Contouring: the Art of transformation nina ubhi
F a n c y a s l i m m e r n o s e ? s h a r p e r c h e e k b o n e s ? a m o r e s c u l p t e d j a w l i n e ? F o r g e t p l a s t i c s u r g e r y — a l l t h i s , a n d m o r e , i s p o s s i b l e w i t h t h e m a k e u p t r e n d t h a t h a
f you’d uttered the word ‘ contouring’ just five years ago, chances are you would’ve been met with a blank stare of bewilderment. Back then, a woman’s makeup regimen was much simpler — pops of colour, a bright lipstick, a dash of blush and mascara. Then Kim Kardashian posted two selfies of herself ( but, of course), and the Internet went wild. The first was a picture of her face with a series of light and dark strokes ( very much resembling war paint), while the second showcased the final effect — more prominent cheekbones and a slimmer nose — and the next makeup fad was born.
What few people know is that contouring existed long before Kim Kardashian came along. The process dates as far back as the 1500s, when threatre and stage actors applied shades onto their faces to highlight their facial expressions. Even old Hollywood sirens such as Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe were no strangers to the makeup technique that used to subtly sculpt their faces for the big screen.
So what exactly is contouring, and why the sudden interest? To put it simply, it is a makeup technique that uses light and dark shades to subtly shape the face and make it more symmetrical.
“When you apply makeup, you are basically applying colours to your face that are meant to complement your skin, hair and eyes,” explains Dubai- based celebrity makeup artist Nina Ubhi, who is currently acting as the Resident Beauty Specialist with Sisters Beauty Lounge. “But contouring is a form of subtly reshaping a person’s face. Not everyone is happy with every part of their face. If they feel like their forehead is too big, we can give it the illusion of being smaller, through contouring. If they think their nose is bulbous, we can actually slim it down. If they feel like they don’t have cheekbones, we can create cheekbones — because everyone has those features, it’s just that some have them more hidden than others. ”
Over the years, contouring has developed into an art form in itself. More and more women have taken to playing around with the shape- shifting beauty technique, and it is all too common to find pictures of the ‘ war paint’ up on Instagram. That can be credited to its versatility — contouring can be done in hundreds of ways. But unlike putting on makeup, it is not just about applying colour to your face. One must understand their face shape and skin type, and know how to play around with light and shadows.
All this comes with experience, says Nina Ubhi. “I first analyse a client when she doesn’t have any makeup on, and I can instantly tell what kind of look will suit her. As a makeup artist, I aim to create a type of symmetry and balance to a person’s face. There are a lot of women, for whom, it doesn’t matter what you do — makeup simply does not look good and they are better off with a more natural look. Yet, for some women, heavier makeup actually looks good.”
That is not to say one can go overboard with it. Applying the light or dark shades indiscriminately can go very wrong very quickly and come across as ‘ fake’ or pasty. Which is why the first rule is to know the features you want to highlight, and those you want to disguise. And remember — it isn’t about hiding behind the layers or makeup, but about letting your best features shine through. As Nina says, “There is no perfect face shape. Every shape is different and beautiful in its own way. It’s just my job to give it symmetry.”
Now, contouring can be a little mystifying — especially because there are so many different ways to do it. Here, Nina talks us through the process for three different face shapes.
janice@ khaleejtimes. com