Friday, May 23, 2014

Beauty 101: Contouring & Highlighting

I've been trying to type this post for...I don't know, say, three weeks now? If you haven't noticed, I haven't been featuring very many photos of my face this month, if at all. Here in San Diego, we have had the most insane weather, and I think it's been affecting the way I take photos (or at least, the way I appear in photos). I just couldn't get it right! I think I've finally got it this time, so let's take a crack at contouring and highlighting basics.

The first thing you're going to need is a good bronzer for your skin. You can also use an eyeshadow. Personally, I love using a taupe shadow for my contour when I don't want the sun-kissed look. However, I've recently been reaching for the Sonia Kashuk Undetectable Cream Bronzer that I mentioned in my April Favorites. What you choose is definitely a personal choice, and a lot of people are very particular about what they use.

For fair skin, like mine, I definitely recommend staying away from anything orange. If you have a deeper skin tone, you can get away with it, but if you are fair, you'll end up looking like an Oompa Loompa! And no matter what you skin tone, if you plan on contouring with a bronzer, I would definitely avoid shimmer. I've seen a few bronzers with shimmer that work, but it's usually very sparse and unnoticeable.

For Fair to Medium skin I recommend:

For Medium to Dark skin I recommend: 
Obviously, because I am a fair skinned girl, I tend to know a bit more about bronzers for fair skin. Whenever I do contouring on anyone with darker skin, I tend to use a brown eyeshadow that is suitable for the individual.

Moving on to the technique! First thing's first, let's find your cheekbone. Generally, it's pretty easy. Just make a fish face!

No contouring post is ever complete without a fish face photo. However, if you don't know how to make a fish face (which is more common than you think so don't be ashamed!), take a makeup brush, a pencil, or anything that's straight and round, and place it on the top of your cheekbone. From there, roll it down until you find the hollow of your cheek. 

When contouring and highlighting your face, most people almost always think of contouring your cheeks first and foremost, which is why I mentioned it first. It's also the part where most people struggle, because they tend to use too much product in the wrong place.

Whatever product you are using, it's going to be the same technique. Starting at your hairline, take your brush and very gently sweep the color into the hollow of your cheek. Focus the color near your ears and blend it into your hairline, as well as in toward your mouth. Don't go any farther than the outer third of your eye! That is the key to keeping it look natural. 

Another quick tip is to avoid blending downward. You can easily get the bearded lady effect by blending downward. Don't bring the color down, just use the brush to gently feather the product out. When in doubt, just pull the product into the hairline. This will keep everything looking natural and beard-free.

Yes, I am aware that this picture makes me look crazy. However, it's an important diagram for contouring and highlighting! The areas where I have marked the brown are the areas that are most commonly contoured, and the areas that are in white are the most common areas for highlighting.

For highlighting, I often like to take a small fluffy eye brush and dust my highlighter on the high points of my face. Be careful when highlighting. If you have oily skin, you may want to skip highlighting altogether. 

Honestly, it's a bit hard to really sit down and write a tutorial on contouring because it is so different for different people. Everyone has a different face shape and your contouring routine should cater to your specific wants and needs. But just keep this in mind: If you want a part of your face to recede (the hollows of the cheeks, the top of your forehead, the sides of your nose, etc.) use a darker color. If you want a part of your face to pop (the tops of your cheekbones, your chin, your brows, etc.), use a lighter color. The best advice I can give is to play with it and find what works best for you!

- d. 


  1. THANK YOU! It's one to thing to watch people contour on YouTube, it's another to have it in writing and this is just going to cement it in my head all the better. Also, thank you for the recommendations, I will try to see if I can find any!

  2. love it :)
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    my latest post is about how to make hair grow faster for those of you interested ;))


  3. This is such a lovely, elegant look which is perfect for everyday and during an evening out!! :)

    Layla xx