Beginner’s Series: How to Contour (Video!)

Hey everyone! So I thought I’d put together a quick post talking about contouring because it’s been so incredibly popular for the couple of years. Contouring is actually a pretty simple idea. You’re just adding shadow to the areas of you face you want to recede from view and highlighting and brightening the areas you want to pop or focus on. Essentially, you are defining selected areas of your face and playing with light and shadows to make your facial features appear a certain way. The idea of enhancing your features with color seams a bit complicated, but honestly, I think it’s pretty straightforward once you get the hang of it, so here are some of my best tips.

Firstly, you need to select a contouring product. Starting with textures, there are many products on the market from creams to powders. This depends entirely on preference, but my favorite cream formula I’ve tried is the Smashbox Step-by-Step cream contouring sticks and my favorite powder formulas are the Nars bronzer in Laguna and the Lorac Pro Contour palette, which I will be demonstrating how to use in the tutorial above. When looking at texture, I think that it’s most important that the products be super bendable and have a natural looking finish.

Next, you need to find the right shade for your skin tone. I always look for a cool toned shade that is dark enough to create proper definition without looking unnatural. I usually go for grey toned browns because they provide me more natural looking definition. I recommend trying out different shades before investing in a contour color because some colors can appear muddy looking on the skin.

If you’re trying out contouring for the first time, I definitely recommend investing in a contour kit so that you can really play around with different shades and colors on your skin. My favorite kit is the Lorac Pro Contour palette, but many other brands offer contour kits such as Anastasia Beverly Hills, Kat Von D, Smashbox, Tarte, Nars, Cover FX, and many more.

When applying your contour, you want to focus on defining your cheek bones, forehead, and even your chin and nose if you’re interested. For my cheeks, I like to imagine a line running from the top of my ear to the corner of my mouth. This should create a line that appears to underline your cheekbones. This can vary a bit from person to person so to double check, you can find your cheekbones by sucking in your cheeks or making a fish face. Now draw you contour line starting at your hairline and moving towards your mouth. I usually don’t draw past the arch of my brow because I think that looks unnatural and intense. Once your line is drawn, use your brush to blend the product in circles upward. Make sure you are blending upward because if the product moves to far down your cheeks it can appear as if your face is drooping or sagging, not a good look. I usually come back later with a light matte highlighting shade to clean up the bottom of my contour to prevent this. Now for your forehead, I start at my temples applying a light amount of contour around my hairline and blending out. I like to keep the center of my forehead, the area directly above my nose, bright so I don’t apply any contour there. If you have a large forehead, you can use contouring to your advantage by applying it along the hairline across your entire forehead and blending down. This will make your forehead appear shorter.

In terms of highlight, you are much more flexible in your product options. I love the highlight that comes in the Lorac Pro Contour palette, but I also have other favorites such as Mac Mineralized Skinfinish in Soft and Gentle and Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick in Pink Quartz. The purpose of this product is to bring light to an area, so it should be applied to the high points of the face. I apply this shimmery highlight on my cheekbones, down my nose, on my brow bone, and inner corner of the eye. I also use matte highlights to brighten areas without using any shimmer, an example of this is Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Diffused Light, Laura Mercier Secret Brightening Powder, Mac Shaping Powder in Accentuate and the beige and yellow highlight powders in the Lorac Pro Contour palette. I use these to set my under-eye concealer to brighten that area and to highlight my forehead. I also use apply it on my jaw between my contour and my jawline to clean up and sharpen my contour. I demonstrate this in my tutorial above.

Although this may sound complicated, contouring really isn’t that hard. Check out my tutorial above to see exactly how I contour.


(Brushes: Lorac Pro Contour, Sephora Pro Contour #74, Nars Yachiyo Brush)