The Art Of Contouring: What To Use and How It’s Done


As a beauty lover there is no doubt that you’ve come across the concept of contouring and while this information has been around for a long time, many women still feel a bit unsure as to what to do and which products to use. You may come across conflicting ideas and information and it can start to seem a bit much. This is a 2 part article in which I will discuss the Art of Contouring and Highlighting the face. With a little bit of knowledge, practice and enthusiasm, you too could easily recreate a sculpted-from-marble visage in just a few simple steps.

What is contouring?

Contouring is the technique whereby one uses a darker makeup product to create shadows on the face in order to visually recede certain areas. When you place a darker (matte) colour on the face, it gives the illusion of said part being diminished. When we contour we usually apply a darker makeup product beneath the cheek bones, on the temples, beneath the chin, along the jaw and along the sides of the nose to sculpt the face and give the face a more defined and chiseled appearance. Contouring is a helpful technique that can be used to visually “disguise” certain features that we may consider problematic. It’s an easier (and cheaper!) alternative to plastic surgery!

Which products do I use?

Contouring products come in many different forms namely as creams (like concealers), liquids (as in foundations) and powders (such as bronzers and face powders) with powders being many a beauty mavens weapon of choice. There is no “correct” product to use for contouring it really is a matter of choice. You may feel that a liquid product is easiest to use while someone else may find a cream a better match for their needs. You may find that you like to use a combination of products to contour with. There is no right or wrong and it’s purely a matter of preference. There is 1 key point to bear in mind: contour products must be matte in texture. Matte products work better for contouring as we’re visually receding areas of the face and as matte products absorb light this is why they’re ideal for contouring. If the product is too shimmery the light will reflect and thus bring the facial feature forward and draw attention to it which is the exact opposite of what we’re trying to achieve.

How do I contour my face?

Look at yourself in a mirror and you may notice the areas where shadow naturally falls or you may decide that you want your cheekbones to stand out more or you may want your nose to be a bit slimmer. Apply the contouring product of your choice to those areas. For killer cheekbones, apply product beneath your actual cheekbone. Some people feel the need to suck their cheeks in and pull a fish face, that’s not the best way to go about it. Sometimes you’ll pull the contour line far too low and too close to your mouth and end up with a hollowed expression, not haute. Simply feel (with your fingers) where the natural hollows of your cheeks are and place the colour there by starting at the top of your ear and bringing the contour colour down. You can stop when the contour colour reaches the outside corner of the eye. Work the contour colour along the sides of your jaw if you feel you have a heavy set face or use the contour colour in your hairline if you feel your forehead is too long. Use the contour colour on your temples if you feel your forehead is too wide. Do you want a slimmer nose? Simply work the contour product along the sides of your nose. With any makeup product, work with a light hand and gradually add product. You don’t want to end up looking dirty. Feel your chin is starting to look like it has a twin? Contour the extra skin to visually banish the “2nd chin”!

Which tools do I need?

Soft shader blush

Soft shader blush (Photo credit: Yahala Fashion Shopping Online)

If you’ve decided on cream or liquid products for contouring, use a foundation brush and maybe some latex wedges. Once you’ve applied the contour product to the area(s) you need it, simple blend using the brush and/or wedges. If you’ve opted for a powder product, use an angled brush for the larger areas of your face (cheekbones, temples and such) and use a small, eye shadow blending brush for the nose.

Contouring is the simplest way of sculpting and defining your face and “masking” a few imperfections. Like everything, practice makes perfect so get cracking and let me know how it went!

Suaad xoxo

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5 responses to “The Art Of Contouring: What To Use and How It’s Done

  1. A bronzer doesn’t work for me. I started out with Make up Forver Mat Bronzer #40. Then I realized that I need a dedicated “countour” powder because they tend to be more gray black to simulate a shadow. So I now use MAC Pro Sculpting Powder in Shadowy and it’s perfect for me.

    • I agree, some bronzers look way too orange to be believable as a contour powder and I use up to 3 different colours of contour powder when I work on clients. A proper contour powder needs to be a bit on te ashy side to be believable. Thanks for the comment 🙂

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