There are tons of variations and methods for highlighting and contouring with makeup, but the basic principles are the same. Contouring adds shadows to recessed areas we want to push back or minimize, while highlighting pops out the areas we want to accentuate and bring forward. Through highlighting and contouring, you are essentially creating a perfect oval, considered the ideal, symmetrical face shape.

You can highlight and contour via creams, powders, or both. I recommend sticking to powders for daytime wear (so skip to 3:09 in the video if you just want to see that) and cream plus powder for evenings and when being photographed.

Highlighting and contouring take practice, and I still find myself experimenting with what I like about my face shape and what doesn’t work as well. Once you get the basics down, you’ll look as though you have lost weight, your cheekbones are higher, your jawline is more razor sharp, and you’ll have a celebrity and supermodel trick at your disposal! Check out my before and after pictures below to see the difference.

Before & After Makeup Highlight & Contouring

While I do have an oval face shape, I’ve gained weight, and my face is rounder and wider than I’d like. I’m using contouring to push back areas of my face that I feel are pudgy and highlighting to bring out areas I want to appear more prominent, like my cheekbones.

Here are some tips before you begin:

  • To locate your cheekbones, position a makeup brush on your cheek, angling it from the top of your ear toward your mouth. I have to suck in my cheeks and make a fish face to find my cheekbones because they went MIA a long time ago.
  • You may need to contour a smaller or larger area than mine. I have contoured a larger area since I felt there was a lot of width I needed to minimize.
  • If you are African American or have a similar dark skin tone, you will highlight more than you contour.
  • When choosing your concealer colors, go brighter than you think for the highlight color and darker than you think for the contour shade. Since you’re going to put foundation over it, you’ll need it to still show through.
Do you contour or highlight first?

The products I use to highlight and contour are:

  • RCMA Shinto Palette. Similar: Benefit Boing in Light and Deep
  • Make Up For Ever HD Foundation in 120
  • Beauty Blender
  • Benefits Sun Beam
  • Make Up For Ever HD Setting Powder
  • Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush in Charisma
  • Too Faced Chocolate Soleil Bronzer
  • NARS Albatross Blush
  • Tarte Glamazon lipstick in Inspired

Watch my video below to see how to contour with both a cream and a powder.

Step-by-step directions:

  1. Begin with a primed face, but don’t apply foundation yet. I’m sure you can tell from the photos that I wasn’t wearing any!
  2. Apply a concealer that is several shades darker than your skin tone to the following areas: underneath the cheekbones, at the temples and around the hairline, at the sides of your chin and under the jawline, and along the sides and under the tip of your nose to slim it.
  3. Now apply a light concealer, many shades lighter than your skin tone, to the following areas: the pie-shaped area under the eyes, the brow bone, the center of the forehead, down the bridge of the nose and between the brows, above the top lip in the cupid’s bow, the tops of the cheekbones, the center of the chin and corners of the mouth, and onto any prominent smile lines.
  4. Take a Beauty Blender sponge and gently stipple on your regular foundation, lightly bouncing over the highlight and contour areas so as not to alter their placement. I’m using a medium- to full-coverage foundation like Make Up For Ever HD Foundation as I have quite a few blemishes to cover. A lighter-to-medium foundation works just as well, though you don’t want to cover your highlighting and contouring entirely.
  5. Apply a liquid luminizer like Benefit Sun Beam to the highlight areas. I am using a golden-toned luminizer, as I have a very yellow undertone. If you have a more pink undertone, I would suggest a pink or champagne-toned luminizer like Benefit High Beam.
  6. Dust a translucent setting powder like Make Up For Ever HD Setting Powder over your entire face to set your foundation.
  7. Apply a matte bronzer that is not overly orange (I like Too Faced Chocolate Soleil Bronzer) to contour areas.
  8. Dust a powder highlighter like NARS Albatross Blush over the highlight areas again if desired.
  9. Use a peachy pink blush like Tarte Amazonian Clay 12 Hour Blush in Charisma to pop your cheeks out even more.

All done and looking slimmer than ever! Remember, you can skip the cream contouring for everyday wear and just move on to the powder highlight and contour steps once your foundation is done.

Makeup Magic: Snatched in Minutes Flat!

Whew, we covered a lot of ground together here, ladies! Now that you’re armed with expert contouring tips, let’s recap the key steps:

Apply darker concealer to slim and define areas like cheeks, jaw, and nose. Brighter concealer spotlights your fave features.

Use a beauty blender to bounce foundation over contour guides without disturbing them. Lock it in place with setting powder.

Sweep on matte bronzer to further chisel out those cheekbones and slim your silhouette! Dust highlighter overtop to illuminate.

Finish with pops of lively blush and voila – instant facial rejuvenation like whoa! No more wide face or undefined features, just gorgeous glowing sculpture.

The moral is that with some strategic shading tricks, we can fake flawless bone structure and mimic an oval shape in minutes! Contouring and highlighting truly help maximize our best assets.

So don’t be afraid to get creative and enhance what mama gave ya, sisters! Just takes a few key products and practice. Once you master placement, you’ll slim down and pump up your features like a boss!

For more makeup tips, visit our Makeup Tips & Tutorials category.

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