I have talked about my dalliances with contouring a couple of times, as it is very much still a work in progress. That's what I love most about blogging about beauty: you can track your own learning process through trial and error. Contouring is one of those things that I understand better the more I play with it. Recently, I noticed that my contouring products had become too dark and too warm toned to get the look I wanted to achieve, especially now my skin is last-stretch-of-winter-pale. The strange thing is that, despite not being THAT pale or cool toned, most contouring products out there clearly seemed to be created for people less pale, less cool than me. Allow me to demonstrate how you can figure out what kind of contouring colour you need.
First things first: take a picture of your face in neutral lighting.
Voila. Now, focus on the natural shadows you see, for example along my jawline and in the line between my nose and the corners of my mouth. The colour you see there is clearly a grey/taupe. However, most contouring products are true dark browns or warm mid-tone browns. For clarity: side by side shade comparison.
The bottom colour is fairly typical to contouring products, while the top shade is more true to the natural shadows in my face. Big difference, right? But like I said, it's very difficult to find a contouring product in the right colour. However, I wouldn't be talking about this if I hadn't found a solution, right?
Enter: Pumpkin and Poppy, an etsy shop that sells vegan, all natural, cruelty free, artisanal cosmetics. Pumpkin and Poppy is mainly known for its cool toned taupe contouring powder, Oak Bark, which also exists in a cream version named Michelle. Being the make up fiend I am, I obviously ordered both for reviewing purposes. You get a decent amount of product for a very reasonable price, so I wasn't breaking the bank or anything. And I was not let down!
I really like the packaging of the cream contour product: a sturdy plastic compact with a nice, big mirror. Great for throwing in your purse for touch ups on the road.
Oak Bark is OK, but I'm not a big fan of loose powder. Especially for a product like contouring powder, where you need to be able to control dosage etcetera. However, it works, I can use it, and I like that you can twist the top so that the holes are all covered, keeping your loose powder in check.
See how natural the colours are against my skintone? Oak Bark is lighter, both in colour and in coverage, but it definitely still showed up nicely when used to contour. I like how Michelle is matte but has this sort of satin finish that doesn't hide the natural glow of your skin (ugh, none of that dreaded cakeface plz).
I put together a collage to show what Michelle looks like on my skin. I generally use Michelle these days because I've been trying to work with as much cream products as possible. Works better with my dry winter skin, and liquid on liquid/cream gives a nicer result than alternating creams/liquids with powders.
I apply the product with my fingers, but I use a dense, medium size brush to blend in. I follow the curve of my cheekbone to blend in, I swipe up and down along the sides of my nose, and I use a circling motion to blend in the product along my hairline. I love how you can't actually SEE the product when it's blended in, you just see the end result of more defined cheekbones. Contouring, but brought to a more toned down place. I didn't blend it all the way in so you could still see the difference quite clearly, otherwise contouring done right can get almost too subtle to capture in pictures.
Here's what it looks like from some more angles.
I love it. Oak Bark has several reviews online already so I thought people would be best served by a thorough Michelle review with some swatches, but Oak Bark gives a very similar result to Michelle anyway, so you get the picture. I'm really glad I discovered Pumpkin and Poppy, and these lovely contouring products that I can fully recommend to anyone with a fair skintone.