Most of us can swipe on lipstick. Slightly fewer of us can line our lips and our eyes. Only a small percentage has perfected the complexity of contouring. Count me among the women who have crossed contouring off their beauty to-do lists. As defined by beauty retailer Sephora, contouring is the art of using shadow and highlight to sculpt, refine and slim your face. My art experience is limited to stick figures. Actual artists have shading and highlighting skills. They happen to be called makeup artists.
Map My Beauty promises to break down the barriers between makeup artists and average women to give those average women the contouring prowess of the makeup artists. Unlike a YouTube tutorial, Pocket Contour Class, Map My Beauty’s app in tandem with Sephora launched this month, offers personalized makeup instructions for women wanting individual instruction. It does so by relying on selfies, fancy schmancy patent-pending software and a series of queues (i.e., dots and arrows) to steer makeup application.
Map My Beauty chief executive officer Annabella Daily explains, “We analyze your face shape and symmetry, and really read your face like a makeup artist would before they apply makeup. We also have software that learns the implicit rules that makeup artists know. That is behind instructions people get. We don’t actually paint makeup on your face. That is a big differentiating factor from other beauty apps. We show you where and how to put on makeup, but not what it looks like.”
The premise of Pocket Contour Class – personalized contour coaching without the clownish countenances that characterize the majority of beauty makeover apps – sounds appealing. Even more appealing is that it’s not a time suck. A new mom, Daily understands women don’t have many extra minutes to devote to their makeup routines. “It is so simple and quick to use. It attracts everybody from businesswomen to mothers with several kids. It gives everybody the access to this type of makeup skill,” she said. She swore five minutes tops on Pocket Contour Class should to the trick.
Daily sold me on the idea, but would Pocket Contour Class convince me to add contouring to my beauty arsenal? I decided to give it a whirl to see. Here’s the complete syllabus of Pocket Contour Class and my grade:
Pocket Contour Class starts with a picture. You can pilfer a selfie already in your camera roll or take a fresh pic. Obviously, I snapped a pic because I would never save the one I employed for the Contour Class in my roll. (Blame my daughter for the dark circles!) The app categorizes your face by shape. It’s either oval-, square-, round- or heart-shaped. I’m an egghead, err oval. Then, your facial symmetry is assessed. Apparently, my face shape is balanced. If I am balanced, I hate to meet somebody who is unbalanced.
The Pocket Contour Class has three levels of product difficulty: powder, cream or stick. Not surprisingly to readers of this post, I chose the least difficult. The recommended product for beginners is Marc Jacobs Beauty’s #Instamarc Light Filtering Contour Powder. Curious about alternative product options, I redo the class later, and discover they are Cover FX’s Contour Kit and Smashbox’s Step-by-Step Contour Stick Trio for the intermediate and advanced contour pupils, respectively. According to the class, two brushes are essential for contouring: a small brush and a larger, angled brush such as Sephora’s #75 or #75 contour brush. Of course, the products are all available at Sephora.
The Pocket Contour Class is wise. Like Bobby Unser, it believes, “Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.” In this case, the preparation is moisturizing and smearing on foundation. The opportunity is the chance to contour akin to a Kardashian. Moisturizing is something I can handle. I rub in my latest favorite moisturizer, Jurlique’s Rose Moisture Plus Revitalising Gel-Lotion, but opt to skip the foundation. I’m leaning on BB creams these days and stay with my fallback Garnier Skin Renew Miracle Skin Perfector BB Cream.
At this point, the contour student brings brush to canvas. I dig through my stash of brushes to find a small brush appropriate for the occasion and select Hourglass Cosmetics’ concealer brush. I dip the brush into lighter of the two shades in Marc Jacob Beauty’s #Instamarc Light Filtering Contour Powder product. The app depicts where I am supposed to run the brush across my face with a smattering of white dots. I concentrate my brush strokes in the dotted areas. The dots are good at telling where to put the makeup, but not as great at telling how much to put on. The light shade of the #Instamarc product is very light on my skin, and I keep wondering if I should apply it thicker. I think that could be a product problem rather than an app problem. Also, with practice, I would probably get better at identifying the right amount of product.
THE CONTOURING CHALLENGE
Pocket Contour Class has arrived at the critical lesson. Once again, white dots are the vehicles for its message. With the larger, angled brush, I adhere to the dots to contrast the light shaded areas with the darker shade of #Instamarc. I can finally detect the contouring beginning to take shape. It has an especially prominent affect on my nose, where darker shaded sides of my nose melt into the background compared to the lighter shaded sides of my nose. Suddenly, the magic of the Kardashians seems a lot less magical.
The end is nigh in my quest to contour. I am directed to blend and finish my look. For the blending portion of the class, arrows replace dots. My face appears covered with tiny white traffic signs bidding me to smudge left and right. I do so, although it doesn’t make a ton of difference. With the heavier cream or stick contouring products, I bet the blending part is more important. After I’m done blending, Pocket Contour Class suggests I set and warm my contoured complexion with setting spray, bronzer and blush. This section of the class I brilliantly deduce is about selling me products instead of turning me into a contouring genius. I didn’t take the bait. My contouring is not fully set nor warmed.
The Pocket Contour Class scored an A for ease. Scrolling through the app took mere minutes. The makeup application did take longer, but I’d guess I could polish it off during the commercial breaks of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.” I was also pleasantly surprised by the result. Makeup artist Nick Barose, who works with Lupita Nyong’o, has criticized the contouring craze for pushing dramatic contrast only suiting red carpets and photo shoots into everyday life. However, my class-guided contoured makeup wasn’t overly dramatic. Its sculpting and shading was subtle. I wouldn’t be out of place wearing the makeup in the boardroom or the classroom. Certainly, I didn’t transform into a contouring master. I would never compare myself to a makeup artist, and I have several additional classes to go to get my advanced degree in Kardashian. Luckily, they’re stored in my phone and ready for me whenever I want to learn.