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How to Contour and Highlight with Makeup

Learn how to correctly contour and highlight for your correct face shape.

Posted on June 23, 2017
Written by: 100% PURE®

Contouring has become one of the most popular makeup trends in the last few years and we can tell it’s here to stay. It might be a simple bronzed cheekbone to bring out your natural summer glow or a full-on trompe l'oeil through masterful pro-techniques. We’ve added in face shapes to help you specifically contour and highlight to play-up your unique features. Get the full breakdown below to get that perfect natural and easy contoured look just in time for summer.

In this blog we'll teach you how to contour, how to highlight, and how to contour and highlight for your face shape (not sure what face shape you have? Read on to find out!). We'll point you to the right products for each step, including which natural foundations will work best as a highlighting/contouring base, and will show you which tools to use to get the job done right! Get the full breakdown below to get that perfect, natural and easy contoured look just in time for summer.

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What is Contouring?

Essentially, when you contour you’re using shading or shadows to create an illusion of recession. Use contouring to help define or reshape your facial features. The areas that are not darkened or shaded then stand out! This can make your cheekbones look more pronounced, make your nose more narrow or even help you reduce the appearance of the beloved soft under chin. You’ll instantly transform to a more sculpted Adonis self.

PRO TIP: The key to successful contouring is always use a matte powder or cream foundation.

What is Highlighting?

When you use the technique of highlighting, you’re doing the opposite of contouring. The areas that have this lighter shade or shimmer will be accentuated and more pronounced. Using a highlighter or strobing will help emphasize the areas of your face that naturally catch the light.

PRO TIP: To avoid a frosted 90’s cupcake look, make sure to choose a highlighter with undertones that complement your skin tone for the perfect subtle sheen.

Foundation Options for Contouring

Bronzer Options for Contouring

Highlighter Options for Contouring

Tools for Contouring and Highlighting

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The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Contouring and Highlighting in 5 Quick and Easy Steps

STEP 1: Select Foundation

Select your usual foundation shade and apply as you normally would. Don’t forget to set yourself up for success by starting with a Mattifying Primer or Luminous Primer.

STEP 2: Shade Key Areas

Choose a Foundation that is a few shades darker than your skin tone or use Cocoa Pigmented Bronzer - Cocoa Glow. Use the darker foundation shade (or bronzer) and apply it with our Cruelty Free Angled Contour Brush F30 to the areas that you’d like to contour, such as the hollows of your cheeks, temples, hairline, jawline or nose. The Cruelty Free Crease Brush E40 will help you apply the bronzer in a controlled technique in smaller areas such as the sides of your nose or hair line.

STEP 3: Blend it Out

Start with a lighter application at first. You can always add more to build the intensity. It’s much harder to take away than to add on! Make sure to blend, blend, blend so there are no hard, visible lines.

STEP 4: Highlight

Select a foundation shade that is 1-2 shades lighter than you would normally wear, or use a highlighter.

STEP 5: Brighten Key Areas

Apply the highlighter or lighter foundation shade to the areas that would naturally catch light. This is generally the tops of your cheekbones, brow bones, bridge of your nose, forehead and chin using our Cruelty Free Angled Contour Brush F30. Layer on a small amount of highlighter to the cheeks, and nose with our Cruelty Free Small Stippling Brush F10.

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How do I choose the correct formula for my foundation for contouring and luminizer for highlighting?

When you are choosing your natural foundation for contouring it’s best to stick to the same formulas. Different formulas, like using a powder base foundation then a cream foundation to contour, will have mixed results. A perfect combination for dewy would be our BB Cream as a base, paired with a darker shade in our Cream Foundation and topped off with a Luminating Créme. A perfect combination for matte would be our Powder Foundation as a base, paired with a darker shade in the same powder foundation formula, and topped off with our Cocoa Pigmented Bronzer - Cocoa Glow.

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Creamy Luminizers:

If you prefer a powder, more matte finish, we’d recommend using our Bamboo Blur Tinted Moisturizer as a base, paired with a darker shade in our powder foundation. Top this off with a Gemmed Luminizer to keep with the powder formula. We’d recommend sticking to the same consistency family, trying to blend a powder highlighter over a dewy foundation base or vice versa can make it difficult to blend properly, ending in less than stellar results.

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Powder Luminizers:

PRO TIP: Our Fruit Dyed Makeup Blender works best for blending cream based foundations. Use our Cruelty Free Angled Contour Brush F30 for blending together powder formulas.

