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celebrity makeup pro Erik Soto on how to contour for morning, afternoon and date night (research required) -- and why you don't want to forget your tragus
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How to contour for any lighting_Kat Von D Shade & Light Contour Palette

Celebrity artist and Kat Von D Beauty pro Erik Soto has worked with Kat and with the Olsen twins

Celebrity makeup artist Erik Soto has worked with Kat Von D and with Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen. Is there anything else you need to know? He's got other clients, but with just those names you get the picture. Clearly, this dude knows things about dramatic and statement looks (he rocks them himself too) and just as much about understated, effortless faces. Every skilled pro does, but in this age of contour hype, advice from an artist who knows when to go bold and when to hold back is -- well, it's cool. Even better: in the video below, Erik Soto reveals the secret to getting your contouring right for date night, and why you don't want to forget your tragus.

the kat von d shade + light contour palette

The Kat Von D Shade + Light Contour Palette ($55 at and $46 at is an ideal sculpting kit for most people who fall into the very fair to medium-dark complexion range. Three highlight-and-contour duos offer tone options: one cool, one neutral and one warm. The smooth, ultra-fine powder is well pigmented, but sensibly restrained. Almost foolproof, the powder allows you to build up intensity -- you'd have to use a lot to wind up with obnoxious contouring that screams from across the mall. And as you'll see when Erik demonstrates, you can mix and match your highlight shade with your sculpting shade as you like.

How to Contour for Any Lighting_Kat Von D Shade + Light Contour Palette and Brush

Mistake-proof: the Kat Von D Shade + Light Contour Palette and brush (comes with its own case)

the kat von d shade + light contour brush

If you don't already have a great brush for contouring and for highlighting, the Kat Von D Shade + Light Contour Brush ($43 at and $36 at is worth considering. The Shade end is fairly dense yet soft and fits neatly into the hollow beneath the cheekbone. The fluffier Light brush is very handy right there on the other side, and blends the powder beautifully. Plus, although it's a bit big to carry around in your purse (I would know -- people make fun of my daily luggage), it does have that sturdy protective coffin-case.

how to contour for different levels of lighting

How to contour for any lighting_Kat Von D Shade & Light Contour Palette_model Juliana Beattie_makeup Erik Soto

Celebrity makeup artist Erik Soto used the Kat Von D Shade + Light Contour Palette on model Juliana Beattie. She's wearing the first and lightest contour shade with the third, peachy highlight.

One of Erik's key tips for achieving a natural contour effect is to take into account the time of day and the kind of lighting you'll be in. The more light you're in, the less contouring you need. "Your contour shouldn't be noticeable. It should be undetectable, really, especially if you're going to be out in broad daylight," he says. "During the day I would use a whisper of a contour, and then gradually as it gets darker outside, you can add more."

Our second-favourite tip: "Let's say you're going out on a date. I always tell my clients that it's great to do a little bit of research," says Erik. "If you're going to a beautiful restaurant, find out what type of lighting it has. That will determine how much contour you can put on without it being super obvious. 

"You never want to walk into the room and have somebody compliment your contour. You want them to see how beautiful and balanced your skin is."

Our favourite tip: don't forget to sweep the contour shade over your tragus!

I love Erik's makeup application on model Juliana Beattie. It's so fresh and youthful. (More obvious contouring can add years to a face. #nothankyou)

Did you pick up any tips from Erik's demo? And tell the truth: did you already know that tragus thing? *grin*


Opening photos of Kat Von D and Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen via @erik_soto on Instagram. Model and product photography ©JanineFalcon/