Contouring is basically magic. It enables you to look completely different and can downplay parts of your face while highlighting others. It’s one of the hottest trends of modern times and is already so iconic that it’s safe to call it one of the best trends ever. While the fad didn’t really catch on with everyday makeup users until the 2010s, contouring has actually been around for a while and has a pretty interesting history.
Contouring was long associated with the theater (via Byrdie). In Elizabethan England, stage actors smeared grease and soot on their faces so that audiences could better see their facial expressions. In the 1800s, the advent of electric stage lights meant that actors couldn’t get away with the soot trick and began using makeup and greasepaint to achieve the same effect. In the 1920s, Hollywood stars brought contouring magic to the silver screen. Many stars going forward sported contoured faces, but the magic of contouring still largely remained an industry secret.
Finally, in 2012, Kim Kardashian brought the secrets of contouring to the public’s attention through her Instagram account. Thanks to the power of social media, it looks like contouring is here to stay!