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How do I know which foundation is right for my skin type?

Great question! We’ve done a full breakdown of what natural foundation formula is the correct choice for your skin type. Hop over to our How to choose the best natural foundation blog post to see which formula matches your needs. Whether you want a sheer, barely-there makeup look, a hydrated glow with light coverage, or medium to full coverage, we’ve got what you need. Our fruit pigmented natural foundations also offer a variety of different finishes: dewy, satin, or matte. Normal to oily, combination, or normal to dry skin types can all find the perfect match in one of our 8 natural foundation lines.

What Face Shape Are You?

Diamond Face Shape

diamond face shape

Key Features:

  • Slightly pointed chin
  • Longer than wider face
  • High cheek bones
  • Hairline is more narrow than cheeks

Makeup Goals:

  • Add fullness to jaw and forehead
  • Minimize cheek width

Products Needed:

How to Contour a Diamond Face:

  1. Select your usual foundation shade and apply as you normally would.
  2. Choose a Foundation that is a few shades darker than your skin tone or use Cocoa Pigmented Bronzer - Cocoa Glow. Use the darker foundation shade (or bronzer) and apply it with our Cruelty Free Angled Contour Brush F30 to the area below your cheekbones, only going halfway. Make sure to thoroughly blend so it doesn’t look unnatural

How to Highlight a Diamond Face:

  1. Select a foundation shade that is 1-2 shades lighter, or use a highlighter if you would like a shimmery, luminous look.
  2. Apply the lighter foundation or highlighter under your eyes. Draw an upside-down triangle for an extra brightening effect.
  3. Brush in the middle of your forehead as well as the middle of your chin. This is where light naturally hits on a diamond face and will help broaden these areas.
  4. Add a pop of color to your cheeks with our Fruit Pigmented Blush: Berry. If you’d like to tone down the flush, dab a little highlighter on top to tone it down.

Heart Face Shape

heart face shape

Key Features:

  • Slightly pointed and narrow chin
  • Widow's Peak
  • Forehead is the widest part

Makeup Goals:

  • Balance forehead to chin
  • Play up high cheekbones

Products Needed:

How to Contour a Heart Face:

  1. Select your usual foundation shade and apply as you normally would.
  2. Choose a Bronzer or Foundation that is a few shades darker than your skin tone. Use the darker shade and apply it with our Cruelty Free Angled Contour Brush F30 to the sides of your forehead, temples to help balance your narrow lower half to the wider upper half of your face. Other key areas to hit for contouring are your cheekbones, making sure to end halfway as well as the center of your chin to help soften the point of the heart. Make sure to thoroughly blend so it doesn’t look unnatural.

How to Highlight a Heart Face:

  1. Select a foundation shade that is 1-2 shades lighter, or use a highlighter if you would like a shimmery, luminous look.
  2. Apply the lighter foundation or highlighter under your eyes. Draw an upside-down triangle for an extra brightening effect.
  3. Brush in the middle of your forehead as well as the middle of your chin. This is where light naturally hits on a heart shaped face and will help broaden these areas.
  4. Add a pop of color to your cheeks with our Fruit Pigmented Lip & Cheek Tint: Pink Grapefruit Glow. If you’d like to tone down the flush, dab a little highlighter on top to tone it down.

Oval Face Shape

oval face shape

Key Features:

  • No pointed features
  • Face is 1.5x longer than wide
  • Slightly upside-down egg shaped

Makeup Goals:

  • Add depth to cheekbones
  • Play up balanced face shape

Products Needed:

How to Contour an Oval Face:

  1. Select your usual foundation shade and apply as you normally would.
  2. Choose a Bronzer or Foundation that is a few shades darker than your skin tone. Use the darker shade and apply it with our Cruelty Free Angled Contour Brush F30 to the sides of your forehead, helping to appear more narrow. Also apply it below your cheekbones, ending halfway. Make sure to thoroughly blend so it doesn’t look unnatural.

How to Highlight an Oval Face:

  1. Select a foundation shade that is 1-2 shades lighter, or use a highlighter if you would like a shimmery, luminous look.
  2. Apply the lighter foundation or highlighter under your eyes. Draw an upside-down triangle for an extra brightening effect.
  3. Brush in the middle of your forehead as well as the middle of your chin. This is where light naturally hits on an oval shaped face and will help broaden these areas. Finish with lightly applying under your eyes and brow bone to brighten under your eyes.
  4. Add a pop of color to your cheeks with our Fruit Pigmented Pot Rouge: Pinkie. If you’d like to tone down the flush, dab a little highlighter on top to tone it down.

