From how to highlight to where to contour for different face shapes, check out our easy contouring and highlighting guide below!
What is Contour Makeup?
Contour makeup or contouring is a technique where shadows are added to the face using a product a shade or two darker than the natural skin tone. So what does contour mean? It’s basically the cheat’s way to a flawless, defined and sculpted face. ‘Cause not all of us are blessed with high cheekbones and a sharp jaw like Bella Hadid. However, strong contours are definitely out, lighter natural-looking ones are in and the runways at fashion weeks are proof of that!
Contour Makeup Kit
Here are the essentials you’ll need for a perfectly contoured face.
Contour product – This can be a cream, powder or liquid formulation. Contour sprays are also becoming popular of late. Just make sure the color is one or two shades darker than your foundation.
Blending brush – No one wants a harsh, streaky contour. So, blending is super important when it comes to face contouring. And the best contour brush is the angled sculpting brush. Not only does it make applying the contour makeup easy but it also buffs it into the skin. You’ll also need a smaller end brush or nose contour brush for that perfect nose contour. And in case you’re using a cream or liquid, beauty blenders work better.
Contour Powder vs Liquid Contour
Both contouring powders and liquids are popular among beauty gurus on YouTube and runway makeup artists but I find powders to be the most easy to use and effective. They just blend easier and can be easily built-up or just dusted lightly across the face. It’s also less messier. But different things work better for different people. So I’d say give both types of contour makeup a try and see what works best for you.
And go for the same formula as your base or foundation. Like liquid contouring makeup gels well with liquid foundations but powder over it may be harder to blend.
How to Blend Contour
The most important part of contouring is blending it to perfection. You don’t want it to look like you’ve actually got a contour. So here are some tips to keep it as natural looking as possible. Firstly, makeup looks different under different lights so check your contour makeup under atleast three different types of lighting. This will ensure that no matter where you go, your contour’s gonna look well blended. Using the right brush will also help contour powders blend flawlessly into your skin. I recommend the dense, fluffy ones. If you’re using a liquid contour, the trick is to use a beauty blender or makeup sponge that’s spritzed with some setting spray.
Highlight and Contour Guide
Contouring looks best when accompanied by a striking highlight. Just like contouring adds shadows with a shade darker than your base, highlighting adds high-points with a shade lighter than the base, or a shimmery powder. I personally love highlighting! There’s just something about that glowy, youthful, metallic sheen. A face with highlight looks great in person and amazing in photos!
Contouring and highlighting complement each other so well and I never do just one or the other. It’s always both or neither. In fact, I own this roll-up makeup stick that has a highlight on one end and a contour on the other. And it’s always a part of my makeup bag. So read our contour guide to know how you can make the best of your face shape with a contour makeup kit.
Highlight & Contour Face Map
Now that you know the basics of contour and highlight, let’s move on to where they look the best and most flattering. Depending on the type of look you’re going for or the face shape you’re trying to achieve, there are different ways to contour and highlight. But here’s the most basic and go-to guide and face map for contouring and highlighting. We’ve also included some contour line art using celebrity faces as an example for different face shapes.
How to Contour Different Face Types
How to Contour Round Face
To add length and definition to a round face, contour along the sides of your temples all the way down to the hollows of your cheekbones and at your jawline and chin.
Where to Contour Heart Shaped Face
Heart faces look quite defined because of their pointy chins. So just contour along either side of your head from the eyebrows to just below the cheekbones. And you’re good to go! Add lighter contouring on the temples and slightly more below the cheekbones to maintain your natural face shape.
How to Contour Oval Face
Since oval faces are long, add some contour makeup at the hollows of the cheeks and mainly at the top of the forehead to make it look smaller.
Where to Contour Diamond Face
Diamond faces are wide at the cheeks making them look angular so it’s not necessary to contour at the cheekbones. Just add some light color to your jaw and it’ll mimic a heart shaped face structure.
Where to Contour a Rectangle & Square Face
Rectangular face shapes make it tricky to know where to put contour. If you contour throughout the sides, it’ll just elongate the face without adding any curvy definition. Above the jawline and at the temples is where you need to contour for these two face types.
How to Contour a Triangle Face
Similar to heart, triangle faces are pointed at the chin too so you can make do with contouring just your forehead and cheekbones.
How to Contour Nose
There’s a quick and simple way to a thin, sharp nose and it’s nose contouring. It’s like getting a nose job without any surgery! All you need to do is draw two thin lines along the sides of your nose and a V at the tip with a contour color a shade darker than your base. Add a lighter concealer on either sides of the two lines. Blend well using a brush or beauty blender. And lastly, add the finishing touch to the nose contour with a sweep of highlight down the center of your nose. Use a narrow brush for the nose contouring to achieve precise results.
How to Get Cheekbones
Super model-like cheekbones are just a contour and highlight away. Simply draw a thin half moon shape under your cheek bones with the contour product, darker near the hairline and lighter as it gets near the mouth. Blend and highlight above the apples of your cheeks.
Where to Apply Bronzer
Looking for that sun-kissed tan look? Wondering where does bronzer go? Choose a bronzer that’s not more than two shades darker than your skin tone. Use a flat-topped stippling brush or kabuki brush and sweep the product along your hairline, temples, jawline, chin and cheek bones. Don’t forget to add some to your neck as well to keep it as natural as possible. A bronzer can also be used to contour.
How to Highlight Your Face
It doesn’t matter what face shape you’ve got, you’re gonna look fabulous with a shimmery iridescent highlight in these places – below the brow bones, on the cheek bone, cupid’s bow and chin.
So that was our guide on where to contour for all the different face shapes. Do you like contouring and highlighting too? Tell us your thoughts by tweeting @shilpa1ahuja!
Nishita is a Staff Writer/ Journalist at ShilpaAhuja.com. She is a graduate of National Institute of Fashion Technology and has a degree in leather design. A lover of all things fashion, she writes about everything from beauty, hair and lifestyle to fashion trends and how-to’s. Her area of expertise is outfit ideas but being fresh out of college, she also loves writing about college fashion. Her new found love of baking is currently taking over her life, making her write about all things chocolate and easy recipes. With a flair for sketching and a great eye for detail, she’s previously designed leather garments for brands like Diesel and Salsa. When she’s not writing, she’s busy reading extremely sappy Nicholas Spark’s novels, sewing clothes and listening to some indie rock. Also super passionate about photography, she loves portraits and wildlife photography – a habit turned love that formed with the amount of traveling she did as a teenager. As a girl who grew up with books and movies like Pride & Prejudice, her love for period fashion is huge. And being curly haired, she’s always on a constant hunt for solutions to problems that come with having ringlets and loves sharing them with people through her articles. For feedback and questions, email [email protected] or connect with her on twitter @ni95.