Contouring For Beginners: Sculpting And Highlighting Basics

You’re about to embark on a journey into the world of contouring, an art that can transform your face and enhance your features like never before. In this article, we will explore the basics of contouring and highlighting, providing you with the knowledge and techniques needed to achieve a beautifully sculpted look. Whether you’re new to makeup or just looking to improve your skills, this guide is perfect for beginners. Get ready to discover the secrets behind a flawless contour and radiant glow.

What is Contouring?

Definition of contouring

Contouring is a makeup technique that involves using darker and lighter shades to create shadows and highlights, thus sculpting and enhancing the shape of the face. By strategically applying these shades to specific areas of the face, contouring can help define the cheekbones, slim down the nose, and give the face a more sculpted and structured appearance.

Purpose of contouring

The purpose of contouring is to create depth and dimension to the face. It allows you to highlight your best features and minimize the appearance of areas you may not be as fond of. Contouring can give the illusion of higher cheekbones, a slimmer nose, a defined jawline, and a more symmetrical face. It is a useful technique, especially for special occasions or when you want to amp up your makeup game.

Difference between contouring and bronzing

While contouring and bronzing may seem similar, they have different purposes and techniques. Contouring focuses on enhancing the natural shadows and highlights of the face, while bronzing adds warmth and a sun-kissed glow to the skin. Contouring typically uses cool-toned shades, like gray or taupe, to create shadows, while bronzing involves warm-toned shades, like terracotta or golden, to add warmth to the skin. Bronzing is typically applied to the high points of the face where the sun naturally hits, such as the forehead, cheeks, and nose, while contouring is applied to mimic shadows and sculpt the face’s structure.

Understanding Face Shapes

Different face shapes

There are several different face shapes, including round, oval, square, heart, and diamond. Each face shape has its own unique characteristics, and contouring techniques can be used to enhance and balance these features.

Determining your face shape

To determine your face shape, you can start by pulling your hair back and examining your face in the mirror. Pay attention to the widest part of your face, the shape of your jawline, and the length of your face. By identifying these key features, you can determine which face shape you have and tailor your contouring techniques accordingly.

Contouring techniques for each face shape

Once you have identified your face shape, you can use specific contouring techniques to enhance your features. For example, those with a round face shape may want to focus on contouring the cheeks and jawline to create a more angular look. On the other hand, individuals with a square face shape might want to soften the angles by contouring the temples and jawline. Understanding your face shape will help you create a more balanced and flattering look with contouring techniques.

Products and Tools

Choosing the right contouring products

When it comes to choosing contouring products, it is important to consider your skin tone and undertone. For fairer skin tones, opt for contour shades that are slightly darker than your natural skin color. Medium skin tones can go for shades that are closer to their natural skin color, while darker skin tones may need deeper shades to achieve the desired contouring effect. Cream or powder contour products can be used, depending on personal preference and skin type.

Highlighting products

Highlighting products are another essential component of contouring. They are used to accentuate the high points of the face and bring forward areas that you want to highlight, such as the cheekbones, brow bone, and bridge of the nose. Look for highlighters that complement your skin tone, whether you prefer a subtle glow or an intense highlight. Cream and powder highlighters are both popular options, providing different finishes and levels of intensity.

Brushes and tools for contouring

Investing in the right brushes and tools can make a significant difference in achieving a flawless contour. A variety of brushes can be used, such as angled brushes for precise application, fluffy brushes for seamless blending, and small detailing brushes for more intricate contouring. Beauty sponges or makeup blending sponges can also be used to blend and diffuse the product for a natural and airbrushed finish.

Prepping the Face

Cleansing and moisturizing

Before starting your contouring routine, it is important to cleanse and moisturize your face. This ensures a smooth and hydrated base for your makeup. Choose a gentle cleanser that suits your skin type and follow with a moisturizer suitable for your skin’s needs. Allow the moisturizer to fully absorb into the skin before proceeding to the next step.

Applying primer

Primer is a crucial step in creating a long-lasting contour. It helps to smooth out the skin’s texture, minimize pores, and provide a base for seamless makeup application. Choose a primer that suits your skin type, whether it is mattifying, hydrating, or color-correcting. Apply a small amount of primer evenly to your face and allow it to set for a few minutes before moving on to the next step.

