Contouring Basics

Contouring is, in my opinion, the most vital part of facial makeup for day to day. Since typical eye and lip colors are simple, it’s up to the face to really bring shape and poise to the face. Good contouring can be used to thin the nose, accent the cheekbones, and lessen the jaw. It can soften the edges of a square face and add shape to a round one. The first step to this is defining the shadows of the face, or adding the illusion of depth.

My face without any added color- I have applied color corrector and a bb cream for a more even tone. This is my starting point.

My bronzer and brush- I use a MAC pressed powder in medium dark and a fluffy angled brush.


red areas are where bronzer should generally be applied

On the left is where I have bronzer applied, and on the right I’ve marked where it should go. You want to apply to the side of your nose, in the hollow of your cheek and eye, on the base of your chin, edge of the jawline, and the top edge of the hairline. This will all slim and soften the edges of your face.

I like this Chanel blush for its sophisticated shade and pleasant scent. I prefer a somewhat stiff, round brush to the one that comes with the compact for easier blending.


Blush should bring warmth to the skin, not provide overwhelming color. It’s a fine balance, and crossing it can make you look like a clown.

The blush should primarily be applied on the cheekbone itself, right above the bronzer in the hollow of the cheek. It should be swept through to the bottom of the apple of the cheek. For a more youthful, fresh look, a brighter blush can be applied on the center of apple of the cheek. The color should begin to
fade at the point below the end of the eyebrow.


My highlighter is almost out! Probably one of my most go-to products.

This is my highlighter from Benefit. I actually like the included brush because the thin size is perfect for sweeping along the cheekbone and bridge of the nose.


Ideally, highlighter will add a little brightness for an ethereal glow, not make patches of your face glitter or reflect too much light.

The crests of the face should be highlighted to help the slimming effect. The highlighter should go at least on the bridge of the nose and top of the cheekbones, and may also be added above the outer edge of the brow and on the chin. Some people say to add it to the middle of the forehead but I think it just makes such a large, flat area look shiny, and I would prefer a light, matte powder instead. That same powder may also be added around the lips to help accentuate them, though I prefer a concealer for that.


Full contouring. Bronzer is used to slim my chin and nose and accentuate my cheekbones. The blush accentuates the angle of my cheekbones and the apples of my cheeks. Highlighter adds a soft glow.


With makeup – the sweep of color along the cheeks keep the eyes moving across the face from the mouth to the lips. Bronzer along the edges of the face help keep focus on the center. Contouring and skin makeup in general should play up the eyes and mouth without being obnoxious in its own right.

You can see how the contouring helps emphasize the lip color and really add to the full effect of the makeup. Typically, I would recommend doing eye makeup (without mascara) before adding contouring in case of eyeshadow fallout. I save the mascara until after all the powder makeup has been applied to keep the integrity of the color of the mascara. Contouring is something that can absolutely transform your face, and is perfect to spice up everything from a dramatic eye or lip to a natural “no makeup” look. Figure out how to tweak the shape of your face for different effects- while more subtle, it’s just as impactful as vibrant color when done well.


4 thoughts on “Contouring Basics

  1. Pingback: 1-Minute Makeover: Instant Cheekbones via | Makeup by Lorisa

  2. Pingback: A Girl’s Guide To…. Highlighting and Contouring | Chronically Bored

  3. Superb website you have here but I was wanting to know if you knew of any community forums that cover the same topics talked about in this article? I’d really love to be a part of online community where I can get responses from other knowledgeable individuals that share the same interest. If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Many thanks!|

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s