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Contouring expert: A little goes a long way

Contouring expert: A little goes a long way

Bloggers make this popular makeup technique easier than it is
Contouring expert: A little goes a long way
Makeup artist Natalie Dekermendjian, right, poses with mother Dorothy Dekermendjian displaying contouring techniques.
Photographer: Indiana Nash

ALBANY/SARATOGA — These days, it’s easier than ever to be well-versed in all the latest cosmetic trends. With millions of beauty bloggers posting new looks and tutorials, it seems as though everyone's an expert.

But it’s not as easy as bloggers make it look, according to Natalie Dekermendjian.

“I always had people asking me to show them how to contour,” Dekermandjian said.

Her clients at Complexions Spa for Beauty and Wellness, as well as friends, were constantly asking her to show them how to apply winged eye liner just right, or for tips on other makeup trends. After a few months, Dekermandjian decided to hold a class or two for people who wanted to learn to contour and to answer all those trend questions in person.

She's the one to ask, after all. Dekermandjian spent much of the past decade in Los Angeles, working as a makeup artist for film and fashion photo shoots.

“I always enjoyed art but I never knew how to apply it, until I found makeup,” Dekermandjian said. After attending the Make-up Designory in Burbank, California, she worked on movie sets, doing everything from basic looks to special-effects makeup.

When she moved to the Capital Region earlier this year, one of the top questions Dekermandjian would get was on how contouring works.

Contouring is a way to give definition to the face and achieve a chiseled look using highlighters and foundations. It’s a technique that at one point provided the staple look for all runway models and celebrities, but thanks to Kylie Jenner and other celebrities, it's caught the attention of makeup wearers and non-makeup wearers alike.

“It had a lot to do with Kim Kardashian, honestly,” Dekermandjian said.

Plenty of beauty bloggers have recreated the look and broken the steps down for people, but there are many tutorials that aren’t helpful and, especially for beginners, it can be difficult to sort through the good from the gaudy.


Some of the brushes and product used to contour at Complexions Spa for Beauty and Wellness. (Indiana Nash)

“A little goes a long way,” Dekermandjian said. She finds herself saying that throughout each one-on-one session and during the group classes she’s held. The point of contouring is to subtly bring out an element of the face, not to accent it with too much product.

For each client, there are slight differences in the way the contouring is done (depending on the part of the face that the client wants to highlight), but the technique is the same.

Dekermanjian recommends starting out with a “fresh face” by applying a cleanser and a moisturizer so that the skin isn’t dried out. Then, apply a cream foundation for a base and concealer under the eyes, use a creme highlighter on the cheekbones and blend into the foundation.

Dekermanjian holds contouring classes among others at Complexions once or twice a month. To see the class schedule, visit complexions.com.

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