What Is Clown Contouring and How Do You Do It?

Curious about clown contouring? We can help. Here's how to do the clown contouring technique

What you should know about the clown contouring technique

Some people may assume that contouring is a trendy and relatively fresh makeup technique, but the core concept for the method has been around since at least the 16th century.

Elizabethan stage actors used soot and chalk to exaggerate facial features to make it easier for audiences to recognize their facial expressions from far away. The idea translated to the more versatile greasepaint in the 19th century.

Max Factor Sr. is known for pioneering contouring with beauty products similar to what we use today, presenting the first contouring makeup tutorial in 1945. However, even he would likely not have anticipated the colorful craze that is clown contouring. Read on to learn how you can use your contour kit to do clown contouring of your own.

What Is Clown Contouring?

In 2015, YouTuber BellaDeLune invented the extreme form of makeup contouring in collaboration with Instagram personality MakeupbyAlo. Clown contouring was meant to address trolls and haters calling the former’s makeup tutorials “clownish.” BellaDeLune—real name Esther Isabel Amado Romo—published a video of herself painting on a full clown face with bright and deep shades of blush, concealer, and foundation creams.

The magic happens during the last minute of the timelapse. BellaDeLune uses a beauty blender and brushes to buff out the clown face and ends up with a flawless-looking, contoured result. The video went viral, the hashtag #ClownContouring trended online, and the rest is history.

The method was picked up very quickly by beauty enthusiasts—especially those already aware of traditional contouring techniques. While clown contouring does use up a lot of product and leads to a thick layer of makeup on your face, there’s no denying the perfect face sculpting that is achieved when it is done properly.

Why Does Clown Contouring Work?

Clown contouring works because it’s based on traditional skin color-correcting and contouring rules, even if the technique demands the use of bizarre and exaggerated shapes and tones. Blending out the shades properly, without smudging or dragging the applied makeup, also helps.

As long as the shadows and highlights are added in the right places, even the most garish clown contour will make sense. Color-correcting your facial skin is even easier than trying to figure out where to put dark and light contour creams. All you need to do is use a shade that is the opposite of what you’re correcting on the color wheel.

How Do You Do Clown Contouring on Your Face?

First things first, make time for it. Clown contouring is not a technique you can pull off in 10 to 15 minutes. It may not even look amazing when you first try it. Everyone’s face is different, and you may need to practice a few times and even make mistakes before you get a handle on color-correcting.

Gather your materials: blushes, contour palettes, concealers, foundations, and even lipsticks if you’re feeling adventurous. Have a set of makeup brushes and a beauty blender on hand, too. Make sure there is a wide range of shades to achieve extreme contouring and color correction. Consider green, purple and yellow correcting concealers, as well as orange or pink blushes and lipsticks.

Start with bold use of your concealers. Redness due to sunburn or acne? Use a green concealer. Age spots or patches of dull skin? Use purple concealer. Dark bluish undereye circles and barely visible purplish veins? Use a yellow concealer.

While you have your yellow hue out, you can draw triangles under your eyes, a square on your chin, an oval on your forehead, and lines along the bridge of your nose and under your brows. You may also do this with your lightest contour cream or highlighting foundation shades. Call attention to the parts of your face you want to be lifted and accentuated.

Depending on your skin tone, you may need a pink, orange or red shade of corrector cream, blush or lipstick—or a custom mix of two or all of these colors—for this next step. Add warmth and dimension to areas that are darker than they should be by drawing circles on the apples of your cheeks and smaller triangles over the yellow concealer underneath your eyes. You can also opt to fill in “clown lips” on the skin around your mouth area.

After, take your darkest contour cream or foundation. Draw lines under your cheekbones, at the edges of your forehead, on the sides of your nose, and under your lips. Hit any part that you want to minimize and any part that would be shadowed if the emphasized parts of your face were hit by light.

Use a beauty blender to tap and push the products together and start evening them out. Finish with large contour brush or stippler to buff out the rough transitions. After this, the clown contouring part is done, and you’re free to apply all your desired finishing touches: brow liners, eyeshadows, lipsticks, and more.

Resources⁠—Brit + Co, Cabinet, Closer Online, i-D, Marie Claire South Africa, Popsugar, Teen Vogue

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