Face contouring makeup guide

It used to be the case that naturally chiselled cheekbones were just the luck of the draw, and a structured jawline could only be achieved with layers of strong, dramatic makeup, but the latest trend for face contouring has changed everything. With new makeup products like cream foundations, gel brow pencils and highlighting creams able to create a more subtle illusion using different shades of your skin tone, you can get that airbrushed effect that looks like you’ve stepped straight out of a glossy magazine!
So how do you get that famous Kim Kardashian glow? Which products are best to create a contoured face and what technique should you use to make sure you end up with a natural look? If you want to try for a flawless finish at home, read on for our step-by-step guide to applying face contouring makeup.

Makeup products for face contouring

In your face contouring kit, you will need:

  • Stick or liquid foundation in your skin tone.
  • Dark foundation (roughly one to two shades darker than your skin), or a brow gel pencil. Although it’s often called ‘extreme contouring’, you may want to opt for subtle illusion rather than tribal warrior! When you’re picking out your colour, natural is better, so don’t go to the extreme end of the scale if you have pale skin, for example.
  • Highlighting cream.
  • Setting powder. Nude, subtle shades that are slightly translucent are best.
  • Highlighter powder. Go for golden, glowing tones if you have medium or dark skin and a pearly effect for lighter tones. Avoid anything that looks too glittery.
  • Blusher. Again, go with a shade that suits your complexion. Warm skin tones should opt for peachy colours, cool skin tones for rose tints.
  • A large circular brush for powder, plus medium and small brushes for blending and a fan brush for highlighting.

You can also apply contour powder, rather than foundation or stick makeup – employ the same principles and search out those that match your skin tone, use a darker powder or subtle shade of brown eyeshadow for your contouring lines, and highlighting powder for the sections of your face you want to emphasise.

The main thing to note is to choose one product and stick to it – so if you use one cream cosmetic, make them all cream, and the same for powder makeup.

Step 1: Prepare your skin

Cleanse and moisturise first as normal, removing any existing makeup from your face. Select a good spot next to a mirror with plenty of natural light if possible. Tie your hair back and you’re ready to start.

Step 2: Mid-tones

Start by dabbing on the foundation that’s closest to your natural skin tone. Smooth all over your face with your fingers or a circular brush, taking care that there are no harsh lines and that you blend well around the jawline.

Step 3: Shading

Next, select a dark pigment foundation, and sweep lines under your cheekbones, around your hairline and to the sides of your forehead. If you’re not sure where the line of your cheekbones is, suck your cheeks in and run the brush down the hollow.

Again, you can use a medium circular brush, apply directly with a foundation stick or smooth on with your fingers. Add a little to either side of your chin and along the sides of your nose – you might find a brow gel pencil is more precise in these areas. Don’t blend just yet.

Step 4: Highlighting

Take your highlighting cream and apply in the areas you want to stand out, starting with the triangles under your eyes and across the top of your cheeks. Dab highlights down your nose, on your upper lip and in the centre of your chin, then draw several strokes going up and outwards in a fan shape from the top of your nose to the middle of your forehead.

This stage is where you can have a little more control over your look; you should work with your face shape and shouldn’t try to change your features, but you can draw attention away from areStep 2: as that you’re self-conscious about and accentuate those you like. Apply less highlighter to a big chin or large nose, and likewise only highlight the centre of your forehead and above the eyebrows if you have a larger forehead.

Step 5: Blend and set

Using a medium blending brush or sponge, blend the lighter areas first, so that you don’t end up with any dark smudges where they shouldn’t be. Then use a different brush to blend in the darker tones – take your time to make sure the finish is as natural as possible. Once you’re happy, take a large circular brush and dust some loose powder over it to set.

Step 6: Finishing touches

Finish up with some blusher on the apples of your cheeks – find these by smiling in the mirror and sweeping the brush in circles on the plumpest part of your cheeks. Next, dip the fan brush in some highlighting powder and use sparingly on the very top of your cheekbones, the tip of your nose, middle of your chin and across the brow bones.

Eyes and lips can be decorated with your usual cosmetics. You may find you have to use dark makeup to make your eyes a little heavier than normal, balancing the strong effect of your contoured face. Use eyeliner on both the top and bottom eyelids if desired, and finish with a couple of coats of mascara. Keep lips more neutral and glam up your look with false lashes for an extra dimension!

Step 1: Prepare your skin

Step 2: Apply foundation

Step 3: Shading

Step 4: Highlighting

Step 5: Blend and set

Step 6: Finishing touches

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