottoms up!

Water, that is. Especially when it’s so cold outside, water is even more important to having clear, glowing, and hydrated skin. Added bonus? It’ll tackle any extra cravings for another holiday cookie, so your stomach will thank you, too (Read: you won’t be one of those crazed chicas sweating the Santa gut away on the elliptical when swimsuit season rolls around).

2. Oil to the world!

The savior, Josie Maran’s 100% Pure Argan Oil, reigns. I know, I know…it seems so counterintuitive to coat your face with oil, but trust me (or Allure) on this one: it plumps your skin and eradicates the redness and irritation that comes from, well, Jack Frost nipping at your nose. Your skin always deserves the gold standard, and Argan oil is the “liquid gold of Morocco,” but if you’re still a little sketched out by putting pure oil on your face, Maran’s Argan Infinity Cream does the trick just as nicely!

3. Let it glow, let it glow, let it glow.

Beat the blotch with antioxidant-rich foods like raspberries, pomegranates, and blackberries, which are another secret to great skin. Help yourself to another serving of potatoes au gratin, but be sure you fruit up or you might be as red as Santa.

4. The humidi(fire) is so delightful.

Coming from someone who’s been fighting off a cold for the past week, a humidifier not only helps you breathe easy but also is smart investment for your skin. Central heating systems blast warm, dry air throughout, and humidifiers help prevent your skin from drying out.

5. I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus…

and hopefully mommy wasn’t smooching Santa with dry lips! Try Fresh’s Sugar Lip Treatment, which has beautiful shades ranging from clear to Ruby– a sheer, cranberry red. Its smooth, irresistibly creamy texture will zap the chap and with an SPF 15, it also protects your pout from the sun, which can be even harsher in the winter.

6. Shower me with presents!

…but try to avoid boiling hot showers. Though they may feel ah-mazing on a blisteringly cold day, they can strip your skin of the moisture it needs. Keep it warm and save the heat for the Hot Toddy’s you can sip to your heart’s content.

product productivity: a basic beauty review

Ciao, friends! After a routine trip to Sephora (followed by reorganization of my currently overflowing makeup trunk), I realized a beauty review may seem like a good idea.

From fall formals and prom in high school, to Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights out in college, I’ve been doing makeup for not only myself but for the vast majority of my friends as well. I’m a little overly obsessed with eyeliner, and it almost always takes me an extra 30 minutes at the mall to debate on which product I should buy (I get overwhelmed, okay?).

After multiple trials and tribulations, here are the products that I swear by and would highly recommend to any beauty buff (pun intended):

1 | Liquid Foundation: Diorskin Nude Skin-Glowing Makeup SPF 15 | $49

The number one rule of foundation in my book? Avoid cake-iness like the plague. Not only is this foundation hydrating, protective (SPF 15), and super weightless (especially for a liquid), but it also covers sufficiently with one pump and a Beauty Blender Sponge ($19.95, Sephora) or a foundation brush. Another note, I have relatively sensitive, slightly combination skin, and I have never had a bad experience with clogged pores or breakouts as a result.

2 | Powder Foundation: BareMinerals Original Foundation Broad Spectrum SPF 15 | $27

This is not only spectacular alone, but it also layers nicely over #1 above as a finishing powder. I apply it with a kabuki brush and blend in a circular motion to ensure a luminous finish. Added bonus? All minerals, and it has SPF 15!

3 | Concealer: Dior Hydra Life BB Eye Créme | $45

If you haven’t been able to tell thus far, I’m a bit of a Dior whore. For $45, it seems a pretty pricey for being relatively microscopic in size at a mere 1.5-2″ tall, but a little goes a long way to cover the under eye shadows from a long night laboring away in the library. After applying my liquid foundation, I dab three small dots under each of my eyes and tap at it with my ring finger to blend. It’s also paraben-free and extremely hydrating, thus eliminating both dark circles and puffiness (me? crying? never).

4 | Blush, Loose Powder: BareMinerals Blush in Laughter | $19

This gives the prettiest glow without being too…blush-y. It has a peach tinge to it so it works well with basically any skin tone, from Snow White-esque types like my mother to golden-bronzed 1/2 Arabs like myself.

5 | Blush, Compact: Bobbi Brown Blush in Sand Pink  | $27 

Rosey with a touch of shimmer, a little goes a long way. This compact stands the test of time and flatters a range of skin tones with a matte finish.

