Me and Eugenia Weston at the IMATS Los Angeles
If you’re a makeup artist you already know of Eugenia Weston. And if you’re a makeup fanatic you might also. She is a high-profile makeup artist for print, film and TV who has been in the business for four decades and counting.
Eugenia has worked and trained alongside some of the best of the pioneer-class of makeup artists, such as Bob Schiffer, a legendary Hollywood makeup artist who sculpted the on-screen faces of Joan Crawford and Rita Hayworth, for whom he was the exclusive makeup artist at Columbia.
I had the opportunity to attend her contouring lecture at the IMATS and of course, picked up some tips to share with the class. Here goes:
-Contouring is back. Hallelujah!
-Always remember these two basic principles of contouring:
- Darker colors will recede an area, and are used to visually ‘push back’ an area of the face
- Lighter colors highlight an area, and are used to bring forth or visually enlarge an area of the face
-The point of contouring? Balance.
The Golden Ratio
Before you put a brush or sponge to the skin, take a moment to examine the face. Consider the rule of thirds, which is the idea that ideal facial symmetry resides in the face being distributed in a 1:3 ratio.
This means it is distributed in 3 sections of equal length both vertically (from top to bottom) and horizontally (from side to side).
Test this for fun by taking a ruler and measuring from the top of forehead to brow. Brow to tip of nose. Nose to tip of chin. These three areas should be of equal approximate length. If they are not, some contouring can be done to visually create symmetry.
Contouring under the chin and jaw defines, visually shortens the bottom third of the face
Example. Weston, on measuring a model’s face, found that the top one-third of her face was somewhat shorter in length relative to the bottom third (from nose to tip of chin), which was longer.
To create balance she did the following: visually lengthened the model’s forehead by adding light color at the crown to highlight the area. Next, she added dark color to the chin and below the jaw to visually shorten it. The balancing effect was instant and striking.
The model’s face, beautiful to begin with, just looked better, more visually appealing and somehow right.
Face Contour Kit by SENNA Cosmetics
Eugenia Weston has a contouring kit, a trio of cream to powder colors to highlight and contour, that she created for the artists on TV show Desperate Housewives. The SENNA Face Contour Kit includes a brush and placement instructions.
Whether you use this kit or a different product, consider the following:
- The dark color you use contouring should be a grey brown. This will approximate the look of a real shadow best.
- Weston recommends using creams for contour work because they blend better than powder. Also, cream formulations are easier to touch up and make for a more real-life look on film.
- Shading will give the face a more sophisticated (read: mature) look.
- Utilize reverse contouring on dark skin tones. Instead of adding more dark color to push back an area on a dark complexion, add light color immediately next to the area. This light color will automatically create a dark contour by contrast.
The Triangle of Light
The area within the triangle below is where you want to focus your highlighting efforts. Eugenia’s kit has a pink tone that can be used to add low lights, which are softer than the starker, yellow-ish color that is used for straight contouring and shading work.
The Triangle of Light
Perk up your Triangle of Light by adding high or low-light to the following areas
- around the eye (browbone area and inner corners)
- above the top lip
- below the bottom lip
Contouring VIPs, or Very Important Places
Eugenia Weston and model
Weston worked on a model during the class, demonstrating contouring and highlighting on a model whose skin had moisturizer, primer and foundation applied first, and in that order.
Weston went heavy with the contour (above) to demonstrate key areas to contour: Forehead and cheekbone (left); nose and under the bottom lip (right)
The first step in contouring for many is to hit the cheeks. Weston recommends to place the grey brown contour to hug the cheek, extending only to the outer edge of the eye. Another common area to contour is under the jaw.
If you wish to contour the nose do the following: apply two vertical nose “stripes” that line up with the two natural lines above the top lip.
When contouring, remember to blend, blend and blend.
After placing contour and highlighting, blend to perfection
The finished look, definitely subtle enough for everyday
Here’s the thing about contouring. Many everyday ladies stay the heck away from it, because it seems technical or complicated. When it’s done for print or screen by professionals, it often is. However, you can engage in some simple visual trickery of your own by experimenting with one or two contouring moves of your own.
As your confidence and sleight of hand improves, you may be tempted to create even more beautiful illusions. I’ve been contouring, amateur style, for a while and I really enjoy it. I’ve shared some ideas with friends who have also picked up on and are enjoying it with great satisfaction and effect.