How To Contour Your Face

a woman doing face lift massage

Reshaping your face with makeup has been around for decades. Makeup artists know how to apply products to define cheekbones and sculpt a jawline perfectly. This makeup technique may seem complicated and even unnecessary to some outside of the beauty world. 

However, anyone can learn how to contour to elevate any makeup look. Even if you don't want to drastically change any of your features, contouring can still be beneficial. It can help you enhance your appearance in a subtle way. 

We are going to go over why you should give contouring a try and what you will need to achieve the perfect look. We will also provide a step-by-step guide so you can give contouring a try!

What Is Contouring?

Contouring is the art of shading the face to add definition. It is the opposite of highlighting, but the two can be done simultaneously. When you contour, you darken the skin in the areas you're not highlighting. 

For example, if you want to define your cheekbones, you apply contour in the hollows of your cheeks. Using a darker color in this part of your face creates a shadow, sculpting your cheekbones and making them appear higher and defined.

Another important note is that contouring is not the same as bronzing. You may only be using bronzer and think it's doing the job of contour, but this isn't the case. The two products are similar in that they both are used to add shadows to the face. However, contour provides structure, while bronzer gives you that freshly tanned look. 

You can also get a bronzer with different finishes, like shimmer, but contour comes in only matte. Both come in various formulations. They can be powder, cream, or liquid. Contour usually comes in more neutral tones, while bronzer can have more of an orange hue. 

Benefits to Contouring Your Face

There are many different areas of your face and body that you can contour to add definition and to even reshape if that's what you're looking to achieve. 

You don't need to contour every area but choose strategically the ones that will best accentuate your face's features. Let's go over some of the different areas you can consider contouring. 


As we mentioned before, the cheekbones are a common area to contour. When you apply a darker product to the hollows of your cheeks, you can make your face look slimmer while making your cheekbones pop. If you have a round face shape, contouring this area can give you a defined appearance. 


Modelesque features are something many strive for, and contouring your jawline can help you get there. Contouring the area will give you a chiseled look. The darker shade creates a more defined jaw.


If you have a more prominent forehead and you'd rather not accentuate it, no fear, contouring is here. Applying contour around your hairline and on your temples can make it appear like you have a smaller forehead if you do it correctly. 


Contouring your nose can make it appear narrower and sculpted. Applying it on the sides of your nose gives it a slimming effect. You can also apply it to the tip to reshape it. Be careful when contouring your nose for the first time. It can go wrong and look unnatural. 


You can take contour beyond just your face. Décolletage contouring can give you that tanned and defined look. By applying it to the hollows of your collarbones, you can make them pop. 

How To Pick a Contour

When selecting the right contour, you have to consider what type of formulation you want. You can use a powder, cream, or liquid contour. The type you settle on is up to your personal preference, but liquid can be an easy formulation to blend out. 

Liquid concealer can make an excellent contour. HIDE Premium Concealer is long-lasting and works on all skin types. It leaves an undetectable finish that feels weightless.

You also have to select the right shade and undertone for your skin tone. If you are only looking for a simple contouring look, you will only need one contour shade. However, if you are going for a full sculpted appearance, you need two different shades. 

You'll want one shade three shades darker than your natural skin tone and one two shades darker. The darkest shade is for defining your bone structure, and the lighter shade is for creating shadows. You can create subtle changes by using the different shades. 

a woman half of her face has concealer and the other half has nothing

Steps to Contouring

Now that you know the contouring basics, it's time to learn the steps to pulling off a chiseled look. Before we get to that, it is important to note that some makeup artists like to apply cream and liquid contour first and then foundation. 

Applying the products in this order can give the contour a more subtle appearance. However, we will recommend contouring after foundation for this guide since sometimes the alternative can erase the contour if you don't do it correctly. 

Remember to always prep your skin before applying any makeup by washing it and applying moisturizer. You can also put on primer if you desire. 

Step 1: Foundation and Concealer

Create an even base to apply your contour to by using a medium to full coverage foundation. Use a foundation brush or a damp makeup sponge to buff it out down your neck to ensure you don't leave behind any foundation lines. HIDE Premium Foundation offers excellent coverage and is easy to blend. 

Next, grab your concealer and go over your under eyes and any imperfections. You can also apply a lighter concealer to areas you won't be applying contour if you want to go all out. 

Step 2: Contour Your Cheekbones

Now it's time for contour. Grab your contour and place the darkest shade just below the cheekbone in the hallows of your cheeks. If you can't tell where your cheekbone is, try sucking in your cheeks and follow the line it makes on the side of your face. 

Next, with an angled brush, use back and forth strokes to build up the contour. You want to build up the pigment gradually to avoid going overboard.  

Step 3: Define Your Forehead and Nose

Next, focus on your forehead by tracing your hairline going towards your temples with your contour. After, use a small brush to apply contour on either side of your nose. Blend out the product until you can't see any noticeable lines. 

Step 4: Focus on Your Jawline

A well-defined jawline may drastically transform your appearance. To achieve the perfect jaw contour, carefully apply your contour down the length of your jaw using your makeup brush. Blend the lines downwards, making sure to blend it out onto your neck and under your chin to avoid looking like you're wearing a chinstrap. 

Step 5: Finishing Touches

Once you're finished applying your contour, go back over the areas in one final blending step. One of the most common mistakes when contouring is not blending it out correctly.  

To mix your contour into your foundation, you can use your foundation brush in circular motions around the edges of your contour. You only want to mix the two if you're using a liquid or cream formulation. It won't work if you use a powder contour. 

After blending, your complexion should look natural with no harsh lines. At this time, you can go over your contour with a bronzer if you want to add warmth to your face. You can also apply blush and highlighter. Once you finish your makeup, eyeliner, lipstick, etc., you can apply a setting spray to set your look. 


Common Contour Questions

You may still have some questions about contouring that you still don't have the answers to, but hopefully, we can answer them here. 

Do You Have To Highlight When You Contour?

Highlighting and contouring go hand in hand, but you can totally do one without the other. You don't need to highlight the areas you don't have contour if that's not what you're going for, and it won't look weird.

In fact, some makeup artists have even stopped highlighting the cheekbones as much as they did in the past. If you want a flawless highlight that is more subtle, you can mix in a few drops of liquid illuminator with your foundation for a more natural-looking glow. 

How Do You Use Powder Contour?

You may have oily skin and prefer using powder formulations. We went over how to use cream and liquid contour, so you may be wondering how you use powder contour. 

First, unlike cream or liquid formulations, you can't use powder contour under your foundation. You should apply all your base makeup and then move on to contouring. Next, grab a brush with blunt bristles or an angled style. You will apply the contour in a similar way we went over before, but take your time blending it out since you can’t use foundation to blur the edges. 

Contour Like a Pro

Contouring can take your makeup game to the next level. You can use darker shades to enhance the angles and features of your face.

Even if you're not a professional, you can still get that chiseled look on your own. HIDE premium products can help you effortlessly contour since they are easy to blend. By following a few simple tips and tricks, you'll be a contouring wizard before you know it! 




Your Facial Bone Structure Has a Big Influence on How People See You | Scientific American

Skin Undertones Chart: Warm, Cool, Neutral, Pink, Yellow, and More | Healthline

How To Get The Perfect Contour For Your Face Shape | Ranker

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