A Contouring Tip From The ’70s | From The Archives

Think that the Kardashian generation invented highlighting and contouring? Think again!

Looking through our archives has brought up all sorts of gems! In this case, a little fact about contouring. While it may feel like contouring is a creation of recent years, a must-have makeup tool for the selfie generation, did you know that contouring actually goes way back? Over 40 years back, actually.

In the November 1976 FEMALE Beauty Counsel column, the predecessor to our current Beauty Q&A, beauty expert and salon owner Anna Sim offers some advice about “face shading” which, on closer inspection, you’ll realise is basically contouring– using darker makeup to create the illusion of shadow and sculpt the face.

I am a bit confused about face shading. In a previous article you mentioned dark make-up and highlighter. Is the dark make-up foundation? Is foundation the same as base? What is a highlighter? – L.K.L., Singapore.

Dark make-up comes in several forms. There is dark foundation i various grades of shade. Yes, foundation is the same as base. And there is dark make-up in pressed powder, gel, creme and other forms.

A pale shade of foundation may be used as highlighter. Or you could use pale pressed powder. Or a very light blush. And highlighter is also available in lipstick tubes (such as Max Factor’s Erace).

The way to ‘sculpture’ your face is to apply the dark make-up to those areas which you wish to minimise – too broad nose, too wide forehead, too square jaws, too full cheeks. Then play up those areas which should be more prominent, such as from bridge to tip of a flat nose, high on two round cheeks, on the sides of too narrow temples, on the tip of a receding chin, etc., with highlighter.

The trick is to blend the dark and light carefully so that you will not have definite divisions of colours on your face, making stripes.

– FEMALE, November 1976


This article is part of our year-long FEMALE Turns 45 celebration. Follow our anniversary recaps on Instagram, and in the magazine in print or online at Magzster.