The “No Contouring” Contour

No Contouring Contour

It’s no secret that I am not a fan of contouring. Here’s why: When I was starting out as a makeup artist in the 1980s, contouring was everywhere and makeup was all about changing your features. It was about trying to make your nose look smaller or your face look more narrow. You started by focusing on what you didn’t like about yourself and tried to “fix” it with makeup. Getting ready involved a ton of products and a lot of time. Instead of looking like yourself, it looked artificial. I think a lot of women started to feel like they weren’t beautiful unless they had lots of makeup on. My approach to beauty was the total opposite. Makeup should be about celebrating—not altering—a woman’s features. This is one of the reasons I started Bobbi Brown.

Today contouring is having a serious moment—it’s everywhere. Because I’ve always been more about a less is more approach, people love to ask me about it. I am always quick to say why I don’t like it, but I do have to acknowledge that for some women the major transformation of serious makeup is what gives them a confidence boost and that’s great. To me, makeup has always been about making women feel like their best, most confident selves. For some women, contouring is going to be that route. There is a reason women crave a contoured look, it’s dramatic and sexy. But, I think there’s an easier, more natural way to do it—here’s how:


No Contouring Contour


I think round faces are beautiful, but if you want to thin out the face you can do it using simple highlighting. Apply a cream blush high on the cheek bone and add a highlighter to the top of the cheekbone. This will make the face appear thinner—I call it a makeup facelift.


Use a natural toned bronzing powder one shade warmer than your complexion to add warmth to a pale neck or to make the neck appear thinner.

No Contouring Contour


When people think of contouring, they assume it just means accentuating the cheekbones, but you can use highlighter on top of the cheekbone, under brow, and at the inner corner of eye to accentuate your facial structure and brighten the face.


Eye shadow is often used to contour the eyes if you want to add depth. Instead of using a very dark color and blending it down, you just need an eye shadow two shades darker than your natural lid color—this looks more natural. This way, you add more depth as opposed to starting dark and trying to blend to make it lighter.


To me, makeup has always been about making women feel like their best, most confident selves—it’s about embracing and enhancing your natural features, not editing them. Instead of trying to change how you look, remember to be who you are. This will be you at your most beautiful.

If you want to watch me demonstrating some of the above techniques, check out my appearance on Good Morning America here.



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14 thoughts on “The “No Contouring” Contour

  1. I’m happy to see YOUR “take” on contouring which goes w/ your mantra of always looking natural. With my very, very fair complexion, I’ve never found one of your bronzers to use to create a sharper jawline (in my 60’s) & highlighting near my eyes shows the lines too much. I’ve used taupe or a similar light eye shadow as my bronzer to lightly define cheekbones & around jawline. As far as highlighting, I use you your Eye Brightener instead of concealer in a v shape under my eyes to add light to the center of my face. My face looks lifted, natural and I still have my very round face….I think a round face is more youthful & shouldn’t be contoured into another shape.


  2. AMEN!!! Someone else who hates contouring! It’s become way too much! Makeup applications should be simple and effortlessly show a woman’s natural beauty, vs paint-by-numbers, then blend & blend and hope that you blended well enough so it doesn’t look silly or too much, and the heavy layers!… Terrible. What’s wrong with a little bronzer, a little blush & some highlighter (shimmer brick anyone?)in the right places looks wayyyyy better and more natural any time! Thank you for making such wonderful products that highlight a woman’s natural beauty xoxo.


  3. I absolutely agree with your vision for natural-looking make-up. I really do prefer adding “light” to my face instead of painting on the “shadows” that contouring seems to be about.


  4. Thank you for this… I was afraid I was missing something in my makeup routine… Contouring is trending and yet hard to muster.. If applied wrongly one tends to look somewhat overly sculpted. To enhancing beauty!!!! xoxoxo


  5. The Bobbi philosophy stays true and doesn’t break to trend! Bobbi Brown remains a pillar of Beauty that I am happy to stand behind!!!!


  6. I’ve never understood the point in doing contour. Unless you’re on Broadway and need to emphasize shapes in the face I see no practical use for it during a woman’s regular daily routine. Beauty is all about celebrating you!


  7. Couldn’t agree more. I am befuddled by this whole contouring thing. Why do people feel the need to change their face with something that makes them look artificial????

    Appreciate Bobbi’s approach and great products.


  8. As a professional makeup artist…. Thank you.

    I get clients in daily asking for the over contoured look. The whole beauty blogger/social media trend has caused 2 things to happen….

    1. Tragic, overdone, looks that are completely unnecessary.
    2. Causes low self esteem because it teaches women this is what you must do to feel pretty.

    Neither are very empowering.
    Just say no to contouring. Thank you Bobbi for having the courage to speak up, even if it looses sales.

    Sonia Roselli-
    Pro makeup artist Chicago


  9. What about in photography where a woman’s natural features can get a little lost? Isn’t it important to add back in the shadows where the flash/lights will erase?


  10. Nice work as always.

    I was wondering if BB has considered going cruelty free? It is so disappointing to have all this creativity linked to the sad, unnecessary treatment of defenseless animals.

    I hope to hear that Bobbi Brown changes her choice so that I can enjoy her makeup line again.


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