It’s a particularly warm Tuesday afternoon in Los Angeles, and I am sitting in Kim Kardashian West’s living room.
(Nope—preluding it with the weather doesn’t make the situation seem any less bizarre. I tried?)
At least I think it’s Kardashian’s living room. The bright, glass-contained space—nestled in the hills of Bel Air—has been transformed into a makeshift showroom awash in bubblegum pink. The word beauty is emblazoned on one wall. At the front of the room, a pedestal boasts the wares of the businesswoman’s latest venture: her KKW Beauty collection.
But it’s all still weirdly familiar—I am, after all, on a television set that happens to be someone’s home. I’m surrounded by a handful of other editors with equally nonplussed expressions on their faces; we can scarcely believe where we are. But then, without any fanfare whatsoever, there’s another person among our ranks. Kardashian casually sits down and introduces herself, and the room falls completely silent. “The couches are usually right there,” she says breezily, wet-look waves cascading down her shoulders. “We had to move the piano. North was so confused this morning when she wanted to play.”
I can only assume that North’s world will be reassembled tomorrow—but first, the Kardashian-West residence will play host to the KKW Beauty launch party later this evening. But though the expansive first floor has been freed of any lived-in clutter and done up with extravagant decorations—a mirrored “selfie room” adorned with fresh roses, for example—I’m still all too aware that I am strolling around the home of one of the world’s most recognizable families. Minutes before sitting down with the woman of the hour for a one-on-one conversation in the foyer, I help myself to some snacks from her kitchen counter.
So in the spirit of this very surreal kind of intimacy, my first question for Kardashian is more of a confession: I am decidedly anti-contour. As soon as the words escape my lips, I half expect to hear a cartoonish record scratch bring the busy room to a screeching halt. But her expression remains affable as she explains how even people with an extremely low-key approach to makeup—like, ahem, me—can play with contouring. “It doesn’t all have to be about sculpting and those crazy lines everyone sees in the photos,” she says of the KKW Beauty Creme Contour & Highlight Kit ($48). “I really use it if I don’t want to wear foundation, and I just want that warmth on my skin. I just draw two lines [down my nose] and blend with my fingers or the blending brush.” In fact, the product was specifically formulated for this kind of user-friendliness—it’s why Kardashian chose a cream formula, housed in a dual-ended stick. “That’s [also] why we went with two colors—one is way lighter of a contour, so if you mess up, it’s not that serious.” I'm semi-convinced.
The collection's versatility is also apparent in its comprehensive range of skin tones. When I ask her about this, Kardashian says she has been surprised by the reaction of both the public and her own personal network. In spite of an all-too-pervasive lack of representation in the industry, to her, it only seemed obvious from the beginning. "There just wasn't any other option," she says. "I wanted everyone to be able to get the product. Some of my friends called me and said, 'Thank you so much for making a product that I can use.' And I was kind of shocked that there wasn't that range—that it wasn't already the standard."
"No matter who's around you, just stay true to who you are and do what you want to do."
But it stands to reason that with the almost certain popularity of the collection, this will be yet another example of Kardashian's uncanny ability to upend the norm. ("The woman who made me love my butt!" a friend texts me when I tell her who I'm interviewing that afternoon.) And that standard of inclusivity is a given in her parenting as well: When I ask her what she wants her daughter to know about beauty as she gets older, Kardashian says that while she plans on signing North up for makeup lessons at some point—something Kardashian's father did for her when she was 14—ultimately, it's all about individuality.
"I personally love to wear makeup, so I do," she explains. "But my best friend hates to wear makeup, and you can hardly see her all glammed up. So just because your mom wears makeup, no matter who's around you, just stay true to who you are and do what you want to do. That's the advice I want to give her."
As for the advice that Kardashian gave me—that yes, contouring can factor into my very low-maintenance beauty routine—I put it into practice the following morning with my fresh set of KKW Beauty products. As mentioned, each product in the kit is dual-ended: The blending tool boasts a Kabuki brush on one end and a sponge on the other; the contour stick features a dark and light variation on the same shade; the highlighter has a matte finish on one end and a touch of shimmer on the other.
I won't pretend I didn't feel like an impostor as I drew lines down my nose and along my cheekbones, but as I began to work it with my fingers as instructed, my doubts quickly dissipated: The color blended easily, leaving me with just a touch of believable warmth and definition. Any mistakes were easily buffed away with the handy brush.
So it only took a visit to her house for a one-on-one crash course, but fine, Kim Kardashian West, you win: I'm officially a contouring convert. (Are you available next week to discuss brows?)
Shop the KKW Beauty collection here.