How to Contour Using Makeup

Highlight cheekbones, downplay jowls, a big nose & a high forehead with bronzer

Make up woman face. Contour and highlight makeup.
shvili / Getty Images

If you've landed on this page, you likely know that contouring is the hottest trend right now in makeup. Makeup artists -- both professional and amateur -- use bronzers, blush, and highlighters to contour the face to hide imperfections, highlight their best features and take years off a face.

Years ago, Kim Kardashian made the contouring technique famous with a picture posted on Twitter of her face being transformed through shading and contouring.

Her face was piled on with concealers, bronzers, and blushes before blending and the amount of makeup used was insane. Since then, people have become obsessed with contouring. 

But there's no need to go to such extremes. We show you how to incorporate a bit of contouring into your daily makeup routine to hide some common beauty imperfections and to highlight your best features. 

What Exactly is Contouring Using Makeup?

Contouring is the use of bronzers and blushes to create definition to your face. The goal here is to create shadows to highlight your best parts (hello cheekbones and jawbone!) and downplay any bad parts like a weak or double chin, a big nose or thin lips.

You'll need a bronzer that's not too shimmery or orange. Brown bronzers tend to work best. Remember: You don't want to bring attention to the bronzer. It is meant to create an illusion.

How to Bring Out Your Cheekbones Using Contouring

When we are young, our bone structure can remain hidden underneath chubby cheeks and leftover baby fat.

The chub can carry over into our 20s. Plump cheeks are a sign of youth, so much so that some women pay thousands of dollars to plump up their cheeks using fillers (read about it here).

And then as we age, the fat melts away revealing that bone structure.

No matter your age, you can bring out your cheekbones and your jawbone using the contouring technique.

We show you exactly how with step-by-step instructions in How to Highlight Cheekbones & Jawline Using Makeup.

Use Contouring to Make a Wide Nose Appear Thinner

If there's one facial feature that we'd bet most women would want to change, it's the shape of their nose. Contouring can be amazing, AMAZING for downplaying a wide nose. With just a few sweeps of bronzer, followed by a sweep of a highlighter pen, you can trick the eye and make your nose appear thinner.

Get the full scoop and step-by-step instructions here: How to Make a Wide Nose Appear Thinner.

Contouring Will Highlight Your Jawline & Downplay Jowls

Whether you have an amazing jawline you want to show off, or you have jowls you want to downplay, this trick using bronzer is a must-try.

Try out my step-by-step instructions here: How to Highlight Your Jawline and Downplay Jowls.

How to Contour Lips to Make Them Appear Plumper 

I kind of have thin lips and while I don't envy Angelina Jolie's or Scarlett Johansson's bee-stung lips, I love giving them the appearance of plumpness by contouring them using bronzer and finishing them off with lip gloss. 

Find out how to do this in How to Make Lips Appear Plumper.

How to Downplay a High Forehead

I have a large forehead.

A frat guy in college once told me I had an IMax forehead. You don't forget things like that. Anyway, I've come to terms with it and now it doesn't bother me at all. Change of perspective, I guess and maybe a few comments from people that my forehead is just perfect as is.

In the past, when it bugged me, I hide it with the most amazing side-swept bangs, but if you have hair that's one length and you pull it back, you can downplay a high forehead using bronzer.

Get the full scoop in How to Downplay a High Forehead.

More on bronzers & blush:

  • How to Apply Bronzer
  • Best Bronzers From Cheap to Steep
  • Blush: How to Apply It Correctly
  • The Best Highlighters & Illuminating Makeup Products