Minimal makeup looks are all the rage right now, but that’s not to say we’ve totally bid adieu to big beauty trends of the past — like contouring, for instance. But what if we told you the way you’ve been told to contour, the method that’s been ingrained in you since the 2010s, might be wrong? This is the reality that many Asian American makeup users are grappling with following a series of viral videos on BeautyTok.
After attending a masterclass conducted by Taiwanese makeup artist Stanley, TikTok user Mirchelley (@mirchelleytiktok) posted a video of herself trying the more flattering technique for contouring her face.
“The makeup artist said as Asians, our cheekbones are protruded more sideways compared to our Caucasian counterparts,” Mirchelley says in a video posted on Aug. 18. “He said [to] use the brush to indicate the end of your brow. Whichever area is beyond your brush, to contour it…I think his technique is more of creating that shadow instead of thinking of sculpting the face.”
“I have Asian features and needed this!!! Definitely makes a difference,” @thekayewayyy wrote in response to Mirchelley’s video.
“No. But omg. It really works. It creates a shadow. Why didn’t any of us figure this out sooner,” @jlv1522 added.
“It looks softer on the new technique!” @jaxie89 also commented, to which Mirchelley replied, “I totally agree! He said this technique is supposed to make Asians look ‘soft like water,’ which is also an indication of beauty.”
Vietnamese American creator Caroline Manning (@carolinemanning), who boasts more than 500,000 followers on the app, also advocates for this method.
“You’re gonna take your bronzer, then you’re gonna take your makeup brush, put it at the end of the eyebrow, and all of this space right here, you’re gonna create the shadow on your face,” she explains in a video she posted on Nov. 11. “Do you guys see this? This side looks drastically puffier.”
Does it actually work?
“This is actually similar to how I contour my face as well! In a lot of Asian countries, the beauty standard actually doesn’t like protruding cheekbones; that’s why cheekbone reduction surgery in Korea is quite popular,” she explained via email. “I definitely find that contouring vertically like this gives the face a softer appearance. If you like the high-cheekbone look, you can continue to contour the first way she showed, but if you want a softer/more youthful appearance, then vertical is the way to go!”
Fellow Asian American girlies, unsurprisingly, have also taken to TikTok to try the vertical contouring technique themselves.
For rounder faces, Lim also suggests a “flattening” contour technique.
“Rather than scooping the contour under the cheekbone, you almost want to ‘flatten’ the whole area under the cheekbone to the jawline,” she explained. “I do this by shading in somewhat of a sideways diamond shape — it follows from the ear, to the corner of the eye, down to the jaw, and back to the ear following the jawline.”
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