6 | Bronzer, Bare Minerals All-Over Face Color in A Little Sun | $19

Hands down one of the prettiest bronzers that also works well on a multitude of skin tones. It has a little shimmer but it’s not so shimmery that it makes you look oily. You just look like a sun-kissed Brazilian beach goddess, which I’m totally okay with. It’s rose gold with copper undertones. For a deeper contour, I often throw in a small amount (a very small amount– again, a little of this goes a VERY long way) of BareMinerals’ Warmth ($19, Sephora).

7 | Liquid Eyeliner, Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner | $20

I personally have always preferred felt-tip liquid liners to the typical ones in which you dunk the brush into a tube (much like a mascara) and then apply. The distribution is very consistent and it glides on evenly and with excellent precision and control.

8 | Pencil Eyeliner, Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil | $20

Not only do these have the staying powers to last through sweat and tears but also the rainbow range of colors is sure to suit your palette du jour, whatever it may be. They also do not irritate your waterlines. Personal favorite shades include Zero (a classic black), Mildew (a deep forest green), and Scorch (a shimmery bronze).

9 | Gel Eyeliner, Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner in Caviar Ink| $24

Efficiency is everything. Not only does this glide on super quickly, but it also lasts. all. day. long. (And all night– it’s a deep black-brown, so it transitions perfectly from day to night). Another great shade to try is Forest Shimmer, which is a beautiful, shimmery hunter green with gold undertones that brings out hazel eyes.

10 | Eye Primer: Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion Tube in Original | $12

The magazines have it right: this primer is a wonder-worker. I use the basic, nude one, but there is also a shimmery one if that tickles your fancy. Extremely light, primers amplify the staying power (and ease of blending) of any eyeshadow you apply. It’s economic too- a little goes a very long way.

11 | Mascara: Lancome Grandoise Wide-Angle Fan Effect Mascara | $32

Mascara is always a tough category for me: I’ve tried so many brands and have a loyalty to four different ones (Lancome’s Definicils, Benefit’s They’re Real!, and Tarte’s Lights Camera Lashes) but against my wishes to venture to yet a fifth tube, I’m obligated to blurb about it– especially if it comes with an innovative swan neck form. Yes, you read that correctly. Not only does it ensure that you’re using the entire tube’s contents (because it sweeps the sides too instead of just pumping in and out of the center), but it also forces you to get literally every lash. You end up applying it in sections, and the smaller brush ensures that it lifts all of your lashes evenly and, of course, voluminously. Flake and clump free, Grandoise is truly grand.

12 | Lipstick, Neutral: Bite Beauty Luminous Créme Lipstick in Pepper | $24

Enriched with antioxidants, it’s a dusty rose neutral that transitions you beautifully from day to night. It’s not cake-y, and feels extremely moisturizing, like a balm.

13 | Lipstick, Red: UrbanDecay Revolution Lipstick in F Bomb | $22

If the name wasn’t catchy enough, it’s all the more fun to drop actual F bombs while rocking this true ruby red. Rich in pigmented color but smooth and moisturizing, it’s very flattering. Added bonus? It makes your teeth appear whiter with it’s subtle blue undertone. I dunno about you, but I’m feeling $22 is a pretty decent price for a badass, deep chrome-hued angular case with its contents resulting in flawless ruby red lips.

14 | Lip Balm: Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment SPF 15 in Rose | $22.50

I have sworn by [10 tubes and counting] of this stuff. I don’t need to constantly reapply it because once it’s on, it’s on. It hydrates the hell out of lips and the color flatters every skin tone. (The other shades, such as Honey, Passion and Petal, are also beautiful, and you can’t go wrong with the classic clear). It’s also multifunctional as a lip balm and a cheek stain, and the SPF 15 protects an often overlooked area.

15 | Eyeshadow, individuals: MAC Eyeshadow | $16

Brilliant alone or layered together in an artistry fashion are these little pressed pigment pots. A favorite of mine since the high school days, the colors distribute consistently rich and vibrant. Essential shades include Woodwinked (a stunning bronze-taupe-antique gold hybrid), Espresso (classic brown that will have you extra excited for the concept of dopio– get it? you have two eyes?? Never mind.), and Satellite Dreams (a pearly violet).

(Editor’s note: I religiously use three quad palettes, but as they were limited/seasonal editions, they are not available. My next aim is to try out the Naked/Naked2/Naked3 palette(s) from UrbanDecay but I have such an affinity for my individual pots I don’t know if I can make the switch…)