If you have Pinterest, you've almost DEFINITELY seen this picture of Kim Kardashian.
This is while she's in the middle of a little makeup trickery called "HAC-ing," or highlighting and contouring. I realize HAC-ing your face sounds pretty violent and off-putting, but if you can get past the aggressive term, it's pure magic; I promise you.
Just to reassure you, this isn't a trick for CHANGING your face shape; your face shape is gorgeous as it is. This is just something you can do to ACCENTUATE your bone structure . . . because when you make the choice to wear foundation to erase your blemishes or "imperfections," you're also erasing your face's natural coloring and undertones and dimming the way that light and shadows bounce off your face.
HAC-ing helps reintegrate and highlight those features—no pun intended—while still providing coverage. You can think of your face in terms of a picture—a picture is a 2D / flattened-out interpretation of yourself. Just like adjusting the exposure on your camera helps add depth and realism, HAC-ing creates (or rather, accentuates the existing) dimension in your face.
I think it's about time for a visual treat to the tune of GORGEOUS HAC-ing!
These last pictures here show some work done by makeup artist Samer Khouzami, who is an absolute HAC-ing GENIUS! I'll give you a few minutes to drool and then another couple seconds to clean it up.
As you can see in the picture of Samer's work above, HAC-ing is different for everyone and for every face shape. Why? Because everyone has different prominent features and strengths that should be focused on and accentuated. (I need to find another word besides "highlighting" and "accentuating," but that's really all this is about!)
If you're feeling overwhelmed and unsure on how to begin this crazy process, don't be. It's honestly not as tough as it looks. However, I will warn you, it takes a little bit of practice and a whole lotta blending!
- Step 1: Look in the mirror and suck in your cheeks like a fish and identify where the shadows fall on your face, particularly beneath the cheekbones since we'll want to accentuate those, and apply your contour shade very carefully within the shadows. Remember, it's always easier to add darker shades to too-light foundation than it is to lighten too-dark foundation.
- Step 2: Continue applying the contour shade to whatever areas you want to recede and / or where shadows naturally fall, i.e. around the edges of your face, along your jawline, and if you want to make your nose appear thinner, you can draw two parallel vertical lines on the sides of your nose. This part is important: If you choose to do this thinning trick with your nose, draw the lines very close together. In the graphic below in red, I didn't draw mine close enough together, but if the lines are drawn far apart, it just makes your nose look WIDER. With a narrower gap, your nose appears narrower.
- Step 3: Now apply highlighter to everywhere the light falls and everywhere you want to bring forward to show off! For most people, this involves a bit of a triangle from the base of your nose to out past the outer edges of your eyes and back down to the nostril. AKA: The cheek bones! There are very few things to me as feminine and strong, high cheekbones. I'd also suggest very narrow line down the bridge of your nose (and fanning out up into your forehead) as well as the jawline. I put a bit in the center of my chin because I have a little bit of a John Travolta chin that recedes a bit. I don't dislike it, but I feel like it can be distracting so applying a bit of the highlighter there disguises it more. One other key spot that I forgot to note is right up on the brow bone just beneath your arch. This is such a pretty touch.
- Step 4: BBBLLLEEENNNDDD!! Blend like nobody's business. If you have the resources and tools, use one brush to blend the highlighter, one brush to blend the contour, and one CLEAN brush to blend it all together. If you don't, just use one clean brush and blend the highlighter first, and then the contour. If you do it the other way around, it can make the whole look appear a bit muddy.
If the instructions were too wordy, I apologize. You can go ahead and use the graphic below as a guideline. As I said, placement varies based on your face shape and your unique facial features, but this is kind of a general overview. Also, I never HAC without using an illuminator and blush on top of the look so in my next post, I'll go into that as well, but right now, I feel like I threw an entire Encyclopedia Britannica series at you, so I'm going to go ahead and cut myself off for now.
Ready for some before and afters?
When you're finished, I hope you look check yourself out in the mirror and think:
. . . and not:
. . . but honestly, if it doesn't look right to you, don't give up on it. I've found that when people see their faces looking significantly different than what they're used to, their natural instinct is to reject it. There's actual quite an interesting psychological rationale behind facial recognition when it comes to our own faces, but in general, I try to give myself a couple of days to get used to it when I try a different look—whether it's lipstick, hair color, or whatever else it is I do to myself:)
If it helps, start with smaller amounts next time and build it to a coverage you're happy with. Also, play around with the placement, and if it still looks really unnatural, it probably needs more blending.
Thanks for sticking with me through this one! I hope you all have an absolutely FABULOUS Memorial Day weekend! I'll be back here next week—hopefully with a bit of a suntan on this ghostly transparent hide of mine.
If you want to check back later, my next HAC post is going to be about products & tools (AKA: highlighter, illuminator, contour, and brushes!), and hopefully soon, I'll be getting up some video tutorials! Excitement galore :)