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Sir John Explains The New Way To Contour

Out with the bold, in with the new.

Five years ago,
contouring was arguably the biggest trend in the makeup industry. From defining jawlines to drastically thinning out noses, this makeup technique is all about creating illusions. Or perhaps, it was. We recently spoke with L’Oréal Paris Expert and celebrity makeup artist Sir John, who shared his take on the evolution of contouring and how he approaches the technique today. Keep reading to learn about his thoughts on contouring as well as his makeup tips for contouring the modern way. 

Face Sculpting Is The New Contouring 

Makeup trends and techniques are always shifting, and Sir John explains why he believes that sculpting is the new contouring. 

1. Contouring Can Be Harsh 

If you’re a longtime fan of makeup content on social media, then you’ve likely seen wild contouring transformations involving sharp lines and countless steps. “I like to sculpt instead of contour,” says Sir John. “Contouring is a bit aggressive. We’re coming out of a contour-crazy era when there were seven to eight steps. People were taking knives to contour their noses一it just became the olympics of contouring.”

2. Contouring Is Often Associated With Slimming Features 

There’s nothing wrong with using makeup to enhance your features and boost your confidence, but we never want makeup trends to send us the message that our appearance needs to align with specific beauty standards. 

“We’re in era 2.0 which is sculpting,” says Sir John. “It’s not even about slimming down the face in terms of normalizing body positivity. It’s not about making your cheekbones more Eurocentric as ethnic inclusivity is important, too. We have to think about how some of these things send bad triggers that prevent us from loving ourselves.”

3. Sculpting Improves Selfies 

“Sculpting is great in photos一it really enhances the structure of your face,” he says. And it’s true, a soft definition of the features makes them pop in photos without looking overdone. 

How To Sculpt Like Sir John 

When it comes to trading in harsh contouring for a more natural, sculpted look, Sir John has you covered. Follow his simple tips to start sculpting like the pros.

1. Find The Best Placement 

“The best place to start is the inner ear,” he says. “The little area at the inner ear where we often pierce [tragus], that’s the perfect place to start with a little bit of shading and definition. And you can bring it down into the cheekbones.” 

He also says that a key rule of thumb for sculpting any face shape is to stop at your pupil. “Sometimes I see people pull the contour further down and they start to look like a ventriloquist [doll],” he explains. “No one has a natural curve under their cheekbone when you’re looking at them from the front.” 

2. Application Method Is Key 

If you have an oval-shaped or round face and you don’t have prominent cheekbones, Sir John says that the best method to apply your contour is by “brushing in your shadow.” 

“When I say ‘brush in’ I mean in a circular motion, just start to softly kiss the face with a little warmth underneath the cheekbones,” he explains.

You can do this using a bronzer like the L’Oréal Paris True Match Lumi Bronzer, or you can even achieve a soft sculpt with a powder foundation like the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Fresh Wear 24HR Powder Foundation in a color that’s a few shades deeper than your skin tone. 

“That will create some drama, but it won’t look as cookie-cutter as if you just took a foundation [or contour product] and stripped all over your face,” he says. “That doesn’t work on so many different faces so it does more harm than good.”  

Next: Sir John's Eyebrow Makeup Tips For Men

Photography: Chaunte Vaughn, Senior Art Director: Melissa San Vicente-Landestoy, Associate Creative Producer: Becca Solovay, Makeup Artist: Jonet Williamson, Hair Stylist: Akihisa Yamaguchi, Wardrobe Stylist: Adriana Perez-Bell, Digital Tech: Paul Yem, Model: Chelsea Vaughn  

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