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How to Master Contouring Once and for All

Learning how to contour is easier than it looks -- with this step-by-step contouring guide, you'll have Kim K-like bone structure in no time
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Contouring. The word alone can strike fear into the heart of makeup novices and pros alike. (After all, there's nothing worse showing up to a date or work event with stripes that make it obvious you just tried contouring for the first time.)

What is contouring, you ask? It's a makeup technique that uses bronzer and highlighter to sculpt the face and accentuate your best facial features. Contoured faces have long been as much of a red-carpet staple as floor-length evening gowns, though it was more of a Hollywood secret until Kim Kardashian blew it wide open. Now, contouring has become a part of everyday makeup routines -- thanks in large part to Kim and thousands of beauty influencers.

Though contouring may feel intimidating for those of us without a team of makeup artists, it's actually fairly simple. You just need a contour powder or cream, a couple brushes, the right tips and 60 seconds -- yes, you read that right -- of time.

Keep reading to learn how to contour and become the most photogenic version of yourself ever -- no duck face pose required.

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Contouring Step 1: Assemble Your Tools
Before you can start contouring, you need the right makeup tools. First, ready your brush arsenal: an angled bronzing brush, a dense fluffy powder brush and a domed shadow brush.

Next, pick your contour powder. Since you'll be using the same powder all over your face, color and consistency are really important. Contouring powder should be fine and easy to blend. Avoid bronzers with orange undertones (you're not trying to look like you have a tan). Instead, opt for a slightly taupe-gray shade. The goal is to mimic an actual shadow on your face, so you appear naturally chiseled. A cool-toned contour powder will achieve this, as long as it's matte. Anything with sparkle or shimmer will add light, and we want to subtract light in order to create the illusion of depth. We like Nars Contour Blush, $42, or like Physicians Formula Murumuru Butter Bronzer, $14.95.

Choose a shade that's one to two shades darker than your foundation. This subtle difference in hues will keep the look understated and believable.

Now, you're ready to start contouring.

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Contouring Step 2: Accentuate Your Cheekbones
Perhaps the most essential of all contouring techniques is the cheekbone chisel. The key to getting it right is correct placement of your contour powder.

How to: Dip your angled bronzer brush ever so slightly into the powder and tap off any excess. It's much easier to add more product than it is to tone it down once you've made a mistake.

Pucker your lips. This will create a hollow in your cheek, showing you exactly where to add the powder. Gently blend the powder into this concave area, starting at your ear and blending inward. Don't shade any further inward than the outer corner of your eye to really create a believable shadow placement.

Blend like crazy with your fluffy powder blush. It's crucial that you blend upward, melding your contour with your blush, rather than downward, which can give you a faux five-o-clock-shadow -- not cute.

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Contouring Step 3: Add a Forehead Shadow
Contouring your forehead will keep your look cohesive. Plus, it minimizes a large forehead (take note, Tyra Banks).

How to: Lightly dip your angled brush back into the contour powder. Tap off excess powder and apply it along your hairline, at the top of your forehead and to the sides. Blend harsh edges with your fluffy brush, pulling the powder down a bit above your temples. This will mimic a natural shadow on your face.

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Contouring Step 4: Define Your Nose
Your nose might not be an area you've thought to contour, but with a few makeup brush strokes, you can make it look slimmer and straighter.

How to: Gently dip the tip of your domed eye shadow brush into your contour powder. To make your nose look more slender, blend along both sides of the bridge of your nose to create depth. Focus the powder on the middle third of your nose, and avoid blending up too far, as powder on the bridge of your nose may make you look dirty.

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