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Rikki Sandhu / @jacquelinekilikita on TikTok
Beauty

How To Try Rainbow Contouring, TikTok’s Easiest Beauty Hack

When TikTok first emerged, a collective sigh was heard around the world as beauty influencers and content creators realized that it would be yet another platform that they would have to spend time learning. Between constant changing algorithms and a plethora of trends, the latest viral TikTok beauty hack brought a little rainbow, quite literally, to the storm that is social media.

This latest beauty trend, rainbow contouring, seems to have originated in part because Gen Z is ditching the Kim Kardashian-inspired heavy contour and aiming for a softer look, like the dewy “dolphin skin” trend. The List predicted in 2021 that contouring as a trend was on its way out, and quite frankly, we can see it’s clearly in its grave. Makeup brands such as Selena Gomez’s Rare Beauty and Milk Makeup are encouraging consumers to embrace their natural beauty with eco-friendly, minimalistic products and releases. Rainbow contouring is the culmination of these new beauty and skincare ideals, and the best part? You might even be able to ditch your foundation entirely. Read on for everything you need to know.

So, What Is Rainbow Contouring?

The definition of rainbow contouring is pretty straightforward: It’s the unique application of cream blush, concealer, contour without using foundation as a base. The trend first went viral when beauty influencer Rikki Sandhu shared her experience with it on TikTok. It’s also been referred to as the “Neapolitan trend” by TikTok users in the comments section of Sandhu’s video for its resemblance to the iconic ice cream trio.

What makes rainbow contouring different and a bit tricky is the application. Contouring is done by applying three prime products — blush, concealer, and contour — in rainbow-shaped lines across the face. Applying the products to key points of the face such as your cheekbones, the bridge of your nose, your chin, and your forehead help to create a seamless and dewy appearance. The look melts to perfection when you add a few spritzes of setting spray and blend it all in with a damp sponge. 

According to beauty influencer Niara Jackson, this trend is legit (unlike some of TikTok’s wackier beauty fads, like using lube as primer). “If you are trying to go for a lighter feel, this will do it,” Jackson tells Her Campus. “It’s great for everyday or no-makeup makeup if that’s your vibe. [But] I don’t think this is something that professional makeup artists will be using.” 

Most of us aren’t professionals, which makes the ease of this trend appealing. The concept of skipping the dreaded search to find the correct shade of foundation (let’s not even talk about how your shade might change during the season), and not having to worry about your makeup being cakey, has sparked a newfound interest in this trend, especially for those new to makeup. 

“For someone who doesn’t wear makeup this seems easy,” one Tik Tok user commented on Sandhu’s video. “I actually tried and love it,” another added. “I have received many compliments.”

Your skin type can impact how well it works.

While trading in heavy foundation and contouring for light, natural, and luminous vibes seems mostly positive, the trend also has its downsides. Most notably, rainbow contouring requires extensive blending for the look to work because you’re using so many different creams. And depending on your skin type, your results may vary, according to Jackson.

“Anyone with dry skin will want to pay extra attention to skin prep so they aren’t highlighting dryness,” Jackson explains. “I think people with oily skin may want to steer clear unless you are using a really good setting spray or powder to lock everything in.”

Users with deeper skin tones have also expressed concern if the beauty hack would work for them, which Jackson spoke to as well.

“There will be a lot of blending, and trying to stay away from a muddy look will be key,” Jackson, whose own shade range is deep, advises. “So much about applying makeup depends on how you want to complement your face structure. One uniform way of applying will not work for everyone. For deeper skin tones, you will want to use products that complement you. Deeper contours, berry or brighter blushes, and a good concealer shade [will help].”

How to try rainbow contouring, with the best products

So you’re ready to try rainbow contouring. But what now? We rounded up the best beauty products for this trend, with a mini step-by-step guide.

Blush

Start by applying a line of blush across the apples of your cheeks. Try the Anastasia Beverly Hills Stick Blush, which has a buildable formula so you can add as much color as you want, and comes with an attached brush that makes blending super easy.

Anastasia Beverly Hills, Revolve, $32

Concealer

Next, highlight your under-eyes (as you normally would with a foundation base) with concealer. The Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circle Treatment Concealer is a classic drugstore concealer that will get the job done feeling heavy on your face.

Maybelline, Ulta, $10

Contour Cream

Follow up by applying two lines of contour cream under your blush, on your chin, and your forehead. The Uoma Beauty Double Take Contour Stick is a great two-in-one with a longwear formula, so your makeup won’t budge after it’s blended in.

Uoma Beauty, $15

Setting Spray

Complete the look by adding any needed contour and blush, creating a rainbow of soft and warm hues to achieve the desired look. Finalize the look with a few spritzes of setting spray (or powder for those with oily skin). This NYX Matte Setting Spray is an affordable drugstore option to lock your makeup in place.

NYX, Ulta, $9

Beauty Blender

Your last step is to blend until everything is set, which will take all your contoured lines from looking ridiculous to looking airbrushed and seamless. You can never go wrong with a classic: The beautyblender Original Makeup Sponge is a fan-favorite for a reason, and it’ll make blending a breeze.

beautyblender, Sephora, $20

Hopefully this beauty hack will save you from cakey foundation and spending a ton of time on doing your makeup in the mornings. Create the rainbow, love the rainbow!

Náosha Gregg is an aspiring journalist & freelance writer based in Brooklyn, New York, currently obsessed with anything blush. Follow her on Instagram: @knowingnaosha or say hi: naosha.gregg@gmail.com
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