Unless it’s your first day in the beauty biz, you’ve probably noticed the fact that everyone from beauty magazine editors to YouTube gurus won’t stop talking about contouring. Kevin Aucoin’s book “Making Faces” is famously known, among other things, for its contouring face charts. While contouring was once a makeup technique that was only employed by professional make-up artists, drag queens and those working in the theatrical sphere, today it is being used by even the most ordinary of make-up enthusiasts.
So is it time for your brand to move into the world of contouring? The answer is an absolute “yes.” Keep reading to discover why.
The Origins of the Contouring Craze
Like so many popular makeup techniques, the origins of contouring can absolutely be traced back to the world of Drag Queens. Drag makeup tends to employ mostly theatrical techniques, but frequently purposefully overdone to create a striking finish. While contouring has always been used in stage makeup to accentuate the natural bone structure of the face under white lights that wash performers out, drag artists began contouring to create an aggressively feminine appearance, add depth and shadow where needed and highlight as well.
Ten years ago, most people would have balked at the idea of using drag techniques in their own beauty regimens. After all, Drag makeup was meant to be theatrical and over-the-top, while the “less is more” look reigned supreme in the world of everyday wear cosmetics.
Recently, however, the world of everyday makeup and cosmetics has been turned upside down. Those individuals who would have once just used a bit of concealer and eyeliner now have makeup collections that rival those of professional artists. The lines between professional and amateur makeup artistry have never been so blurred.
So What Changed? It Can All Be Traced Back to Social Media
The evolution in how ordinary people are approaching their makeup routines can essentially all be attributed to social media. Twenty years ago, most of us only had our makeup done professionally to be photographed at important events or simply took snapshots to print out later of our vacations. Today, the average individual can easily take a “selfie” photograph and upload it for the world to see within seconds.
Instagram and the “selfie” have influenced the roll of makeup application in the everyday as well as an influencer’s roll on social media. People are no longer doing their makeup to impress their coworkers or schoolmates. Rather, they are preparing themselves to be photographed, potentially for an audience of thousands depending on their social media following.
Social media changed makeup techniques in another way as well. With the rise of YouTube came a sort of revolution in one’s access to professional makeup techniques and artistry. While books published by renowned makeup artists are still a go-to for makeup enthusiasts, you can now just log into YouTube to access thousands upon thousands of tutorials showing you how to do makeup like the pros. These influencers and brands alike can reach an enormous audience in a matter of seconds.
Social media has brought professional artistry to the mainstream. Today even the most mainstream and sought after brands are marketing through these channels and keeping in mind that their average consumer is no longer average and are their own self-taught makeup artist.
Turning the Industry Upside Down
It’s easy to imagine how shocked many in the cosmetics industry might have been when this shift began. A counter worker at a department store was historically trained to sell products and tools that were designed to enable them to have a basic, easy-to-do daily routine. However, these days makeup consumers aren’t looking for a simple sheer foundation or a basic nude eyeshadow. Instead, they want complex palettes and tools, the kind traditionally used by professionals.
It’s worth noting that most drag artists historically relied on theatrical brands, which catered to those looking to contour and add dimension to the face for performance purposes. However, these theatrical brands aren’t accessible to the average makeup consumer. Hence, these ordinary shoppers who have begun using professional techniques need the brands within their reach to create more professional products and tools.
A New Market
From department store to drugstore to indie brands, more and more cosmetics companies are creating products designed for contouring. Whether it’s a cream palette or a face powder meant to set heavier products, companies are beginning to see that the ordinary makeup shopper is no longer satisfied with the basics. Instead, they want access to professional products and tools.
This shift in the industry isn’t limited to contouring products, either. Companies are working to quickly meet the demands of this new consumer giving them access to high quality brushes, more pigmented eye shadows and more tools that were formerly geared only towards professional artists. Social media influencers are their greatest marketing tool and they are driving the most sought after trends in the industry.
Stay Competitive In This New Cosmetics Landscape
If you want your brand to remain competitive, the only choice is to provide your consumers with contouring and professional products. As individuals continue to showcase their lives online and photograph themselves with frequency, they will continue to want to use cosmetics and techniques that give them a camera-ready finish.
Ultimately, this isn’t a bad thing for makeup companies. The demand for more professional products and tools has also resulted in the average consumer spending a little more on their monthly beauty expenses. Now is the time for emerging brands to create professional-grade products that every make up enthusiast can access and use.
In order to stay on pace with this new breed of consumer your company will need something that speaks to the contouring craze. The consumer demand is there and the market is still open for new companies that want to create products that fit this new trend of the professional and the amateur being one in the same.