Contouring And Highlighting: Is It For You?

Contouring And Highlighting: Is It For You?

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at
Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at

I was not into makeup as an adolescent.

In fact, the only makeup I knew how to wear was mascara and lip gloss, until I was a senior in high school. I distinctly remember, during winter break of my senior year of high school, I thought it would be cool to make my eyes look like Egyptian eyes. I took my mother’s eyebrow pencil, and lined my eyes in a swooping fashion, (not knowing at the time it was called a cat-eye. Nor did I know that there was a difference between brow liner and eye liner).

Applying makeup wasn’t something my mother sat me down and taught me

and of course, I didn’t have the internet or YouTube, to show me how to apply my makeup. In college, I remember watching a friend apply foundation, followed by powder, and I decided to add that to my makeup routine. So that is how I wore my makeup for many years; foundation, powder, blush and a cat-eye.

A few years ago, I discovered makeup tutorials, and a whole new world opened up to me!

I watched a video on how to highlight and contour, (which I’m convinced was a technique that gained popularity due to Kim Kardashian), and I was amazed at how much of a difference it made on the person’s face. I’d heard of girls doing this before, but I had never seen it done.  According to the video I watched, I learned that contouring gives depth to certain parts of your face, or minimizes certain features, while the highlighter makes certain features stand out. You can use highlighting and contouring to make your nose look smaller, your cheek bones look more defined, and to give your face a fresh glow. Highlighting and contouring can also make someone look like a completely different person, which is not always a positive thing, in my opinion! However, if done correctly, it can make you look younger.

I read an article on the recently, and I really liked the tips that were given about highlighting and contouring.  They had some simple techniques, that even I can replicate!

Here are the tips from the article, given by makeup artists Ashleigh Ciucci, Troy Surratt and Mally Rancal.


Image courtesy of Photostock at

Image courtesy of Photostock at

According to Ciucci, you only need 2 for contouring and highlighting; a matte shading cream [or powder], and a highlighter. The benefit of a cream shading cream, is that you can apply it with your finger-tips and get a more natural look. Powder makeup can work just as well, just make sure to choose a sheer formula, in order to achieve a softer contour. If you do choose to use a cream, the rest of your makeup should also be cream; and if you choose powder, the rest of you makeup should be powder, to get the most natural, and not caked-on finish. You want your contour to look as natural as possible.
The rule of thumb for contouring is to use one shade darker than your natural skin tone. Stay away from anything that looks like a bronzer.
Remember the glitter-trend of the 90’s? I remember it well, using glitter gel on my cheeks to give myself a fairy-like glowing appearance. However, this is not the look I desire to achieve in my 40’s! Avoid anything that resembles glitter. It just doesn’t look natural and might even give you a chalky or pasty appearance. Opt for a highlighter that matches your skin tone, but with a little bit of shine. A cream highlighter works well, because it mimics your own skin texture. If your fair skinned, use a soft pink highlighter with slight shine. For warmer skin tones, use warmer or golden shades of highlighter.
The tools you use matter. If you’re going with cream formulas, use your fingertips, so that it melts into your skin, giving a more seamless appearance. If you’re going with powder, a soft fan brush works best.

Image courtesy of Teeratas at

Image courtesy of Teeratas at

Not sure where to start your contour? The best way to find out is to suck in your cheeks, find the hollows, and “from the tops of the hollows inward, shade along-and just beneath the sunken area, stopping about an inch from the corner of your mouth, then blend well with your finger or a sponge” says makeup artist Troy Surratt. Bam! Instant cheekbones! When slimming your nose, start at your brows, and shade with cream or powder down both sides of the bridge of your nose. Again, the tools you use matter, so use a small shadow brush to do this.
The one mistake women make, which I’m guilty of as well, is overdoing it with the highlighter! Makeup artist Mally Roncal uses this technique, “I lightly coat my pointer, middle, and ring fingers with highlighter, and then rub them against the same fingers on the other hand,” she says. “Tap your fingers up and down your cheekbones, and then dab whatever’s left over on your brow bones, the center of your chin, and just one tap on the tip of your nose,” This ensures you won’t use too much. The highlighting step is an important one, since that is it what brings the light back into your face, says Ciucci.
After all of the contouring and highlighting, you want to make sure that all the makeup is all blended in seamlessly. You don’t want to see lines on your face. A blending sponge works best to blend creams, while a fluffy, natural fibered, brush works with powder. Blend in a circular buffing motion, holding your blending sponge, or brush, really softly to get the most seamless finish, says Ciucci.

Image courtesy of Marin at

Image courtesy of Marin at

This is another area I have a difficult time with. I never know what shade or type of blush to go with. Ciucci suggests using a cream blush; soft peach or pink for fair skin, or soft plum for darker complexions. Blush needs to be blended onto the apples of your cheeks, in order to give you a natural, and not doll like, look.
These techniques will give you the most natural look, which is exactly what we are trying to achieve.

I have to say, that I’ve tried these techniques, along with a few of my own, and I like the way it looks.

Do you have any tips to add?  Leave a comment below. Is highlighting and contouring something that you would consider trying, if you never have before? Tell me what you think.

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