Full disclosure: even makeup artists can feel timid when it comes to the world of contouring.  Martha Lynn here, and I think my hesitation comes from the fact that when contouring goes wrong, it’s so wrong. I recently decided to enlist the help of some other pros and master the art of playing with light and shadows…and since then, have been a complete convert. Rather than the dramatic contouring you typically see on certain, ahem, unnamed reality stars, subtle contouring can enhance even your everyday makeup and is easy to achieve once you’ve learned a few techniques…

First things first: your materials. For any of these, you can use any makeup product from a bronzer to a dark blush, to an eyeshadow or a liquid foundation.

  1. Highlighter – This is your starting place and brings features forward. We used Soft and Gentle Mineralize Skinfinish from MAC and applied it with a bronzer brush.
  2. Contour – This should be one shade darker than your skin tone  – it pushes features back. We used Medium Dark Mineralize Skinfinish Natural from MAC and applied it with a blush brush.
  3. Blush – To bring the whole look together. We used Peachy Keen Powder Blush from MAC and applied it with a blush brush.
  4. Light shadow – We used MAC Eye Shadow in Nylon and applied it with a large eyeshadow brush.

*note: Your contour should be the opposite sheen as your highlighter. For example, a dewy foundation should be paired with a matte contour, and vice versa.

Since contouring is so specific to your face shape, you don’t want to fall prey to “copying” a technique that works for someone else. It’s important to note that you have to look at your face as a blank slate and decide which features you want to “bring out” using your highlight, and which you want to “push back” using the contour. For example, I have an oval face. So I should focus on using the highlighter around my temples to bring them out, and bronzer just under my cheekbones to push them back in for balance.

Once your foundation and contour are blended, accent the brow bone with your light eyeshadow and bring the whole look to life by sweeping blush onto your cheeks!

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Martha Lynn