Contour and Highlighter

Time to shine! Whether subtle or sparkly, powdered or jellied, everyone looks better with a little incandescent movie-star light on their skin. And since most of us don't get to be lit by cinematographers on the regular, the beauty gods created contour and highlighter makeup. While the two are often grouped together, they are complete opposites... just like Monica and Phoebe. Classic sit-coms aside, if you're hoping to sculpt the face or reveal a lit-from-within look for every day or event makeup, it's time to get creative with contour and highlighter makeup. 3, 2, let's glow.


If you're after a super sculpted look that can help make your nose appear slimmer, your forehead smaller and your cheekbones extra sharp, contour makeup is your go-to. Contouring is a technique used for sculpting and adding dimension to the face. Depending on the effect you're trying to achieve, contour makeup is generally slightly darker or lighter than your skin colour. In some ways, highlighter makeup is the exact opposite of contour makeup. When we talk about contouring, we're referring to playing with shadows and light. On the other hand, highlighter adds light to the face. So, instead of adding shadows, the multi-tasking product attracts light and enhances the skin tone, giving you a lit-from-within look, while also lending its skills to accentuate bone structure.

Some people apply both highlight makeup and contour makeup together, blending them at the same time. Others contour first, then finish with highlighter, and vice versa! The order you choose depends on your own personal preference, however, there are tips and tricks you can follow to nail your look. For example, you should always apply your highlight makeup and contour makeup after foundation and concealer. A good rule to remember is that highlighting typically follows a C-shape over your face, while contouring follows an E-shape. To help you blend your contour makeup seamlessly, you can start by mapping out the areas you would like to shadow (this is often the hairline and jawline, under cheekbones and along both sides of the nose). You can use a damp beauty sponge or a contouring brush to blend the contour cream, liquid or powder into the skin. As for highlighter makeup – you can apply a formula that is one or two shades lighter than your skin tone to areas like the centre of your forehead, chin, bridge of the nose and under the eyes. Again, take a damp beauty sponge or a brush to blend. For powdered highlight makeup, opt for a fluffy makeup brush."

We'll start by saying: been there, done that. Common contouring and highlight makeup mistakes include selecting shades that are too dark for your skin tone, using way too much highlighter, not considering your face shape and using the wrong tools for application (among many others!). Additionally, many people skip the final step of every makeup routine – setting spray – which can be the difference between a great face day and a not-so-great face day. Perfecting different makeup looks often consists of a process of trial and error, so don't be too hard on yourself if you don't nail it the first time 'round. As the makeup pros always say: practise makes perfect.