Highlight and Contour Tutorial

Every makeup lover should fully understand the importance of mastering the art of highlight and contour. An understanding of which contours of the face to highlight is necessary for applying the perfect makeup look to yourself or anyone else. Highlighted areas hold the power to pronounce certain features while contoured areas can subdue others for a natural look. As a general rule, lighter shades will pull an area/feature outward/forward while darker shades will push an area/feature inward/back. Bring out your pallet, and let’s go through a highlight and contour tutorial.

The Perfect Conditions

Contouring and highlighting specific areas of the face are different for everyone. This technique is not even necessary for all people, but all people can surely benefit from at least a tiny bit of highlighting and contouring. One just needs a little practice/training on blending everything perfectly and establishing a personal approach. For an excellent guide, check out Huda Beauty’s article “How to Contour To Flatter Your Face Shape.” As a broad generalization, contouring and highlighting typically look better in dusk (or dim lighting in general) so, if you plan to be at an event with illuminated lighting, we strongly suggest highlighting and contouring minimally.

The Supplies

For contouring, find a medium that is 1 or 2 tones deeper than the foundation that you would normally wear. Some suggestions for this are a dark eye shadow, a bronzer, or a deeper tone of the same foundation. For highlighting, find a medium that is 1 or 2 shades lighter than the foundation that you would normally wear. Some suggestions for this are iridescent beige/white eye shadow, a highlighter, or a fairer tone of the same foundation. In other words, the tools you use matter.
For contouring, there are a few different brushes you can use, each one helping to apply the contour a bit different. An angled contour brush helps to get the perfect outline when contouring, while a small contour brush helps to produce a more sculpted look. Beth Bender, 5 Contour and Highlighting Tips Everyone Should Know
We strongly suggest working with a compressed powder or cream because these are easy to manipulate. Choose a neutral shade, or a shade that is not overly pink of yellow.

Sections to Contour (Darken)

  • Cheek hollows
  • Sides of the nose
  • Beneath the chin
  • Jaw line
  • Crease of each eye
  • Temples/Outer edges of the face

Sections to Contour (Lighten)

  • Center of the forehead/brow
  • Bridge of the nose
  • Cheekbones
  • Browbone
  • Inner-most corner of each eye orbit
  • Middle of the chin
  • Lips (Cupid’s bow)
To begin highlighting/contouring, use the above picture as an example. Blend in these colors by lightly massaging each one into your skin. For this, you could use a brush, a sponge, or your fingertips. When finished, examine your work. Be sure there are no defined edges left and also be mindful that you did not blend together each shade entirely. Just try to start out working with a small area at first because you can always add more color (removing color is more difficult.) I hope you found this highlight and contour tutorial helpful. With the proper direction, you’ll look great whether young or old. Have fun and see which techniques work best for you!


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