Back To Beauty Basics: How To Contour

How to contour and highlight your face like a professional…

contouring products

by Emma Stoddart |

Contouring, although not new, is the makeup-artist approved trick which still floods our social media feeds daily. Just search ‘how to contour’ on YouTube and you’ll get over 200,000 results. Whilst on Instagram, the hashtag #contour brings up 5 million posts. Why are we so obsessed with it? Well, get it right, and strategically placing bronzer and highlighter has the ability to sculpt your cheekbones and hone your jawline. But, there is a very fine line between naturally enhancing your features and completely masking them with heavy stripes of make-up. We have spoken to Makeup Maestro Naoko Scintu to get all of her application tips and tricks in order to nail the art of contouring…

What is the best way to contour?

‘First of all, make sure you contour in ‘even light’’, advises Naoko Scintu, ‘I always contour when there is natural day light sat by a window.’ This way you can see how much product you’ve applied and make sure it’s completely blended in. For products, Naoko states ‘cream-based formulas are the way forward to get an evenly graduated and natural-looking contour.’

What products should you use to contour and how should you apply them?

There are a whole host of contouring palettes, sticks and creams out there so deciding which one to go for can be a mighty task. If you prefer a matte finish, opt for a powder formula, and if you prefer to look dewy go for something lightweight and creamy. ‘I am obsessed with Tom Ford’s Shade and Illuminate palette, £60,’ says Naoko, ‘it has a lovely dewy texture and isn't too heavy.’

The palette comes with a dark bronze tone called ‘shade’ and a sheer highlighter called ‘illuminate’. ‘I would apply the shade first using a fan brush to map out and draw lines on the face.’ We love Laura Mercier's Fan Brush, £26, as the thin edge is great for defining the contour. Take the product along the cheekbones, around the temples and on either side of the nose and chin. Next step? ‘Use a fluffy brush to blend out the lines with a sweeping motion.’ Now for our favourite part – ‘apply the illuminate atop cheekbones, across the bridge of the nose and on the cupid’s bow for a refreshed glowing look,’ advises Naoko.

How should you contour for every day?

Regardless of time of day, contouring has definitely moved on from that heavier defined look to something more natural and softer looking. ‘Many celebrities opt for a more natural look, defining the face with only blush and highlighter, skipping the contouring element altogether,’ states Naoko Scintu. ‘I think that ‘natural’ skin is having a real comeback – 99.9% of my clients prefer the softer approach to makeup.’

‘To dial it down for every day wear, be sure to not use too much product,’ recommends Naoko, ‘it’s all about being subtle and using just a little bronzer to enhance the cheekbones and jawline.’ Plus, you can always add more but it’s tricky to take away so start with less and build up the bronze if needed. ‘The best contouring is seamless and invisible to the naked eye,’ says Naoko.

What should you avoid when contouring?

Choosing the right shade and texture is key. ‘Avoid using a contour shade which is too dark for your skin tone,’ recommends Naoko, ‘as a general rule - never go more than 5 shades darker.’ When choosing formula, Naoko swears by cream-based products ‘the texture blends so much better than a powder-based one.’ Try Bobbi Brown's Bronzing Stick, £26, to contour and Nars Multiple in Copacabana, £29, to highlight - both come in a nifty stick form so you can swipe on and blend in with fingertips. If you do prefer a matte finish Naoko suggests you ‘set the contour with powder once you’re happy with the blend, and after you’ve added highlighter.’

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