In addition to blending, contouring & highlighting was in very high demand when I asked everyone what they would most like to know about makeup. I once spoke at a women’s church group on makeup tips, and all but one said they had no idea how to contour & highlight- which makes sense! It’s a confusing concept, so where do you start? If you’re lost, there is an easy way to think of it to help you remember what goes where (aka, the “dark stuff vs the light stuff!”)
Think of a drawing or painting. The objects far in the distance are shaded while those closer up are lighter- contouring is no different! Just like in art, our goal with contouring and highlighting is to create illusions and enhance certain features. Therefore, whatever you want to bring forward you highlight, and whatever you want to recede, you lowlight, or contour.
Something to notice about highlighting and contouring is that where there is one, the other is usually right next to it. This creates extra emphasis on what you are trying to enhance. For example, the most common place to contour is right below the cheekbone where your face naturally indents, to make the cheekbone appear more prominent. But to really make it pop, we also highlight right on the cheekbone itself to bring it forward.
Another main place to contour is the sides of your nose, to make it appear slimmer, while highlighting right in the middle, down the bridge.
My favorite place to lowlight is the top of the forehead (This helps make your forehead look smaller- you are welcome, fellow five-heads!) and you can add a dash of highlight right below, in the center of your forehead near the area in between your eyebrows.
These are the main areas that are contoured, and these techniques are generally flattering for most people. However, if you want to get really specific, you can look up how to contour based on your face shape!- round, square, diamond, and more. All contouring techniques for the different face shapes have the goal of making yours appear oval, as that is the “ideal” face shape.
I hope this helped clear up any confusion you might have! Thanks for reading!