Base makeup application

After prepping the face, it’s time to apply your base makeup. Start by using a foundation that matches your skin tone, applying it to the entire face for an even canvas. If additional coverage is desired, you can use a concealer to spot-correct any blemishes or areas of discoloration. Blend the foundation and concealer seamlessly into the skin using a brush, beauty sponge, or your fingertips.

Basic Contouring Technique

Finding the right shade for your contour

The key to achieving a natural-looking contour is finding the right shade for your skin tone. It should be a few shades darker than your natural skin color, but not too dark that it looks muddy or unnatural. Test different shades on your jawline to find the perfect match. If using a cream contour product, apply it using a brush or your fingertips. For powder contour, use a fluffy brush to lightly dust the product onto the desired areas.

Mapping out the contour points

To effectively contour your face, it is important to identify the key areas that will create the desired effect. These areas typically include the hollows of the cheeks, temples, jawline, and the sides of the nose. By strategically placing the contour product in these areas, you can create the illusion of shadows and depth. Use a light hand and build up the intensity gradually to ensure a natural and seamless look.

Blending techniques

Blending is the key to achieving a seamless and natural-looking contour. Use a brush or a beauty sponge to blend the contour product into the skin, focusing on softening any harsh lines or edges. Circular motions or sweeping motions can be used to blend the product, depending on personal preference and the desired effect. Take your time and ensure that there are no visible lines between the contour and your base makeup.

Setting the contour

To ensure that your contour lasts throughout the day, it is important to set it with a powder. Choose a matte bronzer or a contour powder that matches your contour shade. Using a fluffy brush, lightly dust the powder over the contoured areas, focusing on the areas where you applied the cream or powder contour product. This will help to set the product, provide additional depth, and enhance the sculpted effect.

Highlighting and Illuminating

Choosing the right highlighter shade

Highlighter comes in various shades and finishes, ranging from icy white to champagne to golden tones. When choosing a highlighter shade, consider your skin tone and the look you want to achieve. Fair skin tones typically suit pearl or icy pink shades, while medium to dark skin tones can opt for warmer golden or rose gold shades. Apply the highlighter lightly for a subtle glow or build it up for a more intense highlight.

Highlighter placement

Highlighter should be applied to areas where you want to bring forward and enhance the natural high points of your face. These typically include the tops of the cheekbones, the brow bone, the bridge of the nose, the cupid’s bow, and the inner corner of the eyes. Using a small highlighting brush, gently sweep the highlighter onto these areas, focusing on blending it seamlessly into the skin for a luminous and radiant finish.

Blending the highlighter

To achieve a natural and seamless look, it is crucial to blend the highlighter into the skin. Use a clean brush or a beauty sponge to blend the highlighter gently, ensuring that there are no harsh lines or patches. Soften any edges by lightly tapping or blending the product into the skin. This will help create a glow-from-within effect and give your complexion a luminous and flawless finish.

Contouring Tips and Tricks

Avoiding common contouring mistakes

While contouring can be a game-changer in enhancing your features, there are some common mistakes to avoid. One of the most common mistakes is using too much product or applying it too heavily, which can result in a heavy and unnatural look. It is also important to choose the right shade for your skin tone and to blend the product thoroughly to achieve a seamless finish. Another common mistake is contouring with a heavy hand, which can make the face appear muddy and unbalanced.

Creating a natural look

To achieve a natural contour, less is often more. Start with a light application of the contour product and build it up gradually if needed. Blend thoroughly and ensure that there are no visible lines or patches. It is also important to choose shades that closely resemble natural shadows and highlights on your face. By focusing on enhancing your natural features rather than completely transforming them, you can create a more subtle and natural-looking contour.

Contouring for different occasions

Contouring techniques can be adjusted depending on the occasion and the desired level of intensity. For a natural daytime look, opt for a lighter hand and choose shades that are closer to your natural skin color. For evening or special occasions, you can amp up the intensity by using deeper shades or adding a touch of shimmer to your highlighter. It is important to consider the lighting and the overall makeup look you want to achieve when contouring for different occasions.

Contouring for photography

Contouring for photography requires a slightly different approach due to the way light and flash can affect the appearance of the face. To ensure your contour looks flattering in photos, it is crucial to blend thoroughly and avoid any harsh lines or edges. Consider using a slightly lighter hand when applying the contour product and blending it seamlessly. Opt for a highlighter that is not overly shimmery to avoid any unwanted glare in photographs.

