Today, you can’t go into a makeup store without seeing a contour palette or watch a makeup tutorial that doesn’t mention highlighter.
Nowadays, one can’t say the name “Kardashian” without also thinking “contour.” Reality star Kim Kardashian took over social media and won over makeup aficionados with her sculpted looks, and is credited with popularizing the modern, everyday contour look (though she did not invent it).
A History of Contrast: How the Contouring Trend Got Started
Where did the contouring trend start, anyway? Actually, it’s not a new phenomenon. Contouring can be traced back to the 1500s, where actors in Elizabethan England contoured their faces before taking the stage.
It’s only recently that Hollywood makeup artists’ tricks and techniques have been readily available to the general public just a click away — there’s no doubt that Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn’s makeup artists employed contouring techniques on these actresses.
But it would be a disservice to talk about face contouring without mentioning one of contour makeup’s master artists: drag performers. Men have been sculpting their faces to make them appear more feminine since as early as Roman times. Drag queens’ innovative techniques became somewhat mainstream with the invention of YouTube, making their secrets just a click of a button away.