How a radiant complexion has eclipsed contouring

Posted by
Elizabeth Bennett
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Research suggests contouring is on the way out as we embrace natural-looking skin. 

While some beauty trends come and go in a flash, others manage to stick around for a good few years. Case in point: contouring. This age-old make-up artist trick for adding definition and sculpting the face has thrived in the age of Instagram and selfies. However, according to new stats, the photogenic trend may have had its day. According to the NPD group, sales of bronzer and blusher are both down in comparison to other base products, with dips of 5% and 10% respectively.

“We have seen a definite shift in the purchasing behaviour of beauty consumers, who seem to be moving away from make-up products that create a defined, chiseled look to their make-up. The trend now is more towards natural enhancements,” Helen Duxbury, Senior Account Manager for NPD UK Beauty, commented.

More generally, their research found that make-up sales are declining (down 2%) in contrast to skincare which are steadily rising (up 6%). It seems we’re now spending more on a achieving a healthy complexion via skincare instead of faking it with make-up. Hardly surprising when you consider the increased awareness surrounding skincare ingredients (what the beauty industry dubs the ‘skintellectual movement’), and the impact of Glossier and their ‘skin first, make-up second’ mantra. 

It appears e-tailer Cult Beauty were clearly onto something when they coined ‘wellness make-up’ as one of the biggest trends to watch in 2018. When Stylist spoke to skincare specialist Debbie Thomas, she shared how she’d seen this return to a skin-focused look in her clinic too. “Everyone I know wants healthy skin. Women want to wear less make-up, but they want their skin to glow, so having good skin is a must-have. Plus, if you don’t have good skin, make up will not look good,” Thomas commented. 

Want to embrace the return of no-make-up-make-up? These are our favourite glow-giving products… 

An exfoliating toner: Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic

Slough off dead skin cells to reveal a brighter and smoother complexion with this gentle liquid exfoliant.


A vitamin C serum: Glossier Super Glow

A highly concentrated serum that harnesses the power of Vitamin C for that ‘lit from within’ look.


An overnight mask: Charlotte Tilbury Overnight Bronze and Glow Mask

Apply before you hit the hay and wake up with natural-looking, streak-free tan and deeply nourished skin.


A radiant base: BECCA Backlight Priming Filter

A featherlight primer that blurs imperfections and leaves skin looking luminous.


A subtle highlight: Giorgio Armani A-Highlight

Apply to upper cheekbones, temples and onto the brow bones to catch the light in a natural way. 


Main image: Getty