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What is with this Shading (Contouring) thing?



Another from our Q& A Series, this one from FFM FB page.

Our commenter Tracy, asked, (on our last blog post, which you can see here):  “What is with this new shading thing? All this really heavy makeup on the face to contour… is it just for the camera? It’s all so confusing..”

GREAT Question Tracy! So all the heavy contour and highlighting started originally for stage, particularly, theater when harsh lights would flatten actors features,  which is fine, since people are typically far from the stage.




Close, this is obviously drawn in, but from stage only the illusion is seen. Cool huh?

Next, the drag community adopted a lot of the techniques primarily to change male features to softer, more feminine looking features.



These aren’t the best drag makeup pics I’ve seen, but I chose them for the very male features ( like a very square jaw in the second pic) so you can see how it’s softened on the other side. Ru Paul, to me, is the undisputed Queen of drag gorgeousness; He has a great shaped face already, but his makeup skill is undeniable.

Ru Paul Side by Side with himself!

Ru Paul Side by Side with himself!

Now highlight and contour has been adopted somewhat mainstream, but is often overly done, or done poorly. Very soft, subtle highlight and contour CAN enhance or diminish areas of the face- that is actually called corrective makeup, and a good pro is excellent at it, while making it undetectable.

In fact, ALL makeup is applied using 2 things, color theory and light and shadow (also called highlight and contour). The new mainstream movement, sponsored most often by makeup companies pushing product, or social media gurus hoping for a viral trend to hit, is overdone, usually filtered and blurred to ridiculousness, and would result in inch thick makeup if you saw them in person. It is to sell product and social media likes.

This technique can look great in a photoshoot, don’t get me wrong, but it’s often not neccesary, even then. For real, everyday makeup, it’s often overkill. And the gimmicky ones, like clown contouring, penis nose, etc- almost always are a “one size fits all” demo, and that is never the case with real faces. There is specific placement, for specific needs, for specific features based on your individual face. If you are wearing makeup to enhance your personal beauty all of these techniques are rarely necessary. I lightly contour the sides of the tip of my nose ( and have since college) because it is slightly wider than I like, and I highlight the tops of my cheekbones and the inner corner of my eye to make them appear a bit wider. What I do in my makeup are just a few examples of how to appropriately use contour and highlight for MY INDIVIDUAL look.

I used NO contour on her face for this shoot, just a bit of strategic highlighting.

I used NO contour on her face for this shoot, just a bit of strategic highlighting. The gorgeous Jennifer, shot by Harris Davey.

I saw sugar skull contour, animal contour, spider web contour, what looked like mandala contour, now the back of your neck contouring really? REALLY? To me these are all desperate attempts people are making to go viral, therefore making them some internet sensation. Most often they are, again one size is supposed to fit all, with no consideration for the fact that EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT! They are ridiculous. Especially since most of these “tutorials are using the wrong products- like a bronzer or reddish cream makeup, meant to warm skin ( like in most of the examples below), where a shadow (contour) goes, which is always cool, indicating an absence of light. Or they have incorrect placement, such as too low, too close to the mouth, too heavy left unblended and stripey, just wrong, wrong, wrong.

Why do this? what a waste of time and product.

Clown Contour-Why do this? what a waste of time and product.

Are they serious with this?

Are they serious with this?







Honestly, it’s truly getting out of hand. When we start taking ANY body part and contouring it as a way of completely changing and altering it, then this goes beyond just makeup, and into the territory of distorted body image, or worse aggressive marketing, targeted to make you feel badly about your neck, nose, jaw, chin, and any other number of body parts you can be convinced to obsess over. and that is NOT cool with me.

I mean, Come On!

I mean, Come On! I totally love the commenters statement, truly unneccessary.

And now with color correctors? AND, not even needed in the areas where they are placed? Please don’t fall for this hype.


Just so WRONG!

Makeup is a tool, yes, and it CAN absolutely be used to transform something you don’t love, BUT it should not obliterate your own features and looks. It should enhance, empower, and impart confidence to the wearer. If it doesn’t do that for you, then stop wearing it, or learn a different way to wear it from a well-trained professional.

And don’t forget to submit YOUR makeup questions on our fb page (link above) in the comments or to

As always FFM offers a sample color with every full sized order- this week it’s Temptress Cheek color!


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