Rectangle Face Shape

rectangle face shape

Key Features:

  • Square jaw line
  • Face is longer than wide
  • Width of hairline and jaw even

Makeup Goals:

  • Soften corners of face
  • Define cheekbones

Products Needed:

How to Contour a Rectangle Face:

  1. Select your usual foundation shade and apply as you normally would.
  2. Choose a Bronzer or Foundation that is a few shades darker than your skin tone. Use the darker shade and apply it with our Cruelty Free Angled Contour Brush F30 to the sides of your hairline, helping your face appear more narrow. Also apply it along your hairline, under your jawbone to create a narrow illusion and cheekbones only going halfway. Make sure to thoroughly blend so it doesn’t look unnatural.

How to Highlight a Rectangle Face:

  1. Select a foundation shade that is 1-2 shades lighter, or use a highlighter if you would like a shimmery, luminous look.
  2. Apply the lighter foundation or highlighter under your eyes. Draw an upside-down triangle for an extra brightening effect.
  3. Brush in the middle of your chin. This is where light naturally hits on an rectangle shaped face and will help broaden this area. Finish with lightly applying under your eyes and brow bone to brighten under your eyes.
  4. Add a pop of color to your cheeks with our Fruit Pigmented Lip & Cheek Tint: Shimmery Cocoa Berry. If you’d like to tone down the flush, dab a little highlighter on top to tone it down.

Round Face Shape

round face shape

Key Features:

  • No pointed features
  • Face is long as it is wide
  • Rounded cheeks

Makeup Goals:

  • Add angles and depth to cheekbones
  • Create structure

Products Needed:

How to Contour a Round Face:

  1. Select your usual foundation shade and apply as you normally would.
  2. Choose a Bronzer or Foundation that is a few shades darker than your skin tone. Use the darker shade and apply it with our Cruelty Free Angled Countour Brush F30 to the sides of your forehead and along your temples to give the appearance of narrowness. Also apply to the areas below your cheekbones, only going halfway, using a curved line to your jawline to help lengthen your face. Make sure to thoroughly blend so it doesn’t look unnatural.

How to Highlight a Round Face:

  1. Select a foundation shade that is 1-2 shades lighter, or use a highlighter if you would like a shimmery, luminous look.
  2. Apply the lighter foundation or highlighter under your eyes. Draw an upside-down triangle for an extra brightening effect.
  3. Brush in the middle of your forehead and cheekbones. This is where light naturally hits on a round shaped face and will help broaden this area. Finish with lightly applying under your eyes to brighten.
  4. Add a pop of color to your cheeks with our Fruit Pigmented Blush: Pretty Naked. If you’d like to tone down the flush, dab a little highlighter on top to tone it down.

Oblong Face Shape

oblong face

Key Features:

  • Face is 2x longer than wide
  • No pointed features
  • Narrow Chin

Makeup Goals:

  • Balance height to width
  • Enhance cheek width

Products Needed:

How to Contour a Oblong Face:

  1. Select your usual foundation shade and apply as you normally would.
  2. Choose a Bronzer or Foundation that is a few shades darker than your skin tone. Use the darker shade and apply it with our Cruelty Free Angled Countour Brush F30 to your hairline to help lower your hairline. Apply under your chin, for a rounder face as well as below your cheekbones, only halfway. Make sure to thoroughly blend so it doesn’t look unnatural.

How to Highlight a Oblong Face:

  1. Select a foundation shade that is 1-2 shades lighter, or use a highlighter if you would like a shimmery, luminous look.
  2. Apply the lighter foundation or highlighter under your eyes. Draw an upside-down triangle for an extra brightening effect. This is where light naturally hits on an oblong shaped face and will help broaden this area.
  3. Add a pop of color to your cheeks with our Fruit Pigmented Lip & Cheek Tint: Sugar Plum Sheer. If you’d like to tone down the flush, dab a little highlighter on top to tone it down.

A beach-worthy summer look should always start with one of natural fruit pigmented makeup products. Your skin will thank you for taking such good care of it! Whether you want a deeply sun kissed look with reflective, golden pigments, or a subtle, luminescent highlighting glow to make your face sparkle and shimmer, we’ve got you covered. Looking for more makeup guides? Check out our Lipstick Guide for helping finding the perfect lip shade for your skin tone.

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