This year has seen some great new trends in beauty, but none have inspired cult devotion the way that contouring has. Although Kim Kardashian popularized contouring through Instagram, the 2015 defining moments in contouring saw the cheekbone-carving trend taken to extremes — and the predictable backlash against it. As anybody who has a computer screen and a pulse knows by now, contouring works by emphasizing dark and light planes of the face to add further dimension where needed. The Kardashians use it to sculpt their enviably chiseled cheekbones, but the intrinsic appeal of contouring lies in its ability to accentuate or minimize features. Also, who wouldn't like to see themselves sporting that Kardashian glow at least once?
Though contouring can be used for the greater good (like for a photo op at a snazzy New Year's party), critics have zeroed in on the technique, reviving the old argument that women who contour are — wait for it — wearing too much makeup. As if we haven't heard that before. Even Rob Scheppy, the makeup artist responsible for the best of Kim K's contoured looks, told The Cut that contouring can look like a mask if it's not worn under the appropriate lighting conditions, meaning studio lighting (if you're a Kardashian, your personal photographers assure that the light is always right). "There is a huge misconception about contouring in general," Scheppy said. "Everyone can benefit from it, but it doesn't mean using it on all ten parts of your face."
Contouring has a time and a place, although of course it's up to the wearer to determine what that is. Makeup should be worn for fun and to make us feel good. If a full-on Kardashian contour gets your endorphins pumping, I say reach for that Anastasia Beverly Hills contouring kit and go to town.
Now let's take a moment to look back on the greatest contouring moments of 2015.
1. Clown Contouring
YouTuber Esther Isabel Amado Romo, aka BellaDeLune, released the contouring tutorial that broke the internet. Filmed in reaction to criticism she'd received for her contouring, Romo pains her face like a clown's in the video. Just when the viewer is afraid she's gone too far, she blends it out for surprisingly subtle final look.
2. Men Who Can Contour
BuzzFeed compiled a list of makeup artists who identify as male rocking a full contour. Above is makeup artist Motha Milan Beckham, owning the look.
3. Contouring Kits
Anastasia Beverly Hills The Original Contouring Kit, $40, anastasiabeverlyhills.com
First came the Anastasia Beverly Hills Contouring Kit, and then contouring kits began popping up like mushrooms.
This is like the highlighter-obsessive's answer to contouring. Strobing is all about using light on the high planes of the face to create glowing dimension.
4. Bobbi Brown Speaking Out Against Contouring
Celebrated makeup artist Bobbi Brown is all about natural makeup — so it wasn't all that surprising when she admitted she isn't a fan of the contouring trend in an interview with the New York Post. "The contouring trend is so wrong because it tells women there’s something wrong with their face,” she said.
4. Kim Kardashian West's 50 Step Contouring Class
Racked reporter Arabelle Sicardi had the chance to attend Kim K's makeup masterclass, and her report on the amount of products and time a full Kardashian face requires is eye-opening in a "my bank account can never afford that" kind of way.
5. Boob Contouring
It was a revelation that contouring can be used other places than the face — like on your boobs. Kylie Jenner caught flak when she had a supposed contouring malfunction, but the next time I wear a low cut dress, you bet I'll be highlighting my boobs for some oomph too.
The ultimate achievement for contouring in 2015: with the release of Kim K's downloadable emoji pack, contouring finally transcended the written word.
Images: Getty Images (2), Motha Milan Beckham; Iconic London; Nip+Fab ; Kris Jenner/Twitter; BellaDeLune/YouTube