Contouring and highlighting is a Hollywood-beauty secret that have gained popularity with the masses and is becoming big in beauty again (mostly thanks to the Kardashians, check out my tips on how to contour like Kim here). And sure, it is “extra” work in our makeup routine, that’s why for everyday makeup, a little contouring on the cheekbones (as opposed to a full face) can make a huge difference.
There’s only 3 things you need: A highlighter, bronzer (a lot come together now, like the one below) and a contoured angle brush.
1. Highlighter. A highlighter is a makeup product in several formulas (powder, liquid, cream) that will bring some kind of light to your face. Whether it’s a liquid illuminator, a powder highlighter, or even a pearly nude eyeshadow; this is a must-have for bringing out your cheekbones:
- Benefit High Beam. A pink-pearly liquid illuminator that you apply with a brush. Just “dot” it onto your skin with the nail-polish like brush and rub it in with your fingers to blend.
- Hourglass Cosmetics Ambient Lighting Palette. A recent hit in the makeup world – this gorgeous highlighting palette features a soft-focus finish which makes it super natural looking and flattering in all lights.
- YSL Touche Eclat. A cult classic beauty product used by makeup artists, celebrities and beauty editors, this highlighter and concealer pen is used to highlight and conceal.
- Eyeshadows like Stila’s Kitten Eyeshadow and MAC’s Shroom Satin Eyeshadow can work well as a highlighter.
2. Bronzer. While there are many products – some made specifically for contouring – I find the most natural looking are bronzers:
- Bobbi Brown Bronzer. Bobbi Brown is also one of my favorite bronzer-makers, because her colors are always very light and natural looking. I use their lightest color, but see which one suits your skintone best.
- Benefit Hoola Bronzer. Again, one of the best bronzers made, and one of my favorite as well. it’s the perfect shade: it’s a standard brown that’s not too muddy and not too orangey either.
3. Contoured Angle Brush
Don’t let these contoured angle brushes scare you! This is really needed for sculpting and shading your cheekbones. Here are some of the best I’ve tried, for all budgets:
- MAC Large Angled Contour Brush #168. Probably the most famous, and my favorite to be honest. I bought it years ago and haven’t looked back.
- e.l.f. Angled Contour Brush. This affordable brush does the job and does it well, especially if you’re just a beginner in contouring. Once you go “pro”, you can upgrade your brush.
- Sigma F40 Large Angled Contour Brush. Sigma makes amazing brushes at even better prices – they are seriously worth ever penny.
If you’re not into buying another brush, you can also just grab any old blush brush and stick your finger through one side of it so it has a “scoop” shape, although that can be a bit annoying after awhile.
Got all your tools ready? Great! Now it’s time for application.
Keep in mind that the best way to always apply makeup is with a mirror that is titled ever-so-slightly upwards so you can see exactly what you’re doing.
- Grab your angled contour brush and bronzer. Swirl the brush around in the bronzer powder, say 5 times, and then “tap” the brush on the back of your hand to let any excess powder fall off.
- Look straight into the mirror, and suck your cheeks in. See those two shadowed lines that are forming? That’s where your bronzer is going. Point your brush on that shadow and gently sweep some color there, and then up in a crescent shape up towards the top of your ear.
- Step back and check your work. Suck your cheeks in again; is that line that natural shadow-y area now filled with bronzer? Success! If it’s too light, go over a few more times. And if you’ve overdone it, take some tissue, scrunch it up in a ball, and gently, in circular motions, wipe off the extra bronzer.
- Next, grab your highlighter. If it’s a liquid highlighter, squeeze a few drops onto the back of your hand and pat your index and middle finger into it. Make sure to wipe off any excess. If it’s a powder highlighter, grab another blush brush (any is fine) and pat in some product.
- Look straight onto the mirror again and apply your highlighter above your bronzer “line”. If you’re using a liquid highlighter, dap a few drops of the product and blend into your skin, if you’re using powder, apply it as you normally would powder products. If you don’t know which area I’m talking about, it’s the space that’s right under your eye area, right before your cheeks. Start from the center of your eye and blend until the end of it.
Here’s an amateur-drawing diagram I did to show you (brown = bronzer, and white = highlighter):
- Make sure your application doesn’t look like two obvious lines – remember to blend, blend, blend. (Then blend some more.)
- You can add a touch of your usual blush (colors like peaches, pinks, etc) to the apple of your cheeks, but remember to keep it very light so it doesn’t look too much.
- If you want your liquid highlighter to last all day, sweep some translucent loose powder on top of it.
P.S. Want more? Check out Kim Kardashian Contouring Tips.