Crazy for contouring


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Since I started contouring; on pretty much a daily basis, I’ve been addicted.
Addicted to how you can use the bones and various areas of your face to – for example, highlight certain features, make other features seem less prominent, and altogether create a more polished and defined look.

Recently, make-up secrets of cosmetic artists to the stars, have come out to the public; aka: little ol’ you and I! Especially since the emergence and, indeed now explosion of reality television; we’re seeing stars and celebrities in their everyday getups (to a point – scripted/unscripted) often without a (completely/full) made-up face.
Whilst it is true, many of these stars have Photoshop to thank (I mean, you gotta’ sell a magazine, right?); much of it comes down to make-up, before retouching digitally.

Women all over the world use facial, and indeed body contouring – with cosmetics to appear thinner, more toned, or muscular, to appear more sun-kissed, and ultimately, more confident.

Just like with painting; contouring uses highlights and shadows to create different depths on the face, using your natural bone structure to highlight and emphasise your biological features and make the areas you’re less proud of, less obvious.

From a slightly wonky nose, to a round face; contouring allows the wearer/user to really almost re-shape their face and features (keep reading for tips and tricks!)

Having a round face myself – made more obvious from head-on pictures – hence the avoidance)…(No matter how many times I try to tell myself it’s ‘love heart-shaped), contouring has been a real lesson! It’s enabled me to emphasise my naturally high cheekbones, and slightly hide the roundness of my face-shape. It’s enabled me to make my nose appear smaller and more defined; and my eyes larger and more prominent. It’s enabled me to look more bronzed and healthier. These are definitely things I look for in make-up; and things I never thought would be possible; just with one make-up set of two-three colours.

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Colours

Light (For highlighting)

This part is fun! Accentuating parts of your face with highlights – the lightest colour – done with a concealer a shade or two lighter than your skin tone/usual foundation, I use a lighter concealer stick for the under eye part; avoid wrinkles right under your eye – or blend well; and gently– not a good look!). Once rest of contouring and blush etc. is finished, you can go back with a little highlighting shadow and run it, subtly down your nose in the centre, also top of cheekbones, and brow bone – I do this when rest of eye make-up is complete; especially after I’ve finished filling In my brows.

Medium/cheek (to bronze/blush)

This is a fun part too! When I’ve finished contouring, I apply the blush; which often – is the same colour as my medium tone – that I use on my forehead (top-hairline); others may prefer a more peachy or pink tone, it’s all relative. It’s all dependent on what you like, what suits you, and your own skin tone.

Dark (to shade/contour)

Of course the dark shadow must be blended! Bleeended! I can’t emphasise that part enough.

Celebrity examples of contouring

The Kardashian clan

Kim Kardashian with one of her make-up artists; Mario Dedivanovic. Apologies for the repeated image, however it’s a very good example, and can’t be ignored ☺. I was surprised when I saw this picture. I didn’t before realise she had so much make-up on. Then I started contouring; and it completely makes sense why someone would want to apply it to someone’s face!


Kim Kardashian – Contouring can make such a difference! Taking into consideration, age differences, eye make-up changes, brow alterations and fake tan relaxation; her make-up looks natural, sophisticated and beautiful.


Kim Kardashian – pictured here with friends; including Kelly Rowland; all of which have contoured face make-up. The nose contouring is slightly obvious; but due to it not showing up as well on camera – necessary. The light reflects the lighter, highlighting shades; especially below their eyes – beautiful.


Kim Kardashian – Her cheekbone contouring is blended extremely well and naturally; her brow bone looks amazing (as usual!) with the highlighted eye shadow and the shadowing of the dark to light eye shadow across her lids is perfect for this look. Tamed with a sexy, glamourous cat-eye with false lashes, and natural, glossy lips – this looks is romantic and natural – in comparison to her looks that incorporate harsh lashes and crimson lips.


Kourtney Kardashian – Kourtney is the most petite sister, but this doesn’t make her standout less. She has beautiful make-up in this picture. It’s dewy, sun-kissed and glamourous. I prefer the Kardashian sisters with this kind of look – the smokey, mysterious eye, the blushy peachy pink cheek, nude, glossy lip, bronzed skin and highlighted eyes (under eyes) – it gives an ‘old Hollywood’ look, which I think is just beautiful.



