In our new Ask an Expert series, we’ll be putting beauty questions to the biggest names in the industry. This month we caught up with Kim Kardashian’s makeup artist (and the king of contouring), Mario Dedivanovic, to share all his tips and tricks so we can finally nail contouring like a Kardashian. Keep scrolling for Mario’s tips on how to contour away a double chin and fake fuller lips (there’s more to it than cheekbones that could cut glass, don’t you know).
When it comes to the formula of our contouring products should we use a powder, cream or both?
Mario Dedivanovic: If you’re mixing, you want to apply cream first and then blend the powder over to set. Never vice-versa. If you use just powder to contour and highlight, you want to make sure you powder your face with a little translucent powder first, otherwise you can get a little blotchy if you’re applying powders directly to a wet base such as a liquid foundation like L’Oréal Paris Infallible Sculpt Foundation (£9). If you have oily skin, then the powder or cream-to-powder formula are the better routes to go. But if you have dry skin, the creams or cream-to-powders are nice. Make sure to feel where your cheekbone is and follow that line: contour on and just below; highlight on top.
How can we stop our contouring from disappearing when we blend?
MD: Blending is key, and you want to really buff the contour and highlight into the skin, but you don’t want it to disappear so concentrate on blending around the contouring and highlight for a seamless finish.
Mario uses the L’Oréal Dual Ended Sculpting Brush (£15) out March, which he uses to apply the contour and highlight blending as he goes, and then follows with the Beautyblender (£16).
What if it all looks a bit too much?
MD: Then you’re screwed! Kidding. Apply a little bit, blend, then apply a little more and blend. Apply contour and highlight gradually. Step back from the mirror and look at your face from all angles, you can always go back in and add more where needed.
Any advice for contouring darker skin tones?
MD: Focus more on highlighting. You want to highlight the centre of the face: chin, forehead, bridge of the nose, cupid’s bow and keep the outer edges dark.
What is the best way to fake fuller lips?
MD: For bigger lips you need a lipliner, lipstick and gloss (if you want a high-shine finish). Use a lip pencil that is similar to your natural lip colour or a shade darker. Targeting the skin just outside the lip line fill in the top lip first: Start from the outer corner to the centre and then repeat on the other side and meet in the middle. On the bottom lip, I focus more on over-drawing the centre as opposed to the outer corners, as this can bring down the lips. You want to fill both lips in completely with pencil so you don’t see a line. Then it helps to apply a lipstick over the top to conceal the pencil.
Is it possible to contour the nose and make it look natural in real life?
MD: The nose is the more difficult area to contour if you’re doing it at home. I know the first time I ever contoured on a shoot and the photographer was like, “What is that brown stuff on her face?” It takes practice. You have to be delicate with the pressure you apply when you’re contouring the nose, so my tip for that is: Experiment first with highlighting down the centre of the nose and then when you’re comfortable try a little shading. I use a fluffy blending eyeshadow brush for the nose, as I don’t want something too compact that is going to deposit too much product. I want a brush that is going to pick up a little product and softly shadow it.
Other than the cheekbones, nose and lips, where else can we contour?
MD: The jaw is a big one, it helps to get rid of a double chin and makes the neck look longer and the face look thinner overall—it makes a big difference in photos especially. Then also the forehead, you do this to balance out the contouring on the cheeks and the jawline. The forehead should be done just on the outer corners to cinch the forehead a little, and brings out the centre and pushes in the sides for a more feminine effect.
We’ve had contouring, strobing and baking—what’s next?
MD: Honestly we’ve seen so much now, contouring was something the public never knew about and highlighting and all these things. And baking, which is another thing we have been doing for years for TV and stage makeup, or we did more so before HD TV. I mean there are so many tricks but I don’t see how they could possibly become mainstream. We do things on shoots like tape the eyes up and pull the forehead back and the ears and the neck, and I don’t see it [becoming mainstream] but you never know though; you never know what will happen in the future! Old tricks, like baking, will always come back and be reinvented a little bit.
Any tips for baking at home?
MD: It’s so weird it’s called baking! It never really had a name; it was just setting the face with a powder, you know. I would think baking would be more a thing to do with bronzer. But anyway! Try to apply the translucent loose powder with a damp sponge that’s squeezed out that gives a lighter effect and don’t keep it on for too much and don’t go crazy with it. Then take a clean brush and sweep it off.
Do you have any tips for finding a signature look (contouring isn’t for everyone)?
MD: You have to find the feature that you love the most or that is most important to you and play that up. It has to do also with your lifestyle—if you’re extremely busy, a career woman who is balancing lots of things, you have to do what works for you and your lifestyle. Choose skin and lashes, or if you have beautiful lips and you love a pop of colour then have that lip be your signature. Choose not only what makes you look the best but what makes you feel the best. I’m always telling people this on social media [when they comment on client pictures], “she always looks the same” or “why don’t you try something different”; most women, especially celebrities, have a signature look and you can’t just put neon eyeshadows and glitters and things on their face, you know. They have to stick with a signature look and what looks best on them. Not every woman can try a million different looks, it’s usually a couple. You tweak from that staple signature look; you change the colours or textures or the amount you apply. But having a signature, especially when you reach your 30s, you want a go-to look that works on you best.
How Mario subtly tweaks Kim's signature look…
This is one of my all-time favourites for the past 15 years.
I need eyelash curlers and lashes in my kit; I love the Ardell Individuals.
I always spray this if using powder on a face to make the finish youthful and glowy.
Great for highlighting and adding a complexion-lifting pop of colour to the cheeks.
What are your contouring tricks? Share them in the comment box below.