2 Easy Ways to Contour Your Face Like a Makeup Professional

By now you’ve probably seen the somewhat shocking “before” photos of Kim Kardashian with her face almost completely painted in white highlighting and dark contouring makeup and thought “What’s the deal, yo?!?!” Well here’s the scoop: For most ladies, this level of extreme makeup application is both wholly unrealistic for everyday wear and super challenging to master. But while caking on makeup just to blend it to bits may seem totally crazy, you can use the technique for beauty good! Today we’re showing you how contouring can be used really minimally to polish your features annnd also how you can indulge in a slightly more done up look when the time is right, like when you’re attending late-summer weddings and other major occasions where you could use extra-extra oomph.

So no, you won’t end up looking like this (and neither did Kim — whether you love her or loath her, her makeup artist deserves major kudos!!). These IRL face charts are just to help you familiarize yourself with the lingo/at-a-glance zones that will help you create the blueprints for your preferred look:

Contouring: Creating shadows to make areas recede to give the illusion of a desired shape. For this application, you need to use a foundation or liquid bronzer that is one-to-two shades darker than your skin tone.

Highlighting: To bring out or enhance certain features, to make them more prominent. For this application, you need to use a concealer that is one-to-two shades lighter than your skin tone.

The real magic happens when these two aspects are blended, which especially for more dramatic looks, can take a chunk of time to master. Just remember to apply as little or as much as it takes for you to feel like a million bucks — everyone has different features, so remember modifications can be made depending on your preference.

EVERYDAY CONTOUR

You can refine your beauty regimen by adding subtle highlights and lowlights to your face just by using your go-to foundation, bronzer and concealer. We promise this WILL be your new go-to for everyday foundation application.

1. Begin by applying your favorite base foundation with a foundation brush — we used Laura Mercier Illuminating Tinted Moisturizer in Bare Radiance ($43). You can see here, you should apply it in a very thin layer fanned around your face.

2. Use your fingers to blend the foundation even further. The heat from your fingertips helps to melt the product into an even more natural-looking state.

3. Begin contouring with your go-to bronzer like Hoola by Benefit ($49) in the following places:
– along the hollows of your cheeks
– along your jawline and blended down into your neck
– across the highest point on your forehead and blended into your temples
– along the sides of your nose

4. Now apply a concealer that is one-to-two shades lighter than your skin tone — I used Maybelline Concealer Stick in Light ($5) — and do so fairly liberally as you highlight in the following places:
– along the bridge of your nose
– in the center of your forehead
– in the center of your upper lip and chin
– on the points directly to the sides of your nostrils (where it tends to get a little rosie for most gals)

5. Blend gently with your fingers.

6. Set the highlights with a translucent powder — we love Japonesque Velvet Touch Finishing Powder ($26). This will also help to blend any lines of demarcation from the bronzer as well.

See the subtle, but much more polished look from beginning to end? Finish your face with natural looking makeup — that’s basically the power trio of a lightweight mascara, natural-toned eyeliner + a lip and cheek tint — and you’re pretty, polished and ready to rock your day in 15 minutes flat!

PHOTO-READY CONTOUR

This amount of application really takes your look to the next level. It’s definitely a more dramatic approach — perfect for those major events and occasions when you’ll be front and center with the flash bulb all night (+ for eternity in those pics!) — but with practice it’s still an attainable look for the average gal to pull off.

1. Apply a slightly heavier amount of your base foundation with a foundation brush for a little more all-over coverage.

2. Blend with your fingers.

3. Now apply your contouring color foundation or a liquid bronzer that’s a shade or two darker than your skin tone — I’m using Japonesque Liquid Light Bronzer 03 ($28) with a foundation brush in the following areas:
–  along the hollows of your cheeks
– along the jawline and into your neck
– across your forehead and down onto your temples
– along the sides of your nose

4. Blend with your fingers.

5. Apply your highlighting concealer liberally with a concealer brush or a smaller foundation brush to the following areas of your face:
– along the bridge of your nose
– in the center of your forehead
– in the center of your upper lip and chin
– on the points directly to the sides of your nostrils
– right above and below the hollows of your cheeks

6. Blend with your fingers.

The reveal here is much more dramatic, but still refined and not at all cake-y. This amount of makeup will definitely hold up to a flash, so DIY that updo, apply that killer smokey eye and get your pose on!

Have you dabbled in contouring? Or are you a contour pro? Share your best makeup hacks with us in the comments below. 

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2 thoughts on “2 Easy Ways to Contour Your Face Like a Makeup Professional

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