Before the era of Kim Kardashian contouring, vain people of the world had to rely on Photoshop for higher nose bridges, supermodel cheekbones and a slimmer jawline. Well, say goodbye to the Liquify tool, because here’s how to contour and highlight like a pro – yup, #nofilter needed.
What You’ll Need
Not that I’m trying to give you yet another excuse to raid Sephora but…here are some tools you might find useful in your quest for a more defined face. #excuses
The brush you use for contouring and highlighting depends on the type of bronzer or highlighter you are applying. Powder formulations generally work better with an angled or round brush, while cream/liquid formulas are better blended with firmer flat head brushes (or a Beauty Blender). If you want to get #fancy, get a small blending brush for targeted contouring (i.e. around your nose) as well.
Types of Brushes
- Flat Head Brush: for contouring and blending large areas, works for both pressed powder and cream formulas (e.g. Nars Ita Kabuki Brush)
- Round or Angled Brush: for bronzing and blending large areas, works for pressed powder formulas (e.g. Real Techniques Blush Brush)
- Tapered Brush: for highlighting, works for pressed powder formulas (e.g. 13rushes Precision Highlighter)
- Small Fluffy Brush: for targeted contouring and highlighting in smaller areas (e.g. Etude House My Beauty Tool Secret Brush 130 Contour)
2. Bronzer/Contouring Powder
Contouring is a quick way to make your features look sharper and slimmer, and to do that you need a good bronzer or contouring stick. While traditional pressed powder bronzers are easier to find, cream formula contouring pens tend to have better staying power (and are pretty much noob-proof).
When choosing a bronzer, go for one that is about two shades darker than your skin tone – any darker and you might run the risk of looking well, dirty. And you don’t want that, do you?
Formula-wise, a pressed powder bronzer is better suited for those with oily or combination skin. If you have normal to dry skin, a cream formula might work better for you. Either way, don’t forget to prep your skin with moisturiser for smoother application.
Pressed Powder Bronzers
- NYX Tango with Bronzing Stix
- Clinique Chubby Stick Sculpting Contour
- Makeup Revolution The One Stick in Matte Malibu
- Burberry Face Contour Pen
A highlighter complements contouring by illuminating the areas that you want to stand out. Apply it correctly and your eyes will seem brighter, nose will look sharper and cheekbones more pronounced…in other words, highlighters are like unicorn magic.
Pressed powder highlighters are the most common, as they apply easily and blend well with both powder and liquid foundations. However, if you want better staying power (or if you have dry skin), a liquid or cream highlighter might work better for you.
Liquid or cream highlighters can be a bit trickier to apply though. If you’re using pressed powder foundation, apply the highlighter before that step (but after moisturiser) so it won’t “move” your makeup. If you’re using liquid or cream foundation, apply the liquid highlighter after instead.
Confused? Well, nobody ever said looking like a goddess would be easy. But here’s what the general application process should be like:
For Pressed Powder Highlighters: Moisturiser > Powder/Liquid Foundation > Bronzer > Blush > Pressed Powder Highlighter
For Liquid/Cream Highlighters with Powder Foundation: Moisturiser > Liquid/Cream Highlighter > Powder Foundation > Bronzer > Blush
For Liquid/Cream Highlighters with Liquid Foundation: Moisturiser > Liquid Foundation > Liquid/Cream Highlighter > Bronzer > Blush
Pressed Powder Highlighters
- Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder
- Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector (Pressed)
- 3CE Highlighter
- theBalm Cindy-Lou Manizer
Cream and Liquid Highlighters
- Benefit High Beam
- Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat
- Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector (Liquid)
- 3CE Shimmer Stick
- Moonshot Jelly Pot in Hawaiian Sand
4. Bronzer/Highlighter Duo
If all of the above confuses you, just get yourself one of these no-fuss bronzer and highlighter combos instead.
- Urban Decay Naked Flushed Palette
- 3CE Magic Touch Face Maker
- Becca Highlight/Lowlight Palette (Pressed)
- NUDESTIX Sculpting Pencil
How To Contour
Ready to work some makeup magic on your face? Good, now get your tools ready and let’s get started. I’m using powder formulations for both contouring and highlighting btw.
Use your contouring brush to pick up some bronzing powder and tap it lightly to get rid of excess product. This may seem like a small, relatively unimportant step but trust me, it’s essential. You want to look like a bronzed goddess, not a dirty unwashed bum.
Now, to find the sweet spot. Suck in your cheeks and feel the dip below your cheekbones. That’s where you should apply the bronzer. Dust on the bronzer with a light hand, then blend and build coverage as you go along.
Once you have your Kim Kardashian cheekbones all set, apply bronzer to the hollows of your temples. Gently sweep the brush along the edge of your forehead as well – this will make your face look smaller (always a good thing, right?).
For the finishing touch, apply bronzer along your jawline to make your face look even smaller.
Use a small fluffy brush to apply bronzer to the edges of your nose. Start by dusting lightly at the crook between your brow bone and nose, then work your way down the sides of your nose.
How To Highlight
Now that you’ve got your (hopefully) chiselled face down pat, apply blush as per usual. All done? Good, let’s continue with the goddess transformation.
When applying highlighter, use the high points of your face as a reference – your cheekbones, nose bridge, forehead and chin.
Using the tip of a tapered brush, pick up some highlighter powder and tap off the excess. I know you may be thinking more product = more glow, but it’s a slippery slope between goddess and um, getai aunty. So yeah, tap off the excess k?
Gently apply highlighter to the centre of your forehead in a downward sweeping motion.
Carefully work the brush down the centre of your nose, then to your chin.
For liquid or cream highlighters, use the applicator or your finger (clean, please) to dot the product along your nose bridge. Gently tap and blend.
If you’re using a precise liquid highlighter (such as the YSL Touche Eclat), you can also trace the Cupid’s Bow on your lips – this will make your lipstick stand out more.
To make your cheekbones really pop, apply highlighter just above the apples of your cheeks. Blend in an upwards and outwards motion.
Same thing with liquid or cream highlighters – apply in small dots, then tap and blend lightly with your finger.
Marvel at your face and feel like a full-blown glowy goddess. Kim K ain’t got nothin’ on you now, honey.