Contouring and Highlighting 101

Hi Guys,

So today’s lesson is all about contouring and highlighting! It was a highly requested post so I’m going to make this one long and in-depth so everybody can hop onboard the cheekbone train. Why do we contour? Because we saw Kim Kardashian doing it and and thought it looked good? One hopes not, but either way it has become one of the most popular make-up trends to stick around in the last few years. In this tutorial I will be using powders as opposed to creams because I think the effect is more dramatic, but if you guys want one using liquids/creams just holla.

To achieve “the contoured and highlighted look” one must use:

1) Matte contour powder. If the product is matte it is considered a contour product, if it is all sparkly like Edward Cullen it is a bronzer. For this tutorial I used Benefit’s Hoola. It is a matte pressed powder with less warmth (orange/red tones) to it than most matte bronzers/contours which is why it is so wildly popular for contouring.

2) A pretty blush. Any blush really. I used NARS Orgasm because it picks up on camera well and is also a cult product for its divine colour, a perfect pink with a gold/peach shimmer running through it – shout out to my sister for buying it for me from Japan for my birthday last year!

3) A highlighter. This is a product that is very shiny/sparkly/shimmery. When applied, a highlighter is supposed to make it look as if the heavens above have rained down on your face and is making you shine like a disco ball. MAC’s bestselling highlighter is Soft and Gentle because it is translatable for all skin types. It is a finely milled, baked powder of a champagne colour, think pink and gold sparkles combined.

4) Bronzer. That warm coloured high shine sparkle stuff. I used a R20 Shimmer Brick (WOW Cosmetics) that I picked up at a cosmetics factory years ago. This is the stuff that will make you glow like a mofo and turn your face very muddy quickly. Beware of the bronzer pale peeps!


Bottom to top: WOW Shimmer Brick, Benefit Hoola, NARS Orgasm, MAC Soft and Gentle

To start, I have mapped out the areas where I place my matte contour colour (brown), my blush (pink) and my highlighter (yellow). These are the 3 basics for contouring and highlighting. The bronzer is an added extra 4th step that I’ve left out of the face mapping diagram.

Step 1:

Let’s begin! Take your matte contour product (Hoola) and lightly carve out your cheek bone starting at your ear. To find your cheek bones, pull a fish face, and place your brush just underneath the bone. BLEND UP NOT DOWN. Contouring is all about layering, and this first step is the base colour. The aim of the game is to create a shadow because a shadow means depth. So your cheekbone shadow that you are trying to create must not be too low or it will look odd nor must it be too high. You kind of want to create a gradient effect so place your brush on your cheek and work your way up to create that blended shadow effect. Remember your cheek bones are slanted and not straight, fish-face to find that line to follow! I also contoured down the sides of my nose and along my jawline and temples.


Step 2:

Blush can be a curse if you are too heavy handed. I like to apply very pigmented blushes with a loose brush or a stippling brush, this helps you to build product and avoid any clown cheeks. I like to apply blush in a tear drop shape just above the contour line you’ve just made with your matte bronzer. I start on the apple of my cheeks and work back towards my ear. I do this because I want the most product towards the front of my face and also to avoid blending out the contour line too much. A tip for making sure your blush doesn’t come too far forward is to not extend the colour past the middle of your pupil. Blush doesn’t need to be heavily noticeable, you just want to add a flush of colour to your face.

Step 3:

Adding the highlight is now going to make everything pop out at you like you’re wearing 3D glasses from the movies! When creating the illusion that something has depth, one always has to have a shadow and a highlight. So adding a highlight to the top of your features like your cheekbones creates the effect of it really standing out on your face. Because a highlighting product is so intense, this is the product that you’re going to use the least of. I take a small brush and lightly dust a line just above where I placed the blush following the line parallel to the contour below. Sometimes I extend it to my temples too but the concentration of the product needs to be right on the highest part of your cheeks.


Step 4:

This step is optional and not really essential to the 3-step contouring and highlighting guide. If you really are mad about getting those cheeks to pop grab a bronzer and a kabuki brush and blend the bronzer all over your cheekbone area. I’d say do this once as the more you build the muddier the colours can appear on your cheeks. But do this lightly and it can really emphasise that whole area!



And that’s all folks! Contouring and highlighting can be as subtle (or not) as you want it! For the purpose of this tutorial I am wearing a poes load, but in darker lighting it can look pretty understated, until a flash from a camera reveals how much you are wearing :P I think that this way of wearing make-up can change your features the most which is probably why it is so popular. I’m certainly digging it atm :)


I don’t condone selfies but this one was taken to demonstrate how subtle heavy contouring can look without flash photography/dark lighting. That’s why you can go cray for the club. Me likes.


Have a great week,




  1. glitterpompom · · Reply

    Love the picture!

    1. Thank you <3

  2. […] and contouring come first. I used Stila Illuminating Liquid Foundation and LA Girl Pro Concealer creamy beige […]

  3. […] the paleness rather than try to cheat a tan. But I couldn’t just stand by while the whole contouring trend went by, I needed to get involved! This is the perfect contouring shade for pale girls, adding […]

  4. […] (this girl loves ALL the cheekbones- child of my own heart) using the same method Beth showed us here except that I used a tiny bit of the same highlight that I used for Jess’s tear duct and […]

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