I’ve hesitated on writing this review because I predicted that it would amount to a self-righteous rant on what contouring should and should not be.
First I’d like to make my distinction between contouring and shading – to many the terms may be synonymous but this is my outlook: shading could be adding dimension to the face using a bronzer or heck, even a blush, anything that adds some variation. To me, contouring is mimicking the natural shadows of the face (ie: ashy shades) to create the illusion of shadows and depth. Feel free to disagree with me!
I purchased Tom Ford Shade and Illuminate Intensity 1 with the intention to use it as a crème contour, despite the obvious SHADE on the label. That was silly.
Tom Ford Shade and Illuminate Intensity 1 is a two part crème compact, one constituent is a bronzey brown crème sans shimmer. At first glance, I thought the illuminate component was a gloss in stick form (which intrigued me) but on closer inspection I can detect a fine, fleshy shimmer. There is a deeper counterpart, Intensity 2, suited to deeper skin tones.
My first impressions were: crap, that’s a warm contour and holy emollient batman. Despite all this and the hefty USD75 price tag, my blind faith in Lisa Eldridge and my stubborn nature led me to persevere, trying to make it work.
Tom Ford also offers a Shade and Illuminate Brush (sold separately) which I purchased, I was gonna give it my best shot!
Tom Ford, are you trolling us? I couldn’t have picked a brush more ill suited to this purpose if I tried! Once my stripey war paint was applied, I inevitably must reach for a fluffy brush to blend it out, a stiff flat brush simply does nothing to diffuse the contour. It performs okay for the illuminate portion of the palette, but so would half my brush collection. To add insult to injury, it retails for USD72, which is a bloody high price point for an otherwise generic and synthetic brush.
My best mode of application, through trial and error, was the Real Techniques Contour Brush, a small and domed synthetic brush that blends as it applies.
I will structure this review based on my concerns.
It is warm
No way around it, the shade component of this duo is warm. To illustrate, here are some swatches of S&I against some of my favourite contours and bronzers.
Shade reads more like a rich bronzer than a contour, which will be a real deal breaker on cooler skins or fairer skins as I imagine it will translate as flat out orange on some of you. I’m a NC20-25 (ish, I’m actually a rainbow) and to see what we’re working with, here is my before shot.
After after, Shade crème used sparingly in the hollows of the cheekbones, temples and under the jawline.
Front on and we’re in the clear, right? A little warm but totally passable. The real test is the profile shot…
My merest of males couldn’t-tell-a-lipstick-from-a-mascara-boyfriend could detect orange which, in my books, counts as contouring mistakes 101. It actually photographs much nicer than it looks in person (perhaps that is why it appears to be a makeup artist favourite? Charlotte Tilbury, Lisa Eldridge etc) but trust me when I say I was rushing for the Bioderma.
It is seriously emollient
Not inherently a bad thing! The consistency of both Shade and Illuminate is thin and tacky, not siliconey like Chanel Soleil Tan de Chanel nor cream to powder; it remains tacky on the skin. I would normally introduce a bit of contour in the eye socket but cannot with S&I because it creases like a mofo. I can’t get it to work on my nose without looking greasy.
Call me a contouring stick in the mud but I feel like any shine detracts from a contour as it negates a sense of depth. The tricky texture also meant that I couldn’t achieve a precise, structured contour; it works best when shading large portions of the face which, when paired with the warm tone, means I start resembling a bronzed beach babe. A look, but not one I gravitate towards frequently.
Then comes the real deal breaker for me; it is so emollient that it moves any base product. Not much of an issue for the Shade portion because I don’t wear foundation on the outer perimeters of my face but as for the illuminate gloss, despite various application methods (including patting) my natural flush on my cheekbone starts rearing its head. I found that alternating layers of foundation and Illuminate worked best, which you can see here.
Again, picturing much better than it appears in person (y u make my life hard?).
As to be expected with emollient products, both Shade and Illuminate exhibit poor longevity and slip around on my normal skin type. If your contour was under your cheekbone on application, by midday it’s formed a moustache above your lip. If your highlight was on your cheekbone, it’s migrated to your brows. Finally, I found that both Shade and Illuminate emphasise large pores, skin texture and peach fuzz. I JUST DON’T KNOW, guise.
I can safely say that Tom Ford Shade and Illuminate Intensity 1 was a contouring epic fail on me; it adds colour and variation to the face but little sense of depth. Coupled with the warm tone, I’m struggling to recommend it to anyone but this is my best attempt: if you are medium to tanned, with a dryer skin type and are fond of a warm contour (or shading, rather), this may be for you.
That’s all I got, sorry Tom Ford.