Best Contouring Makeup and Tips for Beginners
Not sure how to blend contour makeup? You’re not alone. Many of us are just not sure where to start with contouring or how to apply it properly. Contouring takes a bit of practice, but once you master it, you can create definition and really take your makeup to a pro level.
In this guide, we will show you how to blend your contour makeup, how to apply it and which products to use.
What’s Contour Makeup?
Contour makeup, or contouring, is a technique used to sculpt and shape the face. The technique uses shades that are slightly darker or lighter than your skin color to create flattering highlights and shadows.
Contouring is both an art and a science. To get it right, you need to:
- Choose the right shades. If your contour makeup is too dark or too light, your contour lines will be obvious and unflattering.
- Apply each shade to the right area of the face. The goal is to sculpt the face and create dimension. Placing your dark and light shades in the wrong places can leave your face looking “off.”
While contour makeup isn’t absolutely necessary, it can help take your look to the next level.
But how do you apply contour makeup? Follow our step-by-step guide below.
Step-By-Step How to Blend Contour Makeup
Want to know how to blend contour makeup? We’re going to walk you through each step of the process.
But first, we just want to note that you don’t need a special contour makeup kit to do contouring. You can achieve the same results using:
- Two different shades of concealer
- Bronzer and highlighter
- Eyeshadow or brow powder
It doesn’t matter what the product is labeled as (concealer, brow powder, etc.). Here’s what does matter: the texture. So, for example, you wouldn’t want to layer powder with cream or liquid products. Why? Because it will create a cakey look, and blending will become a nightmare.
Choosing the proper shades is important, so here are some tips:
- Your shade color should be one to two shades darker than your skin tone.
- Your highlighter should be one to two shades lighter than your skin tone. Choose a matte color – not a shimmery one.
So, without further ado, let’s get started on our contour blending guide.
Note: We recommend practicing a few times before you try contouring for an event or special occasion. When you’re not in a rush, you can experiment a little and see what works for your face shape.
Step 1: Prep
Face prep is a crucial step in creating any makeup look. So, start by cleansing your face and applying moisturizer to ensure that your foundation and contour makeup goes on smoothly.
You don’t need to apply primer, but it can help bring the look together.
Next, apply your foundation and concealer as you normally would to even out your skin tone and cover blemishes.
Step 2: Shade
Now, we’re ready to start contouring.
- Grab your darker shade. Start creating a shadow under your cheekbones. If you can’t find your cheekbones, suck in your cheeks. Place your darker shade along the natural shape of your jaw.
- Next, apply that darker shade to the sides of your nose
- Depending on the shape of your face, you may also want to apply your shade color to your hairline and jawline.
Experiment with shading these areas to see what works for you. Always keep your face shape in mind and let it be your guide when choosing areas to color.
Step 3: Highlight
Once you’re satisfied, you can start applying your highlighter. The goal is to focus on areas that naturally reflect light, such as your:
- Brow bone
- Top of your cheekbone
- Bridge and tip of your nose
- Cupid’s bow
Again, experiment and see what looks best on your face shape.
Related: How to Contour Your Nose
Step 4: Blush (Optional)
Blush isn’t necessary for contouring, but it can make your look more natural and help with blending your contour makeup colors.
Choose a color that complements your skin tone and apply it to the apples of your cheeks.
Step 5: Blend
Now, we get to the most important step: blending. At this point, your face probably looks a bit crazy. You probably have some harsh lines from your lighter and darker shades. Blending will help smooth things out and make your look more natural.
For blending, you have a few options for tools:
- A makeup sponge
- A big, fluffy makeup brush
Brushes tend to create more of a natural airbrushed look, but if you have sponges on hand, you can use those as well.
Now, with your brush or sponge in hand:
- Blend your highlights and shadows into your foundation to soften the lines.
- If you’re using a sponge, use a pressing motion to blend. Using a circular motion or even sweeping the sponge along your face will undo all of our hard work and create funky lines.
- Be gentle when blending.
