Makeup artists know the key to perfectly sculpted features lies in contouring. For those outside the beauty profession, however, contouring can be a tricky prospect; knowing which products to use, where to put them and how much can scare away even die-hard beauty junkies. The secret is knowing how to sculpt your particular face shape by applying the proper products and techniques.

Things You'll Need

Understand the basic principles of contouring. Contouring involves shading, which gives the illusion of the shaded area receding from view, and highlighting, which causes these areas to appear more prominent. Contouring products may be powders, liquids, creams or solids. Products that shade will be darker than your natural skin tone, while highlighting products will be lighter. The goal of contouring is to create the appearance of an oval shaped face, the ideal shape, or to bring out desirable features and slim down other areas.

Prepare your skin for contouring by using a makeup primer. A primer smoothes the skin to allow contouring products to go on more evenly and will result in a more natural look. Look for a contouring product that is one to two shades darker than your natural skin tone. Find a highlighting product or choose a foundation that is a shade or two lighter than your skin tone. For a subtler look that’s also easier to blend, use powder bronzers and powder highlighters instead of liquid or cream.

Minimize a prominent jaw line if you have a square face or help slim a round face by shading in a stripe along the widest part of the jaw a few inches on either side of the chin. Blend contouring lines upward with a brush or your fingers.

Whittle an oblong face by applying contour along the bottom portion of the entire chin. Blend the contouring stripes thoroughly.

Shade other areas of your face as needed, such as underneath your cheekbones for greater definition or along the sides of the nose, for a slimmer look.

Apply highlighter in a circle in the center of your chin if you have a heart-shaped or oval face. Heart-shaped faces may have chins that appear pointy and sharp, so highlighting this area will help soften and round your chin.

Blend all the stripes of highlighter thoroughly with your fingers or a brush to avoid visible lines.

Highlighting other features, such as the middle of the forehead and above the cheekbones, creates balance and brightens any face shape.


  • Using a brush with some primer applied to it helps seamlessly blend the contouring products with the rest of your primer and makeup.