Contouring is the most confusing beauty technique of all time. You watch so many YouTube tutorials about “How to Contour Every Different Kind of Face Shape?“ where girls are practically spackling their faces in diagonal lines of full-coverage foundations, then about 30 minutes later, they emerge looking like an entirely different person.
Contouring is a great tool to enhance your natural features, and maybe even cheat the ones you wish you had! But every face is different, which means the method can vary with each application!
What It Looks Like: “Square shapes are defined by strong, wide foreheads and jawlines,” says Make Up For Ever vice president of education and artistry Simone Ciafardini.
The Technique: “When sculpting, always feel your bone structure with your fingertips so you know where the product should go. Remember that dark shades decrease volume and light shades increase it. So, you’ll want to add light to the tops of the cheeks, and dark underneath. You’ll want to shade from under the cheekbone to the temples, ending at the far left and far right of the forehead closest to the hairline. Sculpting the cheekbones in this way will give lift to the entire face. You’ll also want to add a darker shade to the left and right sides of the jawline, which creates the illusion of overall length.”
What It Looks Like: “This is a full face with a soft, rounded chin, jawline, and cheeks,” explains NARS international makeup artist Uzo. “It’s as wide as it is long, meaning the widest point on the face is between the cheeks.”
The Technique: “Contouring the cheekbones will provide an angular appearance. Also, adding dimension to the jawline and chin will lengthen the silhouette. I prefer using matte powders to give definition. The contour color should be one step darker than your natural skin tone. It’s important to use an angled brush. Sweep the darker shade of your palette under the cheekbones towards the ear, then along the jawline and under the chin. Also dust the color across the forehead close to the hairline. Add your highlight using a blush brush dipped in your lighter shade; sweep it along the tops of the cheekbones, the brow bones, and down the center of the nose.”
What It Looks Like: “This face resembles an upside-down egg,” says Darais, Lancôme national celebrity makeup artist. “It’s actually the most desired shape out there!” (So that explains why we’re so obsessed with Lupita.)
The Technique: “This face actually contours naturally,” Darais says. “But you can hit under the cheekbones, from the middle of the ears to the corners of the mouth in a slightly darker hade to create the illusion of a lift. If your face is a long oval, you can also contour the top of the forehead and under the chin to cheat a shorter length. You also might add a bit of shading to the sides of the neck, which always looks elegant and beautiful. As for highlighting, add it to the tops of the cheekbones, the brow bone, down the center of the nose, and above the upper lip.”
What It Looks Like: “This is a blend of oval and inverted triangular shapes,” explains M.A.C. senior artist Regan Rabanal. “The defining qualities would be a prominent chin, wider forehead and cheekbones, a widow’s peak, and a smaller jaw.”
The Technique: “Heart-shaped faces will want to add shade to the forehead and the cheekbones, since they’re the wider points of the face. This will soften their width and align them with the jaw. If your chin is very prominent, begin the shading underneath and then blend upwards towards the center. You’ll want to highlight the center of the forehead and sides of the jawline to balance the silhouette. Also add a little to the top of the chin and beneath the lip. For natural-looking results, use sweeping and buffing motions with a medium-sized brush to blend.”
What It Looks Like: “This face shape is close to oval, but with a more prominent forehead and chin,” says Sephora PRO Hector Espinal.
The Technique: “Contouring the forehead and the chin helps add balance,” Espinal says. “Shade underneath the chin and along the hairline, then stretch the center of the face by adding highlight underneath the eyes and the center of the forehead. Skip highlighting on the chin altogether.”