The Art of Contouring and Highlighting

Contouring and highlighting are powerful makeup techniques that can transform your facial features, accentuate your best qualities, and create a sculpted, radiant look. Popularized by makeup artists and beauty influencers, these methods have become essential tools in many people’s makeup routines. In this article, we’ll delve into the art of contouring and highlighting, providing tips and techniques to help you master these transformative makeup skills.

What is Contouring and Highlighting?

Contouring and highlighting are makeup techniques that involve the use of darker and lighter shades to manipulate the appearance of the face:

  • Contouring: This technique involves using a matte, darker shade to create the illusion of shadows and enhance the structure of the face. It’s typically applied to areas where you want to create the impression of depth or slimness, such as the hollows of your cheeks, jawline, and nose.
  • Highlighting: Highlighting, on the other hand, uses a lighter, often shimmery product to emphasize high points of the face. It adds luminosity and draws attention to areas like the tops of the cheekbones, the bridge of the nose, and the brow bone.

Tools and Products You’ll Need:

Before you start contouring and highlighting, gather the necessary tools and products:

  1. Contour Shade: This should be a matte product that is a few shades darker than your skin tone. Cream, powder, or liquid options are available.
  2. Highlight Shade: Choose a shade that is a few shades lighter than your skin tone. This can be matte or shimmery, depending on your preference.
  3. Foundation or Concealer: These are used as a base for your makeup.
  4. Blending Tools: You can use makeup brushes, sponges, or your fingertips for blending.
  5. Setting Powder: Translucent powder is essential to set your makeup and prevent it from smudging.

Contouring and Highlighting Steps:

  1. Start with a Clean Canvas: Begin your makeup routine by cleansing your face and applying your regular skincare products. A clean, moisturized face provides a smooth base for makeup application.
  2. Apply Foundation or Concealer: Apply your foundation or concealer as you normally would to create an even skin tone. This serves as the base for your contouring and highlighting.
  3. Contouring: To contour your face, follow these steps:
    • Cheekbones: Suck in your cheeks to find the hollows. Apply the contour shade just below the cheekbone and blend upward.
    • Jawline: Apply contour along your jawline, blending it into your neck for a seamless look.
    • Nose: If you want to slim your nose, apply contour along the sides. Blend it well to avoid harsh lines.
    • Forehead: Apply contour along the hairline to make your forehead appear smaller.
  4. Highlighting: To highlight, focus on these areas:
    • Cheekbones: Apply the highlight shade to the tops of your cheekbones and blend it gently.
    • Bridge of the Nose: Lightly apply highlight down the center of your nose and blend.
    • Cupid’s Bow: Highlight the small dip above your upper lip.
    • Brow Bone: Highlight the brow bone beneath your eyebrows.
  5. Blending: Blend the contour and highlight shades well to avoid harsh lines. Use a brush, sponge, or your fingertips to ensure a seamless transition between the two shades.
  6. Set Your Makeup: To prevent smudging and keep your makeup in place, apply translucent setting powder over your entire face.
  7. Final Touches: Complete your look with your favorite makeup products, like blush, lipstick, or eyeshadow, and set your makeup with a setting spray.

Tips for a Successful Contour and Highlight:

  • Less is More: Start with a light hand, and gradually build up the contour and highlight. It’s easier to add more than to remove excess product.
  • Blending is Key: The key to a successful contour and highlight is seamless blending. Spend time making sure there are no visible lines or demarcations.
  • Practice Makes Perfect: It may take some practice to get the hang of contouring and highlighting. Don’t be discouraged if your first attempts aren’t perfect.
  • Consider Your Face Shape: Tailor your contour and highlight to your face shape. For example, heart-shaped faces may emphasize the cheekbones, while round faces can focus on slimming the sides.


Contouring and highlighting are versatile makeup techniques that can enhance your natural beauty, define your features, and create a radiant, sculpted look. With the right tools, products, and practice, you can master these transformative skills and incorporate them into your daily makeup routine. Whether you’re going for a subtle, everyday look or a more dramatic appearance, contouring and highlighting are invaluable tools for achieving the makeup style you desire.

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