A variety of celebrity makeup artists have put their personal spin on contour, and if the typical contour routine is a little too much for you, grab your fluffiest brush and get ready to try the Mary Phillips method, which is currently going mega-viral on TikTok.
Mary Phillips is a makeup artist who works with a plethora of celebs, most notably Kendall Jenner and Hailey Bieber. Her go-to method for applying contour involves underpainting the skin—AKA applying the contour and concealer before foundation. Curious about how this works? TikTok has all the answers.
TikTok user Tara Sigari was one of the first to share Phillips’s technique, demonstrating the technique on one side of her face versus her usual routine, which starts with foundation, then contour and concealer. For the Phillips method, you contour and conceal/highlight first, then dab a large fluffy brush, the kind you’d typically use for bronzer or setting powder, in foundation and apply that over the top to blend. The result? Seamlessly blended, stunning skin, just like the models themselves.
Since the initial recreation videos, the “Mary Phillips makeup technique” has exploded onto the platform, with users testing her Hailey and Kendall-approved sculpting and blending method on themselves to gorgeous results. Skin is glowing, cheekbones are popping and nothing looks cakey or heavy—magic!
The application technique has become so popular that Phillips herself hopped on TikTok to talk about it. “To me it makes more sense. It’s like laying down the bones under the skin: the contour and the highlight being the bones, and the skin being the foundation,” she explains while masterfully painting her own face.
Of course, this underpainting technique isn’t new. Makeup artists have been doing it for years, including J. Lo’s go-to MUA, Scott Barnes, and the late legend Kevyn Aucoin. “The magic behind this technique, and a lot of what Mary Phillips does, is that the end result looks less like makeup was used to achieve it,” says Anne Skubis, freelance bridal makeup artist for HVH Faces. “Don’t get me wrong, I love makeup! However, for those that want to look sculpted and lit from within, but don’t want it to appear they used makeup to do so, this technique works.”
Textures and finishes are key in nailing the Phillips technique. Skubis recommends using a medium coverage foundation or tinted moisturizer atop your contour and concealer. “If it is too sheer, you won’t have the best blend. If it’s too full, you won’t see what you applied underneath.”
Application matters too. “Be very detailed oriented and precise with your application,” says Skubis. “Using sponges and brushes that are too large for contouring will result in more of a bronzed look versus creating the optical illusion that you are looking for.” She recommends trying one of the TikTok product application filters or reaching for one of Kevyn Aucoin’s extremely informative how-to books as a guide. “If you’re not sure where products should go for your specific features, try it out! Like all highlighting and contouring, they are based on the concept of darker tones receding and lighter tones bringing forward.”