The Art of Highlighting and Contouring

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This technique has been used by professional makeup artists for many years to add structure and definition to the face. It’s been a staple in stage makeup for a long time, and contouring is also heavily used in photo shoots. It’s only in recent years more people have become more aware of highlighting and contouring due to the popularity of social media. The general rules for contouring are to make where the shadows naturally fall darker and where the light hits lighter.

It is the easiest way to enhance your already fabulous facial features. The face will look slimmer and create definition as well as illuminate to create a sleek, sculpted look. Have you ever opened a fashion magazine and saw the models with their prominent cheekbones and chiseled jawlines? Yes, genetics is a big factor but most often than not its makeup. More specifically highlighting and contouring.

Highlighting and contouring is used in makeup application to make your features stand out more. You will place your contour on the places you want to add more depth, contouring is used to create an illusion of a shadow around the hollow of your cheeks, sides of your nose, your temples, the perimeter of your forehead, and jaw line to accentuate your bone structure and to slim down your face.

Highlighting is the opposite, this is used wherever the light touches and is used on places you want to bring forward; for most people that is your cheekbones, cupid’s bow, bridge of your nose, middle of the forehead and eyebrows. Contouring can be done using cream products (such as a foundation, or a concealer) or powder (such as blush, bronzer or even an eyeshadow). Powders are easier to control and blend for beginners, so start with those until you get the hang of things. It is best to use a shade or two that is darker than your skin tone or base foundation for contouring. Highlighting can be done using a cream such as a foundation or a concealer that is a shade or two lighter than your skin tone or base foundation.

After you’ve mapped out the area’s you want to be highlighted and contoured the next step is the easiest but most important and that is to blend out all the lines you’ve created. No one should be able to tell that you have sculpted your cheek bones. A brush or a sponge is best used to blend out your highlight and contour after everything has been blended out seamlessly be sure to set your face with a translucent powder.

I recommend the Laura Mercier loose translucent setting powder, this is an excellent powder that is sold at Sephora. Recently a second shade for this powder was released for deeper skin tones. However, only set your face if you’ve used a cream or foundation to contour if you used a powder it is unnecessary to add another layer of translucent powder. Remember contouring is meant to look as natural as possible so avoid using too much product that you look unnatural or completely change your features. Contouring should be used to enhance, not alter!

Contouring is not a necessary step for everyday makeup, and I don’t recommend using this technique daily due to the products being too much for your skin to take. This technique is more for a night out or special event.

Now that you’ve learned how to contour, with more practice, you will find what products works for your skin type and skin tone over time. High-end or drugstore, it doesn’t matter they both work amazingly well, makeup should make you feel confident so find products you like and make them your go to.


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