Makeup 101: How To Contour & Highlight Your Face

It may be one of the hottest beauty trends, but contouring is one of the most difficult make up tricks to learn. If done correctly, a contoured face will have accentuated features and make cheekbones appear higher and sharper. Contouring also looks best in moderation. While that super sculpted J.Lo look works for the red carpet, it is often far too heavy for daytime, everyday use. So, we recommend saving contouring for evenings and/or special occasions. If you do want to try it for day time, use a light hand to keep your look fresh and natural. We know contouring and highlighting can be a little intimidating, so we did the research on how to be a contouring pro -so you don’t have to!

Here are all of the basics you need to know about contouring and highlighting.

Step 1: Know Your Face Shape

Before you take a brush or sponge to your face, it is best to identify your face shape. According to Sephora’s Pocket Contour Class, a new mobile website created by your favorite makeup store to help teach the contouring basics, there are 4 different face shapes to chose from: oval, square, round, and heart-shaped. Figuring out the shape of your face will determine what angles will be the most flattering, as well as which parts of your face should be contoured.


Step 2: Where to Shade

While each shape has different needs, every type of face has common places to shade, including the sides of the nose, right under the cheekbones, and the forehead when using a bronzer or dark foundation. If you are looking to contour the bottom of your face, emphasis should be placed along the jawline.

Step 3: Where To Highlight

Once you’ve created shadow points on your face, highlighter should be applied to further accentuate the areas you have darkened. Focus mainly on the center of the forehead, on top of the cheeks and cheekbones, down the center of the nose, and above the chin. Blush should be applied last on the cheeks, following the strokes of highlight you’ve done on your cheeks.

Step 4: Blend, Blend, Blend

When all of your features have been addressed, your face will look pretty scary. Don’t panic! This is where blending comes in. Blend all of the products together, working away from the center of your face and into your hairline. The colors will look more natural once blended. Whether you apply blush before blending or after is completely up to you.

Here’s a handy infographic that further explains highlighting and contouring. Enjoy!

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Brooke Schuldt

Brooke Schuldt is a freelance writer interested in fashion, beauty, lifestyle and feminism topics. Her work has been featured on various print and online outlets, including Parents Magazine,, Ed2010, and Deux Hommes. When Brooke is not focusing on her magazine career goals, she can be found knitting, teaching herself French, or updating her personal blog. Her bucket list includes traveling around the world, a shopping spree at Kate Spade, and writing a New York Times Bestseller.

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