Contouring is a complicated beauty technique where makeup artists expertly use product, shadows, and light to emphasize bone structure. It's not the domain of amateurs. It requires lots of (the right) product (for your skin tone), which is buffed and blended via tools until you look like a cut-from-stone, more enhanced version of yourself. It's meant to amplify cheekbones, brows, face shape, and more.
So yeah, Kim Kardashian, who has exerted plenty of influence on modern makeup trends, is heavily "kontoured." She doesn't look like that when she goes to bed or when there are no cameras around. The process is way more difficult than attempting the cat-eye flick or highlighting the cupid's bow.
Most regular women can't and don't know how to contour properly without a makeup artist who has a few Kardashian gigs littering his or her resume. BuzzFeed brilliantly posted a video where makeup artisans enlisted four guinea pigs, um, volunteers, to have their faces contoured and even let them see the results as they unfolded in real time. Shock, fear, terror, and recoil sum up their reactions, rightfully so.
Before giving herself up to the contour, one of the female volunteers hesitantly asks, "This isn't going to hurt, right?" A valid question.
Physically, there is no pain involved when being contoured. But mentally? It's like a punch to the gut or a wound that will leave a scar, since lines of bronzer and product on one's face, prior to being buffed out and blended, makes them look like extras on a movie about the zombie apocalypse.
The other countourees — a pretty blonde who looks like Kristen Bell, a cute and lively brunette, and a brown-haired dude who seems like a really good sport — get to see how contouring turns out mid-process, with highlights and lowlights, and they (understandably) hate it. They actually ask for the mirrors to be taken away.
Here's how the Bell doppelganger fared mid-contour. Go ahead, peek through your fingers, since your hands are covering your eyes, right?
But then when these brave souls see the finished product, they are actually quite happy with the results. "Holy shit" is the reaction of the brunette when she sees the end result. I can't argue, since all of her features are amplified and look amazing. But that's because she was in the hands of an expert and in proper lighting.
Without the right light, the right products, the right technique, and the right artist guiding the ship, contouring can go horribly, horrifically off course. You don't want to navigate those waters without the right captain, so maybe reserve contouring for weddings, formal events, or any situation where you can hire a makeup artist or consult a pro.