How to contour your face the right way


Contouring has been around for decades, but it has become especially popular in the past few years. If you do not have much experience with contouring, it may seem like an intimidating technique. However, once you learn how to contour your face the right way, you will see that the process isn’t as complicated as it seems.

You will need patience and practice to perfect your contour, but you will love your new look! The technique adds depth and definition to your features and gives you the bold, dramatic look so many people want.

What is Contouring?

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Contouring is the process of defining and enhancing your facial features with light and shadows. While foundation and concealer should match your skin tone, contouring adds darker or lighter colors to highlight or change the appearance of a particular part of your face.

You can virtually contour any area of your face to give it more definition. Most people who contour focus on their cheekbones, forehead, and jaw.

Products You Need for Contouring

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You can use a contour compact or other products such as eyeshadow, blush, and foundation.  Ultimately, your choice of products is up to you.  Everyone’s skin tone and makeup preferences are different, so you can try out a few options until you find what works best.

Powder contour works well for oily skin types because it usually creates a matte finish. It can be good for beginners, too, because it’s fairly easy to build up to precisely the amount you want. If you opt for powder contour, you will need a contour brush as well.

Cream contour is a better choice if you have dry skin or if you find that powder settles into fine lines on your face. You can either use your hands or a makeup sponge to apply the product.

The products you choose should either be two shades darker or lighter than your skin tone. Stick to products that match your undertones, too. If your skin is warm-toned, look for a reddish-brown shade. If you are cool-toned, look for a grayish-brown color.

How to Contour

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Once you have the right products, it’s time to put them to the test.  Makeup artists use many techniques to contour, and you can try them all.  Have fun while you learn how to make your nose appear smaller, define your jawline, or narrow your forehead!

Here are six steps to get the most out of your contour:

1. Identify your face shape.

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Knowing your face shape is an important first step when it comes to contouring.  Identifying your face shape will help you know what to accentuate. There are nine face shapes, but the most common are round, heart, square, rectangle, and oval.


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One way to find your face shape is to take a makeup free picture and trace the outline.  Another way is to draw the shape of your face as you look into a mirror.  Once you determine your face shape, decide what you want to accomplish with your contour. What areas of your face do you want to define?  Is there anything you want to hide or downplay? Are any features asymmetrical?

2. Start with primer and foundation.

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Before you contour your face, you should begin with moisturizer, primer, and foundation. Apply these products as you normally would to give yourself a flawless canvas.  Now is also the time to apply concealer if you want to cover up any blemishes.

3. Apply contour based on your face shape.

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When applying contour products, the key is to follow the natural shape of your face.  Customize your technique based on your unique facial features.


With round faces, the goal is generally to sculpt the jawline. Add some of the darker shade just underneath your jawline to give the illusion of a stronger jaw. 

You could also apply contour underneath your cheekbones, especially near the outer edges of your face. If you combine both of these steps, the contour should make the shape of the number “3” before you blend.


People with heart-shaped faces should focus on their forehead and cheeks when contouring. Start at the middle of your forehead and apply the contour in a sweeping motion down to your temples.

Then add some contour to the hollow of your cheeks. You can add the product to your jawline, too, but it may not be necessary to give your face a defined look.


If you have a square face, your goal may be to soften the edges. Focus on the perimeter of your face and blend the contour thoroughly to round out some of your facial features. Contour under the cheekbones can look great on square faces as well.


Like with square faces, the objective with rectangular faces is to soften the edges. Apply contour around the outer edges of your face and blend well to reduce the appearance of the angles. Avoid your temples and your chin, though.


For oval faces, contouring along the hairline can make the forehead look smaller. Contour can make your cheekbones look more defined, too, if you apply it in the hollows of your cheeks.

4. Blend.

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The way you blend the contour is just as important as where you apply it. Depending on what type of contour you use, you can blend with a brush, your fingers, or a makeup sponge.

Some people like more dramatic contour, and others like the makeup to look more subtle. It is generally recommended to blend until you see no sharp lines.  All the colors on your face should gradually blend together.

5. Add a highlighter.

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You can add a highlighter alongside your darker contour before you blend everything, or you could apply it as a separate step. Adding a highlighter is an excellent way to further accentuate your best features and make the contour pop.

One of the best places to highlight is the tip or bridge of your nose. You can also add the highlighter on your cheekbones right above your contour.

To make your eyes look brighter and your eyebrows look more defined, add some highlighter just above and below the arch of your eyebrows. If you want to accentuate your chin, put a little highlighter right in the center.

6. Set the final look.

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You will want your makeup to last all day, so setting the look is a necessary final step. If you have applied contour or highlight to your T-zone, use a setting powder on that area. Finally, use a setting spray on your entire face for staying power and hydration.

Remember that this is a general guide to contouring your face, but makeup is all about personal preference.  What is most important is that you feel confident and happy with the final look. 

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