Thursday, April 30, 2015

HOW TO: Highlight and Contour - Beginner Friendly

Highlighting and contouring really have become this makeup trend and craze that has been completely exploited and saturated. Makeup artist have been contouring clients for years, but with the help of social media, it has taken on a new plateau.  We see the before and afters and have both sentiments of adoration or dissatisfaction.  The truth of the matter is, when done correctly highlighting and contouring can truly enhance your natural beauty, without transforming you into someone else.  This article and step by step instructional guide is designed to educate those who are novices with the big H&C.  I will offer guidelines for all face shapes and show you how I apply them to my face.

The rules of H&C are simple. Contouring creates shadows and plays down the feature. It's literally the main thing that can reshape the face. Highlighting is the contrast that plays up the feature.  Whatever gets highlighted will stand out and looked "raised." What's not so simple, or what one has to play with to get it right is what areas on the face to address.  The desired face shape is an oval.  Who said it was? You know how that story goes... At the end of the day, it really is about what is most flattering - oval or not. So the first step would be to figure out what features you want to accentuate.  If you want to achieve an oval face shape, then you have to determine your face shape. Notice - there is no suggested contouring on the oval shape and only contouring of the chin on the oblong shape; that is because oval is the desired shape so only highlighting is suggested. For an oblong shape, the goal is to shorten the chin, so we contour to down play the length.

Retrieved from
April 23, 2015
The H&C chart above is a good guide for determining where to highlight and contour on your face shape... that is if you desire the oval shape.  Truth of the matter is, if you love your face shape... then just again, reshape what you think is not so hot.  It may just be your forehead, cheeks, nose, chin or eyes that you want to contour or a combination. A full H&C more than likely includes all of those features.  So, once you determine what features you want to target, use the following steps and similar products to get you going.  Start off with very little product to trying fuller coverage, for your skin needs. This will give you an idea of how much is enough to achieve your desired H&C.

Ideal Beginner Products

To venture into this full face fever start of with the following makeup products and tools:
  • skin tone liquid / cream foundation
  • concealer / cream foundation 2 shades lighter than your skin tone
  • foundation powder 2 shades darker than your skin tone
  • foundation powder that matches your skin tone
  • translucent or yellow tone loose powder
  • Optional - shimmering highlight pressed or loose powder
  • 2 Face Secrets Ultimate Deluxe Sponge Wedge
  • Fluffy powder brush
  • small head blush brush

Step 1 - Apply your skin tone shade foundation to your face.  Blend it out very well.

Step 2 - Apply the concealer / cream foundation to the areas that you want to accentuate.  Here's a quick guide for the features of the face mentioned above.

Forehead - Vertically, start from the top of the brow and extend  about an inch and a half away from the hair line. Horizontally, extend to the middle of the brow creating an upside down triangle or auditorium type shape.  When you blend, you can move the product further out or keep it in the applied area.

Nose - Sometimes the nose is done as an extension of the forehead. Bring the highlight down from the middle of the brows to the tip of the nose. The width of the highlight is what you need to determine for your nose shape. Draw a thinner line for a smaller more defined nose.

Under Eye and Cheeks - For more angular features apply in an upside down triangle under the eye, extending to the top of the cheek bone. For softer feature, round the shape out instead of using a point, still extending down to the top of the cheek bone.  At an angle bring the concealer in an up and outward motion right at the end of the eye shape. This gives the face a lifted appearance.

Chin - In many chin structures, there is an indented line below the lip that marks where the chin begins.  If you have this natural line, begin highlighting from that line, down to the bottom of the chin, without going beneath the chin.  And again, it really depends on how long or short you want your chin to appear.  If you want a shorter looking chin, only highlight a small portion of the chin. The contouring will do the rest.

Step 3 - Blend the highlight into the foundation shade so that the colors melt into each other. Blend the highlight first, then blend it into the foundation where the two meet. You can use a damp wedge sponge (I prefer Face Secrets Deluxe Ultra Wedge from Sally's), a beauty blender or oblong blending sponge.

