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Contour & Highlight like a Pro!

Updated on September 21, 2015
definingglamour profile image

Hina is a College graduate from the Business Administration Program from Conestoga College and a Professional Makeup Artist.

Everyone is Different!

Be proud of the face shape that you have!
Be proud of the face shape that you have!

Before & After Contouring Effect

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Defining Contouring & Highlighting

Hi ladies,

Here is another great hub for those who are wanting to read and learn about basic face contouring and highlighting. These steps are a guide for beginners who are just starting out their first contour and highlight. I don't usually do a lot of contouring because I don't get that extra 5-10 mins to spend on it, however it becomes essential when I know I will be taking pictures. Contouring and highlighting can play a significant role in the overall look of your make up and does a awesome job at enhancing your face features. Basically, it is a method used to create a 3D dimension of your face. By focusing on the highlights of your face features, it pretty much makes you look glamorous.

Important - With a vast growth in make up, there are numerous of ways to apply it. Therefore, this is just a guide to advance your skills. I know that there are other amazing ways to contour and highlight and may be simpler than this, so take this as a starting point.

Plus, I will give brush and product recommendations by the end of this article.

Identify your face shape

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Contouring can be simple once your face is identified
Contouring can be simple once your face is identified
Contouring can be simple once your face is identified

Define Your Face Shape

Today, make up geeks feel as if their make up is incomplete without defining it. The day I learned about contouring and when I started to apply it in my make up, I saw how defined my face looked. There are basic techniques that need to be followed for a proper contour. With practice you can be a pro at enhancing your features. This article will guide you step by step on contouring with the shape face that you have. If this interests you then please continue to read.

Lets begin!

It is important to know your face shape. You may have an oval, round, heart, or square face. Once you define what face shape you have, begin with your regular foundation routine and eye make up. Make sure you set all your make up with a finishing powder before you start your contour.

Contour for Round Face Shape

Temples (around the hairline, hallow of cheeks & the side of jawlines
Temples (around the hairline, hallow of cheeks & the side of jawlines | Source


1. Round Shaped Face: It is said that round face shape have proportional parts. The focus is the center of the face and few contour lines on the cheeks.

  • You will start by contouring the cheeks. Take a shade darker then your skin tone and draw a curve line starting from the center of your ear until the jawline. (You can also make a "fish" face to see where your cheeks lines are)
  • Contour the temples of your face by making a "C" on them.
  • Then, make lines right on the side of your jawline to make an angled face effect.
  • Blend all the contour lines until you see no harsh lines

Highlight feature on Round Face Shape

(Designed in pink by author)
(Designed in pink by author)


With contouring comes the highlighting. Highlighting the face means giving a light to the center of the face where the sun hits the most. For example, when you go out in the sun, look in the mirror, you will see that the sun is shining in the T-Zone of your face naturally. This means, that the highlights are usually done in the middle of the eye-brows, on the bridge of your nose, side of your eyes, and chin. These are some of the common places to highlight, however, because everyone has different face shapes, there are only some places you would highlight.

Round Face Shape: You will highlight the center of the forehead and the chin. You can use any small round brush to blend your highlighter in round motion. Lastly, use a translucent powder to set your make up.

If you prefer looking at visuals rather than instructions then, please follow the pictures on the side and a quick video tutorial by beauty expert from Sephora.

Sephora Beauty Expert Contours a Round Face

Square Face Shape Contour

Temples (side of hairline, on the nose, hallow of cheeks & under the jawline
Temples (side of hairline, on the nose, hallow of cheeks & under the jawline | Source

Highlight for Square Face Shape

Bridge of nose & Chin
Bridge of nose & Chin | Source

Square Face Shape

2. Square face shapes bring a angled face structure from the cheeks to the jawline onto the center of the face. Contouring is used on this face shape to bring the softness around these areas.

  • Start by using a darker shade of brown to contour the hallows of your cheekbones.
  • Then draw a line under your jawline
  • Make contour lines on the temples
  • Lastly, use a small angled brush to contour your nose
  • Blend all the contour lines until you see no harsh lines


Again, highlights are used to focus on the center of the face.

