Contouring For Beginners

I’m not a massive fan of contouring. There I said it! I mean that’s not strictly true, when it’s done right I think it looks incredible, I just can’t deal with the orange cheek stripes. It’s a trend that just won’t die though! So here are a few tips and tricks for contouring your face in the most subtle and easy way:

Remember the golden rule, the dark contour shade will create the illusion of a shadow and the light highlight shade will draw the eye to the area that it is applied. So basically the contour shade will sink in and the highlight will push out.

This will help you decide where to put the contour and where to put the highlight. For instance, you don’t want the under eye to look sunken and dark, similarly you don’t want to puff out the sides of your nose if you have a big one.


Every face is different and so everyone will want to contour and highlight different areas. If you have a long face that you want to make look smaller then you’ll want to highlight the centre of the face and contour the top and bottom. If you have a wide face it’ll be the opposite. Where you apply the contour all depends on the illusion you want to create, but as long as you remember what each shade is doing then it is easy to work out what goes where.


The next thing to consider is the colour of the contour shade. To truly “contour” then you want to create the illusion of a shadow. Orange therefore is definitely not the colour you want to go for. Ideally you need something a shade or two darker than your own skin tone with a grey undertone. The paler your skin the more important the grey undertone. Darker warmer skin tones can get away with using a warmer contour.

The final decision to make before you begin the process is which product to use. Cream, liquid or powder? I always think a cream or liquid contour looks the most natural but powder is probably the easiest to apply. For a contour that lasts all day you can use both, which is what I do a lot of the time.


Recently I’ve discovered the urban decay naked skin concealer and I really like it for contouring. The first thing I do before applying is to wipe off any excess product from the applicator. Then apply it to the hollows of the cheeks (not that I have any hollow), the top of the forehead, sides of the nose and just under the bottom lip.

1. Apply the contour shade..

1. Apply the contour shade..

Some people like to immediately apply the highlight colour now and blend both shades at once. I find this causes a muddy mess on the face where the colours mix so I prefer to blend out the contour with a beauty blender first, then go in with the lighter shade.

2. Blend out...

2. Blend out…

I apply the lighter colour under the eye, bridge of the nose and into the forehead, a little bit on the chin (not too much as I don’t want to accentuate my long face) and a tiny bit under the contour, just to sharpen the edge and tidy it up. Blend it all again with a beauty blender.

3. Apply the highlight..

3. Apply the highlight..

Blend again...

3. Blend again…

At this point it still looks a bit scary. So now I go in with my usual foundation, the exact colour of my skin tone. I apply this with a beauty blender over the top of the contour and highlight just applied. This makes it look much more natural, instead of stripes on the face the contour and highlight just peak through the foundation.

4. Buff your usual foundation over the top of the contour and highlight

4. Buff your usual foundation over the top of the contour and highlight

At this point I usually set my foundation with powder. Often, for daytime I’ll just set with a translucent powder. However when I want a more dramatic evening look I’d use a powder contour to deepen the concealer shades and set everything in place. I like the Anastasia contour palette because you have the choice to mix the colours to get the perfect shade for your skin tone.


I tend to mix the grey toned shade and the red toned shade for my pale pink skin, if you have more of an olive skin tone the warmer shade will be more suitable.

To go over the highlighted areas I mix the yellow and the pink shades, a little more of the yellow under the eyes to counteract any blue in the skin there and brighten. On the tops of the cheeks I use the shimmery shade.

Set with powder..

5. Set with powder..

And there you have the final look! As you can see this is quite a lot of work, way more work than I’m prepared to put in on a daily basis. But for a special occasion or when I want to feel a little more glam this is the routine I use. I hope this was useful to anyone who is like me and a little weary of contouring. My camera has washed the colours out a little here, the contour is a little deeper in real life but as you can see from the photos still very subtle and natural looking.

As always, thanks so much for reading!

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