Mario Dedivanovic’s Complete Guide to Contouring


Mario Dedivanovic never expected to become the King of Contouring. In fact, the beauty technique—expertly drawn lines blended out to sculpt the face—started as a joke between him and his client of over a decade, Kim Kardashian. “There’s this one [photo of Kim] that haunts me,” Dedivanovic tells over Zoom. “Kim and I were on set one day, and we were literally joking. We were like, ‘Oh, let’s do the Instagram lines for fun.'” A behind-the-scenes photographer captured the look, and the rest is history. “He was taking pictures, and of course, that picture is the one that goes out all over the world, and then people think that’s what I do,” he recalls.

What started as “an inside joke” between Dedivanovic and Kardashian would help spark a beauty movement across social media. From YouTube to Instagram, contouring dominated the internet, with many beauty influencers referencing Dedivanovic’s work. Now, Dedivanovic is taking back the narrative with the latest launch from his beauty line Makeup By Mario: a collection of blush, bronzer, highlighter, brushes, and, yes, contour.

Dedivanovic insists that these products aren’t for Instagram face beats but for the everyday woman. “Social media is one thing, and real-life is another thing, and that also ties into the inspiration,” he says. “This is not a collection that’s going to help you get your YouTube snatched look, with all the strong lights and the Photoshop and all that stuff. This is really made for real life.”

by mario

by mario

Ahead, Dedivanovic talks about his new Soft Sculpt Collection, his “tumultuous” relationship with contour, and properly using the beauty technique in 2021.

What was the inspiration behind the Soft Sculpt Collection?

It always starts with my true core which is authentic techniques as an artist. We break down those steps in that process. In this case with contouring, I go in front of my client and I just intuitively pick up pigments, I start mixing them, and that’s how I create the contour color.

Something else that I do is that I’m constantly sheering the texture out before I put it onto the skin. Then I do it in soft layers and blend. What are the tools I’m using to blend and why am I getting these effects? We really break that down and the hard process begins of trying to figure out how we can make this into a cohesive collection and extremely easy to use for the consumer.

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How has contour evolved over the years?

What I noticed was there was this large segment of the population that was really struggling with this newer trend of lighter makeup and fresher makeup because they had been trained in that YouTube and social media era. When I started 21 plus years ago, that’s how I was trained. I work with celebrities and they’re on stage, from pop stars or there are super glam girls that are getting photographed. Those techniques always have been and always will be right for a certain thing. I think the part that happened with this whole trend of contouring, is that no one mentioned that, “Oh, by the way, this is not really for outdoors or real life.” It’s made for the screens and social media.

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You’ve said that you were hesitant to create contour products. Why is that?

From the beginning when that whole contouring thing happened, obviously that wasn’t something that I intended to happen. It just happened out of nowhere, but naturally, with Kim [Kardashian West]. My relationship with contouring and the Contour King thing is very tumultuous. I really fought it in the beginning to where I would refuse to do interviews or I wouldn’t want to do brand deals or anything that pertained to contour because I was afraid. Just thinking of the future, that I would be known only for this, for the rest of my life. And that’s literally one little tiny part of what I do. It’s a standard thing that all makeup artists know how to do.

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by mario

Did you expect Kim’s contour to go as viral as it did?

In those early days, are you kidding me? I had no idea. I was just doing my thing and she was doing her thing. And she happened to be that type of personality that liked to share with her followers. And when she thought something was cool or interesting or different, and she wanted to share that. That was a totally organic thing that really took on a life of its own. And it was a slow and steady progress. I had no idea that any of that stuff would ever go viral. I probably didn’t even know what viral meant at that time. It’s something that just happened.

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Can you walk us through your contour process?

First I clean the skin. I like to exfoliate using my wipes and then I go on to skincare. In the previous years, it was about taking these very dense products and putting the stripes. Again, that’s very intimidating and unnecessary. You just smile and apply a little bit. [Your smile] is going to help guide you. What you were taught to do was to suck in your cheeks and apply the sculpting there. That’s great for cameras but you have to be really careful because, yes, you’re thinning the face, but you’re also dragging the face down. Everyone has areas of their face that they don’t want to bring attention to. One of those areas is smile lines, another area is the lines around the eyes. Super simple. Don’t bring that product anywhere near here, because you’re going to bring more attention to that.

I like to put soft layers on and then I like to build, if necessary, but I don’t like to go on with something heavy and then work to remove it. After blending, just take the leftover [product] on the brush and just hit other areas of the face. And this is not to contour, but this is more of a color thing. It’s just that so you make the color more cohesive and so that you’re adding a little bit of warmth. I like to use bronzer in the end, after. I’m going to hit the bronzer into the forehead, the jawline, and then finally go slightly above the cream product at the end, just to lock it all in and get that little final pop to the skin.

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What’s your secret for truly mask-proof makeup?

Layering is important when you are looking for a long-lasting product on your face. What I mean by layering is not a lot of products. I mean going in with lighter layers, but then just layering different textures. When you’re applying a cream product, that cream product is going to move, right? You need to set that with a loose powder.

For example, bronzer, let’s just say you’re sculpting with the sculpting stick, you apply bronzer to set. I also like to layer blush, I do a little bit of cream and then I set it with a little bit of a sheer blush.

The other way that you can do it is a little bit of translucent loose powder. That is literally my secret to anything that you put on the face. If you just hit it with a tiny bit of a translucent loose powder, it’s going to make the world of difference. It’s going to stay where you want it to, and it’s going to just perform much better. It’s all a little game of layering lightly and, or just setting things with translucent powder.

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