Contouring and highlighting is a makeup artist secret that have gained popularity with the masses and is becoming big in beauty again.
(Especially due to the popularity on a certain celebrity.)
While there are many articles on how to contour and highlight your cheekbones, a lot of them are a lot of work and makes you use too much product – which wastes time and money. Here’s my tips on how to contour and highlight cheekbones – the easiest, fastest, and proper way.
What You Need:
To start to contour and highlight cheekbones, there’s only 3 things you need: highlighter, contour powder and a contoured angle brush. Below are more info on getting them.
1. Highlighter. A highlighter is a makeup product in several formulas (powder, liquid, cream) that will bring some kind of light to your face. The highlight is used to bring out and emphasize, and creates the beautiful glow and highlight to the face. My favorites include Benefit High Beam and Hourglass Cosmetics Ambient Lighting Palette. If you can’t get a highlighter yet, you can use an eyeshadow as your highlighter for now. Eyeshadows such as the popular Stila’s Kitten Eyeshadow can work well as a highlighter. You use it that exact same way as a highlighter – it is just a shimmery powder, after all.
2. Bronzer. While there are many products on the market today for the cheekbones (which many made specifically for contouring) I find the most natural looking for the cheekbones are bronzers. And as I explained here, getting the perfect color of the bronzer is important – the wrong shade can make your skin look muddy and blotchy. My favorite is this one, which I think is one of the best bronzers made.
If you’d rather not buy 2 separate products, there are many 2-in-1 highlighter and bronzer products now on the market made specifically for contouring! My all-time favorite one is the Make Up For Ever Sculpting Kit.
3. Contoured Angle Brush. The last thing you’ll need a special contour angle brush. But don’t let these contoured angle brushes scare you! This is really needed for sculpting and shading in your cheekbones. MAC Large Angled Contour Brush #168 is probably the most famous, and my favorite to be honest. I bought it years ago and haven’t looked back.
Once you’ve got all your tools ready, here comes the fun bit: Application. To begin, 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, at least 3 times, on the back of your hand to let any excess powder fall off. Double check your brush to make sure it’s not full of product. The key here is to be light.
Look straight into the mirror. Make sure your mirror is titled and then suck your cheeks in, making your cheekbones “stick” out. You see those two shadowed lines that are forming underneath your cheekbones? That’s where your bronzer is going. Point your brush on that shadow area and gently sweep some of the bronzer 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 beforehand. 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”, blending the highlighter on top of your cheekbones – suck in your cheeks if you need them to “stick” out again. Blend the product onto the cheekbones – focusing more on the top, outer area of it, and make sure to blend so it looks like a soft glow.
Specific contoured looks. The above technique is the general, basic contouring and highlighting for cheekbones. If you’d like a more Kardashian style contoured look, check out How to… Contour Like A Kardashian. For a more glowy, anti-contoured look, try out the Strobing Makeup Trend.
A Visual Guide
Now, it’s time to check your work. Here’s an amateur-drawing diagram I did to show you (brown = bronzer, and white = highlighter):
Now, check what you’ve done on your face with the image above. Is your product – highlight on the top, contour at the bottom – on those areas? This is how it should look after:
Lastly, blush. This is optional, but I find a soft sweep of blush color can complete this very structured look. After highlight and contouring, you can apply blush to the apple of your cheeks to give your face more depth. Find out what color is best for you in How To Find the Perfect Blush Color for Your Skintone, and for application steps, check out How to: Apply Blush for Your Face Shape.
Want more tips? This is just the basics, and there’s much more makeup tips in my ebook, Makeup for Beginners for contouring, sculpting, blush and so much more.