Underpainting Is the Hailey Bieber-Approved Contour Technique Taking Over TikTok

Here's how to do it.

Underpainting Is the Hailey Bieber-Approved Contour Technique Taking Over TikTok

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Foundation, bronzer, blush, contour — there are so many ways to sculpt and shape your face with makeup that approaching a blank canvas can sometimes feel overwhelming. And products aside, there are infinite techniques to help you achieve the perfect smoky eye, lip look, and contour. (Take sunburn blush, for example.)

Contouring is one of the trickiest techniques to master. For starters, you need to know exactly where to place your product, which differs from face to face depending on your unique face shape and structure. Then, you need the right products for your skin type and an understanding of how to blend them. Even then, it can still be tricky to achieve a natural-looking contour. However, we may have discovered the secret to unlocking a Hollywood-worthy sculpt.

Celebrity makeup artist Mary Phillips recently shared the contour technique she uses on Hailey Bieber and Kendall Jenner, and it's surprisingly easy to copy. Instead of applying contour on top of her complexion products (think: foundation or skin tint), she applies them underneath. Below, discover exactly what this technique — also known as underpainting — entails.

What is underpainting?

While the technique is having its moment right now, makeup artist Judi Gabbay says it can be traced back to Kevyn Aucoin's artistry in the '90s. But, as with all things glam, the original source is unknown.

The technique, which involves applying the contour underneath your foundation, can help achieve a more natural finish. "The desired result is to have color imbued into the skin, to feel like it’s a part of the skin and not applied on top," says Tayaba Jafri, Laura Mercier's Global Beauty Director. "The focus though is more on the result, which is a natural-looking color on the skin. Whether it's blush color, contour color, or even bronzer, it looks like it’s coming from within." 

How to underpaint:

For starters, bareMinerals Global Makeup Artist, Carly Giglio, says that underpainting requires cream or liquid formulas to achieve a natural effect.

  1. Prep the skin. Apply your moisturizer and makeup primer as you typically would before makeup application.
  2. Apply contour, highlighter, and/or blush. Since underpainting can be done with any of your complexion products, there's no need to buy out and buy new cream formulas. Just use the ones you typically would when creating a sculpted face. Giglio says to start with a highlighter, as it'll bring out your natural contour, and then follow up with contour and/or blush. "Contour to areas where you want to shade or create depth – the hollows of the cheekbones, down the sides of the nose, the temples," she explains. Pro tip: Giglio says to blend upward and inward to give a lifting effect.
  3. Apply your complexion product. Once your underpainted products have dried down, continue with a lightweight foundation, BB cream, or tinted moisturizer — just avoid a full-coverage formula. You want your products to show through. (Jafri recommends any of Laura Mercier's Tinted Moisturizers, which stars such as Meghan Markle are big fans of.) "The key is to stipple the foundation on, as opposed to swiping or dragging, so as not to move the work you’ve done underneath," adds Gabbay. 
  4. Seal it in. To keep your look intact all day, finish by spritzing on a setting spray or dabbing a bit of setting powder over the look.
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