Khloe Kardashian – I think Khloe is fun. She gets a lot of stick from the press about being the ‘less attractive sister’ and other such ridiculousness. But I think she’s beautiful. Here, you can see how contouring and highlighting has extenuated her features and given her an overall glow. It has given her complexion a healthier look and it has given her face and cheekbones and more defined effect.

Other Celebrities’, contoured:


Serena Williams – the contouring and highlighting has made a massive difference to her overall glow. This is what Jennifer Lopez relies on to keep-up her ‘Glow’ brand.


Amber Heard – she’s definitely one of my current ‘look’ crushes. She carries of f the vintage bombshell look wonderfully; she has amazing bone structure, and a megawatt smile.


Rita Hayworth – Gorgeous. And, contoured. Yes – you read correctly, folks; it’s not as obvious as celebrities’ tend to have their make-up in today’s magazines, but Rita used to contour her brow line regularly. This is detailed more in the Facial Contouring: Forehead section, later on.


Megan Fox with beautiful applied make-up. Her bronzing and blush creates a very healthy glow, and finished of with the gorgeous pink lip; this is a lovely fresh, romantic look.

Extreme Contouring


I know this is extreme contouring; however it doesn’t detract from the fact that she has gorgeous features that are definitely extenuated. Celebrities usually have their contouring slightly overdone as it shows up less on camera. However, mixed with harsh lights and paparazzi flashbulbs – the make-up really shows up.



Nikki Minage with over-done nose contouring, also – the lack of mascara on her bottom lashes mixed the extreme false ones on her top lips are killing me!


Yes, you guessed it – that’s a still from the awesome ‘Shaolin Soccer’! It’s very 80’s, by which I not only refer to the extreme shoulder-pads and ‘Pat Butcher from Eastenders’ earrings; but the lip colour, blusher and nose contouring.

Contouring facial features

There are five basic facial shapes: oval, square/rectangular, round, heart and diamond. Most women prefer to create an illusion of an oval face shape and other just want to enhance their facial shape. The following are techniques for creating an oval illusion for the basic shapes.

Diamond-shaped face

Characteristics:
Narrow forehead
Narrow Chin
Wider cheeks than jawline

Objective:
To balance Forehead and jawline must appear wider

Techniques:
Apply regular foundation before contouring makeup
Apply lighter shade of foundation at angle on both sides of forehead
Apply lighter shade of foundation at angle from middle to bottom of jawline
Apply blush on the ball of the cheek in a crescent shape. Blend outward out toward hairline

Heart-shaped face

Characteristics:

Widest across forehead
Tapers down to cheeks, then down to narrow, sometimes pointed chin
Jawline is not prominent

Objective:
To balance face
Forehead must appear more narrow and lower half of face more wide

Techniques:
Apply regular foundation before contouring makeup
Apply darker shade of foundation on either side of forehead
Apply lighter shade of foundation at either side of jawline
Apply blush starting under the ball of the cheek
Blend away toward the center of the ear

Round face
(This is me, folks! – Which one are you?)

Characteristics:
Width about same as length
Short forehead
Wide cheeks
Roundness through jaw

Objective:
Create more definition Forehead and jawline must appear more narrow

Techniques:
Apply regular foundation before contouring makeup
Apply darker shade of foundation in an arc on either side of forehead
Apply darker shade of foundation on either side of jaw up to tip of ear. This will eliminate fullness in these areas
Apply blush on the ball of the cheek beginning at point just outside of center of eye. Extend to temples near hairline.

Square/Rectangular-Shaped Face

Characteristics:
Width of cheeks and forehead are similar
Width of jawline and forehead are similar
Prominent jawline
Angular overall appearance
Rectangular face is longer than it is wide

Objective:
To soften angles Forehead and jawline must appear more narrow

Techniques:
Apply regular foundation before contouring makeup
To make forehead appear more oval, apply darker shade of foundation on either side of forehead and blend
To make jaw appear more oval, apply darker shade of foundation on either side of jawline and blend
Apply concentration of blush directly on the ball of the cheek. Blend toward the top of the ear for a square face and middle of the ear for a rectangular face

Oval-Shaped Face

Characteristics:
Equal distance from hairline to eyebrows, from eyebrows to tip of nose and from nose to chin
Wider forehead than jawline Prominent cheekbones gently taper to oval chin

Techniques:
Apply blush just under the ball of cheekbone, directly below the outer part of the iris
Extend in smooth arc, fading toward top of ear

Overall contouring basics


Rita Hayworth contoured along her forehead, chin and cheekbones. Rita’s father was of Spanish decent. Stylists in Hollywood went to great lengths to make her features seem more ‘European’ in appearance, including electrolysis to her hairline and lots of contouring.


