Table of Contents
Very few people are born with a sculptured bone structure, but thankfully contouring makeup allows anyone to create the illusion of chiselled cheekbones and defined jawlines by playing with light and shadow.
Contouring Makeup Tips
- Contouring absorbs light and is used to manipulate the shape of facial features such as the forehead, cheekbones, chin and nose. Look for matte products that are two shades darker than your skin colour. In contrast, highlighting accentuates the areas of your face which naturally catch light. Look for a highlighter two shades lighter than your skin tone.
- If you are a contouring expert, feel free to experiment with creams and liquids, but as a beginner, these products will overwhelm you and are unnecessary for an everyday makeup routine.
- To find the angles in your face look at your reflection in the natural light and take note of the shadows (contouring) and areas where the light bounces off (highlighting). Standing underneath an overhead light is an excellent way to find the best places to contour. Another tip is to suck in your cheeks, the line across your cheek is a good starting place for contouring.
Contouring Makeup Products for Fair Skin Colour
For those of us with ivory skin, contouring can be a nightmare as most products on the market tend to be too dark.
To contour porcelain, complexions choose a cool shade such as NYX Powder Blush in Taupe and work the product underneath your cheekbones, temples, brow bone and under your jawline. Use a light hand when contouring and blend well as any contrast in colour will stand out dramatically on pale skin.
Colour-infused highlighting products will show up on darker skin tones but tend to blend seamlessly into fair skin with little to no effect. Focus on illuminating instead with a pearlescent highlighter such as Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Ethereal Light.
The best shade of blush for ivory skin tones is the one similar to your natural lip shade. For cool, pink undertones choose a deep rose or pink such as Revlon Powder Blush in Oh Baby. Women with warm, yellow undertones look best-wearing apricot.
Contouring Makeup Products for Medium Skin Colour
Medium skin tones have a myriad of contouring products available to them and should stick to warmer, tan tones.
The medium skin colour covers a broad range of variations in pigments, but a great neutral colour is Kevin Aucoin Sculpting Powder in Medium. Steer clear of contouring products with too much orange in them.
Don’t be afraid to try darker highlighters such as Burberry Fresh Glow Powder in Golden Radiance. This product is designed to illuminate the skin but can also be used to contour.
Dusty mauve blushes such as Maybelline New York Fit Me Blush in Deep Mauve will compliment yellow undertones while women with red undertones are suited to raspberry pinks.
Contouring Makeup Products for Olive Skin Colour
This Mediterranean skin colour has a unique greenish, yellow undertone giving olive complexions a radiant, golden glow and most tutorials and contouring products favour this skin tone.
The key to contouring is building up light layers, but darker skin tones allow for a more confident application. Look for warm chocolate and caramel tones as found in Stila Shape and Shape Custom Contour Duo.
The natural glow in your skin allows you to play with golden highlighters in warm shades, and our favourite is the Dreamy Glow Highlighter by Charlotte Tilbury. Sweep across the top of the cheekbones, down the bridge of the nose and on the cupids box for sun-kissed radiance.
When it comes to blush warm peach tones with hints of orange flatter olive skin and Giorgio Armani’s Cheek Fabric in Ecstasy will give your skin tone a luxurious lift.
Contouring Makeup Products for Dark Skin Colour
Lighter skin tones use darker colours to contour, but darker skin tones should use lighter shades to create depth.
To contour choose a product two shades lighter than your skin tone and focus on your T-zone, under eye area and lower jaw. Depending on your skin tone you may also want to work a darker shade into your temples, underneath your cheekbones and your chin. When combining both a dark and light product be sure to blend well. Our pick is Smashbox Step By Step as it provides three different shades to play with.
To emphasise your inner glow apply a highlighter in either a colourless or terracotta shade such as Ellis Faas Glow Up in Deep Glow. Apply it above your cheekbones, across your eyelids, on the chin and down the nose.
Look for berry blush shades if you have a red undertone, alternatively, if you have a yellow undertone go for an orange blush. Ebony skin tones allow you to play around with brighter pigments such as NARS Blush in Taos.