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To Contour or Not to Contour for Darker Skin Tones

This morning, Khadine tweeted to me a write-up she did in response to a recent Temptalia post. I thought it was an excellent post that offered clarification, insight, and helped to educate everyone regarding the particular topic. She’s graciously allowing me to share her response and thoughts.

I also asked her for some of her personal recommendations, and she said, “As for products for darker skin tones, Ben Nye has a great range of colors in foundations and powders that even very deep skin tones can benefit from. Graftobian has great options as well. In terms of specific contour colors (I prefer to use creams), Black Opal Stick Foundations like Suede Mocha and Black Walnut come to mind. Another one is Graftobian HD Glamour Creme Foundation in Sienna. Also, check out their HD Glamour Creme Palette in Neutral #3. Of course, these are only examples so they won’t work for everyone, however, readers can feel free to check out the product websites for the full range of options.”

To Contour or Not to Contour for Darker Skin Tones

Recently, there was a guest post on Temptalia on the subject of “blushing and highlighting”, where the author advised, “If you’re of a darker skintone, like NC/W 45+, skip the contour and stick only with highlight. Contour colours unfortunately rarely run too dark, and you risk the color looking muddy on the face.” Some of Temptalia’s readers took offense and voiced their complaints in the comment section below the article, as well as via Twitter.

I, on the other hand, wasn’t as negatively moved by the statement. I certainly disagree with the author on the suggestion that dark skin cannot or should not be contoured, but I actually see the logic in what she’s saying (I’ll explain further). I am in the category she’s referring to (I wear NC 50 in MAC Select SPF 15 foundation), and I contour all the time. However, I wouldn’t totally write-off everything she said!

When she says, “skip the contour and stick only with highlight,” this does make sense in the case of women with very deep skin tones (Alek Wek is the only person that comes to mind immediately). What makes contouring (and its counterpart, highlighting) effective is contrast, however you can best achieve it. If you have a deep enough complexion to be able to use your skin tone as the contour color, then that’s okay! If you’re of a dark complexion and can find appropriate contour colors, there’s no need to limit yourself. I think Victoria had the right idea but happened to be a little off in the shade range (as I said, I’m an NC 50 and contouring isn’t an issue for me).

It’s the same thing on the opposite end of the spectrum. If you are really fair (think Nicole Kidman) and it makes more sense to only contour (and use your skin tone as a highlight), then so be it!

Her claim that “Contour colours unfortunately rarely run too dark,” is not a stretch at all! There are limited options out there for contouring darker complexions. The deeper your color, the harder it is to find something even darker for contouring (I didn’t say impossible, I said harder). Sometimes you’re lucky if you even find a color to match you in the first place! You can use black pigments to deepen your foundation, but the average person would just rather be able to pick up a ready-made shade at their local cosmetics counter rather than mix multiple products to get the right match.

In summary, of course, contouring can be done on dark skin tones, but with a caveat! When executed well, the results are magnificent (ask Sam Fine)! However, some individuals of deeper complexions may benefit more from highlighting (especially if color options are limited) than they would from contouring. Similarly, some individuals of lighter complexions may benefit more from contouring than they would from highlighting.

You can check out Khadine’s original article on her blog, Cosmetic Passion. Khadine is an emerging makeup artist based in New York City who has a long-time passion for cosmetics. With her blog, she hopes to share her passion for beauty with enthusiasts like her while exchanging beauty tips!

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3 Essential Nail Lacquers that Suit Everyone

By Edith (Edie) Bryan, Nail Care Expert

Edie is 27-years old and hails from the beautiful country that is Wales, in the UK. She’s an esthetician and has been trained in all aspects of beauty, from waxing to skincare, but she specializes in nails. She discovered her talent for nails at 17 and worked as a junior technician. In 2005, she started her own business running a nail salon in her home town. She found creating beautiful nails was the perfect way to combine her natural creativity and her obsession with fashion and beauty into one. Check out her blog Touch Beauty and follow her on Twitter!


3 Essential Nail Lacquers that Suit Everyone

With such a huge array of nail polish shades and effects to choose from, it can be difficult to choose the right shade for your skin tone.  This is made even more difficult by the fact that polishes can look completely different once applied to the nails than how they appeared in the bottle!

I think there are three basic polish shades that every girl should keep in their collection: a nude, bright red, and rouge noir (or dark burgundy). Here are three recommendations of polishes that will suit everyone. I chose three crème shades, as they can always be layered under shimmers or glitters, or worn alone, depending on the occasion. I applied each polish over CND Stickey Base Coat and sealed with a swipe of Seche Vite Top Coat.

