How to Contour and Highlight Perfectly

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Applying makeup is truly an art form. Contouring and highlighting are makeup trends that many woman want to learn and master because it can give you a perfectly sculpted face. Highlighting and contouring your face will instantly add an extra dose of gorgeousness to your face! Contouring can literally allow you to change the shape and look of your face without the need for painful and unnecessary surgery. Highlighting allows you to take your best features and proudly show them off. Cargo Cosmetics makeup artist, Annesley Broadhead says, “Contouring and highlighting plays with shadow and light.” Together, contouring and highlighting can take your face from average to fabulous.

What is the purpose of highlighting and contouring?

The purpose of contouring and highlighting the face is to showcase your best features and minimize any flaws. There are a few ways to contour and highlight. Many makeup artists will use a mix of light and dark foundations and powders to achieve a sculpted face. There are many different products that you can use to achieve natural looking results. Now that we know the reason for highlighting and contouring, how do we do it?

Here’s how to highlight and contour your face

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When you contour, your cheekbones pop, your face glows and your bone structure instantly looks chiseled. Remember, practice makes perfect when it comes to contouring.


Pro Tip: Pick a bronzer that’s 1-2 shades darker than your skin tone.

Use an angled brush and matte bronzer in the hollows of your cheeks and blend up and out away from the face for a simple and defined look. Extend the bronzer up and out towards the temples and into the hair-line for a stronger definition.

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Place a highlighter on top of your cheekbones for an extra punch. This will bring light to the face as well as create more defined angles.


Pro Tip: Your highlighter should be at least two shades lighter than your skin tone. It is important to draw light onto the face. If you are unsure where to place it, just think of all the places on the face that naturally reflect light.

Always finish any contouring look with a sweep of bronzer along the chin and blend up along the side of the jaw bone. Lightly dust any remaining bronzer down the neck to reinforce the natural look of your contour. You always want your neck and face to match.

For a really strong angle, use a liquid highlighter just below the hollows of the cheeks and this will magnify your contour giving the illusion of higher cheekbones.

Chiseling the chin is very simple. Highlight the center of the chin and use a matte bronzer on the outer edge. Contour from the outside corner of the lip at a downward angle towards the point of your chin.


A trick to round off the forehead and making it appear smaller is to use an angled brush to lightly contour by sweeping it across the outer hairline of the forehead and working your way towards the outer center.

Highlight down the center of the forehead and blend out.


The nose is one of the areas on the face that women like most to contour. Start by lightly shading in the inner hollow area between your eye and the top of your nose, and then carefully sweep your brush down the sides of the bridge of your nose. Shading a little above the nostrils also changes the shape of your nose and blends with the rest of the contour.

Finish it off with a highlighter down the center of the nose and blend. This will reflect light and create a nice focal point.

When should you highlight and contour?

Most makeup artists do not recommend contouring and highlighting on a daily basis. Instead, they think it’s best to highlight and contour your face if you are attending a big event or having professional photos taken. “Makeup works with light,” says Nick Barose, makeup artist for Lupita Nyong’o. “For me, I can highlight and contour for a photo shoot because I know the light is going to be controlled. Contouring and highlighting for everyday just isn’t realistic unless you are a celebrity walking around with perfect lighting.”

Many people have their own opinions about when a woman should contour and highlight her face; however, it’s completely up to you. Some women prefer a more dramatic highlight and contour while others opt for a more natural look. There is no right answer to this question. Every woman should do what makes them feel comfortable and beautiful.

What are the pros and cons?

A lot of women can benefit from contouring and highlighting when it is done correctly.

• The appearance of a thinner face
• Sharper jaw line
• Higher cheekbones
• You can emphasize your best features
• You can minimize your flaws


• There is one drawback of highlighting and contouring and that is practice makes perfect. You probably are not going to get it right the very first time you try. You may use too much product and look too dark/orange or you may use the wrong shade for your skin tone but don’t give up. No one can perfect highlighting and contouring in one day.

Now that we have mastered highlighting and contouring the last thing to remember is to blend, blend, and blend. Whether it’s a subtle look or a more dramatic one, it should always look natural. How do you highlight and contour? Let us know in the comments.

By: Chantel Alford

Photo Source:, Glambox Cosmetics




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