Tips & Tricks

How To: Contour and Highlight

August 26, 2007

Contouring and highlighting are one of the makeup techniques that every makeup addict should master. They can totally transform your face by playing up your features and downplaying your flaws and they usually go hand in hand.

RULE OF THUMB: Darker colors shade and make areas recede; Light colors highlight and make things come forward.

So are contouring and highlighting necessary for everyone? No but everyone can definitely benefit from a little contouring and highlighting. All you need is practice and make sure everything is well-blended (seriously, who would want lines on their faces?!)

Contouring and highlighting also look best under evening lighting so if you are going to be in an environment with really bright light, I would recommend keeping it to a minimum.

What You Will Need
• To contour, you will need a color that is one to two shades darker than your foundation. You can use a brown eyeshadow, bronzer or a darker foundation.

• To highlight, you will need a color that is one to two shades lighter than your foundation. You can use a shimmery white/beige eyeshadow, a lighter foundation or a highlighter.

• I highly recommend using pressed powders or cream formulas as they are the easiest to use. Remember to pick a color that is neutral, i.e. one that is not too yellow or too pink.

Areas to Contour
• Hollows of the cheek
• Along both sides of your nose
• Under the chin
• Jawline
• Creases of your eyes
• Temples

Areas to Highlight
• Front of the forehead
• Along the bridge of your nose
• Right above your cheeks
• Inner corner of your eyes
• Browbone
• Center of your chin
• Cupid’s bow (lips)

To contour/highlight, follow the picture taken from makeup master Kevyn Aucoin above, and blend the lines by gently pressing the color onto your skin. You can use your fingers, a brush or a sponge but I would recommend a sponge for best results. Make sure there are no harsh edges and be careful not to blend the different colors together. Remember to start out a little at a time (it is ALWAYS easier to add more color) and experiment to find out what works best for you.

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  • Reply Anonymous August 30, 2007 at 8:36 pm

    i duno why out of the blue there’s 2 tiny blobs of blood on my face,but they seem to be just under my skin… i cant rub ’em off…
    how can I get rid of them?
    please help me!

  • Reply Kristan August 31, 2007 at 6:09 pm

    Hey! I’d love to see a demonstration of this, like a before and after pic of yourself. So we can see what it looks like after you’ve done it.

  • Reply Anonymous September 1, 2007 at 9:55 am

    I’ve always wondered how to contour. Thank you so much for this really helpful tutorial!

  • Reply Anonymous September 2, 2007 at 8:25 pm

    I agree with Kristan.
    It’d be great to see this on a real person

  • Reply Leon May 31, 2008 at 11:01 pm

    Nice Tutorial:)

  • Reply Huiro July 23, 2008 at 10:44 am

    I just realized that you know almost everything having to do with makeup and that I no longer have to browse though google again for makeup tips. Really, the database is -here-.

    I’m recommending this to my friends =]

  • Reply nelly August 28, 2008 at 6:29 am



  • Reply Penny November 2, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    I’ve been told that bronzer would look fake on pale Asian skin, would you agree?

  • Reply Phyllis November 2, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    Penny, of course Asians can wear bronzers! It is all about finding one in the right shade and applying it the right way.

  • Reply Kathy April 14, 2009 at 10:57 am

    Found this discussion via Google…thanks!

    A highlighting area that is shown here on that image from the Kevyn Aucoin book is not mentioned in the list of areas to highlight. Can someone explain how to go about highlighting that area? Why isn’t this ever mentioned in the tutorials?

  • Reply Phyllis April 14, 2009 at 11:15 am

    Kathy, which area are you referring to?

  • Reply Minash Hoyet March 9, 2010 at 5:00 am

    It is amazing when you know what you want – like you do. I appreciate your share.

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