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Beauty Trends

Step-by-Step Guide: Contour And Highlight Your Face

by Beverly Hills MD

February 10 2017

Contour and highlight makeup is a relatively new trend everyone is trying to perfect. It’s basically foundation or powder in natural skin tones, from lighter to darker, designed to enhance your natural beauty.

What can a little makeup here and there do? A lot! By adding a darker shade under the cheekbones, around the temples, and under the jawline, contouring can do magic for framing your face and enhancing its angles. Applying highlight on your cheeks, chin, nose, and brow can effortlessly add layers of light and brighten up your look. Basically, when you’ve got the techniques down, you can minimize features while accentuating others simultaneously. It’s pretty amazing what it can do!

If you’re a beginner, opt for a powder (versus a cream) palette. It’s easier to achieve a more natural blended look.

Here are some benefits of the contour and highlight technique:

  • Enhance your cheekbones
  • Make the bridge of your nose appear thinner
  • Redefine your jaw line
  • Add a natural highlight to your cheeks
  • Define your eyelids
  • Emphasize your brow bone to make your eyes pop


Contour and Highlight | Beverly Hills MDBefore you go in to buy your perfect contour pallet make sure you invest in the correct brushes with the perfect angle so that you can achieve the natural look you are aiming for.

Once you found a compatible brush, practice gentle brushstrokes in a circular motion that will distribute the powder evenly throughout your face.

Make sure after every time you contour, you clean your brush very well before painting your face again. The darker pigments can get caught in the brush interfering with your next contour application


The first thing to keep in mind when contouring and highlighting for a natural look is to go a shade or two lighter and darker than your foundation. When picking out your shades you want to go for a matte look so that the shimmery highlighter will stand out and help you create the brightness your bone structure always wanted.


There is a big difference in how heavy you choose to apply the powders and highlighters. For an everyday look, you will want a lighter application as opposed to an evening look, which would consist of using a lot more product and different shades.

For a more natural application, less is actually more. While using less and blending it more, you will achieve a flawless look that will work for any special occasion.

Once your highlights and lowlights are applied in the correct areas of your face, it is time to begin blending. Use a round brush with short hairs in a light circular motion, blending from the nose area outwards. It is important to blend evenly and efficiently with the same amount of pressure. Make sure you keep blending even if you feel like you are overdoing it.

contour makeup | Beverly Hills MD

Here Are The Steps:

1. Apply Foundation

Start by applying foundation with your foundation brush that matches your skin tone. This is your base.

2. Map Your Face

Now we’re going to make a template on your face with your contour brush. Starting with the bronzer.

1. Start by tracing along your temples with the darker shade. If you have a large forehead, you can carry the line into the hairline to minimize it.

2. For cheekbones, find where the hollow part of your cheeks meets your cheekbones. Right after the hollow, where the bone begins is where you will want to place the dark shade. This will really bring out your cheekbones.

3. Trace either side of the nose, going a little bit narrower towards the tip if you would like to slim your nose. You can also add length to a shorter nose by carrying that contour all the way up into the brows.

3. Blend

Contour and Highlight | Beverly Hills MDGently blend what you have done thus far into the base of your foundation using your contour brush set, but keeping the tones neatly in place. You will want it to look natural but not spread it further than your template.

Another great tip is to use a “beautyblender” sponge to help it blend better with your foundation. It has both a fat and slim end which you can use for different areas of your face.

4. Highlight

Now it’s time to use the lighter foundation. This is applied underneath your eyes, the tip of your chin, either side of the darker shade on your cheekbones, the bridge of your nose, and a little in the center of the forehead. But it does not need to be applied to all of these. Start small and see what feels good for you.

A fan-shaped brush is ideal for this step as it gives you a smoother and softer look.

5. Set

Once your template is all blended in, go over your face with a big fluffy brush and some loose translucent powder. This will set the color in place.

Practice Makes Perfect

Don’t worry if you don’t nail it the first time. This process may take some practice. But once you get it down, it’s effortless. Learning how to enhance your natural beauty with just a bit of strategic makeup application will definitely boost your confidence.

Article updated: March 29, 2018
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