Nude

OPI polishes have exceptional quality for the price, and out of their collection of nude shades, this is one that will work for everyone. It is a rich and opaque nude-pink-brown that applies easily and wears well. Nude polishes are great for wearing to the office or for job interviews, and they will match any outfit in your wardrobe.  They can be glammed up for an evening out with a swipe of glittery polish on top. OPI Dulce de Leche ($8.00) is a great investment shade from OPI’s Classics collection.

Bright Red

Revlon Revlon Red ($4.79) is an absolutely iconic shade of nail polish–it is glamour and gorgeousness in a bottle. I have always found Revlon polishes to be very hard-wearing, but they do tend to have a thin and runny consistency, so have some Q-Tips ready for any boo-boos you might make during application. This shade of red is almost exactly between cool and warm. I would say it has the tiniest bit more blue than yellow, but in such a fabulous bold red, that is forgivable. This shade is a winner for me and will work on any skin tone.

Rouge Noir

Jessica Street Swagger ($7.50) is a fairly new polish on the market, it is part of the Jessica Rebel Glam collection for fall 2011, and I believe the only crème shade out of the six. Jessica’s polish formulation is definitely in my top five, being so highly pigmented and super smooth. Two coats of this delicious, dark wine-red gives perfect opaque coverage and superior wear. Sophisticated, glossy and it even gives the illusion of longer nails. I often find that dark red polishes are particularly difficult to judge when in the bottle, but this is a true blackened red, both in the bottle and on the nail.

Check out swatches! 

Working with Sensitive Skin

By Dain, New England, Skincare Contributor

Dain is a freelance editor and writer, who graduated with a Bachelor of Art in English. She expected to pursue an academic career but found her interests straying elsewhere–like beauty! She has dry, sensitive skin and is always looking for ways to keep her skin hydrated.  When she isn’t writing about beauty, she loves to play video games, cook (and eat!), and read.

Check out her blog, Ars Aromatica!


On me: a reaction to a magnesium abscorbyl phosphate serum, a derivative of vitamin C

As a rule, you don’t treat sensitivity so much as avoid it. Unfortunately, because irritants are completely specific to the individual—for example, essential oils don’t bother my skin, but I can’t go near a scrub.  People with sensitive skin must learn to read ingredients lists and identify irritants before they start. If you do trigger a reaction, it is time that heals your skin, rather than any products. Nevertheless, it is possible to alleviate some of the symptoms of sensitivity with skincare, though they are not quite as effective as your skin’s ability to heal itself.

If you’re experiencing damage…

It should resemble severe dehydration, perhaps accompanied by pain and redness: the skin’s surface should be rough and dry to the touch, dead many layers down. This is generally the side effect of detergent-based cleansers, over-exfoliation, retinoids, and dermatological peels, but it can also occur if you are exposed to a harsh climate. Unless you’re on a retinoid (follow your doctor’s instructions), it’s best to stop all treatments and switch to a basic regimen of mild cleanser and moisturizer generously applied while fresh skin grows back. When it’s nearly done healing, a gentle exfoliant will buff away the dead, damaged surface.

If you’re experiencing an allergic response…

Allergens are unique to every individual. An allergic reaction can be characterized by redness, heat, inflammation, hives, and itchiness. I prefer to wait it out, because it dies down on its own without any further ill effect, but you can apply oatmeal or cortisone to problem areas. Depending on the severity of the reaction, may want to consult your doctor before proceeding.

If you’re experiencing inflammation…

Sunburns fall under this category, as does acne, some forms of rosacea, and contact dermatitis. Certain ingredients, such as the vitamin C on me shown above, can sometimes trigger an immune response that resembles acne, because the pores are aggravated, inflamed, and filled with pus. If you are acne-prone, it is advisable to approach your skin as if it were sensitive and not provoke already reactive skin with harsh skincare that can turn a mild condition into a severe one. There are a number of anti-inflammatory ingredients, such as salicylic acid, bisabalol, aloe vera, oatmeal, calendula, zinc oxide, and the essential fatty acids in many plant oils—and yet, some of these can be irritants themselves, depending on the individual. Always do a patch test.

If you’re experiencing physical sensitivity…

Though anyone may encounter inflammation, damage, or allergies, thin skin is largely a physiological condition. Some people also encounter physical sensitivity when they’re on retinoids. This is a deficiency in the skin’s barrier function, so there is a higher incidence of the other kinds of sensitivity. You can reinforce the barrier with moisturizer, built up in several layers: a humectant solution in direct contact with the skin to aid penetration; a lipid barrier in direct contact with the environment to prevent moisture loss and any further damage; and an emulsion sandwiched in between. Look for ingredients like shea butter, plant oils, mineral oil, and anything that forms a barrier. It’s not the same as healthy, resilient skin, but it helps buffer thin skin from the elements.

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