Ava Gardner contoured along her jaw, nose and cheekbones.

Nose

Contouring & Highlighting Techniques for Different Noses:
Flat Nose
Apply highlight down the center of the nose, avoiding the sides. Smooth and blend down the centre.

Broad Nose
Slim down a broad nose with a foundation that is one shade darker than your natural skin tone. Sweep along the sides of the nose with a small, firm makeup brush. Start just below the inner corners of the eyebrows, and end at the sides of the nostrils. Stroke a lighter shade of foundation down the bridge of the nose. Blend well.

Long, Wide Nose
Apply darker shade of foundation on either side of the bridge of the nose.
Extend down along each side of the nose and blend.
Extend contour down, between, and around nostrils, covering tip of the nose.
Blend.

Narrow Nose
Sweep concealer that’s slightly darker than your natural skin tone down the centre of your nose. Then use a lighter shade on the sides of your nose and nostrils.

Many people have bumps or slightly off-centre noses that they wish to fix. This can be done via the magical of make-up, to a degree.

Soften a Bump
Apply darker shade of foundation directly on bump and blend.
Apply lighter shade of foundation on either side of bump from bridge to nostrils and blend.

Straighten a Crooked Nose
Apply darker shade of foundation on to the bulging side of the nose and blend.
On the opposite side of the nose, apply a lighter shade and blend.

Basic nose contouring:


Marilyn Monroe used lots of contouring on her nose, cheekbones, and hairline.



(This is one of the same tricks that Marilyn Monroe would use; since I found that out around a year ago; I use it often!)


Jennifer Aniston with nose contouring example.


Naomi Campbell with nose contouring down the sides.

Eyes

Apply makeup primer onto clean lids. Press base eye shadow colour on from lash line to crease. This is the lightest shade on your current palette, and it serves as the backdrop for any contouring work you do.

Take an eye shadow brush with a small, flat head and use it to press your darkest eye shadow colour into the outer edges of your top lids in a sideways “V” shape. Blend hard edges away so that your new contour color melds with your base shade.

Finish the rest of your colour eye makeup application in either case by smoothing a subtle highlighter onto brow bones and fading away noticeable edges in the product. This separates your brow bones from the other parts of your eye, just as contouring gives you more of a crease.

My tip: I use a thin, small brush and apply a small amount under the bottom lash, almost lining it underneath.


Good basic colours for natural eye contouring


Advanced application techniques


A gorgeous example of good blending and contouring of the eye

Brushes for contouring


(Picture for visual purposes; by NO means do you need all of these brushes, I don’t have this many!)

Foundation Brush: Used to apply foundation to the face and typically made from synthetic fibers. Most foundation brushes have a small, rounded brush head shaped like a tiny spatula.

Concealer Brush: Concealer brushes look like mini foundation brushes. Being smaller than foundation brushes makes them better suited for covering blemishes or for applying liquid concealers in hard to reach places like the corners of the eyes.

Angled Brush: An angled brush is ideal for sculpting noses. Keep it small so that you have more control over where your product ends up.
There are also larger versions for contouring on forehead with bronzer.

Powder Brush: With a large, fluffy brush heads and soft bristles, powder brushes are ideal for applying loose powder to the face.

Blush Brush: They resemble smallish powder brushes with either a sloped or rounded tip. Great for applying blush or bronzer to cheeks.

Eye Brushes: There are lots of eye brushes to choose from, but the basics are:

Highlighter brush: I use this usually to sweep across the brow bone – under the eyebrows – above where the top and lightest shade of your eyes shadow is. I also use this to sweep highlighting product down the centre of my nose, and often top of cheekbones, and sometimes – underneath where I’ve contoured to my cheekbones for more definition.

