Beauty Article | How to Contour: The Basics

Knowing how to contour is an important skill as all makeup applications involve contouring on some level.  When you contour, all you’re doing is accentuating your natural features.  The way to sculpt your face depends on your face shape.  Simply envision the oval face shape and then highlight the high points inside it and contour everything outside it.  

This approach will look different on every person, depending on the shape of the features. Try it, play around, and discover what works on your face.

On a round face you will want to highlight your forehead, underneath your eyes, on top of your cheekbones and the center of your chin to draw attention to the center of your face.  To contour your face use darker shades like bronzer.  Highlighter can be matte, frosted or shimmery and contour should be only a matte. 

Here’s how to do a basic contour on the cheeks, nose, eyes, and jaw. For this tutorial, use powder eye shadows and a contour kit.

Cheekbones
The first thing most people want to contour are the cheekbones. To start, try receding the hollow of the cheek. You can find the hollow of cheek right underneath the cheekbone — there, apply your darker color using an angled medium or large brush. 

Contouring cheeks

Every area you contour, you want to balance with a highlight. After receding the hollow of the cheek, counter that by making cheekbones stand out. To do that, brush on a frosted gloss or light shadow along the cheekbones, and blend out toward the temple.

Highlighting cheeks

Nose
This is a basic strategy to slim down the nose just a bit (which remember, may not work on every face). For the nose, use the same contour shade you used for cheeks. Start at inner corner of brow and apply down either side of the nose.Slimming the nose

Next, apply your highlight down the bridge of the nose. For the nose, always use matte product, even for highlighting. “Generally speaking, people don’t want the nose or T-zone to look shiny, so in those areas stay away from frost or shimmer. Finally, blend the two together using a brush.

Apply highlight on the bridge of the nose

Eyes
To make the eyes pop in two simple steps, start with your contour shade. Apply into the crease of the lid and blend well.

Two steps to make eyes pop

Then, counter that with a highlight, brushed right along the browbone.

Highlight along the browbone

Jaw
Apply the contour along the jawline, right where the jaw meets the neck. Then blend down into the neck using a clean brush, so you don’t have a line.

Contouring your jaw

Then, highlight right on top of the jawline, and blend together. Be careful not to go all the way around to the chin here. You want to highlight on the sides, along the mandible. If you go all the way forward to the chin, it can make the chin look bigger, like it’s jutting forward.

Before and after of contouring

Do you know how to contour? What are your favorite contouring products, tips, and techniques? Tell us, and show us your looks below!

Robert Jones Makeup Masterclass 

Here are some of the popular contour and highlighter products that we and others like: