Nobody needs contouring, but let's be real — experimenting with it can be a blast. Contouring, the secret behind all those chiseled cheekbones on Instagram, can drastically alter the appearance of a person's face. But how does contouring look on different face shapes? Namely, our own face shape? It turns out that the answer isn't as straightforward as you'd think.
We all know about face shape charts and how they manage to make us feel like our face is a problem that needs correcting. Although there are as many face shape guides as there are Beauty Blender knockoffs nowadays, Cosmopolitan is here to break it down for us. Apparently all human faces can be compared to shapes in a kindergartner's toy box: circles, squares, rectangles, ovals, hearts, and diamonds (hey, I'll take it over apples and oranges). Keep in mind that the oval face shape, which pretty much nobody has, is considered ideal by today's standards. Whatever that means.
When it comes to contouring by face shape, there are basically two paths to choose between. The first option (the more natural route): Contour your face according to your underlying bone structure. No tricky highlighting here. The second, more corrective option: Use contouring to make your face appear more like an oval... but run the risk of a contour fail. Celebrity makeup artist Nick Barose told The Cut that extreme contouring can totally work in a controlled environment, AKA a studio, but it often falls apart in real life.
"Contouring for everyday just isn’t realistic," Barose said, "unless you are Kim Kardashian and can hire people to follow you around, like a camera crew with a light. But light conditions change throughout the day." So yes, you can totally contour your face to look like an entirely different person, but don't expect it to look as good in the grocery store as it did at your vanity.
That being said, wearing makeup is fun. Like dressing up for Halloween, trying out new and different looks pushes your creative boundaries, pumps up your skills, and leads to great moments of discovery, like when you learn you really do like yourself in a smokey eye. Because contouring has the power to drastically alter your appearance, it's the perfect sandbox to play in when you're feeling daring. Still struggling to identify your face shape? Check out the below video.
With that in mind, let's take a look at how YouTubers contour their unique face shapes.
A Round Face
FabulousNat highlights the center planes of her face, while contouring along the perimeter of her face and under her cheekbones gives her extra dimension.
A Heart Shaped Face
MakeupByEvon has a heart shaped face, which is wider across the temples than the jaw. A little bit of contouring at her temples and under her cheekbones makes the upper half of her face appear narrower.
A Square Face
In the mother of all contouring tutorials, GlamBoothTV uses more foundation products than most of us have ever owned to contour a client's square face.
An Oblong Face
Kimberly Dawn uses powder products for a subtle, wearable daily contour.
An Oval Face
Using cream products and a handy dandy blending sponge, GlamourByBritt creates a glowing contoured look on her oval face.