Highlighting & Contouring Part I: The Basics

Image via BeautyBanter.com
Image via BeautyBanter.com

Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about highlighting and contouring. It’s a pretty simple concept, but can be a little overwhelming. There are so many techniques, I’ll it admit it took me a lot of trial and error to find what works for me. And what works for me may not always work for you.

So I’m going to try and lay down the basics first and then film a tutorial on my personal technique. If you have any questions or input feel free to comment.

So here we go…

What is highlighting?

Highlighting draws attention to specific areas or features of the face you want to bring attention to, by using lighter colors.

What is contouring?

Contouring does the exact opposite of highlight by deepening or drawing features in by using darker shades, usually a bronzer or foundation/concealer one to two shades darke than your skin tone.

Face Shape and Why it Matters:

Sculpting the face using highlighting and contouring can vary in method but shares one common goal. That goal is to call attenention to your best features while distracting away from the less flattering. Face shapes can be tricky because most people don’t fit perfectly into one shape. In fact most people are a variation of many shapes. Don’t fret if you aren’t quite sure which shape fits you best. Remember to highlight the center and contour the outside and you’re golden. 😉


Most consider the oval shape the most flattering because of it’s symmetry. Because of this highlighting and contouring aren’t really necessary because you aren’t trying to recreate the shape of your face….because, well, it’s perfect. But dusting bronzer along the cheeks, temples, and chin to create a natural looking glow will enhance you’re already amazing features.  In fact, Oval shapes can recreate any makeup trend without a worry. Lucky you.

Round is considered to be the most youthful looking due to it’s fullness around the center of the face. This shape is shorter and wider with full cheeks and a rounded chin.

Highlight: Forehead, under eyes, down the nose, and chin to bring attention to the center of the face.
Contour: From the temples, down through hollows of the cheeks, and jawline to creat the illusionof an oval shape.
Square face shapes are symmetrical and the same width at the forehead, cheeks, and jawline.
Highlight: Center of forehead and nose, under eyes, and chin to bring attention to center of the facee.
Contour: The outer corners of the hairline, and outer corners of jawline to create a rounder shape.

Heart shape is more like and inverted triangle than a literal heart: wider at forehead and narrow at the chin.
Highlight: Chin to widen it, and under eyes and along forehead to call attention to the center.
Contour: Temples and cheekbones to slim out the wider proportions.


Pear shaoed is broadest at the cheeks and jawline, an more narrow at the temples and forehead.
Highlight: Forehead to make it wider and under eyes , along the nose and chin.
Contour: Under cheeks and along jawline to narrow the appearance.

Kim Kardashian is the perfect example of a n amazing highlight and contour method.

None of this is etched in stone. Play around with different shapes to find what is right for you. My shapes is round and I do my best to call attention to the center of the face while contouring the outer corners.




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