Eyebrow Brush: Eyebrow brushes have firm, angled brush heads like the tip of a marker. Use them to apply powders, creams or waxes to brows.
Eyeshadow Brush: Not as stiff as an eyebrow brush, eyeshadow brushes have square heads used to evenly apply both powder and cream shadows to eyelids. I reach for this brush so often that I might as well have it permanently attached to my hand! Expect to use these a lot.

Eyeshadow Brush: Not as stiff as an eyebrow brush, eyeshadow brushes have square heads used to evenly apply both powder and cream shadows to eyelids. I reach for this brush so often that I might as well have it permanently attached to my hand! Expect to use these a lot.

Blending Brush: Like the name implies, blending brushes are used to blend different colored products and to wipe out harsh lines. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Not as firm as eyeshadow brush heads, the heads of blending brushes are usually tapered. This will be your second staple brush (behind your eyeshadow brush).
Crease Brush: Fluffy and soft, crease brush heads come in several different shapes, from thin and tapered to round and fluffy. The shape you choose will depend more on personal preference than anything else. Look for a brush head that feels soft against your eyelid and fits into the hollow of your eye.

This isn’t to say that if you don’t have these brishes that you can’t apply make-up, much less – contour! I contour with four brushes at times! A powder brush (largest of my brushes), powder brush (second largest – about half the size of my cheek for easy blush application – and also used for contouring forehead with bronze/same colour as blush for me usually). And a small brush for applying dark contour powder on face as well as dark eye shadow. Also a small but slightly wider brush for highlighting on face, nose and brow line.

I’ve attempted to use a brush to apply foundation, and personally, for me – I prefer using my hands. I used a Mac foundation without a squirty expeller and dab the bottle little a mini-ketchup bottle onto my left palm. I then use my index finger’s tip to dab on face all over, or where coverage is needed.
Concealer comes straight from the stick onto my face.

So whether you’re a contouring newbie, or an ol’ pro. I hope you enjoyed this post; and learned something new along the way; I know I have (I had no idea Rita Hayworth AKA: Margarita Carmen Cansin, was of Mexican decent – did you? Any-other secrets you’d like to share, feel free to drop me a line) :)

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112 thoughts on “Crazy for contouring

  1. I have totally brought into your blog and I LOVE this post! I knew a bit about contouring, but your blog is really in depth and shows the wide range of effects that can be created with a bit of contouring.:-D Thanks for sharing x

  2. An fascinating dialogue is price comment. I feel that you must write more on this topic, it won’t be a taboo topic however usually people are not sufficient to talk on such topics. To the next. Cheers

  3. I’ve never even considered contouring before! I can’t wait to try this! You seriously covered EVERYTHING, which is awesome. I would love to see you do a video tutorial too, ’cause now I’m super curious about what products you use and would recommend!

  4. I admire what you have done here. I love the part where you say you are doing this to give back but I would assume by all the comments that is working for you as well. Do you have any more info on this?

    1. Thank you, I appreciate that.

      Yes, it’s lovely logging in and seeing comments from different people of different genders, creeds and cultures.

      I do plan do to a follow-up contouring post, with my own step-by-step visual guide: much like my ‘top knot’ visual guide. Sign-up to ‘follow’ me and I’ll keep you updated.
      We have a Facebook too for updates!

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  6. Holy crap!!! You ARE obsessed with contouring lol I believe you :) Great job! I have a question though: I NEVER use contouring as I find that what looks great indoors on me looks totally different with real light, but…I’m gonna try doing my nose, it’s too long, not wide, perfectly straight just the tip is too long, what do you recommend? Should this be applied before foundation and if so how the heck am I gonna apply the foundation without smearing the contours? Help lol! Keep in mind that the only darker shades I have are powder and cream bronzers.Thanks!

    1. Hey Alicia!

      Yes, yes I am! ;)

      You couldn’t be more correct. Lighting is an issue…As with many make-up looks; it’s important to get ready near a window, letting in natural light, because you will end up walking down the street looking like one of the images from the ‘extreme’ section, or ‘contouring gone wrong’.

