If last year’s beauty buzzword was no-makeup makeup, then this year’s is contouring. It is such a hot topic that Sephora has declared this the “Year of Contour” — a full year. It might even be a plotline for Marnie in the next season of Girls. But celebrity makeup artist Pati Dubroff, whose clients include Charlize Theron and Dakota Johnson, isn’t buying into the trend. On her own Instagram account, Dubroff has taken a stand against contouring, posting examples of particularly extreme demonstrations of the technique, with messages like: “i would NEVER SUFFOCATE THE SKIN or create a MASK LIKE CREATURE like this.” As she tells the Cut, her anti-contouring stand has largely earned her support from the beauty community, but also hate mail and cyberbullying. In her own words, Dubroff explains why she thinks contouring is bad for psychology and why she chose to be vocally against the extreme version of this trend.
Contouring has always been around, but lately I see women who are physically destroying their skin in the name of this trend. If your jawline is not very sharp, it’s not a bad thing to give it a little shadow. But that’s not to say that every single plane on your face needs to be rejiggered. People look in the mirror and want to look like the retouched version of the world. But it’s not real, none of it’s real, whether it’s being done in doctors’ offices or on the computer. You can use makeup to accentuate the things you love but not to completely reimagine your face.
If you’re doing it once in a while and you clean it off really well, okay. But it’s assumed that it’s supposed to be done more often. I heard people are thinking they should make it part of their daily, weekend, or evening routine. But when they take it all off — what’s happening? What’s the psychology of it all? If there is so much time and product spent on fixing, where is the self-love? When other people are looking at that, they’re seeing the mask, they’re losing the person.
Posting [on Instagram] was a bit of a risky moment to make a point. I got a lot of negative feedback and took one post down because I got so much hate mail — that was my first experience in cyberbullying. But the majority of people seem to support my message.
People want to point the finger at the Kardashians. I don’t want to point my finger at those girls and those styles — but it’s absolutely influenced things. The difference is that they have genuinely talented artists working on them.
When I do it, I tend to use two different foundation colors. One that is lighter than matches the neck, which goes in the center of the face — and the other, which matches the cheek. That right there, already naturally brightens the center of the face. And Lancôme has these contour sticks — they aren’t super-thick. Sometimes, it can look similar to those pictures with the line under the cheekbones but the amount is so much less. And if you are doing it, don’t forget to blend it out and add highlight on the top of the cheekbones. I like using this great color called Grisaille by Surratt Beauty. It’s a beautiful color for contouring that is totally taupe and has no orange in it. I use it all the time. It is the perfect shade that is really subtle.
I want to look in the mirror and see beauty and accept myself. And I know it’s hard. In an airbrushed society, it becomes harder and harder. The main thing is that beauty comes from health, well-being, and aliveness. And with that type of makeup, there’s nothing alive. It’s extremely disguised.