This HAS to stop…

I rarely like to go on tangents or express my opinions via social media…but this is something I have felt strongly against for some time now and it just seems to be getting worse and worse… and at this point, it just NEEDS to be addressed. (*Please note that this topic with not have anything to do with the film. However, it’s something happening in which needs to be socially addressed that several of my professional colleagues have discussed with me.) As a hair and makeup artist with 8+ years of experience, I have seen a lot of trends come and go, which is completely normal. But with the accessibility of technology in todays world, it seems that a lot of social media stars have taken it a bit too far. If you were to go up to a True professional makeup artist and ask, “So what are your thoughts on highlight and contouring?” they would immediately go on and ON about how awful this trend has become. I recently started working for a retail company where I travel to different Ulta locations to support the specific brand, and I can’t even count how many times customers have asked me about highlighting and contouring. One woman was getting ready for her wedding and didn’t have a makeup artist so she told me she watched a few youtube videos and tried out the highlight/contouring technique, but ended up looking like a clown. I looked at her and told her, “Um that means you were doing it right.” Although highlighting and contouring are used in the makeup trailers/weddings/photoshoots/etc, there is a time and place for the amount of makeup applied, and most importantly the placement. What most people don’t realize is that these bloggers/youtubers are doing their makeups VERY HEAVILY in order to capture the details on an HD camera with lighting equipment behind their cameras they record with. Aka, everything is a good 5x more dramatic. (We use these techniques mostly for theatre, or if a certain type of camera is not picking up softer features. For instance… a RED camera may pick up blush a completely different way than an ARRI camera…hence our professional experience of knowing when and where it is best to go heavier with our makeups.) If you were to go up to these individuals in person…you would think they had about 5 pounds of makeup on. That’s the truth of it. It’s actually funny because I know a lot of artists who have worked with women wanting this “highlight and contour” look, and they will whip out a picture of these famous instagrammers. When they did the makeups the way they actually are, the client freaked out because of how much makeup was applied. If you’re an everyday woman who finds these youtube tutorials intriguing, PLEASE KNOW that these applications were heavily applied, and that they are not meant for everyday makeups. With that being said, we all highlight and contour…but once again, we have a purpose and know when and where it is appropriate. Now…I will admit, I am totally down to watch some tutorials when the artist actually gives correct info, or explains thoroughly why they are doing “this” or “that” or admits that the amount of makeup is more than your everyday makeup. Or the super cool FX and body paint makeups. Now THOSE are some bad ass makeups. I have many times referred to these gals for inspiration, but I only refer to the ones who are great at explaining the reason behind what they are doing on a professional level. Kudos to you out there! (sorry I’m not one for name dropping. You know who you are.) Lets look at this photo below: IMG_7669 I googled, “best makeup ads” and these were the top 6 photos that came up. It was completely unintentional that they were all celebrities. Note: NOT ONE of these look like that crazy highlight/contour, crazy brow look. They are all very soft and elegant makeups- if there were any highlights and contouring, it’s quite subtle. These aren’t just any ads. They are makeupย ads…for major, major makeup brands. And even these makeup brands aren’t showcasing these looks…which should hint that these aren’t trends that professionals are taking on. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I mentioned before that even though I don’t advocate highlighting and contouring, I still use it! But only when and IF it’s needed. So please don’t get me wrong in saying that I think this is all crap, because it’s not. What I feel truly needs to be addressed in these videos is whyย they are contouring. Whyย the placement, whyย highlight here or there. What professionals learn in makeup school or cosmetology schools is WHEN WHERE and WHY. 1.When would you do more dramatic highlight and contour?-when lights are extremely bright aka on stage, in film, photoshoots. So basically, if you’re not Kim K who has an entire lighting crew following her around, it’s not flattering with those crazy contours. Trust us…we all can see thats not your real bone structure. It’s actually funny because when I do a heavier makeup for film, I see it in person and think, “WOAH! I went a little to heavy.” and then I see it on the monitor and it looks like the actor isn’t even wearing makeup. That’s what isn’t being explained and I wish someone would take the time to explain this! 2.Where would you contour?-some of these videos just take on some overall basic go-to for highlight and contouring. This technique is not a “one size fits all” hat. What we learn in school is the placement of the face and what we are trying to accomplish. Does this person have a square-face structure and we are trying to accomplish more of an oval shape? Does this person have a flat forehead that needs to have a highlight in the center to create a more round dimension? 3.and why are you contouring here and highlight there? do you have a crooked nose that needs to be corrected? A dimple in your chin that you want to take away? Maybe stronger cheek bones? I really hope this trend comes and goes. It’s killing me. Girls: please know that your face is beautiful!!! and you do not need that much makeup to look good on a day to day basis. Maybe some bronzer or a light contour here or there to enhance your features. But don’t kick yourself for not understanding these in depth high light and contour tutorials. And to all of you aspiring makeup artists PLEASE KNOW that just because you can apply this way, this WILL NOT entitle you to call yourself a makeup artist. 85% of makeup gigs are natural beauty. I’ve been told several times that if you have a light hand, you’ll get more jobs than if you have a heavy hand. I actually sent my portfolio in to one of the biggest makeup agencies in the world and they told me I needed to add more natural, soft beauty makeups. And I will be completely honest: 90% of it was natural beauty already. Which means what I was doing already was “too harsh” and I have a very very very light hand. So…I can’t even imagine how they would respond to anyone with an even heavier hand. I apologize for the tangent. Like I said, it’s really not my style, and if this is your style, then more power to you! But this is something I am really passionate about… Please don’t get into this industry for the wrong reasons. If makeup interests you, pay more attention to the professionals rather than relying on videos on the Internet. Grab some coffee with your mentor! Send them an email! Go buy a book that has credited education. Also, one thing I want to state is that there are still several artists who I admire and actually watch on youtube. So, this is not about every single you tuber out there. This is just an overall tangent about what some of these tutorials have created. If you’re still reading, I appreciate you, and hope I haven’t been too crazy. Tell me your thoughts on this! Comment below and discuss your thoughts and opinions on this topic Thanks for reading, til next time!


