What is face contouring … and do you have to be a Kardashian to do it? Nope, not at all says not25’s resident makeup expert Kristy Tyne. Read on as we shine a light on the mysterious world of highlighting and contouring.
Why contour ?
Shading gives the illusion of depth. It ‘pushes’ features back and gives the illusion of a shadow on the face. But where on the face do you practice this magic? Essentially, anywhere you’d like to see slimmed down and give the illusion of more defined bones.
That’s so shady !
Contour is applied after your foundation and is available in a powder or a cream contour stick. For beginners, Kristy recommends a powder as it’s easy to apply and allows you to both build colour, or brush out any heavy handedness.
When choosing your colour, look for something a shade or two darker than your foundation. The idea is to look like a sculptured Queen, not Adam Ant with noticeable stripes on your face!
Pro-tip: before you apply contour powder, dust your foundation with translucent powder to avoid application being grabby.
- For cheeks: to give the illusion of hollowed-out cheeks and higher cheekbones, start at your ear where the underside of cheek bone meets ear. Suck your cheeks in and brush/swipe along to the apple of your cheek.
- For jawlines: Contour under the jawbone to give your face definition and to mask a soft jawline. Just swipe along the underside of your jaw, adding depth as needed and remembering to blend away from the centre of your face outwards.
- For a more refined, thinner, and straighter-looking nose, use a small brush and shade down both sides.
Contour rules to remember
- Choose your colour well! Kristy’s go-to favourite is a contour stick (creme to powder formulation) from Benefit .
- Always add contour little by little. Better to build up colour than try to take off an application.
- Use the right tools and invest in some quality brushes for best results. Must haves are an angled brush for applying contour to cheeks and jaws, a small brush for finer contour blending.
Shine a light baby
Highlighting literally does just that, highlights features and gives the illusion of ‘pushing’ features forward. Used subtly, it gives a beautiful fresh dewiness, used incorrectly and you’ll be left looking like a big shiny beacon.
What to highlight ?
Think about where natural light would hit your face. The higher face points are where you want to emulate light — cheekbones, cupids bow, forehead, nose and chin. Apply a small amount of highlighter to these areas for a natural glow.
Pro-tip: Don’t apply highlighter directly onto, or too close to wrinkles or any part of the face you don’t want to emphasise.
Highlighters come in liquid or powder formulations — I have both. Which one for you? I think it’s personal preference, although Kristy recommends avoiding iridescent highlighters for mature skin. Before you buy, ask for samples and view product in situ in natural light for a true ‘fit’.
Tips for a natural glow
- On top of the cheek bone: Use the highlighter over foundation and above shading. Don’t take it past the halfway mark of your eye, as it’s getting too close to the nose and this can age you.
- Top lip: A small dab just above the Cupid’s bow will give you a fuller-looking lip.
- Nose: Add a touch down the centre of your nose to brighten your face.
- Forehead: Apply highlighter in a soft V-shape from just above in between your brows. Fade this softly halfway up your forehead, just enough to give a lovely light glow.
Try adding a few drops of liquid highlighter to your foundation to brighten your face. If you are applying highlighter separately remember to blend well so you blur any telltale edges!
There it is folks, now go forth … and contour.
Tracy is a media professional working in television. An enthusiastic explorer of the inter webs, she's held many different roles and has worked on documentary, reality and lifestyle television shows across almost two decades in the industry. Tracy also writes.