Wednesday, February 1, 2012

KHADINE WEIGHS IN: Contouring Not for Dark Skin Tones?

Recently, there was a guest post on Temptalia on the subject of "blushing and highlighting", where the author (Victoria) essentially advocated AGAINST contouring dark skin tones as there's a chance of it looking "muddy".....this caused quite a stir in the blogosphere!  Some of Temptalia's readers took offense and voiced their complaints in the comment section below the article, as well as via Twitter.  I, on the other hand, wasn't as negatively moved by the statement.  I certainly disagree with the author on the suggestion that dark skin cannot or should not be contoured, but I actually see the logic in what she's saying (I'll explain further).  Here's the exact quote: [Click below to continue]......

"If you’re of a darker skintone, like NC/W 45+, skip the contour and stick only with highlight. Contour colours unfortunately rarely run too dark, and you risk the color looking muddy on the face."

So I believe the two issues most people had with this statement was the fact that:
1) She said to "skip the contour and stick only with highlight," as if contouring isn't a viable option for women of color.
2) She described the hypothetical result of contouring dark skin tones as "looking muddy."

I am in the category she's referring to (I wear NC 50 in MAC Select SPF 15 foundation), and I contour all the she was a little off in that assessment.  However, I wouldn't totally write-off everything she said!  I do understand some of her logic

For one.....
When she says: "...skip the contour and stick only with highlight."  This does make sense in the case of women with very deep skin tones (Alek Wek is the only person that comes to mind immediately).  Here's the thing, what makes contouring (and its counterpart, highlighting) effective is CONTRAST--however you can best achieve it.  If you have a deep enough complexion to be able to use IT as the contour color, then that's okay! 
Model, Alek Wek (Photo via:
It's the same thing on the opposite end of the spectrum.  If you are really fair (think Nicole Kidman) and it makes more sense to ONLY contour (and use YOUR SKIN as a highlight), then so be it!
Nicole Kidman at the 44th Annual CMA's (Photo via:
Anyway, if you're of a dark complexion and CAN find appropriate contour colors, then by all means...there's no need to limit yourself to this thinking.  I think Victoria had the right idea, but happened to be a little off in the shade range (as I said, I'm an NC 50 and contouring isn't an issue for me).

Moving on....
Her claim that "Contour colours unfortunately rarely run too dark," is not a stretch at all!   There ARE limited options out there for contouring darker complexions.  The deeper your color, the harder it is to find something even darker for contouring (I didn't say impossible, I said harder).  Hell, sometimes you're lucky if you even find a color to MATCH YOU in the first place! Lol.  So there was nothing wrong with that part of her statement.  Yes, you can use black pigments to deepen your foundation...but the average person would just rather be able to pick up a ready-made shade at their local cosmetics counter.

Now As far as....
This part: " risk the color looking muddy on the face," I didn't take offense to it because I do know that ANYONE of ANY complexion can be described as looking "muddy"... if the contouring isn't done right!  Please see Exhibit A below.

Lindsay Lohan in Court in 2010 (photo via:

Of course contouring CAN be done on dark skin tones!  In fact, when executed well, the results are magnificent (ask Sam Fine)!  However, some individuals of deeper complexions may benefit more from highlighting (especially if color options are limited).

Celebrity Makeup Artist, Sam Fine, with Supermodel Iman (photo via:
Now, on a Separate Note....
One of Temptalia's readers commented that Victoria's statement was ignorant, that she was not educated about certain products, then suggested that she take a look at Cover Girl Queen Collection Bronzers as an option for contouring darker skin.  Victoria responded:

"As noted in my previous contouring post, I do not use or recommend bronzer for contouring. The Covergirl option has an orange cast which gives a beautiful bronzed glow to the skin, but lacks the grey tone that makes a more natural looking contour."

To Victoria's credit, a lot of well-established makeup artists advise AGAINST using bronzer as contour.  As far as CoverGirl Queen Collection bronzers giving off an orange glow, I guess that's something to be debated.  The reader defended her comment saying she hasn't noticed anything of the sort.  Either way, it reminds me that this is a product I want to talk about (in relation to contouring)!  I too have something to add about this supposed "glow," so this is a perfect segue to my next post.

Please stay tuned for the follow-up to this discussion, which will focus on this specific product (CoverGirl Queen Collection Bronzer) and how effective it is in contouring dark skin tones.

UPDATE: After reading this article, Christine of Temptalia was moved to share with her readers.  In addition to the main content of the original post, she included my product suggestions for contouring dark skin tones. Click here to take a look.

Thank you so much for reading! Please leave your thoughts below!



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