So about a week ago I posted my very first YouTube video featuring how I like to contour and highlight. So I thought it would be rather fitting to have an accompanying blog post to discuss different techniques and some of my favorite products. Here’s the video if you haven’t seen it yet.
So firstly I think its important to discuss what exactly is highlighting and contouring when it comes to make up. When you apply your foundation (cream,liquid or powder), bb cream, tinted moisturizer, whatever it is you like, it can make the face appear rather one dimensional and flat. That’s where contouring and highlighting comes in. Its a great way to bring dimension and color back to the face and emphasize/recede points on the face. I made a little facial map of where I like to contour (the brown spots) and highlight (the light areas).
So when make up artists and the like talk about highlighting, simply put its a matter of accentuating the high points of the face so the cheek bones, brow bone, bridge of the nose, cupids bow (great way to create a more predominant pout), chin, and in between the eyebrows up onto the forehead. When it comes to contouring this is where one recedes concave areas of the face. So for example the hollows of the cheek (this is a great way to slim the face, or create accentuated cheek bones), the sides of the nose (great for straightening and slimming), around the temple/hair line, as well as the underside of the jaw line. The combination of highlighting the high points of the face and receding the “low” points of the face creates wonderful dimension but can also completely alter the shape of your face.
Now that we’ve discussed what contouring and highlighting actually means we can move on to the variety of products and techniques. Depending on your preference and skin type the products of choice and mode of application may vary.
Option 1: Highlighting and contour could consist of cream products only. This is a great technique for those with dry skin or who prefer cream products. In my video you can see that I use a creamy concealer (1-2 shades lighter then my skin) under my eye area in a triangle shape down the side of the nose, up the cheek bone towards the tail of the brow. This is the first stage of highlighting. Not only are you concealing under eye darkness but by dragging the product over the cheekbone accentuates this area making it more prominent and contrasting to the natural hollows of the cheekbones. You can stop here if you like for a more natural look.
Option 2: To accentuate the highlight you’ve created already and recede areas you can continue with contouring. If you want to use cream products to do this then by all means. Try using a foundation that’s 1-2 shades darker than your skin tone, you might already have this in your stash (try looking at the shades you would wear in the summer). Otherwise the Bobbi Brown foundation sticks are great for this or the Sonia Kashuk Cream Bronzer compact. They are super easy to use as you can mark out exactly where you want to apply your contour plus they are super creamy, and easy to blend. For an extra hit of highlight you could add a bit of cream highlight (normally shimmer based) to the tops of the cheek bones. Once you’ve completed your highlight and contour using cream products you can either stop here without adding any setting powder (that is if you suffer from extreme dry skin), otherwise you can add translucent powder to your face to set everything in place so it doesn’t smudge.
Option 3: To create an even stronger highlight and contour you can layer the cream products with powdered ones with corresponding shades. So use a matte bronzer/contour product where you placed your cream contour and a matte highlighting product to set the highlight so under the eye/cheekbone or where ever else you highlighted. To add a little extra pow to your look you can use a shimmer highlighter to further emphasis the cheekbones, but go light handed with these products so you don’t end up looking like a disco ball.
Once you’ve set the cream with corresponding powders you can stop here or go even one step further and add translucent powder to lock the cream and powder in place. I do however recommend that you go light handed with powder as it can easily create that dreaded cake face. If you feel you went over board spritz some of Mac’s Fix+ to refresh the skin and tone down the powder face.
Option 4: If your not a fan of cream products or suffer from oily skin then complete the same steps as mentioned above using only powder products. This pertains more specifically to contouring then highlighting. Add your cream highlight and set with translucent or light reflecting powder. Move on to your contour only using powdered bronzers and blend to your hearts content.
Now that we’ve got all of that out of the way we can move on to some of my favorite brushes and products to achieve both a natural or more made up look. When I highlight I like to use cream product specifically the Mac Pro Longwear Concealer in NW15 to brighten the under eye area and cheek bones. My favorite way to apply and bend this product is with my finger. The warmth from your fingers heats up the products for an easier and more seamless blend. Its rare that I highlight the bridge of my nose or my forehead due to time constraints but when I do I still use my fingers. For extra highlight on the cheekbones I love Mac’s Cream Color Base in Diamonds and for a powder I’m obsessed with TheBalm Mary-Lou Manizer.
Now for contouring I prefer a brush. When I use a cream product I either apply it straight from the stick or if its in compact form I like to dip my Real Techniques Expert Face Brush to apply. Its nice and tapered perfect for creating a sharp contour but also great for blending.
When I’m working with powdered products either to layer on top of the cream or on its own I swear by the Nars ITA brush. It has a great and unique thin rectangular shape which allows for extreme control of placement. It’s also wonderful for blending out.
Well guys and dolls those were some of my tips, tricks and techniques for contouring and highlighting. By no means are there any rules on how one should do this but rather a means of trial and error and ones own taste. Id love to hear about your favorite contour and highlight products, as well as some of the techniques you use so please do leave a comment 😀
Hugs from Beauty Land