Contouring for Different Skin Tones

Contouring for fair skin

For fair skin tones, it is important to choose contour shades that are subtle and not too dark. Opt for shades that are a few shades deeper than your natural skin tone, such as cool-toned browns or taupes. Cream contour products can work well on fair skin, as they offer easy blending and a natural finish. Apply the contour product with a light hand and build up the intensity gradually to achieve a soft and sculpted look.

Contouring for medium skin

For medium skin tones, choose contour shades that are closer to your natural skin color to create a more subtle and natural-looking contour. Warm-toned browns or bronzers with a hint of taupe can work well on medium skin tones. Both cream and powder contour products can be used, depending on personal preference and skin type. Apply the contour product with a light hand and focus on blending it seamlessly into the skin for a soft and sculpted effect.

Contouring for dark skin

For dark skin tones, deeper shades are often needed to achieve a noticeable contour. Look for contour products that have rich and warm undertones, such as deep chocolates or warm browns. Cream contour products, specifically formulated for dark skin, can offer easy application and seamless blending. Apply the contour product with a light hand and gradually build up the intensity to create a defined and sculpted look that complements your skin tone.

Contouring for olive skin

Olive skin tones can benefit from contour shades that have a balance of warmth and coolness. Look for contour products with taupe undertones, as they can complement the natural olive undertones of the skin. Both cream and powder contour products can be used, depending on personal preference. Apply the contour product with a light hand and blend it seamlessly into the skin for a subtle and sculpted result that enhances your features.

Contouring Hacks

Contouring without using foundation

If you prefer a more natural and lightweight makeup look, you can still achieve a subtle contour without using foundation. Start by prepping your skin with a moisturizer or a lightweight primer to create a smooth base. Then, use a cream or powder contour product to sculpt and define the desired areas. By focusing solely on contouring and skipping the foundation step, you can achieve a more minimal and fresh-faced look.

Using contouring to enhance features

Contouring is not only about creating shadows; it can also be used to enhance your natural features. For example, you can contour the nose to make it appear slimmer or contour the forehead to make it look smaller. By strategically applying the contour product to specific areas, you can bring attention to your best features and create a more balanced and harmonious look.

Contouring for mature skin

Contouring can be adapted for mature skin to achieve a more youthful and lifted appearance. It is important to focus on using cream or liquid contour products that offer a more natural and dewy finish. Opt for shades that are slightly darker than your natural skin color and emphasize blending to avoid any harsh lines or patchiness. By using a moisturizing primer and lightweight base products, you can create a contour that enhances your features without emphasizing wrinkles or fine lines.

Contouring on a budget

Contouring doesn’t have to break the bank. There are affordable contouring products available that provide excellent results. Look for drugstore brands that offer a wide range of shades and formulas. Additionally, you can use matte bronzer or eyeshadows in neutral shades as a contour alternative. Experimenting with different products and shades can help you find budget-friendly options that suit your needs.

Setting and Finishing

Setting the contour with powder

Setting the contour with a powder helps to lock in the product and ensure its longevity. Choose a powder that matches your contour shade, whether it’s a matte bronzer or a contour powder. Using a fluffy brush, lightly dust the powder over the contoured areas to set the product. This step also helps to provide additional depth and enhance the sculpted effect of the contour.

Blending the contour and highlight

To achieve a seamless transition between your contour and highlight, it is important to blend the two together. Use a clean brush or a beauty sponge to gently blend the areas where the contour and highlight meet. This will help to create a more natural and blended look, avoiding any harsh lines or patches. Take your time and ensure that the contour and highlight seamlessly melt into each other.

Applying blush and bronzer

To complete the contoured look, apply blush and bronzer to add warmth and color to the face. Choose a blush shade that complements your skin tone and apply it to the apples of your cheeks, blending it upwards towards the temples. Apply bronzer to the high points of the face, such as the forehead, cheeks, and nose, to enhance the sun-kissed glow. Blend the blush and bronzer seamlessly into the skin for a cohesive and polished finish.

Contouring is an incredible makeup technique that allows you to enhance and sculpt your features, creating a more defined and polished look. By following these tips and techniques, you can become a contouring pro in no time. Remember to have fun experimenting with different products and shades to find what works best for you. With practice and a little creativity, you’ll be able to master the art of contouring and achieve a flawless and sculpted appearance every time you pick up your makeup brushes.