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JCI Makeup Talk: How to Contour

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How To Highlight Contour Your Face with Makeup Bronze kim kardashian contoured face

Thanks to the infamous Kim Kardashian one of the hottest beauty trends of the moment is the contoured face. There is a delicate balance to creating a soft blended contour. Harsh lines and racer stripe bronzer will take you back to the 80’s so here we share a few tips on how to do it right.

Use cream based products (cream stick foundations or concealers work great)  for a fuller coverage or powders for a softer, more subtle look. When choosing highlight go two shades lighter than your natural skin tone and when choosing your contour color go one to two shades darker.

The idea is to create the illusion of a gently sculpted face by placing the products where light naturally falls. When done right the illusion can soften imperfections  and highlight your most flattering traits. The key to contouring is to blend, blend,blend. You want the overall look to be polished and flawless without harsh lines.  The term “contour” means to outline a figure or body, to mould or shape. When using makeup, it means to create shadows. The shadows help define and enhance shapes. “Highlight” is to add light to the face. When you add highlight to the contour you help to sculpt the face.

How to contour with makeup

Here are a few tricks to help you get started:

  • To make your cheekbones appear higher, use bronzer or a matte powder or cream stick under the cheekbone, and highlighter on the actual cheek bone.
  • To create depth on your eyelids, use highlight under the brow, above the brow and on the inner corner of the eyes. Shade in the crease.
  • To make your nose appear narrower, use your highlight down the middle and then shade on either side. Blend well.
  • To create the illusion of a fuller, pouty lip, highlight the cupids bow, middle of the bottom lip and in the middle of the chin.

Eva Longoria bad makeup

There are exceptions to every rule, so be careful to choose colors that suit your skin tone. Going too light or dark can create a disaster (see Eva Longoria’s much too light under eye highlight above). Using too light a color on darker skin tones will only make you look ashy, and too dark on lighter tones will look muddy.

Happy Contouring!

~Jennine Cook, JCI’s Makeup Program Industry Liaison


JCI has been setting the standard in artistry and innovation for makeup and hair schools in Vancouver since 1978.

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