I want to talk about contouring in greater detail soon; there seems to have been this crazy fad for it and I’m not sure that everyone has been embracing the trend with quite the caution and trepidation that they should have been. There’s a reason why it’s a relatively new idea, in mainstream beauty, and it is that contouring is actually quite a tricky thing to get right. And it doesn’t suit everyone. In fact many people look as though they have simply “painted on fake shadows”, a bit like the bodybuilders who spray on extra definition around the stomach area to give themselves more impressive abs. Do we want fake abs sprayed on us? No. Do we want fake cheekbones painted on our faces? Definitely not. Contouring should be about subtle enhancement of the existing features, not creating some crazy optical illusion, but the world has taken the contour trend and run with it and now we all have weird facial hollows and cheekbones that look as though they’ve had strip-lights inserted beneath the skin.
I’m going to say no more on the matter for now, but let me just point out that there is absolutely nothing wrong with a spot of contouring if you work with your face and what it has in the way of bones and fleshy padding. Contouring can look amazing – sharp, polished, professional, “photo ready”. But if you have very rounded cheeks and try to make them disappear and somehow morph into Kate Moss’s razor-blade cheekbones, things are going to get weird. Look at your face, follow your instincts, work with your assets and not with the ones you’ve seen on other people. If we could all carry off Kim Kardashian’s contouring, we’d all have Kim Kardashian’s face. And how dull would that be?
But moving on to today’s product which is the Tom Ford Shade and Illuminate duo. I’m not going to do that whole “gosh it’s so expensive” routine, because we all now know how pricey Tom Ford’s makeup is. If you feel like a proper treat, a real splurge, then you know where to find it. If you can’t justify it (or won’t) then there are always alternatives. (I have some suggestions at the bottom of the page that I think work well. Still not “bargains”, by any stretch of the imagination, but less “all-out luxe”.)
Tom Ford’s Shade and Illuminate is a compact containing a duo of cream highlight and cream bronzer. It’s quite a warm and orangey bronzer, very flat so that it doesn’t reflect light, and the highlighter is incredibly sheer and non-shimmery. You apply the creams expecting to have two very distinct shades to play with but in actual fact, the highlighter barely registers on the skin at all. It’s only when the light catches it that it glows on the skin – there’s no glimmer or shimmer, no “snail trail” of light across the cheekbones.
In the photo above I’m wearing the highlighter and shader, both unblended – you can only just make out the gleam of the highlighter on the cheekbone, but the contouring cream is very obvious. There are two arguments here, about the level of pay-off: some might say that they want something very potent and show-stopping for the price of the palette (£56)); some might argue that for their investment they want something that is foolproof and that gives the finest, most subtle results every time. The latter group will not be disappointed. You can’t really go wrong with this duo at all – the creams slide on beautifully, blend out seamlessly and leave you with just the merest hint of a glow and a shadow.
(Please do excuse the fact that I hadn’t yet applied by undereye concealer in these photos! Massive oversight, but you can’t remember everything…) I used a little foundation brush to apply my Shade & Illuminate; you could easily use fingertips, but I like the airbrushed finish that you get with the buffing motion of the bristles. If you find that the brush buffs away too much of the colour, you can always build the product up. Makes for a more seamless finish, rather than relying on your finger-painting skills.
You can find Tom Ford’s Shade & Illuminate at Selfridges.com. Alternatives to the Shade & Illuminate would be Tan de Chanel for the contour (same lovely flat, warm bronze as the one in Tom Ford’s Intensity 1 duo) and for the highlighter, RMS do the most wonderfully sheer and subtle highlighter, the Living Luminizer. Creamy, non-shimmery and impossible to overdo. Bourjois have a famed “dupe” for Chanel’s Tan de Chanel; personally I don’t think it’s anything like it. Chanel’s is a solid cream and Bourjois’ is a creamy cream, for a start, but by all means give it a try. I must remember to do my comparison post…
I have just realised that my two “alternatives” actually cost more in total than the Shade & Illuminate! Cripes. You do get two full-on standalone products, but still. Bear with me and I’ll experiment with some more bits and pieces.
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