Home Beauty How to: Contour and Highlight

How to: Contour and Highlight

by Wasifa Ahmad Hasan

Hey ladies!
When you hear “Contour-Highlight”, whose face comes in your mind?
Umm..for me, it’s Kim Kardashian. And let me show you why.
Without contouring, the face looks 2D after you put on your foundation…which is not flattering. As our face is 3 dimensional, strategic placement of bronzer, blush and highlighter makes the face more alive and beautiful by bringing out our facial features.

What is contouring?

Contouring is the process by which you can make the normal contoured part of your bone structure more prominent. You can “hide” the unflattering parts, like high forehead, double chin. The product should be 2-3 shade darker than your complexion. You can use a bronzer, a dark colored blush or even dark colored foundation/concealer to contour. Generally, it looks better if the contour product is matte.

What is highlighting?

Hghlighting is the process by which you can “bring out” the high points of your face. Like the highest part of your cheek bones, just under your eyebrows, bridge of your nose.  The product should be 2-3 shades lighter than your complexion. You can use both shimmery and matte products for highlighting.

As for me, I do not heavily contour my face everyday, (Com’on, I am not gonna be filmed or photographed like Kim.K on everyday basis!). But when I am doing a tutorial or going out for a party, I do whole face contouring & highlighting. Otherwise for everyday, I just stick to highlighting the brow bone, highest part of the cheek and strategically placing the blush under my cheek bones.
If the above blabbering doesn’t making much sense, let me show you more pictures. Pictures will make it easier.
Brown-Contour, Pink-Blush, White-Highlight
[Before you lay your eyes on my pictures, I have to admit that the pictures came out pretty amusing to look at. It was hard for me to keep a straight face while taking the pictures.]

What do I use:

When I am doing heavy highlighting-contouring, I use cream concealers which are lighter and darker than my skin color. Like ELF studio cream concealers shown here.
No. 4 is the exact match for my skin. No 1 is darker than my skin so I use this as a base for the contouring, and I use no. 6 (lighter than my skin) to highlight the face.
Sometimes I also use a MAC bronzing powder in Bronze to contour and a MAC highlighter- Soft and Gentle to highlight. The picture have been enlarged here to show the true color of the products.
The brushes I use are Real technique contour brush, Sephora blush brush, BH cosmetics brushes. (I will do a separate review on brushes later.)

This is a diagram of highlighted and contoured area of face.

My take on contouring & highlighting:

At first, I have used a light layer of foundation. Then I just “paint” my face like the above picture. Then I blend out the products with a damp sponge. After blending, I set the products with a translucent powder. At last, I apply my blush and then some shimmery highlighter to further highlight my face. 

Front View:

Side View:

After you are done with the rest of your makeup, the whole face will look like this.


1. The key to natural looking contouring is blending. Blend the products well, so that there is no visible line on the face, rather a shadow.
2. As a highlighter, the difference between shimmery & matte products is that, you can use the matte product  to highlight the whole face; whereas if you use a shimmery one, you have to use it a little amount and only on the highest part of cheek, just under the brow bone and inner corner of the eyes. Use too much and you are going to look like a disco ball!

So here is a before-after comparison… The difference may seem very little, but this little difference will make a flattering impact on your face!
Stay Healthy , Stay Beautiful!
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[Images are collected from internet, unless otherwise stated]

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Bella Adward December 5, 2016 - 2:57 am

Very informatic tips which you have shared with us

Wasifa Ahmad June 13, 2013 - 12:06 pm

Hello! Thanks for the love!
ELF is an online company and I have bought the ELF concealers from online shop… you won't find it in any local shops..sorry 🙁
Try the online shopping pages from Facebook… they can help you 🙂

rajvin rashid June 13, 2013 - 11:54 am

Hi Dear, Your posts are awesome and very helpful. Please let me know from where you bought ELF studio cream concealers (you mentioned in this post). I searched almost in all market for different shades of concealers but i failed. please suggest me a place in dhaka from where i can buy it..

Wasifa Ahmad June 9, 2013 - 2:56 pm

Just take little color on your brush and start blending.. if you are having trouble blending a dark color, then just use a color close to your skin color and blend with it.

Little Doctor June 8, 2013 - 9:20 pm

You are pretty <3 ^_^ And I cant blend 🙁

Wasifa Ahmad June 8, 2013 - 12:36 pm

Most welcome sweetie!

Kazi Afrina June 8, 2013 - 12:32 pm

thank uuuuuuuuuuuu ……….tooooooo much helpful

Wasifa Ahmad June 8, 2013 - 5:07 am

Hey Martha! Thanks girl! 🙂

Martha Woods June 7, 2013 - 9:21 pm

I don't contour/highlight nearly often enough…this was a really helpful post!!

Wasifa Ahmad June 7, 2013 - 7:44 pm

Thanks dear!

Lily beth June 7, 2013 - 7:18 pm

beautiful detail post…thumps up!


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