If you're never heard of contouring before, it's safe to assume you've been living under a rock for the past year. Thanks to the Kardashian sisters, this trend has taken the makeup world by storm. After Kim Kardashian posted some before and after shots of her contoured face, everyone has been eager to hop on board. Despite the fact that she made the trend go big, the Kardashians didn't invent contouring.
Women have been contouring their faces for quite some time. They may not have been using contouring kits like many do today, but playing with the highlights and shadows of the face is not something that people started doing in the 2010s. Contouring can actually be traced back all the way to the 1500s, according to Faith Xue at Byrdie. It may not have been called contouring, and they definitely did not use cult favorite blending brushes, but the concept was the same.
Although the Kardashian clan didn't invent this big trend, they definitely had a hand in making it as popular as it is today. It has even influenced spin-offs such as "clown contouring," which involves, well, drawing clown makeup on your face and then blending it out — kind of weird, kind of amazing, right? Whether you love it or hate it, I have a feeling this trend is going to stay around for a bit longer.
Personally, I think the full-face contour that Kardashian does is a bit too intense for everyday, but to each her own! The contouring of the past is definitely not as high maintenance as what Kim K does, but it is contouring none-the-less. Take a look below to see where the trend really got its roots.
As I mentioned earlier, contouring started all the way back in the mid-1500s. According to Xue, actors would use chalk and soot to define their facial features while on stage. Not exactly as luxe as your favorite contouring palette, but if it works...
As actresses moved indoors with artificial lighting, soot was no longer a viable option for contour, Xue reports. Instead actors used "pancake makeup" and grease paint to achieve those sculpted cheekbones.
3. Marlene Dietrich
Girl is working some serious cheekbones! The actress apparently paid super close attention to overhead lighting to get the perfect sculpted look, according to Xue.
4. Claudette Colbert
Claudette Colbert has a more subtle approach by using just enough shading under her cheekbones to make them stand out.
5. Vivien Leigh
The actress used a strong contour to show off her cheekbones in 1937.
6. Carole Lombard
You can clearly see the contour and highlight going on on Carole Lombard's cheekbones.
7. Max Factor
Max Factor taught women the art of contouring at his makeup school in the '40s. He used rouge (i.e. blush) to work as a shadow on women's cheeks, according to Glamour Daze.
8. Gene Tierney
Gene Tierney creates shadows along the side of her face with a warm contour.
9. Linda Darnell
A hint of color along the cheekbones gives Linda Darnell a more structured look.
10. Maureen O'Hara
Maureen O'Hara has some serious cheekbones in this photo.
11. Grace Kelly
The actress has a subtle bit of color along her hairline for her contour.
12. Jayne Mansfield
A warm blush dusted along the sides of her face creates dimension and structure.
13. Marilyn Monroe
Just a subtle shadow carves out Marilyn Monroe's cheekbones.
14. Audrey Hepburn
In the '50s, Audrey Hepburn used slightly darker colors to create shading on the sides of her face.
15. Elizabeth Taylor
A young Elizabeth Taylor shows off her contouring skills with rouge strategically placed through the hollows of her cheeks.
Twiggy uses a warm blush to accentuate the hollows of her cheeks in this photo.
17. Anjelica Huston
The actress rocks a strong contour with a pink-toned red blush.
18. Linda Evangelista
A slightly pink-tinted contour emphasizes Linda Evangelista's cheekbones.
19. Kate Moss
The model rocks some serious contour on the runway for Calvin Klein in 1998.
20. Gwenyth Paltrow
Paltrow wears a natural contour.
21. Cindy Crawford
Paired with bold brows and a bright red lip, there's no denying the model is wearing some natural contour on her cheeks.
22. Janet Jackson
Jackson could cut glass with her super-chiseled cheeks bones.
23. Kim Kardashian
Although Kardashian may have not invented contouring, she definitely had a lot to do with bringing it to the masses. Thank you for making my cheekbones that much more defined, Kim K!