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Everything You Need To Know About Contouring

Make your features pop!
PHOTO: Peter Rosa

Contouring is about creating strategically placed shadows on the hairline, sides of the nose, and cheeks to create dimension. And because you're faking depth, matte creams or powders that are two shades darker than your skin tone are recommended. Shimmery bronzers (or blush) won't make the area recede but do the opposite instead. 


If you're starting to experiment with sculpting your cheekbones, it's best to stick to powder formulas. Products like matte bronzers or glitter-free blushes with ashy or taupe shades can create natural-looking shadows. You can also just focus on contouring your cheeks, instead of bothering with your forehead, nose, and chin.

The technique: Sweep the powder from your sideburn to about two inches from the corner of your lip. You can also suck in your cheeks to see the most hollow part of your face. To accentuate the contour, lightly apply a bit of powder highlighter on top of the cheekbones.


Tool needed: Angled face brush

Products needed: Matte bronzer/ taupe powder blush; highlighting powder (optional)

Vlogger Tutorials:

Lisa Eldridge

She discusses the basics of contouring and demonstrates beginner-friendly techniques.

How to Contour With Powder - Make-up Basics

Anne Curtis

The woman behind the successful local makeup brand BLK Cosmetics shows a foolproof way to define the cheekbones using a contour, blush, and highlight powder palette.

Anne Curtis' Contour + Blush + Highlight Tutorial

Tanya Burr

For her birthday makeup look, she chose to do a glowy yet defined face. She used a matte bronzer and a cream highlighter. Her techniques are pretty easy! You can skip to 8:36 for the contour part of the video.

My Birthday Makeup 2017


When you're a bit confident with your makeup know-how, you can try cream bronzers and baking—but in like, a low-key way. No need for theatrical, warpaint streaks a la Kim Kardashian.

The technique: Sweep a cream bronzer using a contour brush to sculpt your cheeks. To define the contour, you can sweep highlighter on top of the cheekbones. Another technique would be to sculpt with a powder bronzer and bake loose powder below your contour.

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Tool needed: Angled face brush, triangle-shaped sponge

Products needed: Matte bronzer/ taupe powder blush, concealer, loose powder, highlighting powder (optional)

Vlogger Tutorials:

Kelsey Simone

Instead of using a contour stick, Kelsey just lightly swirled a bronzing cream on her face to create subtle definition. The contouring part starts at 4:39.

Red Carpet-Ready Makeup Tutorial

Nikkie Tutorials

NikkieTutorials' technique falls in between beginner and pro because she just contours with two bronzing powders combined with an ~*extra*~ level of highlighting.

How To Contour And Highlight


Play with cream contour sticks when you're feeling fancy. While these provide subtle sculpting, they do take ~insane~ blending skills to achieve. 

The technique: Do a fish face and streak the contour stick on the hollows of your face, stopping three fingers away from the corner of your lip. Lightly smear the contour stick around the hairline, sides of the nose, the base of the lower lip, and the jawline.

Blend the stripes by patting a damp egg-shaped sponge or swirling a dense buffing brush. Be careful not to go overboard with the blending, because doing it too much will make your complexion muddy. 


Using a liquid concealer lighter than your skin tone, apply it on the undereye area in an inverted triangle shape, and draw a smaller inverted triangle on the center of the forehead, too. Paint a vertical stripe on the bridge of the nose and dab a little on the cupid's bow. Blend away, as usual.

To keep your masterpiece intact the whole day, lightly veil the whole face with translucent powder, and lock everything in with a setting spray.

Tools needed: Egg-shaped sponge, dense buffing brush, small buffing brush, big face brush

Products needed: Contour cream stick/cream bronzer, concealer in a shade lighter than your skin tone, translucent powder, setting spray

Vlogger Tutorials:

Roxette Arisa

How To Contour & Highlight

Nic Chapman of Pixiwoo

She discusses the pro-makeup contouring techniques for different face shapes.

How To Create A Natural Wearable Contour


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