Don’t go overboard with blending, either. You only want to blend out those harsh edges and soften the look.
Step 6: Set
The final step is to set your look so that it lasts. You can apply a setting spray or powder – whichever you prefer.
Now, you’re ready to finish your makeup look or head out the door.
Best Contour Makeup Tutorial
We explained how to contour and blend your contouring in our step-by-step guide above. But sometimes, it’s easier to follow a tutorial when you can see the steps in action.
Here’s a great contouring makeup tutorial from Roxette Arisa. This tutorial will help you learn and see the steps for applying your contour makeup and blending, too.
How To Contour & Highlight For Beginners | Roxette Arisa
Contour Makeup Lines
Do you know why it’s important to learn how to blend contour makeup? Because contouring creates harsh lines that look unnatural (and a bit ridiculous, if we’re being honest). But those lines are really important because they set the stage for sculpting and defining your unique face shape.
Someone with a round face, for example, will have different lines than someone with a rectangle, heart or oval shape.
Understanding where to apply your lines based on your face shape is important.
Contour Makeup for Round Face Vs Contour Makeup for Oval Face
Before you can learn how to blend contour makeup, you need to know where to apply your shadow and highlighter shades for your face shape.
There are many different face shapes out there, but we’re going to compare contouring for two common ones: round and oval
Where to Apply Contour Makeup for Round Faces
With a round face shape, the goal is to highlight your best features while adding shade in the right places to create a more sculpted look.
Here’s where to apply your makeup:
- Apply your darker shade along your cheekbone, up the sides of your hairline and the sides of your forehead.
- Apply your highlighter shade in a circular shape in the middle of your forehead, in a triangle shape under your eyes (the tops of your cheekbones), and at the center of your chin.
Blend to soften and create a more natural look.
Where to Apply Contour Makeup for Oval Faces
Oval is one of the most common face shapes and one of the easiest to contour.
Here’s where to apply your contour makeup:
- Apply your darker shade along the bottom of the cheekbone and at the corners of your forehead.
- Apply your highlighter shade at the center of your forehead, along the tops of your cheekbones and temples, and at the center of your chin.
Take care not to go overboard with the highlighter shade, and blend carefully to soften your lines.
Best Contour Makeup Products
If you’re new to contouring, you may be unsure of which products to buy. We’re going to share some of the best contouring makeup products to make your life a little bit easier.
Best Contour Makeup Stick
If you’re looking for a really simple way to get started with contouring and don’t have the time or desire to look through every concealer or foundation shade out there, a contour stick is a great option.
Contour makeup sticks include complementing dark and highlighter shades, which takes the guesswork out of choosing your colors.
The NYX Professional highlight/contour stick is affordable and extremely well-rated by users on Amazon. They have several color combos to choose from to suit just about every skin tone.
Contour Makeup Black Skin
There are contour makeup options for people of all skin tones. The Black Radiance True Complexion palette is a great choice for darker skin tones, and you can choose from:
- Dark to Deep
- Light to Medium
- Medium to Dark
This palette actually has three colors and a helpful guide on where to apply each shade. It’s important to note that this is a powder product.
What if you want a cream contour product?
Black Opal’s True Color stick foundation is a great cream option for contouring. Plus, it has SPF to protect your skin from the sun’s damaging rays.
Contour Makeup Palette
If you prefer contour palettes instead of sticks or individual foundations, there are plenty to choose from. Here are some of our favorites that we found on Pinterest.
Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour Powder Kit – Light to Medium
Anastasia Beverly Hills is always a great brand for foundation and contouring products. Their contour kit has six convenient shades to make contouring a breeze. This particular palette is for light to medium skin tones, but they have more options for other skin colors.
IIID Foundation | Cream Based Foundation | SEINT
What if you want a custom palette that’s made just for your skin tone? SEINT has you covered. They offer a free color match and will build you a custom palette for a natural look.
Learning how to blend contour makeup takes practice, but with patience and the right tools, you can create a naturally sculpted look. Use our guide and product recommendations above to start your contouring journey today.