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How to Contour and Highlight Your Face with Makeup

In order to know how to contour your face with makeup, understanding and practicing the technique is everything. Let this BeautiSecrets article be your guide in perfecting the basic theory.
BeautiSecrets Staff
The first step to creating a sculpted face, is knowing where to contour. It's the one thing you can add to your daily routine that will make a huge difference.
— Afton Williams

For women who desire to create an illusion of a stronger jawline, chiseled cheeks, and a slimmer face, contouring is the answer. Most women only apply foundation to their faces; this is nothing but preparing a blank canvas without giving your face any definition. But you don't need to be an expert to learn a few simple tricks to enhance your facial features. Just follow the guidelines provided in the article, and you too can achieve the flawless look like celebrities and models.
Tools You'll Need
Tools and Makeup Products for Contouring
Using good quality products can make a huge difference in getting the desired look. If you use inferior quality makeup, no matter how accurately you apply it, the results won't be the same.
Foundation
To contour, use Illamasqua Cream Foundation, Bourjois Radiance Reveal Healthy Mix Foundation, Clinique Stay-Matte Oil-Free Makeup, LORAC Touch-Up and God, or MAC Face & Body Foundation.
Highlighter
You can use a cream or liquid highlighter. But, if you happen to have a powder highlighter, that'll work as well, as it helps accentuate the features after application. Use MAC Prep and Prime Highlighter or the L'Oréal Magic Lumi Highlighter.
Powder bronzer and highlighter
Get a powder bronzer and highlighter duo as it works wonders here. We love Topshop Bronzer in Break of Day, Sonia Kashuk Chic Luminosity Bronzer/Blush Duo, Trish McEvoy Dual Resort Bronzer + Highlight, and the Physicians Formula Sexy Booster Sexy Glow Bronzer; choose your favorite.
Angled brush
An angled contour brush has a buffed edge, and the bristles are soft, yet firmly bundled to contour your cheeks. If you don't have one, buy either Sigma's Large Angled Contour Brush or MAC 168 Large Angled Contour Brush.
Flathead brush
If you don't have a flathead foundation brush, I'll suggest you purchase one. The brush really makes a difference when you're pressing the foundation into your skin; it helps create sharp contours. Go with MAC 163 Flat Contour Brush, Dior Full Coverage Fluid Brush, or the Sonia Kashuk Flat Top Multipurpose Brush; either of these will do a good job.
Blush brush
For blending cream foundation or bronzer, a blush brush is a perfect tool. Use either MAC 129SH Powder Blush Brush or the Cozzette Contour Stylist Brush.
Contour and Highlight Your Face with Makeup
As you saw in the image above, we will be using both liquid and powder formulas. This assures that your makeup will stay on for a long time.
Step #1
Choose your favorite foundation, and apply it properly on your face and neck area. Wait for at least 10 minutes before you go to the next step.
Step #2
To contour, you will require a cream or liquid foundation that is one or two shades darker than your regular foundation. Take a little bit of this foundation, and place it on the back of your non-dominant hand. Swirl and load the flathead brush with this foundation.
Step #3
Contour Along Hairline
Begin at the center of the top of your hairline. Apply a thin layer of the contour foundation along the edge, all the way down to the temple. However, do make sure that it's as close to the hairline as possible. If you trace it too thick, you won't get that sculpted appearance. Move the brush slightly lower, keeping it in the same level as your ear.
Step #4
Contour Along Cheekbones
This step is easier for those who have defined cheekbones [envy]. But, there is a way for us mere mortals to get around it. Suck in your cheeks to figure out where the cheekbones are. Here, using the flathead brush, you need to sweep the brush diagonally from your ear to the hollow of your cheekbone.
Step #5
Contour Along Jawline
Bring the brush back toward your ear. Now, keeping the brush as close to the edge as possible, sweep it on and underneath the jawline. Here, you can choose to use the contour foundation to shade the neck area. Follow steps 2 to 5 on the other side.
Step #6
Highlight Above Eyebrows and Cheekbones
Now we will apply the highlighter. Wipe off any excess contour foundation you may have on the flathead brush with a tissue paper. Clean the back of your hand as well. Take some cream or liquid highlighter on the back of your non-dominant hand, and swirl the flathead brush to fill it up. Similar to how we applied the contour foundation, apply the highlighter from the middle of your forehead to just above your cheekbone. Since the highlighter is a few shades lighter than the contour foundation, this will put your forehead in the spotlight, and also, highlight your eyes. Repeat this step on the other side as well.
Step #7
Apply Highlighter in Circular Movements
Take the blush brush and swirl it with the highlighter to fill it up. Apply circular movements, and highlight the area above the cheekbones. Apart from this, you need to highlight the center of your forehead, nose, and chin along with the area around your mouth and jaw. Blend the highlighter properly into the skin. If the blush brush isn't doing the job properly, you can use a makeup sponge as well.
Step #8
Highlight Along Hairline
Take your angled contour brush and swirl it in the bronzing powder. Trace alongside the contour line you made earlier with the flathead brush. Wipe the brush clean with a tissue paper.
Step #9
Highlight Above Eyebrows and Cheekbones
Now swirl the angled contour brush in the highlighting powder and trace it over the area where you applied the highlighter.
Step #10
Contour Eyebrows and Nose
You know that you have already highlighted the center of your nose. Now, you need to contour it as well. Starting from your eyebrows, sweep the flathead brush over the natural curve of your nose. Do the same thing on the other side.
Step #11
Before and After Contour and Highlight Makeup
In order to set the makeup, lightly dust your entire face with translucent powder. And voila! You are ready to head out of the door in style.
When you apply this technique correctly, it helps enhance your natural bone structure. The defined yet natural finish that contouring provides is perfect for any occasion. Follow the instructions and keep practicing as much as possible, till you can do it with your eyes closed (not literally).