Amber Talarico/director of What It Takes

**If you haven’t already, check out our website here to learn about our documentary, What It Takes! A film about the struggles, ups and downs of being a makeup artist or hairstylist at ALL stages! Thank you for your support!

23 thoughts on “This HAS to stop…

  1. Very well said and I totally agree with you! My work is and always has been a light touch to enhance one’s beauty. It’s amazing to me how these so called artists have now become the stars but we both know it’s a fad and this too shall pass.


    1. BJ- Exactly!!! This too shall pass is the best quote for this topic! Thank you for your compliments, it’s so great to hear that people agree with what I was saying. It was something I was a little hesitant to blog about being that this isn’t a topic we will be covering in my film, but it’s most definitely something that needs to be vocalized so that aspiring artists out there who maybe feel that they can’t achieve these looks know that they will STILL get work!! Congratulations on all your work, we both know that the bigger gigs pay for less makeup, right?! Ha! Good luck, keep in touch, and stay connected with us as we move along with our documentary!


    2. I rarely read, but when I do, it just means the content has an important fact that I shouldn’t miss.

      Thank you for what I have read. I learned (though I already have an idea of the where, when, and what) a lot. ๐Ÿ™‚


      1. How awesome! Thanks so much for your comment. It’s extremely flattering that you took the time to read my blog giving that you rarely read! Keep in touch ๐Ÿ˜€ and keep your eyes open for our documentary to come out later this year!! ๐Ÿ™‚


  2. what an excellent article and thanks for writing it. I am a relatively new makeup artist and this is something that has also bothered me for some time, and I have tried to explain this to clients too (eg: where they need to contour and why). It is so good to hear this from a true professional who has been in the business for a long time. ๐Ÿ™‚


    1. Thank you so much, Noleen, for your kind words! It’s a breath of fresh air to know that new aspiring artists are addressing the fact that this is an issue with mis-information or lack of information being given. You’re ahead of the game already ๐Ÿ™‚ Keep in touch with us, my documentary won’t necessarily be addressing this particular topic, but we will be going over “What it takes” to be successful at all stages of this industry and it will be incredibly helpful for you to have the knowledge in your back pocket with the major artists who are involved! ๐Ÿ˜€


  3. Hi I’m Mayada from Cairo- Egypt.

    Thank you so much for this article, it is really fun to learn how to make it right. I’m still learning and starting my career, this was great article for me.

    Best wishes


    1. Hi, Mayada! How AWESOME it is that you are from Cairo!!! Our cinematographer is from Cairo (and also my boyfriend ha!). So I will actually be visiting Cairo hopefully soon! We will (fingers crossed) be doing a screening of our film in Cairo once the film is picture ready, YAY! It would be amazing to meet you, I am so thrilled you are starting a career in this industry. It’s one of the most rewarding careers to be in!!!! Good luck to you, Mayada, and keep in touch with us as we move along with our documentary! I am always available if you ever have any questions!


