By Hannah Lisa Makeup, Mar 7 2014 10:59AM

I’m sure the whole world has heard of contouring by now. Thanks to the likes of the Kardashians, the secret is out!

Contouring, however, can be very hit and miss. I’ve seen some contouring tragedies in my time as a makeup artist, from both professionals and non-professionals, celebs and non-celebs alike. It’s an easy mistake to make if you don’t know what you’re doing!

In my opinion, makeup should enhance your natural beauty, not completely change how you look. Contouring can be dangerous and wonderful at the same time. For example, aging makeup is simply contouring the ‘wrong’ lines. Which is why you need to be careful, it’s surprisingly easy to make yourself looks older, more tired, and aged, with contouring-gone-wrong. Day to day contouring should consist of emphasizing your cheek bones, diminishing any so called flaws, and giving your skin a healthy glow. Symmetry is also key, I find I have one cheekbone slightly higher than the other, so I try to even this out with contouring.

I tend to use powder for contouring. I’m sure you’ve all seen the foundation method, but I find that this is far too harsh for anything other than photographic or film. My advise is to get a nice contouring powder pallet. So many brands have them nowadays, try MACs sculpting powder pro pallet, where you can choose the colours to match your skin tone. Or Sleek Makeup’s ‘face form’ palettes, available from, they come in a range of shades and are equip with a blusher and highlighter too, all you need! Don’t contour with blusher or bronzer! This is part of the over-all contouring process, but not the actual definition. Contouring powder should only be a few shades darker than your natural skin colour, and the same tone. No more than this or you run the risk of looking like you’ve been in a fight!

My ultimate advise for any kind of makeup, is to build it up. Once you have your foundation on, dust your face with some powder. Loose, compact or mineral, it doesn’t matter, use whatever is your preference. The powder will make the contour easier to blend.

Take a medium sized, soft but firm brush like this one from real techniques (left). Following the natural hollow under your cheekbones, add a small amount of the contour powder. Then blend with an angled, fluffy brush, like the one on the right. repeat this and build it up to achieve the desired effect. You can also contour your jaw line, hair line and nose to make them look more defined. For your nose, use a smaller brush.

A general rule when it comes to contouring and highlighting, is to take note of where the light naturally hits your face, and where is naturally darker. Highlighter should be used on the highest part of the cheekbones, the brow bone (just under your eyebrows), and a small amount down the center of the nose. Depending on the look you’re going for, you can also SOFTLY highlight just above the eyebrows, and the cupids bow of your lips. If you prefer a matte base, I’d suggest only highlighting your cheek and brow bones, and using a non-shimmer highlighter.

Once this is done, you can add your bronzer and blusher. You should never use bronzer all over your face. Take a big fluffy brush and bring the bronzer in a ‘3’ shaped motion, starting from your forehead. Blusher should be used on the apples of the cheeks to lift the face and give a flush of colour. A basic rule is to blend it in line with the center of your eyes, outwards, and no lower than the bottom of your nose! Use a smaller, rounded, fluffy brush for this. Again, with both blusher and bronzer, BUILD IT UP. It’s easier to add makeup than it is to take away!

The results can be seen in this photo of little old me. Without contouring, my skin looks dull and one dimensional. With a small amount of contouring, I have more of a glow and I’m a little bit more defined. Note here that I have red lipstick on, so I have steered away from pink blusher! With red lips you should use a natural, slightly peachy blush. Pink and red can be amazing for high fashion, but you’ll look like a clown at the office…

I hope you find that I’ve covered the basics of contouring here. If you have any further questions or feedback, don’t hesitate to get in touch! My details can be found on my website,

Thanks for reading!

H x