How to contour for your face shape, according to the pros

Take your glam to the next level with this celeb-approved technique

How to contour your face

by Scott Wells |
Published on

With emerging make-up trends such as the clean girl aesthetic and permanent makeup, there is plenty to swot up on as a 'budding MUA' (ha!). However, one that is particularly popular and integral to many glam looks is none other than contouring.

If you’re not familiar with this, then where have you been? Let’s just say it takes your looks from 'meh' to 'wow' in seconds.

In addition to this, not only is it used to sculpt the face by using dark and light products, but it is also a brilliant technique to know how to do so you can add more depth to your look.

We spoke to Simone Otis, 19/99 Beauty Lead Makeup Artist all about how to achieve a flawless contour.

She tells heat, “Contouring is about creating or amplifying the effect of shadow and light. It’s a way to sculpt and add dimension to your face by using makeup that is darker or lighter than your actual skin tone.”

What products are needed for contouring?

Face contouring might sound like you need a lot of products, but Simone breaks it all down.

She explains, “When contouring you can use any product - a foundation, concealer or a powder-based one, without any shimmer or sparkle in it, it's really up to you.

"My preferred type of product to contour with is a cream. Using a cream product allows you to blend or layer the product to get the depth of colour you are going for and gives you a very believable and natural skin like finish.

"Use a cream product in a shade 1 to 2 shades darker than your skin tone for contouring, and a luminescent shade to highlight with.”

If you're a pro at how to apply concealer and bronzer then you'll already be in good stead for this.

What tools do I need?

“Use the warmth of your clean hands, a damp sponge or an angled makeup brush (using a brush with very blunt bristles will give you a razor-sharp chiselled finish, using one that is a bit fluffier will give you a softer, more melted-in finish)”

A guide to contouring:

Simone shares, “Prep your skin as you normally would with skincare and your preferred base to even out skin tone and cover any blemishes, for example, a tinted moisturizer, foundation and or concealer.

"Look at yourself in a mirror straight on and in good light. Your bone structure will be your guide. Tip your head up and down and notice where the shadows and light fall on your face."

Contouring your cheeks

Start at your cheeks - trace the product along the hollows or where the shadow is occurring under and along your cheekbone from your temples down towards the tip of your nose.

While it's not necessary to add blush for a contoured look, adding a bit of colour to the cheeks will give you a more natural look overall.

Contouring your jaw

Next you can add a sweep of contour along your jawline if you want a more sculpted look there, follow along your jawline and buff the product until you like the look.

Contouring your nose

Add a bit of shape to your nose, start at the top of the nose near where the eyebrow begins, apply a sheer stripe of the contour colour going down towards the tip of the nose, do the same on the other side of the nose. Apply a line of the product across the tip of the nose. Be sure to blend and buff until you like the look.

Contouring your forehead

You can contour your forehead if you like by adding a bit of shadow at the temples and along the hair line using the same technique, build and buff.

How to contour for your face shape


If you are aiming to sharpen very rounded features and get dimension and create angles, start by sucking in your cheeks and trace the contour just under your cheekbones going from the temples towards but not right up to the tip of your nose.

Add shape to the forehead by sweeping contour along the corners of your forehead toward your temples. And add a little shadow along the jawline, fading the product before you get close to the ears, to give dimension there.

An added tip to give dimension to a rounder face is to make sure and fill in the eyebrows - angled and arched eyebrows help to break up the curves.


If you want to shorten your face concentrate the product across your chin and across your forehead, and experiment with the cheek contour placement to add a softly sculpted and rounded look there.


If you are looking to soften an already angled face, focus the contour on the perimeter of your face. You can soften your angled features by rounding out the edges.

If your skin tone is very deep you can skip the contour shade and sculpt the face using a highlighter shade that is 2 or 3 shades lighter than your own skin tone. Apply the highlighter under the eyes, under the brow bones, above and under the cheekbones and down the bridge of the nose. If the colour of highlighter is too light, you can mix it with a bit of foundation to customize it for your best tone.

It might sound like a lot of information to take in but once you have cracked the technique then you will be a natural and your glam will reach new heights.

It’s all about having fun and experimenting with what suits your face shape, so put some time aside to live your best makeup influencer fantasy, sit in front of your mirror and get to work contouring – you’ve got this.

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