      1. I’m just starting off in make up industry and found this article really helpful , I myself prefer natural make up but a lot of people I do make up on like strong eyebrows , contour , eyeshadow, lips . I personally don’t like that kind of make up but find myself doing that kind of make up a lot theses days and people always telling me I should do darker make up because all the other make up artists in the area do and that ill get more clientele like them . After reading this I think I am just going to stick to the way I normally do make up and the way I like doing make up.

        Thanks for the great article ๐Ÿ™‚


      2. Hi, Alannah! You are already setting yourself apart from the norm, so don’t worry! It will come full circle for you. What I do know is that, just like any other makeup trend in the past, this will fade away and the individuals who are currently doing this will look at pictures and be like, “Oh man, well hey, thats what the trend was!” Ex. the mullet, bull cut, perm, blue eyeshadow, brown lipstick…etc. I don’t know what city you are in, but trust when I say that big agencies look down on people with heavier hands, because this limits their possible work. A lot of the really big paying gigs are the ones that want the “no makeup- makeup” look. Commercials are notorious for this. With that being said, if you have people who are requesting this look, always do what the client asks. If she likes that look, then just say, Ok lets do it! It’s when clients ask about HOW to do it, then look at you funny for showing them how to apply this technique to their specific face that is problematic for us as artists. So, keep doing what you’re doing, do the dramatic makeups when necessary and always explain why you are doing it, and you will do GREAT!! Good luck to you!!


  4. Great article. I am one of the girls you talk about. …I watch all the highlight and contour video but I still cannot master the technique. So I have abandon trying get to learn it. This article has settled it for me…once and for all.


  5. You honestly just sound really angry and judgemental. Let people do what they want with make-up, there don’t have to be rules, it’s another form of art. People should be allowed to do what THEY think looks nice, not what you or any other ‘make up artist’ thinks is right.

    I actually don’t contour, but I’ve also NEVER liked the way professional make-up artists have done my face, and due to my line of work I’ve been to MANY. Maybe they’re doing it the way they were ‘taught’ to but if they are, I don’t like what they were taught, and don’t want to listen to them or give them any authority on what I do to my face.

    It’s really another form of art, not an educational topic, and people should be entitled to express themselves as they please without such harsh judgement.


    1. Hi, Alana!
      I apologize for coming off that way! It was never ever my intention to sound judgmental. This is something that several film/tv/fashion artists have brought to my attention, said WAY worse things, and since then, the trend has risen. It most definitely is an art, and I respect people if this is how they choose to do their own makeup :)! (I actually mentioned this in the blog) As far as your experience with makeup artists, funny thing is I have had the same experience! haha!! I typically don’t like when other artists do my makeup because so many have done a poor job. If you don’t mind me asking, where are you located? My experience with not liking the makeups was always due to the makeup being too cakey and heavy, which is completely preference. What was the reason for not liking what they did? It’s always good to communicate with them before the process. If they still are doing it wrong, then unfortunately they do not have the right balance of understanding what the client wants and then tying in their professional skills to achieve the look you are going for. (This also translates to the salon…when you say a half inch, then they take off 3 inches. Not cool! lol)

      My main point of this blog was to express to aspiring makeup artists that in the fashion and entertainment industries, it is not expected to use this technique at all times. This is just point blank not a makeup that we typically do in the film/fashion world. And don’t get me wrong, it definitely comes in handy! We still highlight and contour, but not on this level for every gig. I’ve come across a lot of girls who think that since they can’t master this technique, then they must not be a good makeup artist, when thats so not the case. I’m always trying to inspire these girls and keep their head up!!

      If you didn’t know already, I am directing/producing a documentary about becoming a makeup artist and hairstylist, focusing on What It Takes to become successful in fashion and entertainment. So this was written with mainly people in or getting into the industry in mind. Somehow this blog got over 20,000 views which I had no intention of lol

      Another point I was trying to make was for the customers who are watching this, that it’s not something that you HAVE to know or that you are stupid if you don’t get it. As you said, it’s an art form, but there is absolutely an education behind it when it comes to placement. If you contour the wrong areas, say the top of the cheek bones, it will be a completely different effect than if you place it in the correct area where the cheeks sink in. This, as we all know, creates a more chiseled/defined look. The amount of product, which products, colors, etc you use is where the art comes in. If they want to wear their makeup that way, it’s in no way something I look down on. I’m only justifying the fact that natural beauty makeups and/or the no makeup-makeup looks are just as beautiful and are used much more as a working professional makeup artist in tv/film/fashion. I mentioned that one of the agencies I work with actually told me 3 years ago that I needed more natural, no-makeup-makeups. This agency is called Cloutier Remix. I still work with them. Check their site out and see who they rep, most of their artists do very light makeups. ie. Francesa Tolot who is Beyonce’s mua, also Joanna Schlipp. Both artists are legends in fashion, and their makeups are gorgeous! Very subtle though. Hence, for aspiring artists specifically, the reason why I wrote the blog to begin with.

