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Contour Like a Pro

Posted by on September 7, 2016

If you’re looking to take your beauty game to the next level, the technique of contouring may have caught your eye. While the few images you may have seen make contouring look more like a process of applying war paint than cosmetics, this trick really works. Today we’ll discuss how to choose the right makeup for contouring, how to apply it to even skin tone and correctly highlight your features, and where you can look for additional tips and tricks.

Choosing Your MakeupBeautiful Blonde Girl with Healthy blond Hair and perfect make up, beautiful skin. eye makeup, long eyelashes. Closeup of Beauty Woman face make up. Bright make-up with sexy red lips and perfect skin

Contouring is actually made up of two different components: shadowing and highlighting, for which you use two very different shades in the same skin tone range. While most of us are used to applying just one kind of foundation all over the face, the use of two colors (or more, for experts) is crucial. This contrast between light and dark accentuates the features you want to bring out and corrects flaws in your skin tone.

When first buying makeup for contouring, it’s often helpful to buy a kit. These typically include 2-3 different contouring shades, which you can pick based on your skin tone. Some contouring sticks have a color at each end, while others come in palettes with dark and light shades. We recommend a simple, two-color kit for beginners. Choose a highlighting color two shades lighter than your skin tone and a shadowing color two shades darker. Cream-based products are easier to blend successfully, so start with those.

Evening Skin Tone and Highlighting Your Features

Contouring can both smooth your skin tone and brings out the features you love the most, but to achieve this effect, you’ve got to put the right color in the right place. Start with evening your skin overall. Most people find their faces are darker in places and lighter in others. Around the hairline, skin is usually significantly lighter, because it doesn’t get as much sun due to hair. Ditto underneath the chin, where sunlight rarely reaches. These are places to put shadowing makeup.

On the other hand, the front of the nose, the middle of the forehead and the planes underneath the eyes are usually darker than we want, so place a light shade here. An upward V-shape in the middle of the forehead works well.

As a final step, place lines of shadowing right underneath the cheekbones to make them appear more prominent. Then blend everything smoothly, until you cannot see any lines between light and dark foundation. Apply eye makeup, blush along your cheekbones and lipstick or gloss, and boom … you’re done!

Pro Tip: A Video Is Worth a Thousand Words

If you want to see this process in action, we suggest you watch beauty bloggers on YouTube. They show you exactly where and how to place your makeup to achieve maximum results with contouring, and can put pictures to words in a very helpful way. Please let us know anything else you might want to learn in the comments below!


Thank you for your Interest in Minnesota School of Cosmetology.