The only make-up tip my mum gave me when I was young was how to apply a small dab of blusher to my cheeks, bringing spots of colour to my always-pallid complexion. She'd demonstrate first, gurning in the mirror as she blotted the rouge onto her chops; there was no particular science to it: just smile and sweep. Needless to say, when the brush was passed to me, I'd fail miserably and uneven circles of pink would sit unblended on my pale cheeks.
Of course, everyday make-up has since become a lot more technical. Contouring – the application of shadows and highlights to define and shape the face – is now one of the most popular ways to prettify a person. A stripe here, a dot there, this make-up method is effectively a clever trick of the eye; using two or more shades of foundation to give the illusion of high, model-esque cheekbones on even the roundest of faces.
Once the preserve of drag queens and stage actors, contouring was made famous by Kim Kardashian (who else?), when last year she shared a collage of photos with her fans, revealing her secret contouring hacks. Since then, the make-up trick has become a mainstay of Instagram and teenage bedrooms everywhere.
Next month, Topshop Beauty will launch its own line of contouring make-up. The Sculpting Collection will include a brow gel, a lip contour, and a special contour wand, and Topshop is even hosting pop-up "Contour Counters" in flagship stores in London, Manchester and Liverpool to celebrate – educating customers on how to sculpt their own faces.
Because – and I'm speaking as a novice here – it looks like you need a ruler, a compass, and possibly a degree in fine art to really nail this trend. As well as streaks of shaded colour in the hollows of your cheeks, you can also paint around the edges of your face, dot foundation over your forehead, and apply highlighter over the bridge of your nose, all before mixing each section together to create the perfect blend.
And some people are getting inventive, too. One creative contourer uses Sellotape to create a stencil, around which she applies different shades of foundation and bronzer. Once she's finished, she peels off the tape, blends the edges, et voilà!
Others have taken the trend to the next level, posting arty photos of their pre-blended looks, many of which are arguably more fascinating than the finished product. One such YouTuber has coined the "clown contouring technique" where she carefully applies colour correctors, brighteners, dark contours and blusher around her face to create a clownish appearance. With wide, drawn-on lips, rosy cheeks and even a "poop emoji" on her forehead, this method is a far cry from Kim Kardashian and her fastidiously fashioned features.
Topshop's Sculpting Collection launches on 7 April with workshops at London Oxford Circus, 7-9 April; and Manchester Arndale and Liverpool One, 22-23 April
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