Sep 132012

This past week, I became fascinated with some of the looks created at New York Fashion Week, some of which used contouring rather than conventional blushes or bronzers. Here are some from Diane von Furstenberg:

Another, same show:

These were created  with MAC Face & Body Sculpting Creams ($20 each). Although there are a few reviews of these online, there aren’t many so I thought I’d post a few random thoughts. Unlike some reviews you read on Cafe Makeup, this one will seem a little unfinished because I’m still learning. At the bottom at the post are a number of resources that I found helpful.

MAC Sculpting Creams are a cream-to-powder finish, which means that these are creamy in the pot and dry to a powder. The lasting power is quite good, and the texture is very nice. These act like foundations each with distinct undertones, some warm, some cool, one red-based, and one intriguing color called Coffee Walnut (which I don’t have). Like foundation, there are no detectable shimmery bits or glitter in these.  All of the highlight/contour effect is done with color. There are many alternatives to MAC’s Sculpting Creams, so I’m not necessarily recommending that you investigate these–for example, you could likely get a very similar effect by using darker shades of a full-coverage foundation.

As an NC15/20 who runs warm, I tried a few shades:

  • Accentuate is a highlighter color (without any shimmer or shine)
  • Naturally Defined is nearly my skin color. When buffed into my skin, it runs from very subtle to almost invisible. Had I known how close it is to my own skintone, I would have skipped this one.
  • Pure Sculpture is the best “dark contour” shade for my skin tone. It runs very warm. Those with cool skin tones will find this looks quite orange on their skin.
  • Richly Honed is a dark color with a red base. I was hoping to sheer this out, but I’m going to have to mix it with something emollient and clear. When I try to blend it out now, the product still seems too muddy and dark.
  • MAC 163 brush is essentially a foundation brush that’s very stiff. It’s great for placing products on my cheek. I was able to buff out the contours really well with it. However, I understand that some like using the product for placement only, and they buff it out with other brushes. Before this brush arrived, I used my Chanel Foundation Brush, which worked remarkably well.


Here are swatches of these shades:

I’m still playing with these, but I’ve enjoyed the effect that these give. I don’t typically use blush with them, or maybe just a soft pink on the upper cheek. The combination of Accentuate and Pure Sculpture has given me the best effect so far. Having said that, Pure Sculpture is quite warm even on my golden-toned skin.  Pure Sculpture is in the same family as  Chanel Bronze Universel in tone and color.

I think that the same effect can be achieved using different tones of standard medium-to-full coverage foundations. Given that, I’m not sure you’ll want to invest in these MAC products (which I believe are limited edition). Other products that might be fun to explore are the Hourglass Bronze/Light Duo. Tom Ford has a Shade and Illuminate palette (reviewed here by The Best Things in Beauty) that has gotten rave reviews.

Helpful resources:

Please follow us on....

  15 Responses to “Sketchbook: Playing with Contouring and Highlighting”

  1. I honestly cant wait to try these!!! I am NW20 which one do you think is better for contouring?
    Great review!!

    • I’d try Coffee Walnut. I’ve read on the message boards that this is the one to try for cool skin tones.

      • Oh I see.. I thought you would say Pure Sculpture but its probably going to look invisible! I’ll try Coffee Walnut..
        Thank you for your answer Amy and for the post 🙂

        • Oh and one last question!! Is it more like Soleil Tan de Chanel or more like a cream color base in terms of blendability and duration..
          Ι’m actually trying to figure out if it’s a must have 😛

          Thank you!!

          • It’s more like Soliel Tan in texture, but does not have quite as strong “silicon” feel. No, these are not ‘must haves’ in my opinion. I think that there are going to be other products on the market to get a contour effect –did you see the Goss videos (linked at the bottom of the post)? He’s using a full coverage foundation there, shot long before these were released. Hope this helps! 🙂

        • I think Pure Sculpture will be invisible on skin tones that nearly match it (but it’s much deeper in tone that NW20). I think it will be far too warm on cool skin tones.

  2. What a nice coincidence: I am also currently into highlighting – contouring mode, having read your review of Burberry Earthy Blush. I must get my hands on Tom Ford Shade and Illuminate, I heard the highlighter is the cream version of Becca SSP/Burberry Fresh Glow (which I absolutely adore, again, thanks to your blog post!)

  3. […] Sketchbook : Playing with contouring and highlitghting par Café Make-Up. Je pense que vous l’avez tous compris : j’ai une obsession avec ces deux techniques de maquillage. Je suis toujours en extase sur les visages des mannequins et de leurs visages si bien définis. MAC a sorti récemment une collection (Face and Body) sur ce thème. En plus de pigments pressés, vous y trouvez un panel de bronzers adaptés aux différentes carnations et un highlighter. Je tiens à souligner que rare sont les fois où les collections MAC me donnent envie de craquer (et encore, je craque pour celle qui passe presque inaperçue). […]

  4. My current favorite is Ben Nye contour powder #1, which I find the perfect contouring shade. However, I think I will try Richly Honey, but what I most want to try is the brush… it’s the closest I’ve seen to “my precious” Chanel #5 (the former line) which is the best contouring brush I’ve found.

  5. Have you tried Kevin Aucoin’s Sculpting Powder (Medium)? Candlelight?

    • No, I’m sorry I haven’t. Do you suggest taking a look? Do you enjoy them?

      • Thinking seriously about buying. Lisa Eldridge did a tutorial with a model and used both products. Looks amazing and natural. Makeupalley has high marks for both.

        Please post a review if you try them!

  6. Hi Amy,

    Link for Lisa Eldridge’s video is found here:

    Are you convinced that the Sculpting powder and Candlelight are quite remarkable/transformative tools? 🙂

  7. […]  I found that adding a touch of concealer (such as Edward Bess Platinum or even a bit of MAC’s Perfectly Defined Sculpting Creme) to those areas gave me the perfect look. I would imagine that Laura Mercier’s […]

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.