Almost anybody can apply one shade of foundation all over their face and walk out the door – in fact, most people do this – but what really makes all the difference is contouring and highlighting. One shade of foundation all over the face can make it look quite flat and to really bring out the planes and show off the dimension, we need to add shades and highlights, much like an artist does for portraits. Plus, who doesn’t want cheekbones that look like they can cut glass?
WHAT YOU’LL NEED: For contouring & highlighting to work, you mainly need 3 shades: a light, medium, and dark. The medium shade is typically your foundation and this will set the stage for you to add the light and darkness. Contouring has now gone from a top makeup artist secret/technique to a typical conversation among makeup lovers that can spend hours in the aisles of Sephora. So many brands have come out with contouring palettes, from creams to powders. Today, I’m going to be working with my favorite powder contour palette, the Kat Von D Shade + Light Contour Palette.
me, without makeup. You can kind of see the natural highlights and contours of my face here. I don’t have AMAZING cheekbones, but you can definitely see some dimension. You can also see some dark circles and imperfections, but anyway…
SHOULD I USE CREAM OR POWDER? I typically like to use both for on-camera stuff like videos/photoshoots/special events, however, it’s unrealistic to expect most women to do this on an everyday basis. If I had to suggest one type of contour product over the other for a gal on-the-go that wants her makeup to last for hours, it’d be powder.
here’s me with a layer of foundation over my face. Nothing wrong with this, it’d be fine for maybe a quick daytime look but at night or for photos, it’s not that fierce.
CONTOURING = USE A DARKER SHADE TO PULL THINGS IN, MAKE SOMETHING LOOK MORE SUNKEN IN OR TO MAKE SOMETHING LOOK SMALLER. (think about how darker colors tend to be more slimming)
HIGHLIGHTING = USE A LIGHTER SHADE TO BRING SOMETHING FORWARD OR MAKE SOMETHING LOOK LARGER.
DOES MY FACE SHAPE MATTER? Personally, I’m not a fan of people all contouring and highlighting in the same way. I feel like, in the end it looks like we’re all going for the same ideal, which I find painfully boring. Do what you like best and use contouring to bring out and define what you already kind of have going on rather than try to invent and entirely new face. My main focus is my cheeks, I like to bring out the shape of them. Contouring everywhere else is kept to a bare minimum.
To find your cheekbones, suck in your cheeks and with your lips still puckered, try to smile to really perk up the apples.
Gently press around your cheek area, especially towards the back of your face. You should feel a hard bone (that’s your cheekbone) and then a hollowness below that (those are the hollows of the cheeks).
The hollows generally begin by the top of the ear and come in towards the center of the face at a bit of an angle. You can feel this with the length of your finger. This hollow part is what you want to exaggerate by shading in with a darker powder.
CAN’T I JUST USE BRONZER TO CONTOUR? You can sometimes get away with that but the problem people tend to run into with that is most bronzers tend to have shimmer (you want to stick with matte, non-shimmery powders for contouring. Contouring is about creating/enhancing shadows. Shimmer catches light which is the opposite of what shadows do.) Bronzers also tend to have a very warm undertone which can look a bit odd and unnatural. (Stick to neutral or cooler shades for contouring.)
I have fair skin so I like to begin with the lightest of the darker shades (subconscious) in the Kat Von D Shade + Light Contour Palette. I sometimes use a bit of either shadowplay or sombre when I want to bump things up a bit but I’m keeping it simple for you all today and just sticking with subconscious.
A small angled blush brush is especially great for beginners. Pick up a small amount (it’s best to start with less and build as using too much and trying to tone things down afterwards can get complicated!) and start shading from the back of the cheekbone and feather inwards.
To really make that cheekbone look like it’s protruding, shade a little where there’s a little hollow space above the highest part of the cheekbone. Think of it as a C-shape. When there’s nothing left on the brush (or you can swipe it over a clean paper towel to remove leftover product) blend and soften any harsh lines. It’s not supposed to look like stripes on your face.
Contouring & Highlighting is about bumping up contrast. For a clean and neat finish, I like to take a cosmetic sponge dipped in a light loose powder of your choice, and I press that along the underside of where we contoured. Let that sit there for a minute or so.
For the under-eye area, I like to brighten & conceal any darkness/discoloration with a mix of the shades levitation & lyric of the contour palette.
Just dab over your dark circles for a brighter & well-rested look.
Next, use the tips of the bristles of your brush to knock off the excess powder. Once it’s mostly off, use small circular motions to blend any harsh lines. You want the contour to have a contrast but the goal isn’t stripes!
WHAT ABOUT BLUSH? Blush is to be applied lightly generally on the apple of the cheek, somewhere between where your contour and highlight meet. There’s generally supposed to be some overlap at the edges of were you apply different products. Things are supposed to blend together a bit for a more believable look.
Next, throw on some blush & lipstick and you’re set.
*This post was sponsored by Sephora and Style Coalition.