Like plenty of other beauty lovers, I'm sure, I've only just added contouring to my regular, everyday makeup routine. Prior to the recent onslaught of contouring powders, creams and palettes on the market, I typically reserved chiseling out my cheekbones for special occasions only. After a long period of really only having one contouring product in my stash (NYX Blush in Taupe $5), I recently added Kevyn Aucoin The Sculpting Powder in Medium ($44) and Alima Pure Contour Powder in Sombra ($20) to my collection, and not to toot my own horn or anything, but I think this trio contains pretty much everything you could ever want or need for light to medium skin tones.
L to R: Kevyn Aucoin The Sculpting Powder in Medium, NYX Blush in Taupe, Alima Pure Contour Powder in Medium
My contouring brush of choice is the Real Techniques Contour Brush. It's soft, doesn't shed and is the perfect size for carving out the cheekbone. Kevyn Aucoin The Sculpting Powder in Medium is the deepest of the three powders, and it's a medium brown with cool, grey-undertones. NYX Blush in Taupe is noticeably more taupe and mauve in comparison, but still very cool-toned. Alima Pure Contour Powder in Sombra is the palest of the three, and it's a cool-toned tan-brown. Notice the common theme here? They're all cool-toned. This is key for any great contouring product, as a natural contour is meant to look like a shadow under your cheekbone, and not a sunlit warmth or radiant glow (like bronzer).
For the longest time, I only owned NYX Taupe, and I thought it was a decent enough powder - soft, medium, buildable pigmentation, and adequately blendable. However, after I tried the powders from Kevyn Aucoin and Alima Pure, those two quickly surpassed NYX on every front. Sure, Taupe is still a fantastic drugstore option, but when you compare the three, Kevyn Aucoin's is much more richly pigmented, blendable and smooth, and Alima Pure's applies more smoothly than NYX's, and Sombra appears much more natural on the skin than Taupe. If I had to rank them, I'd say Kevyn Aucoin comes in at the top with Alima Pure coming in at a close second, and NYX in third place, although it is still a great product, especially for the price.
My method of contouring includes applying the product directly under my cheekbone first, so that the most product is concentrated there, before extending it to my temples and down under my jawline. Occasionally, I will ever so lightly contour the sides of my nose too. Then, blend, blend, blend. For my cheeks, I always blend the product upwards, never downwards. I keep the contour product under my cheekbone only (I extend the contour from my ears to about two to three inches in...I stop around the outside corners of my eyes), and never under the apples of my cheeks.
Wearing Kevyn Aucoin The Sculpting Powder in Medium
If you have a light to medium skin tone, like I do, and you've struggled with contouring and muddy looking skin, give one of these three powders a try. After you have the right product at your fingertips, all it takes is practice, and you'll get there in no time.