a woman contours her makeup around her cheekbones

How to Properly Contour Your Makeup

Contouring gives the illusion of light and dark so that you can focus attention to certain areas of your face. By contouring, you can change the shape and width of your nose, change the appearance of your eyes, make your cheekbones more prominent, give the illusion of larger lips, and much more.

There are a few methods for contouring your face. Depending upon your skin color, you’d use different colors for contouring and highlighting. For instance, if you have darker skin, a lighter colored powder or cream can be used for highlighting. If you have a light to medium skin color, darker colors in powder and cream can be used for contouring.

Another method for contouring involves using different colors of foundation and blending. For this method, choose a foundation that matches your skin color and one that is one to two shades darker. Depending upon the effect on certain facial features, apply the darker color to areas that you want to detract from and the color that matches your skin color, or a lighter one, to bring out certain features.

Highlighting Cheekbones

To create the appearance of larger cheekbones, apply a dark colored powder or foundation underneath the outer edges of cheekbones. To decide where this should be, apply the lighter powder or foundation from the edge of the eyes outward. Applying dark color all over the cheeks gives an unwanted illusion of a 5-o-clock shadow.


To make a prominent nose appear smaller, use a lighter color concealer on the outer portion of the nose and slightly above where the nose begins to protrude. The lighter color makes the sides of the nose blend in with the cheeks to make the nose appear flatter. Darker contouring can be used on the sides of the nose to make it appear thinner.

Face Shape

Contour can be applied along the hairline to make a forehead appear smaller or to change the shape of a face. Applying a darker color to the outer edges in particular places can change the shape of a face. For instance, applying a darker color on the sides of a face can give it more of an oval-shaped appearance.


Highlighting immediately above the upper lip can create the illusion of a larger upper lip. Applying a darker color immediately below the lips can make the bottom lip appear larger.

With contouring, it is possible to create virtually any illusion desired. The key to contouring is to blend so that the makeup used for contouring is undetectable.

Last Updated: August 17, 2014