03 December 2014

Back to Basics Makeup: Contouring and Highlighting

I love a bit of contouring and highlighting. It adds shape and definition to the face and when done properly, looks stunning. 

If you are looking for a Kim Kardashian style tutorial here then you might as well leave now. This post is about very natural and light contouring and highlighting. 


Contouring is all about shading to lessen or highlight certain features of the face. 

Choosing the right contour product is probably the hardest part of the whole process! You can contour with pretty much any product, as long as it's a little bit darker than your skin tone. I prefer an ashy or grey toned contour as they look the most natural. When you think about it, the natural shadows of your face are ashy. Contouring is creating more shadows. Whatever you choose to contour with, make sure it's matte because it is very hard to get any definition in terms of contouring with a shimmery product. Wow, I just used the word contouring a lot! 

How to Contour:

Cheekbones- To find where to place the contour, you can suck in your cheeks. You want to place the contour where your cheeks hollow. Alternatively, take your brush and roll it up the face. Where it hits the cheekbone is where you want to place the contour. With very little colour on your brush, place the product in a line towards the mouth. You don't want to take it too close to the mouth. Hopefully you can see what I mean in the pictures below. 

Place the contour under the cheekbones. 

Don't take the contour too close to the mouth. I like to use a brush as guide of how far to go. 

Temples- I like to put a bit of contour onto the temples because it really helps shape and define the face. 

Jawline- Place the product lightly under the jawline and chin. This gives a stronger looking jaw and helps conceal a double chin. 

Hopefully you can see the shadow I've created under the jawline on the right side of the face. 

Nose-  To contour the nose, take a very small amount of product on a small brush and fan it from the top to the bottom. This will help slim the nose. 

When you contour, the most important thing is to go in with a light hand and blend. I prefer to use quite a small brush if I'm going for a precise contour, but if you want a less precise contour, use a bigger brush and load the product up on the tip. You can blend in circular motions to really buff away the harsh lines.

Before contouring
After contouring but before highlighting
You really want to avoid obvious lines or stripes, so take your time to blend. In my opinion, contouring should be subtle. You shouldn't be able to tell where the product has been placed. If you've gone too heavy, take a clean brush or whatever brush you used for your foundation, and go over the area. After I've done my contouring, I like to go over my face with a bit of bronzer to warm up the face so it doesn't look flat or too ashy. 


Highlighting the face allows you to draw attention to certain features. The most common places to highlight are the tops of the cheekbones, brow bone, the nose and the cupids bow. When it comes to highlighting, it's really about preference. You could go for a powder or a cream. Sometimes, I use both! If you are using a really shimmery intense highlight, using a small brush or a fan brush will help you control the product. 

How to Highlight:

Cheekbones and Brow Bone- I like to do these together in one movement. From your brow bone, apply the highlight in a C Shape onto the tops of the cheekbone. I like using a fairly slim fluffy brush because you can easily diffuse the product. 

Highlighting the cheekbones
Nose- I love highlighting the bridge of the nose because it really helps to lift the nose. It's really simple to do, just take a small amount of product down the centre of the nose and blend. 

Cupids Bow- This is my favourite place to highlight because it gives the illusion of fuller lips. Just apply a tiny amount of highlight to the cupids bow and blend the edges. For this one you'll want to use your finger because it's such a small area and that's the easiest way to get precision. 

Final face
That pretty much covers everything. I really hope you have been able to follow this post. It's quite a bit of information, but in reality, it is very easy to do. Whatever you are using, start off with a small amount. You can always build up intensity but it's really hard to take it away!

Thanks for reading,

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