If you've ever looked at Chrissy Teigen, Kendall Jenner, or Hailee Steinfeld's face and said under your breath, "How in the world does makeup artist Mary Phillips contour so effing flawlessly?!," you're not alone. Below, a little lesson in contouring from this makeup queen and a few products you can trust to get the job done right.
"After applying Crème de La Mer all over my client's face, I always pat concealer under their eyes, around their nose, and anywhere else there's redness," Phillips says. "Next, I contour directly under their cheekbones [choose a shade or two darker than your skin tone] and create a line connecting the high point of the contour to their jawline [the line should fall directly in front of your ear], finally running the brush along the jaw toward their chin. Then, I contour around their hairline to soften the face, which also brings the light toward the center, and finish with two thin lines down the nose."
After that, Phillips blends the contour slightly, and then applies foundation with a light, fluffy brush, buffing out any remaining harsh lines from the contour.
She then goes back in with her contour product of choice, further sculpting their face. "Layering products a few times makes your makeup look more natural in the end; it makes it look like it’s actually the contours of your face versus makeup," she adds. Finally, she powders the T-zone, leaving the cheeks to glow.
Need a few contour go-to formulas, look no further:
If Phillips doesn't have a contour palette handy, she said another one of her tricks is to use a foundation shade that's slightly darker than her client's skin tone (you can also use a concealer stick for the same effect) to create dimension.
How she uses it: "You can buff a layer of lighter foundation all over your face, and then use a darker hue in the shaded or contoured areas," Phillips explains. "I love that this foundation, my favorite one, comes in so many shades, which makes contouring this way super easy."
La Mer Soft Fluid Foundation SPF 20, $110
This palette offers four concealers and two corrector shades to match deeper skin tones, but pro makeup artists use the tones religiously to contour as well.
MAC Studio Conceal and Correct Palette (shown in "Dark"), but also available in "Light" and "Medium Deep," $35
Phillips recommends that people with yellow undertones opt for shades with warmer tones, while those with pinker undertones use formulas that are on the cooler end of the spectrum. Head to Sephora.com to find your perfect match (they have the terms "warm" and "cool" in their shade descriptions, making it super easy to find the right fit)!
Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Match Stix Matte Skinstick (shown in "Espresso," a shade with cool, red undertones), but also available from "Linen" to "Mocha," $25
"To help further create the feeling that you've been out in the sun, I'll apply Nudestix Nudies Allover Matte Face Color in "Bondi Bae" onto the cheek area, on the forehead, and a little on the nose—all areas the sun would naturally hit the face," adds Phillips.
Nudestix Nudies All Over Matte Face Color (shown in "Bondi Bae for light to medium skin tones, but also available in "Deep Maple" for darker skin tones), $30
Phillips typically uses a professional Kryolan palette with a bunch of different shades to match her client's skin tone, but she's also a fan of this Tom Ford option. "I love how much intensity this bronzer provides without looking over the top—plus, its dewy finish adds a naturally bronzed feel," Phillips adds.
Tom Ford Shade and Illuminate (shown in "Intensity Two," but also comes in "Intensity One"), $82
If you need your contour job to last literally all day, this formula is key. With three creamy shades for contouring and three for highlighting—they complement undertones from cool nude to warm deep brown, btw—you'll be set.
Kat Von D The Shade + Light Crème Contour Palette, $49
Looking for a powder version to contour your cheekbones? With three shades for highlighting and three for contouring, this palette allows you to highlight the features you love, while expertly contour your eyes, cheekbones, nose, and chin with ease.
Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour Kit (shown in "Light to Medium," but also available in "Medium to Tan" and "Deep"), $40
Another trusty palette, these two highlighting and four contouring cream shades work together to give you the most believable, natural-looking contour of your dreams.
Sleek Makeup Cream Contour Kit (shown in "Extra Dark," but also available in "Light," "Medium," and "Dark"), $16
With two matte shades and a highlighting powder in each palette, this velvet-y powder buffs into skin super easily, complementing your skin tone flawlessly, so that you too can be contoured to the Gawds.
Black Up Contour Powder (shown in "Deep," but also available in "Tan," "Medium Light," "Medium," "Medium Dark," and "Dark"), $45
Honestly, this is one of the easiest bronzer you'll ever apply. It melts into your skin perfectly, creating the look of naturally contoured cheekbones, requiring only the tiniest bit of blending.
Milk Makeup Matte Bronzer (shown in "Baked," but also available in "Blaze"), $24