      As I mentioned, it was not my intention to seem judgmental. Thank you for calling me out on this, I definitely will make sure to choose my words carefully and make sure the right point is getting across You are absolutely right that people are entitled to express themselves, and that was simply what I was doing. I am so sorry I offended you or anyone else! Thanks for your feedback!!! ๐Ÿ˜€

      Also– depending on where you are, I may be able to refer a great makeup artist for you if you still work in a field which you get your makeup done often! I know a lot of amazing artists, so I’m sure I could help you get someone that does it RIGHT lol!


  6. Hello from the Philippines! I stumbled upon this blog and found it funny that we’re half way around the world from each other and we have the same problem!

    I totally agree with you and believe that every client is beautiful in their own way and I was hired to enhance their beauty. Personally, I tell my clients before I start, that I’m not going to change the way they look. I will enhance their inner glow, the beauty that’s already there. If changing their look is what they’re after, I am not the makeup artist they are looking for… ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’m sharing this on my page and hopefully some clients or future clients will read and finally get it. Thank you for this!


    1. Hello Tina!

      This is amazing to me that anyone is reading this, let alone people out of the US! It’s unreal to be honest lol Thanks so much for your kind words and also for taking the time to read my blog and for sharing!!!! Keep your eyes open for when we release our documentary later this year ๐Ÿ˜€


  7. i believe you, been shocked to see the amount of products used to contour or highlight whatever, i’ve been soing make up for years and i never call those things contour or what, just great tecniques and all will do wonders to a beautiful canvas , the face,


    1. I do agree!
      However, your use of English&grammar need addressing and you really should get someone to proof read your blogs and articles!


  8. I’ve been thinking about writing about this trend too and can’t agree more.

    I’ve been working now for over 25 years in the film and TV industry and feel that this contouring craze has got a bit out of hand.

    Contouring has its place in certain situations but is used unnecessarily often these days.

    I worry it sends a message to woman that there is something wrong with their face if they do not conform to a certain “standard” and only adds to paranoia about “my nose being too big” or “my face being to wide” etc.

    But I certainly use contouring to help me change the look of an actor or actress into a different character or if the lighting in a particular situation calls for it.

    And if a bride or a formal client asks me to use contouring because they are are concerned about something like double chin or prominent nose, I will use the technique but also try to boost their confidence about their individual look.

    I also think it’s been forgotten you can subtlety change or enhance
    facial planes by cleverly placed, blush, bronzer or eyeshadow. This is a technique I would use first before resorting to contouring.

    I believe that the moment you can see that someone has had contouring in the situation the makeup is meant to be seen in it becomes a bad makeup… Sorry, but you then have ruined the illusion you where trying to create!

    And the same goes for foundation too. If it’s obvious in the situation it’s meant to be seen in, it’s too much! It’s a product that’s used to enhance the natural look if your skin.

    Too often today I see everyday makeups on people which are more suited to drag shows !


  9. Reblogged this on SBH. Beauty. Blog. and commented:
    Strong opinion from a #professional #mua about #contouring and #highlighting:

    “One woman was getting ready for her wedding and didnโ€™t have a makeup artist so she told me she watched a few youtube videos and tried out the highlight/contouring technique, but ended up looking like a clown. I looked at her and told her, โ€œUm that means you were doing it right.โ€


  10. This is true, people wanted what they see and wanted to get the same result, but they don’t have any idea that some of it are not applicable to them. I’ve been in this industry for 3 yrs now and I know that i wont be able to please everyone. I just do what I think will suit there skin and there face, their might be big transformation as from before and after. But for me its just simple enhancement. Some wanted to copy what they saw on tv and Instagram. What I usually do is talk to them with all honesty and show them how they can achieve it by applying light makeup but putting heavy contour and highlight just to show them that’s how it is done. Then show them how to manage it by not looking like a clown by blending it thoroughly so they can achieve the soft/subtle look. That way, there wont be any argument since you showed them what they want and explained to them how to control/manage it once they want to change it.

    Maybe, this changes are a matter of how they wanted to sell their self. Since the industry is getting bigger and the competition of having more clients are getting tighter.


  11. thank u very much I’m working as a makeup artist since 25 year and u have sooooooo much right
    all the girls in youtube looks like drag queens I’m sorry but they are
    i have nothing against drag queens but this is not how the should look every day
    thank u one more time that u post this
    regards evangelos tzimikas


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