If you’re looking for a way to enhance your facial features and achieve a more defined look, then contouring is the answer. Contouring is a makeup technique that involves using darker and lighter shades to create shadow and highlight areas of your face.
Read on to discover a step-by-step guide on how to contour your face and how tailor contour technique for your unique face shape.
What is Contouring?
Contouring is a makeup technique that has been around for decades. It involves using different shades of makeup to sculpt and define your facial features. By applying darker shades in the areas you want to recede, and lighter shades in the areas you want to emphasize, you can create the illusion of a slimmer nose, higher cheekbones, and a more defined jawline.
What’s the Difference Between Contouring and Bronzing?
Contouring and bronzing are both makeup techniques that enhance the structure and dimension of the face, but they serve distinct purposes and use different shades and placements. Contouring primarily focuses on creating shadows to define and sculpt the facial features. It typically involves using a matte, cool-toned product, often in a shade a few shades darker than your natural skin tone, to mimic the appearance of shadows in areas like the hollows of the cheeks, along the jawline, and on the sides of the nose. The goal is to create the illusion of more chiseled and defined features, making areas recede and appear slimmer.
On the other hand, bronzing is all about adding warmth and a sun-kissed glow to the face. It uses a warm-toned, matte or slightly shimmery product that’s often only a shade or two darker than your natural skin tone. Bronzer is typically applied to areas where the sun would naturally hit your face, such as the high points of the cheeks, the forehead, and the nose bridge. The aim is to create a healthy, radiant complexion and to mimic the effects of a sun-touched complexion. Unlike contouring, bronzing doesn’t aim to create shadows or alter the shape of your features but rather to add a healthy flush of color and warmth to your skin.
What You Need to Contour Your Face
- Contour powder or cream
- Angled brush
- Beauty blender or makeup sponge
- Powder brush
Here are some comparisons to help you choose the right products:
- Powder vs. Cream: Powder contour is easier to use and blend, while cream contour provides a more natural finish and better coverage.
- Angled Brush vs. Beauty Blender: An angled brush is great for precise application, while a beauty blender or makeup sponge is ideal for blending and creating a seamless finish.
- Matte vs. Shimmer Highlighter: A matte highlighter creates a more natural look, while a shimmer highlighter adds a dewy finish and extra glow.
How to Contour Your Face
Step 1: Prepare Your Skin
Start with a clean, moisturized face. Apply your regular foundation or concealer to create a smooth base. This will even out your skin tone and provide a canvas for your contour and highlight.
Step 2: Choose the Right Contour Product
Select a contour product that is a few shades darker than your natural skin tone. It should have a matte finish and cool undertones. Contour products come in various forms, including cream, powder, and stick. Choose one that suits your preferences and skill level.
Step 3: Identify the Contour Areas
Determine the areas of your face you want to contour. The most common areas include:
- Under the cheekbones: To create the illusion of higher cheekbones and a slimmer face.
- Along the jawline: To define the jaw and create a more sculpted look.
- Along the sides of the nose: To make the nose appear narrower.
- Along the hairline: To add dimension and warmth to the forehead.
- Under the chin: To minimize the appearance of a double chin.
Step 4: Apply the Contour
Using your chosen contour product, apply it to the areas you identified in step 3. Use a contour brush or a makeup sponge for precision. Apply the product sparingly at first; you can always add more if needed. Blend the contour into your skin using gentle strokes or circular motions. Make sure there are no harsh lines, and blend thoroughly for a natural look.
Step 5: Highlight
Now, it’s time to highlight the areas you want to bring forward. Use a highlighter that is a shade or two lighter than your skin tone. Common highlight areas include:
- The tops of your cheekbones
- The bridge of your nose
- Your brow bone
- The inner corners of your eyes
- Your cupid’s bow (the area above your upper lip)
- Apply the highlighter with a brush or sponge and blend it well. This will create contrast and make the contoured areas stand out more.
Step 6: Set with Powder
To ensure your contour and highlight stay in place, set your makeup with a translucent setting powder. Use a fluffy brush to apply the powder lightly over your entire face.
Step 7: Finish with Setting Spray (Optional)
For a long-lasting finish, you can use a setting spray to lock your makeup in place
Contouring Different face shapes
Contour: Apply contour shade along the sides of the forehead, under the cheekbones, and along the jawline to add dimension.
Highlight: Highlight the center of the forehead, tops of cheekbones, bridge of the nose, and chin for a balanced look.
Contour: Apply contour along the sides of the forehead, under the cheekbones, and along the jawline to create angles and definition.
Highlight: Highlight the center of the forehead, tops of cheekbones, and chin to draw attention away from the roundness.
Contour: Focus on softening the angles by applying contour to the sides of the jawline, along the hairline, and under the cheekbones.
Highlight: Highlight the center of the forehead, tops of cheekbones, and chin to balance the strong jawline.
Contour: Apply contour along the hairline, under the cheekbones, and slightly along the jawline to balance the wider forehead.
Highlight: Highlight the center of the forehead, tops of cheekbones, and chin to enhance the lower half of the face.
Long or Oblong Face
Contour: Apply contour along the hairline, under the cheekbones, and at the chin to create the illusion of a shorter face.
Highlight: Highlight the center of the forehead, tops of cheekbones, and chin to add width to the face.
Contour: Focus on softening the angles by applying contour to the sides of the forehead, under the cheekbones, and along the jawline.
Highlight: Highlight the center of the forehead, tops of cheekbones, and chin to balance the face’s angular features.
Triangle Face (Pear-Shaped)
Contour: Apply contour along the sides of the forehead, under the cheekbones, and along the jawline to balance the wider jaw.
Highlight: Highlight the center of the forehead, tops of cheekbones, and chin to draw attention away from the jaw.
Tips for perfect contouring
- Choose the right shade of contour: It’s important to choose a shade that’s a few shades darker than your skin tone for a natural-looking effect.
- Blend, blend, blend: Blending is the key to achieving a seamless and natural look.
- Don’t overdo it: Less is more when it comes to contouring. Start with a little product and build up slowly until you achieve the desired effect.
- Practice makes perfect: Contouring takes practice, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t get it right the first time.
- Can I contour for everyday makeup? Yes, contouring can be adapted for everyday makeup, but the intensity can be adjusted. For a more natural look, use a lighter hand and subtle shades.
- Do I need to contour and highlight every time I wear makeup? Contouring and highlighting are optional steps in makeup. You can choose to contour and highlight when you want to enhance your features, but they are not required for every makeup look.
- How do I choose the right makeup brushes for contouring? Select brushes based on your preferences and the areas you want to contour. A contour brush with soft, dense bristles is great for precise sculpting. A smaller brush or sponge can be used for highlighting.
- Can contouring be used to change the shape of my face? Contouring can enhance and define your natural features, but it cannot drastically change the shape of your face. It is a makeup technique that adds dimension and highlights your existing bone structure.