Step 4 - Set the Under eye and Cheek highlight. Use a yellow or translucent loose powder to set. For fair skin, a translucent powder with pink undertones;  medium to dark and deeper skin, use a yellow toned powder.

Step 5 - Contour. The highlight and contour chart above is an excellent guide for beginners to illustrate product placement. Similarly to the highlight, the contour has an application guide as well. For beginners, using a powdered foundation that is 2 shades darker than your skin tone.   A powdered contour is the preferred learning product.  You have to get accustomed and proficient in blending of the cream foundation and highlight products.  Once you have learned your desired areas to contour, or product placement, then you can enhance your contour with a cream product.   The best brush for this application is small domed or angle blush brush. I prefer the Loew Cornell Maxine's Mop 270 in 3/4 inch. It's the right size to contour the entire face, blend and to contour the nose and eye.

Forehead - Apply the contour shade on the outer perimeter of the head, on the left and right near the temples.  If your forehead is long, shade the entire perimeter.

Nose and Eyes - Contouring of the nose and eyes is not illustrated on the chart above, but they can be very flattering for wider noses and hooded eyelids.  Shade the sides of the nose, lining the highlighted area. Start in the middle of the nose near the bridge. Bring the color down, cutting the nostril and around under the tip of the nose.  Then bring the contour up into the eye, under the brow, through the eye and in the crease. Place the shade right below the brow bone to define the crease area in the eye.

Jawline - This area is very important for round and squarer shaped faces. In many cases, you may have to shade a larger area surrounding the jawline. But for beginners, stick to this area and then learn to work your way out for a more chiseled look.  Most makeup artist will have you make the "fish face" by sucking in your cheeks to reveal the hallow in your  cheek and to contour on that line toward the mouth.  I think it's a good way to identify where the contour should stop.  So begin right in front of your ear, bring your brush down on a diagonal that is parallel to the Under eye and Cheek highlight line and stop right at the beginning of the hallow in the cheek.

Chin - This is fairly easy and also accentuates the lip and chin highlight.  Right above the chin highlight and under the lip, shade the area in a horizontal motion, not extending past the length of the lip.

Step 6 - Blend and Set.  Experience has taught me that you can do both in one step.  Grab your  skin toned setting powder.  The formula is of course up to you and should be suited for your skin needs. Take a fluffy powder brush, swirl it in the powder. Tap of excess and begin setting the areas that were not affected by the highlight or contour - around the mouth and below the jawline - by using a patting motion.  Now buff out those areas by swirling the brush in constant circular motion. Then pick up a little more powder and begin blending out the contour by swirling. Finally, sweep under the eye to remove an excess under eye setting powder.

Visual Tutorial

I highlight like an oval shape and contour like a heart shape. I love under eye highlighting, which also encompasses the cheek bone highlight.  To keep the face symmetrical, I highlight and contour the nose, forehead and chin.  It really is a personal preference that is flattering to my face shape which is already oval- esque.  For an added glam, I also love a shimmering highlight.  There are plenty of drug store products to choose from and you can even use shimmering eyeshadows as well.

My goal is to showcase how to bring shape and dimension to the face without completely altering your appearance - where you still look like you, just a beautifully enhanced you.  Watch the tutorial below to see how I H&C and see the quality of the drug store brand products used in the video.  The products used are listed.

Enjoy and good luck!


Products Used In The Video

  • Foundation - Maybelline Fit Me Dewy and Smooth in 330 Toffe
  • Foundation - L'Oreal True Match Powder in W7
  • Highlight - Maybelline Fit Me Concealer in 25 Medium
  • Highlight - Ben Nye Luxury Banana Powder
  • Shimmering Highlight -  Laura Geller Baked Body Frosting in Sugar Glow
  • Contour - Black Radiance Bronze Glow
  • Cream Blush (Not Shown) - NYX Stick Blush Hibiscus
  • Tool - Wedge Sponge Deluxe Ultra Wedge w/ Vitamin E (Hydrophilic Foam)
  • Tool - Loew Cornell's 270 Maxine Mop Brush 3/4 
  • Tool - M.A.C 160 Powder Brush