What's The Difference Between Strobing & Contouring? Here's Your Full Breakdown

It seems like everyday brings about a new must-try makeup trend. As soon as you master the basics of contouring and finally feel like your Kim Kardashian makeup game is on-point, every magazine in the world proclaims the death of this aesthetic in favor of a more subtle highlight-only technique called strobing. To me, both of these makeup trends sound like they could be the same thing, but what's the difference between strobing and contouring? I've barely mastered the fine art of foundation and mascara, let alone the next level shading and shaping of my face. Lucky for you, I've done some serious research into this contouring versus strobing debate to help you (and me in the process) figure out not only how to achieve both these looks, but why one might be better for your face than the other.

What Is Contouring?

First, I investigated the much maligned contouring, which because of the Kardashians has both risen to frame and sadly gotten a bad wrap. Contouring combines a mix of darker skin tone shades to chisel your features with lighter shades for highlighting and making cheekbones pop. Contouring gives shape to an area of the face and enhances your natural facial structure through subtle makeup. Note I said subtle—get those stripes of deep brown and pops of too-white highlighter out of your mind because the secret here is all about slightly varying shades that create the illusion of imperceptibly defined peaks and valleys on your face.

Also, make sure to keep whatever shade you're using to contour matte! Most ladies are using bronzer to define their face which often has a slight sheen to it when really what you're looking for is a brown that's only slightly darker than your natural skin tone. To apply, start with a small, fluffy eyeshadow brush for precision and place the darker shade along the side of your temples, under your cheekbones, and under your jawline. Then, use a regular foundation brush or a damp egg sponge and tap it into where you've placed the contour to make sure there's no demarcation lines. Then add a bright colored blush to the apples of cheeks and highlighter along your forehead, cheekbones, and bridge of your nose. And voila! A new Kardashian sibling is born. Just remember, less really is more.

What Is Strobing?

Now on to strobing, contouring's dramatically simpler sister. If all you can think of is going to a rave when you hear that word, allow me to break it down for you. Strobing is a technique that only uses light to enhance your face, no bronzer or dark powders involved here. Basically, you're taking all of your usual contouring steps, but just ditching the part where you carve out your features and heading straight for the highlighter stick. This approach to makeup is supposed to mimic what it's like to be under bright, flattering lights, hence the heavy-handed approach to illuminating products.

The result should be dewy and fresh, like you're being lit-up from within. Avoid shimmer or chunky glitter because this is all about creating a soft radiant glow. To get the look, start with a moisturized face and then try mixing in a bit of luminizer with your foundation to get glowing right out the gate. Avoid using anything matte in your routine as this will just dull down the results. Use highlighter to enhance where light would naturally hit your face, which for most of us is across the temples, cheekbones, and bridge of your nose. If you're afraid of looking oily, avoid putting any highlighter on your forehead. If you're lighter skinned, opt for champagne colors, while darker skin tones will look stunning in more golden hues.

Now that you are officially trained in the art of contouring and strobing, get out there and spread your knowledge of artificially chiseled features to all the tragically zebra striped ladies out there!

Once you're experienced enough, graduate to clown contouring. It might be your new favorite beauty technique.

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