  • Draw the three lines on your forehead in the center of your eye-brows
  • Continue the line from the forehead onto the bridge of the nose, chin and around the eyes

Square Face Shape Contour & Highlight by Sephora

Oval Face Shape Contour

Temples, nose, under chin, hallow of cheeks
Temples, nose, under chin, hallow of cheeks | Source

Highlights of Oval Face Shape

hair line (forehead), under the eyes, bridge of nose, & chin
hair line (forehead), under the eyes, bridge of nose, & chin | Source

Oval Face Shape

3. Oval face shapes are a bit longer than wide. Contouring for this type is used to even out the features.


  • Select a brown shade which is darker then your skin tone to contour the temple, under your chin and on your nose
  • Make contour lines on the hallows of your cheeks and blend
  • Blend all the contour lines to avoid any harsh lines


  • Begin by highlighting the half circle of your forehead
  • Continue the highlight under the eyes, bridge of the nose, side of nose and on your chin
  • Outside of your jaw and around the corner of your mouth

Melissa Chartan Beauty Expert Contour/Highlight for Oval Face Shape

Heart Face Shape Contour

hairline (temples), under cheek bones, under the chin & bottom side of nose
hairline (temples), under cheek bones, under the chin & bottom side of nose | Source

Heart Shape Face Highlight

center of forehead, bridge of nose, under eyes, chin and top of cheek bones
center of forehead, bridge of nose, under eyes, chin and top of cheek bones | Source

Heart Face Shape


It is seen that people with heart shape face have wider foreheads and smaller jawlines. In order to make it look proportion, the forehead is minimized and the jawline is maximized.

  • Start with making harsh lines on your temples around the hair line
  • Then continue under your cheek bones
  • Also, on the bottom and side of your nose
  • Blend the harsh lines


  • Start with your jaws, the bridge of your nose, and under your eyes
  • Then continue on the center of your forehead and the corners of your eyes and mouth

L'Oreal Paris Heart Shape Face Contour/Highlight

Contour & Highlight Products

Now that you have learned about basic contouring techniques, I want to introduce some amazing contour products that I've used in the past and present. I also want to give recommendations from research, other articles and beauty experts all over the world. I want you to know the best yet affordable products you an use according to your budget. I will list all from drugstore to high end. You will also see what others are saying about the products, so that you have reviews from many other experts apart from me.

Happy Reading!

  1. e.l.f. Studio Contouring Blush & Bronzing Powder: This is probably one of the most affordable bronzing product you will find in stores and online. I love its quality with the price. You can purchase this online at or if you reside in Canada, Giant Tiger. The blush is a rosy pink for the cheeks. The bronzer is a dark brown for the contouring. It has a a little bit of sparkle in it, but it blends well into the skin. There are four different shades available including, St.Lucia, Antigua, Turks & Caicos and Fiji (matte). I will recommend this product if this is your first contour and you need to practice until you become a pro at it.

E.L.F Studio Contouring Blush & Bronzing Powder

Can be purchased in 4 different shades Includes Blush and Bronzer
Can be purchased in 4 different shades Includes Blush and Bronzer | Source

2. Boxx Cosmetics Powder Contour Kit: I like this one because it has a highlighting shade with the contour. This one comes with Golden Beige Highlight and Satin Medium Bronzer. One great feature is the magnetic palette that it comes in, which means once the product finishes you can add your own product into it.

3. Cargo Cosmetics Matte Bronzer: This bronzer is available on This product is on the pricey side, $30 however, it contours very well. It gives a sun kissed look and blends easily. This is said to be the favorite by many celebrities. This one also comes in three different shades, light, medium and deep.

4. Maybelline Fit Me Bronzer: This was my first bronzer that I purchased once I completed my make up artistry. I began my contouring with this and till date I love it. It blend easily and is light weight. It comes in three different shades, light, medium and deep. Another good feature is the small brush that it comes with. It is perfect for contouring the nose and hallow of your cheeks. Sometimes I even use the brush with many other high end brands. Awesome product.

Boxx Cosmetics, Cargo Cosmetics, & Maybelline Fit Me Bronzer

Remember to apply your contour with a darker shade then your natural skin tone
Remember to apply your contour with a darker shade then your natural skin tone | Source

Kat Von D Contour Kit

3 shades of contour & 3 shades of highlight
3 shades of contour & 3 shades of highlight | Source

Anastasia Beverly Hills-Contour Kit

Light to Medium & Medium to Tan
Light to Medium & Medium to Tan | Source

Smashbox Contour Kit

2 Shades available
2 Shades available | Source

Make Up Forever Contour Kit - Duo

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4 amazing shades available to contour & highlight
4 amazing shades available to contour & highlight
4 amazing shades available to contour & highlight | Source

Sephora Purchases

I wanted to add the high end brands with the drugstore because everyone's budget and choices are different. Who doesn't like options? I know I do! I don't own all these contour palettes but with intense research I found some favorite from other beauty professionals. All of these products listed can be purchased from or Lets start!