      It is ALL about subtlety. You’re not supposed to literally be able to see two lines down your nose, but create a subtle hint of shadows down each side – this things the nose. Someone who I see on television regularly and I think…Please, whoever is contouring your face, please make it stop…Guiliana Rancic. Don;t get me wrong, she is lovely – I do like her alot. But her nose contouring; too much, too harsh. It makes her look older and fake.

      For long tip of the nose like yours, as you say – you need to create the appearance that it’s shorter. I detailed this in the post I think, but to relietterate, you need to apply a small amout of darker opposed to lighter shadow on the end of your nose. Sweep it across the end, lightly. This creates the illusion it’s shorter. I also like to define my nose, near the nostrils, with a little darker shadow opposed to light (remember dark = shadow/contour, and light = highlights/brings out/emphasises) – the way Marilyn Monroe’s was.

      Don’t worry: No, not before foundation. Foundation always first (after primer/moisturiser – optional). And then your concealer around dark circles if you have them. Then Use dark contouring poweder OR cream to go down your cheeks and side of nose. Blend these in!! Then apply bronzer to temples/around hairline, and bronzer/blusher to apples of cheeks. Then I always go over the contoured area with a small amount of dark powder again, just a subtle sweep.
      Then use highlighting shadow of cream to dab/sweep under brows/top of cheekbones, down centre of nose.
      Then use a little darker shadow and sweep it with a small brush across/on the end of your nose. This makes it look shorter.

      I hope this helps you?
      Let me know! :)

      And, thanks for stopping by!
      Kirstiie xx

      1. thank you so much for replying, I tried that method a few times and blended and blended but my nose ended up looking like I’d been sniffing my way through thick mud yikes!Hopefully practice makes perfect, your contouring is undetectable, not like you need it though. Have you thought of doing video tutorials or at least step by step pics?Maybe include your favorite products?Regardless, great blog, will keep reading and thanks again!Your skin is beautiful :)

      2. Hey Alicia,
        Thank you for reading! :)

        What kind of tone/colour were you using? Many people make the error of using too dark a colour. It should really only be one or at the very most two colours darker than your skin tone! Even I make the mistake sometimes.
        Ah that is very kind, but untrue I’m afraid! I’m glad my make-up application and good lighting/camera make you think this though :).

        Yes, definitely! I have been meaning to get around to it! There are lots of videos on Youtube, but I have been meaning to to step-by-step pictures. I’ll try to do this soon.

        That’s a good idea, I’ll see what I can do :)

        Ah thank you! But again, make-up trickery! I definitely do not have good skin, never have. But if someone thinks it is, I shall thank Veganism :).

      3. Hey Kerrie,

        It doesn’t really matter which brands, for me I use ones that are not tested on animals and are vegan.

        I would suggest using matte – non-shiny/glittery dark colours for contouring. And using shimmery golden tones for highighting. I am very into bronzes and golds right now.

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      1. Hey there, the lighter under the eyes is concealer/illuminator. As the blog explains, the highlighting colour – ie concealer is added to highlighting areas, ie, under eyes, top of cheekbones, browbones :)

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  10. Oh. Ok! Thanks for replying! :) That helps a lot! I was really confused. I love this blog. I always kinda knew something about contouring, but I had no idea how to do it. I was wondering if you can do a vid????

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  17. This is one of best contouring articles I’ve ever read! Very thorough and informative. However, I am pretty sure Rita Haworth was not Mexican, she was Spaniard.

  18. hi, its me kiran from Pakistan…really its amazing site and very healthy stuff. i need your guidence. i am nill in make over. :( in pakistan there is the lack of facilities. like bases for face is not easy available. doublicate or copy of big products like loreyal and MAc are available in shops. but they are not real. plz help me i want to change ma self.

    1. Hi there,

      Thank you for your message.
      You don’t need brand-names to apply make-up, you don’t need designer makes and expensive options. It’s a well-known fact that drug-store brands are often better than the expensive brands. :)

  19. Thank u.. This was very useful to me..it is useful to us if u show that how to use contouring to show a fat and short neck to slim and long neck..

  20. this was AMAZING thankyou so much!!!! this is the best page I’ve come across- and has helped me so much! thankyou :)

  21. Wow the magic of makeup! I loved seeing your photos you truly looked different person in almost all of them. Thanks to contouring huh? I don’t know what I’d contour..maybe giving my self more cheekbone!

