Face Contouring Tips: How To Contour Your Face With Makeup
Face contouring can seem like an intimidating makeup technique to master. It can often feel like a perfect contour and a natural look are totally opposite concepts. But the truth is, with a little bit of practice and a light hand, contouring can actually bring warmth and dimension to your features — enhancing or polishing that natural or fresh look you’re after.1
Read on to find out more about contouring, and learn some tips for making it as fool-proof and flawless as possible.
What Is Facial Contouring And What Does It Offer?
Contouring is a makeup technique used to bring out your best features by using contrasting light and shadow. When you use a single-toned BB cream or foundation and call it a day, it can result in a flat finish that doesn’t bring out the dimensions of your face. So, using contouring (and complementary highlighting) techniques may help really bring out certain facial features you’d love to show off (like high cheekbones).2
What Do I Need For Contouring?
Regardless of your face shape or skin tone, you’ll need a good contouring product and the proper tools. Pro-level gear isn’t required — just get the best tools and makeup you can within your budget. Keep an eye out for all-in-one sets or palettes that can give you more bang for your buck. Here are the basics.
Makeup For Contouring
Shop your stash first — you may already have a few of these products stocked up. When shopping for new products, make sure you’re looking at face makeup and not body contouring products — these are very different.
- Primer: A matte-finish, lightweight primer can help make your makeup application more seamless.
- Foundation: Choose a liquid or cream foundation that suits both your skin color and skin type. This will serve as the base of your contour.
- Concealer: Use sparingly to cover blemishes and imperfections.
- Contouring Product: Whether you’re using cream or powder, choose one that’s one or two shades darker than your skin tone. You can also try a matte (not shimmery) bronzer.
- Powder or Liquid Highlight: Conversely, choose a highlighting product that’s one or two shades lighter than your skin tone. You can opt for one with a slight shimmer for a more illuminating effect.3
Tools For Contouring
Preference comes into play here, so use what you’re comfortable with (even your fingers, for cream-based products).
- Contouring Brush: A tapered, angular edge on a narrower brush can help apply contouring products more precisely.
- Highlighting Brush: A makeup brush with a flat and rounded tip and a dense concentration of bristles can help you buff your highlighting product on more naturally.
- Makeup Blender or Sponge: If you don’t feel as skilled with a brush, you can try blending your contour and highlighter with a damp makeup blender or sponge. The goal is to achieve a natural finish, so using the tools you’re most comfortable with can help achieve that.4
Where Do You Contour Your Face?
Since you’re aiming to use light and shadow to bring out your natural bone structure, your makeup is meant to simulate the effect. You’ll want more shadow in the hollows of your face: Underneath the jaw, the temples and hairline, the sides of your nose, and under your cheekbones. Meanwhile, you’ll contrast the high planes of your face with highlighter: Your brow bone, nose bridge, tops of the cheekbones, and even your chin.5
How To Contour And Highlight Your Face With Makeup
If you want your face to look more defined — with sharper cheekbones, a slimmer nose, even a more sculpted jawline — read on for our detailed step-by-step guide.
Contour Step 1: Apply Foundation Or Base
If you’re using primer, apply it on your clean and moisturized face. If not, proceed directly to applying your base product to even out your skin, and apply concealer to help hide any discoloration or blemishes.
Contour Step 2: Map Out Your Contour Using A Dark Shade
Gently dab your contouring shade on these key areas:
- The temples close to your hairline
- In the hollows underneath each cheek (a short slanted dash will do)
- On either side of your nose bridge (short narrow lines work best).
- You can also lightly trace your jaw.
Contour Step 3: Blend, Blend, Blend
Use a damp sponge or contour brush to blend the darker shade into your skin. Always use a light hand and a gentle dabbing or patting motion.
Contour Step 4: Balance With Highlighter
Apply your highlighting product in the area underneath the eyes and above your cheekbones, down the center of your nose, and even in the center of your forehead and chin. Blend well with the same technique you used with the contour shade.
Contour Step 5: Set With Translucent Powder
Take a large, fluffy brush, and gently finish off your contoured face with a dusting of translucent powder. This can help set your makeup and keep it looking fresh for longer (great news for those with naturally oily skin).6
Contouring To Flatter Your Unique Face Shape
For those with a rounder or heart-shaped face, draw backwards number 3’s on either side of your face, tracing your contouring shade from the temple, underneath the cheekbone, and along the jaw.
For narrow or oblong shapes, or those who want to decrease the length of their face, concentrate your contour at your hairline and on either side of the jaw for a softening effect.
If you have a square face, focus on applying contour at the sides of your forehead and a little lower on the cheekbones to lessen some of the sharpness.7
Keep On Contouring
Practice makes perfect, and these tips can help you achieve the sculpted face of dreams. Make sure you pick the right shades, work with a steady and light hand when blending, and you’re sure to level up your contouring game in no time.