A New Contouring Trend Is Gaining Traction

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Celebs do it. Makeup artists get asked for it. And brands have developed products just for it. We’re talking about contouring here—a beauty trend that has no intention of fading away as a 15-minute beauty fad, anytime soon.

In fact, the trend just got a major boost and if our sources tell us right—you’re about to see another round of contouring come to the forefront. Only this time it’s not about using makeup to get a more chiseled face. It’s all about employing self tanner, which creates a longer-lasting and more natural looking result that enhances the structure of the face.

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Known as tontouring or tantouring, the idea behind it all is to use self tanner under your makeup to create an even more (yes, more) contoured look. “Self tanner works with skin to create contoured shading that can last up to five days, which is ideal if you’re on the more or want to wear a no makeup makeup look,” says Jules von Hep, global tanning director Tan-Luxe. And here’s the best part: you won’t need to wear nearly as much makeup (although you still can if you choose to). Sophie Evans, St. Tropez’s skin finishing expert explains that you will need to use two different formulas with different DHA (self-tan agent) levels to make it last and really create the look you’re going for.

Just like how makeup contouring uses darker tones to create dimension and definition, so does contouring. Marissa Brown of Cocoa Brown Tan, who coined the term tontouring herself, says that the technique describes a particular method of contouring with self tanner to define and shape the face. “You only need to contour once a week with tontouring as opposed to everyday,” she says.

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But before you even think about applying anything to your face, you need to make sure you’re stocked with the tontouring essentials—and there’s quite a few you need on hand. Besides two good self tanners—you need one that’s a shade or two darker than your natural skin tone and another one that’s even darker—you’ll also need a kabuki style or buffing foundation brush such as Black Up Flat Top Foundation Brush ($39), a self-tanning mousse like St. Tropez Self Tan Classic Bronzing Mousse ($19) and a contouring brush—we’re fans of Sigma’s Chisel and Trim Contour Brush ($23). And, you’ll need to prep your skin, too. “Do all hair removal prior to application and exfoliate well so that you are tanning fresh skin cells,” says Evans.

If you’re going to jump on the tontouring trend von Hep says it’s best to opt for tanning products that have some sort of skin-care component. “This will allow for a more even base to be created and the chance of breakouts will be minimized. Choose formulations such as waters or drops that work well with skincare and makeup so that there’s no clash in formulation, which can result in a separation of color,” he says. Our picks: Tan-Luxe The Water ($44) and The Body Shop Honey Bronze Drops of Sun ($20). 

First things first, make sure to cleanse your face really well with cold water. Then, on a makeup-free face, Brown says to apply a light layer of tanner to your face (she recommends Cocoa Brown Gentle Bronze Gradual Tanning Moisturizer ($6) as the base and allow it to develop. “Next, apply the darker color using a stippling foundation brush. The darker color will allow you to see exactly where you have tontoured and it will also give a longer lasting finish,” says Brown. “It’s important to use a mousse formula that is oil-free so it won’t clog pores or cling to fine lines and wrinkles.” With an angled contouring brush blend the darker color under your cheekbones, from ear to mid cheek, and under the tip of the nose and down the sides. “Tontouring is all about blending. It may look harsh when first applied but use fingers to blend for an even glow,” she adds.

In the event that you make a mistake, get a little streaky or come out splotchy or orange, von Hep says you can easily fix it by mixing a small amount of lemon juice with an exfoliating powder, like Bobbi Brown Buffing Grains ($46) and lightly work it into the face to encourage the tanner to fade. Or, you can use a self tan remover like Bronze Buffer ($10). “Streaks and patches are caused by not using enough product and over rubbing the skin with a lack of product. Make sure you use enough tanner so that you’re less likely to streak,” says Evans.

Adding a layer of your favorite contouring makeup on top (only after everything is dry and totally set) will intensify the results but it’s not a must. If you’re going to wear contouring makeup how to wear it so it looks good.

A few days after you’ve tontoured, the color may start to fade but it shouldn’t look streaky. Instead, the contoured tan will slowly dissipiate before your normal skin tone starts to show through.

Sure, tontouring is a definite time investment but the look is far more natural looking than wearing heavy contouring makeup on its own. And on those days when you want to go totally bare faced, you can actually say, “Yes, I did wake up like this!”

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