The best (and worst) ways to contour and highlight

The best (and worst) ways to contour and highlight

Since contouring and highlighting were thrust into the spotlight by Kim Kardashian many moons ago, more tutorials and techniques have been posted on the internet than memes about Pokémon Go.

They’ve taken on a life of their own, growing and evolving into other methods like ‘strobing’ and ‘baking’, making it even more difficult to know what the best and worst ways to contour and highlight are.

To offset the information overload, we asked the real pros how to keep it simple with some dos and don’ts.

DO contour and highlight after foundation

We’re not saying you can’t do it underneath your foundation, a lot of people do. But similar to concealer, if you want something to stay put, it should be applied on top of any coverage products you’re using. “Applying foundation over the top of contouring will move where you’ve placed it,” says make-up artist Rae Morris. By applying it afterwards, it won’t mix with the rest of your make-up or become too blended (and virtually non existent). You’ll also find you use less product and can be light-handed because the smallest amount will be visible.

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DON’T go overboard

Bobbi Brown will be the first to tell you she’s not a big fan of the contouring trend. “I believe in using make-up to accentuate your features rather than change them,” she says. So it doesn’t have to be about making your jaw more chiseled or your nose look smaller, it can be as simple as adding some light and shade to favour your best features. “You can use highlighter on top of the cheekbone, under [the] brow, and at the inner corner of [the] eye to accentuate your facial structure and brighten the face,” says Bobbi.

DO use the right shades and tools

Just like foundation, the shades you use to contour and highlight will differ depending on your skin tone. As a general rule your contour product should be one to two shades darker than your skin tone, whereas your highlighter should be one to two shades lighter. Rae also advises to use flat, neutral matte browns for your contouring and avoid anything overly shimmery.

It’s the opposite for your highlighter, which can be as shimmery as you like, as long as it’s applied with caution. “If you choose to use a highlighting powder, the key is to only lightly dust the areas and avoid big brushes as smaller brushes with light movements will give an overall natural look,” says make-up artist Jade Kisnorbo, from

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DON’T apply blush in the wrong spot

Applying blush can give the perfect finish to your contour and highlight – if applied correctly. “Blush always needs to go above the contour line,“ says Rae. “It would never make sense to create a cheek contour (or if you have the natural line already) and then put blush on or below it. If you do, you will make your face look fuller and also create a sagging and ageing effect.” In conclusion, your contour should always be applied underneath the cheekbone, whereas your blush goes on and above the cheeks.

RELATED: How to apply blush for your face shape

Contouring & highlighting products we love:

  1. Rimmel London Kate Moss Sculpting & Highlighting Kit
  2. Face Of Australia Glamazon Contour Kit
  3. Nude by Nature Contour Palette
  4. Bobbi Brown Nectar Shimmer Brick

Do you contour and highlight? What’s your best tip?

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