Marie Claire‘s junior beauty editor, Nokubonga Thusi (aka Knox), answers all your pressing beauty questions. 

Q: Knox, I want to try contouring without ending up with a cakey look. Any tips?

The Kardashians birthed the kontouring kraze, then YouTube vloggers took a jab at it and now everyone wants to try it – to mixed results. In its simplest form, contouring is about playing with light and shadows; which highlights your best features.

I, too, want to perfect that ultra-chiselled look, but I don’t like to have my face caked with make-up. Here lies the eternal struggle between mimicking your favourite beauty looks while still looking natural. Most people learn to contour in a paint-by-numbers way, but it’s actually a technique that has to be customised to suit your face shape.

Here’s my advice:

Use a powder rather than a cream foundation

Powder foundations or bronzers allow for a lighter and blended look when contouring, while cream foundations require precision blending and end up in a heavy look. By using a powdered product that’s one to two shades darker than your normal foundation you can blend out any hard edges and build up the intensity you want.

Try the cotton bud trick

A cotton bud is the perfect length and width for your natural cheek hollow. Take one and place it on your face just above the hollow of the cheek and below the cheekbone. Using a sponge dipped into your contour foundation pat along the edge of the cotton bud. Remove the bud and start to blend along the line that has been created.

Strobe over contour

This trick works well on darker skins but can be adapted to suit all skin tones. Concentrate on highlighting your features; on dark skins, this instantly makes your natural skin tone act as the contour. On lighter skin tones, it minimises the amount of product you need to use. Tilt your head sideways to see where the light falls on your cheeks and apply a highlighter on that area. Apply your contour shade underneath the highlighted area to create the shadow. This will be enough to give the whole face a noticeable contour that is subtle. Continue to apply the highlighter on the bridge of the nose, chin and under the eyes.