Contour before your foundation instead of afterward is a thing. If you regularly sculpt your features with makeup and the before-foundation concept is new to you, settle in: below, two top makeup artists each demonstrate their techniques for very different looks. One is full-on JLo-esque glamour; the other is fresh, anytime-appropriate.
contour before foundation: scott barnes
Veteran celebrity makeup artist Scott Barnes, known for creating that beyond-famous JLo glow, first laid out his contour-first technique in his 2010 book, About Face ($20.99 CAD at chaptersindigo.com). And in a decade, I haven't tried it, despite all intentions of doing so. That's what happens when your own "thing" is throwing on your makeup almost exclusively in the back of moving vehicle. Plus, I'm not really all about contouring. I might do a little shading, and a little highlight, but for the most part I don't really see the need – aside from a few iPhone snaps, I live an off-camera life. Doesn't mean I can't try the look out, though, right?
I interviewed Scott Barnes years ago (three years after his book dropped, actually), about the art of subtle sculpting and bronzer for winter, but we didn't get into his contour-first approach at the time. Doesn't matter because Barnes demonstrated his beauty moves quite recently, in October of last year with YouTube star Tati Westbrook. "I always start with contouring. I always start with the dark and then I add the light," he says at the 4:04 mark in the video below. "It's not about contouring on top of makeup."
Technically, Barnes begins with a liberal application of concealer "to eliminate stuff" before getting into the rest of the mega-star glamorous look. And interesting point: Barnes doesn't use primer. "I don't really need it. I like the contouring and everything to do the work under the foundation so you don't see it."
Confession: I'm mesmerized by Barnes' application techniques. As well as on Jennifer Lopez, his longtime client (he did her makeup for Hustlers, too), he's also worked his magic on Beyoncé, Gwen Stefani, Gwyneth Paltrow, and more. I can't tell you how many times I've watched this video since Tati posted it. The makeup looks fantastic on camera, although Barnes admits it's rather intense for real life. Doesn't mean we couldn't copy some of the tricks for a special event, though. Best to make time for several practice runs, by the way – this isn't something you want to try for the first time on the day-of!
contour before foundation: gucci westman
Makeup artist Gucci Westman, founder of Westman Atelier, has a markedly different approach to beauty. Her celebrity clients include Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, and she has extensive backstage cred for designers such as Rag & Bone, Stella McCartney, Nina Ricci and more. She's also worked closely with Lancôme and Revlon, and has a gazillion magazine editorial shoots under her brush belt. Her personal aesthetic is enhanced natural, makeup applied with a light touch that's less intimidating for someone who doesn't wear much.
When Gucci Westman starts makeup with highlight and contour first, I can easily get behind copying the look because she does it so quickly and achieves a wonderfully fresh finish that presents as naturally-blessed amazing. Here's her how-to:
Side note: my birthday-gift wish list, if I had one, would feature exclusively Westman Atelier makeup, I've decided. Or if I were getting married any time soon or ever, the entire line would be listed in my bridal registry. Yup.
PSA: That gorgeous Lip Suede ($114 CAD at holtrenfrew.com* and $85 USD at net-a-porter.com) is available on its own and as part of The Shanghai Edition from Westman Atelier ($147 USD at net-a-porter.com), a limited-edition box that includes the Westman Atelier mascara; both already on-counter in the US. However, an inconsiderate snow storm rudely delayed the shipment to Holt Renfrew in Canada; there's actually a waiting list of people eagerly anticipating its arrival. Put yourself on it STAT if you're keen to get hands on the Lip Suede or the duo.
contour to apply before foundation
If you're keen to try contouring before foundation, the foundation format you choose should dictate the type of contour formula you apply first. If you plan to wear a liquid or cream base, select a cream or liquid contour and highlight. Try any of the following:
Fenty Beauty Match Stix Matte Skinstick in Amber ($33 CAD and $25 USD at sephora.com)
If you wear a powder foundation, I suspect sticking to powder contour and highlight applied over your base as usual is your best bet.
over to you
Have you ever applied contour and highlight before putting on foundation? If yes, what contour do you use?
Would you apply contour and highlight first?
Would you/have you include/included makeup on your bridal registry? Or do you know anyone who has?
*scottbarnes.com, westmanatelier.com, studiofx.ca and kryolan.com are non-affiliate links