  1. Kat Von D - Shade & Light Contour: This is a six shades palette that comes in 3 contour shades and 3 highlights. It is always exciting to know when contour shades are completely matte. These come in true taupe, soft brown, deep brown, pinkish nude, yellow beige and soft peach shades. A very pricey product with the cost of $55. This is a recommended product for a freelance make up artist.
  2. Anastasia Beverly Hills-Contour Kit: This is another great palette featuring 3 contour and 3 highlight shades. The shades available are light to medium and medium to tan. This one costs $50. This is an option against Kat Von D. Both are good.
  3. Smashbox Contour Kit: I have to mention the angled brush first. I love it! A good brush always completes the pallet. This one comes in 2 shades, light/medium and medium/dark. It has defining, bronzing and highlighting colors. The cost is $52.
  4. Make Up Forever Sculpting Kit: This is a compact powder that gives you a flawless finish. The pigmentation of this is awesome and comes in contrast colors to make life easy for the individual. The 4 shades that are available are, light pink, Neutral light, Gold and dark. Awesome palette for starters. The cost of this duo is $55.

Highlighters give a Radiant Look


Highlight for the Glow

I recently started to use highlighters in my make up routine, but like the contour I don't do it everyday. I use highlighters for pictures only. I have tried some amazing highlighters and I would recommend them all to you guys. I also listed some articles and a video on others opinions about the highlighters as well. Enjoy!

  1. Physician Formula Happy Booster: It is very smooth and blends well. It evens the skin tone while giving it a glow on the cheekbones. It has some pink tones as well as light shades of peaches to highlight the face. Beautiful put together. Highly recommended.
  2. Maybelline Face Studio Master hi-Light Light Booster Blush: This is another highlighter I own, and I absolutely love it. There are many shades available to choose from, light bronze, pink rose, coral, mauve, nude and deep bronze. All are highly pigmented. The thing I love about this is that it has no glitter but still gives the right amount of glow.
  3. Benefit Cosmetics-Cream to Powder Highlighter: This one gives a perfect glow as well. It gives a very luminous effect to the cheekbones.
  4. Bobby Brown Highlighter Powder: There are 2 shades available, one is the pink glow and bronze glow. Both are extremely beautiful and give a very sheer coverage. It is for all skin types and can be worn over or under make up.
  5. Benefit Cosmetics-Dandelion Box O Powder Blush: This highlighter comes in a soft pink which is perfect for an everyday routine. It gives a shimmery, satin and radiant finish all at the same time. Highly recommended.

There are probably a lot more great brands out there, but these are the ones I have experience in using. I always like to give options for both drugstore and high end, because everyone's budget is different. Drug store can also give you the same flawless look if the product is applied properly. If this is your first time using a highlighter then I will recommend using the drug store first.

Drugstore Highlighters by KathleenLights

Perfect Brushes for Sculpting & Defining

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All time favorite brushes for contour & highlight
All time favorite brushes for contour & highlight
All time favorite brushes for contour & highlight | Source

Brushes! Brushes! Brushes!

You learned about contouring and highlighting. You also learned about some of the recommended products for this. Now is the time to learn about some of the brushes you can use to create your look. These are some of the best brushes I've used and work really good. Enjoy!

  1. Bh Cosmetics 10 Piece Sculpt and Blend Brush set: I currently use this brush set, and I love it. It is perfect for contouring and highlighting. The original price is $30, but with on-going sales you can purchase it for approx. $17. These are synthetic and super soft. Highly recommended.
  2. Sigma Small Contour Brush F05: You can't go wrong with Sigma brushes. This one is soft and durable. You can use this for contouring cheekbones with powder products.
  3. Sigma Large Angled Contour Brush F40: This is a fluffy angled brush made for a perfect contour and highlight.
  4. Real Technique Sculpting Brush: You've probably heard a lot about this brush and too for all the right reasons. This brush is perfect for contouring. Use it for hallow of cheekbones, temples or jawline. It is super soft and has high quality bristles. You can purchase these at Walmart.
  5. MAC Flat Contour Brush 163: The cost of this brush is $35 however, its worth the investment. Really awesome brush for really defined lines and to blend flawlessly.

Thank You for Reading!

That sums up this hub! I really hope that this will help you with your basic contour and highlight routine! Again, these are suggestions from me (professional make up artist), which will help you as a guide! Thank you for taking the time to read this hub, I really do appreciate it!

I will talk to you in my next article! Be safe!


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