Do You Have to Wear Foundation to Contour?

Contouring has become a popular way to accentuate the natural beauty of your face’s shape. But do you need to wear a foundation with contouring makeup? Or can you skip the foundation and just use contour and concealer?  We have researched what top beauty experts say gives you the best definition for smooth lines. 

While some consumers think it’s fine to skip the foundation when contouring, makeup artists believe you need a base foundation to create defining lines on your face. Foundation evens out your skin tone, providing a smooth surface to contour. Without foundation, you may have more trouble blending in the colors of your contour makeup and get inconsistent results.

Some may not like the idea of adding one more product to their makeup regimen, but contouring is an effective way to sculpt and highlight your best features. The good news is adding contour to your face doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. We’ve gathered some tips on how to choose and apply the best contouring color for your skin tone.

Portrait of a woman applying contour and highlight makeup, Do You Have to Wear Foundation to Contour?

Do You Put Foundation on Before You Contour Your Face?

Foundation comes in liquid, cream, or powder, and is applied over your entire face to smooth out uneven coloring and create a base for the rest of your makeup. Contouring products are used along the lines and structures of your face to add definition. Common areas targeted for contouring include under your cheekbones, the line from your temples down along the sides of your face, along your jawline, and on the sides of your nose.

Makeup artists are divided on the order in which you apply; some prefer using it before foundation so that it has a more subtle blend to the lines, while others contour after foundation as a final step in hiding flaws or enhancing your natural beauty. Trying each technique will help you decide which order of application looks best on you.

Can I Contour Without Foundation?

Those who want to eliminate a step in the makeup routine say it’s fine to contour without foundation. They often use a combination of contour makeup, concealer, and setting powder or spray, but suppose you need to make sure that you blend all the products very well to avoid patchiness. Not using foundation may save you some time, but makeup artists recommend using a base foundation when contouring to prevent the risk of uneven coloring on your face. 

Types of Contouring Products

There are a few different kinds of contouring makeup, and each may be more or less useful for blending without foundation.

Powder Contour

This type of contouring makeup is an excellent place to start for those just beginning to add contouring to their makeup routine. The look is less dramatic than other kinds of products and is more forgiving when blending into your foundation. Applying powder contour with an angled brush can help you become more familiar with what areas you want to define on your face before trying more advanced techniques of contouring.

A combination of highlighting and contouring palette from good brands like NYX Professional Makeup is key to help you achieve the look you want. 

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Liquid Contour

Using liquid contour products are a little harder to manage than powder, but it also creates the most natural look. Liquid contour can easily blend in with your foundation and create smooth, broad shadows. One of the best ways to apply liquid contour is with a foundation blending brush.

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Cream Contour

You need to be reasonably proficient with applying makeup to use cream contour effectively. It is very thick and the most difficult to blend smoothly. But if you can master the technique of using cream contour, it will give you the most professional and dramatic look. You can apply and blend cream contour with your fingers, a foundation brush, or a damp makeup sponge. 

Aesthetica Cosmetics offers this cruelty-free cream contour kit that will work for multiple skin tones. 

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Can You Use Dark Foundation As Contour?

Yes, you can use a dark foundation instead of contouring makeup to add definition to your face. Beauty experts recommend buying foundation a shade or two darker than your normal skin tone to set it apart from your regular foundation and apply with a foundation brush for more control.

Can You Use Liquid Foundation and Powder Contour?

Absolutely! The kind of foundation and contour makeup you use is all about preference. A powder contour can blend just as easily into the liquid foundation as it can into foundation creams or powders. And once you’ve mastered how to contour, you can choose to move from powder to liquid and cream contours for a bolder look. Beauty experts also strongly suggest you use a setting powder or spray to help your makeup last all day.

What is the Difference Between Bronzer and Contour?

The differences between bronzer and contour are how they are applied and how they enhance your face.

Bronzers add a sun-kissed shimmer and glow to your face. They come in warm tones, such as oranges and golds, and are typically applied to areas where the sun would naturally hit your face when outside, including your cheekbones, forehead, jawline, and the top of your nose.

Choosing a high-quality bronzer, like this one from Estee Lauder, can make the difference between being a golden goddess or looking like an Oompa Loompa.

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Contouring makeup comes in cool tones and is used to create shadows, making your features more prominent and defined. Some make the mistake of using these products interchangeably, but using contour makeup as a bronzer will make your skin look washed out and gray.

Conversely, if you use bronzer as a contour, you’ll find your skin will have an orange sheen instead of having sleek, defined lines.

Contouring Summary

As with many makeup decisions, whether or not to use foundation when contouring is ultimately up to you, but beauty experts say contouring works best if you use foundation as part of your makeup routine. You can practice with different techniques to determine the best colors and products that work for your skin tone.

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