  22. I loved this post i have not seen anything online w such detail!! What brush do you use to contour? I ask because i’ve been told the 109 MAC brush is great but Ive also read alot of good things about the new 215 MAC brush.. or can I save the $$ and use my 168 MAC that I already own?? Thanks in advance!!

    1. Hey Cecilia!

      Thank you for your lovely message.
      I do like to be thorough! :) I like to assist others, just how after some researching – it assisted me!

      To be honest with you, I only have a few Mac Brushes, and I end up using my drugstore brushes. So my suggestion is that you could save the money and use the same brush.

      An angled brush is great for contouring, especially on/under the cheekbones, however it’s not crucial – as by pressing/squeezing the bristles together, you can create a similar shape.

      I hope this helps?
      Kirstiie :)

  23. I simply want to say I am just new to blogging and site-building and really loved you’re blog. Almost certainly I’m want to bookmark your site . You definitely have good articles. Cheers for revealing your website.

  24. I love this blog, but you did your contouring awfully. Why are you emphasizing that butt chin? You need to blend more, or use a lighter color.. It’s wayyy to dark and not subtle at all.

  25. I think you’re mistaking contouring for plastic surgery (Kim Kardashian picture comparing her in 2006 and 2009), but nonetheless, a wonderfull blog!

    1. Hey Vanessa,

      Thank you for stopping by.

      Nope – I am talking strictly about the contouring, make-up and lighting.
      Yes, it is highly likely she, in particular has had fillers. It is evident when she cries and smiles. Not to mention a little botox.
      But in terms of highlighting and shading – I’m referencing the make-up.

      Aww thank you :)

  26. I loved going thru ur blog, I too have been contouring but I do have one question, do you have any idea what white product she is using for the highlighting all the stuff I tried looks cakey :(

    1. Hey Hazel,

      Thank you for your message.

      I agree, I had that same issue with cakeyness.

      The ones that I use that are never cakey; vary from a light/yellow based highlighter from Mac, to a lighter foundation colour for the base.

      Day-to-day I use the highlighter from Mac a little and I always top off with a powder. Sometimes only the powder – a lighter powder than skin colour from Mac. If not; sometimes just a lighter colour eyeshadow. It’s nice to use one with a little shimmer, sometimes a little gold shimmer for the browbone, under cheekbones, down nose etc.

      Let me know how you get on?

      Kirstiie xx

  27. I really enjoyed your post on contouring i usually dont do it on a regular basis but after getting a Christmas picture taken i was horrified to see how very round my face was ..so i got out my make up and contoured whether i did it right or wrong i dont know it made a huge difference i also learned a long time ago never stare straight at the camera when your round faced! If i had gone out that night with my contoured and heavy made up face it probably would have been hideous but it looked okay in the soft light of my bedroom!
    I do appreciate this blog maybe i can learn the proper way to contour?

    1. Hey Gina!

      Thank you for your message.
      I’m really glad you enjoyed the post, it seems to have been quite insightful to many readers; and that is wonderful.

      I am the same; I have a round face and so contouring cheekbones, forehead, temples etc adds angles that I don’t normally have.

      Thanks again :)

      1. When i saw your pictures i was surprised you considered your face as round? You do a great job with the makeup I was kind of wondering if you might have a spot for pictures of your subscribers to show their before and after contour pictures? I think it would be interesting to see what your readers have learned through your blog.

      2. Ah yes! I have a VERY round face. But I too do not tend to pose ‘face-on’ in photos; bad move.

        My left side is a usual feature angle.

        I would love that Gina! I do that with my other blog ‘House of vegan” at WordPress.com

        Please feel free to send your pictures to Kirstiiecullen (at) gmail (dot) com and I’ll add them to a new categorised section. Title TBC.

        Great idea Gina :)

  28. This page was extremely helpful; thank you so much! As a girl with a round face and a broad nose I feel very self conscious without makeup… I will definitely be trying these tips tonight!

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    1. Hi Tanya,

      I hope you are well?

      I haven;t personally used Abs in a Box previously; however the premise is there; not to mention the tones of the colours provided! And the pigments are matte and not bronzey or shiny too, which is great! Do give them a go and let me know what you think :) x

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