Clown, strobing and baking: An absolute beginner’s guide to contouring

You might not end up looking like Kimmy K

Championed by angular Kardashian goddesses and the girl on your newsfeed who uses to much bronzer, contouring supposedly gives you higher cheekbones, a more defined jaw and a skinny little nose, while basically morphing you into someone much prettier.

The videos showing mere mortals how to contour like the pros are some of the most watched videos online – the top result when searching “contouring and highlighting” on Youtube has a mammoth 23 million hits. But it doesn’t look like the easiest thing in the world to pick up. I tried the top four types of the odd trend – bog standard contouring, strobing, clown contouring, and baking – to see if they would really transform me into Kimmy K.


In a bit of a vibe killer start I was forced to overhaul my make-up bag for the challenge. I’ve never done any contouring before, and my makeup bag is very minimal so I had to go out and buy a contouring kit. Luckily, for people even too lazy to watch Youtube tutorials, the budget kit contained a three step guide to sculpting your face, which I followed as my new Bible.

It became obvious pretty quickly I wouldn’t be able to take my contouring skills to the extremity of the Kardashians. Youtube might have everyone believe otherwise but that level of skill requires you to be an award winning make-up artist, with the budget to match.

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The starting point

I followed the instructions, using the darker powder to sculpt my face and the lighter powder to highlight. They were surprisingly easy and I managed to get the contouring done very quickly. I’d always expected contouring properly would be ridiculously complicated and take forever – why have I never done this before?

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Feelin’ angular


I was surprised by how much I liked the outcome too. My face looks slimmer and more defined, my nose looks slimmer and straighter, and I don’t feel or look as fake as I thought I would. I now look like a beauty queen- who knew this could ever happen?

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The finished product


Would I do this again? Definitely. It’s too heavy for going to uni, or day to day, but it’s great for evenings and going out. And to a completely novice with makeup it was incredibly easy to get the hang of it.


Strobing has recently become as popular as contouring, and seemed a lot easier for a novice to adopt. It’s essentially just over-highlighting your face and not doing any contouring at all. All you need is some blusher and highlighter and it’s time to get the ball rolling.

I used the highlighter in my new contour kit and a highlighter cream, I also had to go out and buy- like I said, a 4 year old girl probably has more makeup than me. A quick Google told me to highlight across my cheekbones, the bridge of my nose and my lips, so I did exactly that.

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A picture does not do this look justice. Strobing was my favourite look out of them all- it was the easiest and gave me the most natural look. It gives you the perfect dewy look that can be worn from day through to evening.

Clown contouring

This one is exactly what it says on the tin. Using your contouring makeup to turn you into a clown before you blend it all in to hopefully look beautiful. I wasn’t too sure how I was going to attempt this as the only video I found was of a girl who has all the proper makeup artist kit – and looked mental – but I thought I’d give it my best shot.

Clown contouring is intense – it uses so many different stuff the contents of my makeup bag, my sister’s and my mum’s were all involved. I needed as much makeup as I could get my hands on. Unfortunately my tutorial video had no easy steps to follow – this girls’s literally just painted her face and then blended, so that’s all I could do.

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Okay then


My attempt was weak, very weak. But I imagine anyone who isn’t a makeup artist would feel the same. This just isn’t possible- even with the help of three now very full, makeup bags.

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Halfway through, looking contoured and confused

Unfortunately, despite all my best intentions, clown contouring came out as an epic fail. I wouldn’t recommend this technique to anyone – it’s impossible to blend, incredibly time consuming and made my skin look more blotchy than beautiful. Never again.


I was introduced to “baking” while watching a video where the make-up artist explained it was “big in the drag community” – which presumably meant it dealt well with industrial grade light, but might not look so natural.

Despite the name, this technique doesn’t deal with cooking any of your products, but just letting them “bake” on your skin, supposedly giving you a more “professional” look to your make-up. The technique is only possible when you’ve given yourself a ridiculous amount of time to get ready – baking means leaving your cream highlighter and concealer sitting on your face for up to 20 minutes without blending. Yawn.

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Looking unblended and professional


I’ve applied the highlighter under my eyes, on the bridge on my nose and on my chin. Once you’ve let it set – I only let it set for 5 minutes- I got bored and had other things to do – you blend it in with the rest of your makeup and carry on with you contouring as normal.

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The finished product (yeah me neither)


The final result? Well it look exactly the same as normal contouring but took twice a long. It’s a massive waste of time – unless you’re a drag queen of course.