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Makeup Tricks: How to Contour and Highlight Your Face

Posted by Mandy | Sunday July 18, 20103 comments
Perhaps you weren’t born with a perfect bone structure and complexion, but with subtle shading and highlighting, you can transform your natural contours into much more.  Cathy Morrison models the technique for this tutorial.

Before you begin, study your face: you want to find and enhance what you already have rather than creating different structures. Remember that dark parts absorb light and seem smaller, while paler areas catch the light and appear larger. You can do your whole face over or focus on just one element.


Dip an angle brush onto the contour powder, tap off the excess. Here we used a Sigma 168 brush with MAC Sculpting powder in 'Sculpt'. You can also try Make Up For Ever's Sculpting Kit.

Place angle brush near your temple and drag down to the hollows of your cheeks. Use a light hand and repeat until you achieve desired effect, blending well. Swipe any leftover powder on the sides of forehead to create more depth.

Highlight your brow and cheekbones with a light shimmer champagne powder like Lise Watier 'Nuits Magiques' Illuminating Face Powder or a cream highlighter like Giorgio Armani Fluid Sheer in #2. Start from your brow bones and in a “C” motion, work your way to your cheekbones. This will emphasize your bones, brighten up the eye area and create a youthful glow.

Jaw and Chin

Swipe contour powder across your jaw line and chin for a more defined look that also has a slimming effect.  The dark color creates the illusion that it’s receding.


Using a small flat brush like Annabelle Large Shader Brush, apply a bone shade that has minimum shimmer, like MAC Shaping Powder in 'Emphasize' to the bridge of your nose. Next, dip a small angled brush with contour powder to shade both sides of your nose. Start near the inner end of the eyebrow and lightly drag down. Taper off inward towards the center when you reach bridge of your nose. Repeat on the other side. Take a clean fluffy brush and swipe your nose up and down to soften any harsh lines. 


You can brighten tired-looking eyes with a dusting of light pink-beige powder like MAC Shaping Powder in 'Accentuate' on the inner corner of your undereye area.

Have you used these techniques before?
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on September 29, 2013  Mah_kal  5,590 said:

I'm going to give that a try. :)

on September 29, 2013  Guest said:

Wow that was really helpful
thankkkk yoooooou

on July 20, 2010  wilmgayer  103 said:

Um.....I kinda do, but not a lot.....I'm very pale naturally, so I don't use too much make-up. I skip the blush completely (don't want to look like I'm blushing 24/7) and use a little bit of highlight/bronzer (the powder bronzer I use is Estee Lauder....). I suck in my cheeks (making a fish face) and brush the bronzer under my cheekbones. I blend it well and up onto my temples. Then, I use a little bit of bronzer under/on my jawbone to make it more noticeable.

However.....the other way to do it is to put bronzer under your cheekbones, add a little blush on top of your cheeks (i.e. apple of your cheeks), and add some highlighter on top (but I don't do that....so.....).

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