If you've seen the incredible before-and-after pictures posted by contouring enthusiasts on social media, you're no doubt interested in trying it yourself. With an overload of contouring information, products and methods out there on the web, we’ve decided to simplify things with this step-by-step guide on the essentials of how to contour your face. After all, simple is often better when it comes to makeup, and that’s certainly the case when it comes to creating a sophisticated but striking contoured look.

Contour What

Contouring is a makeup technique that enhances the light and shadows on your face’s natural structure, sculpting your features in a flattering way. This is accomplished by strategic application of dark and pale pigments to certain areas of the face. It shouldn't result in harsh lines of colour or painted-on features that aren’t there in the first place, so don't worry about it looking too obvious. Blending will effectively smooth down the two tones into an understated look.

Contour Kit

You’ll want to start off with makeup application tools on standby. While you can apply foundation with your fingers, tools allow for easier application and seamless blending. The key things you’ll need are a couple of makeup sponges, a flat-ended brush and a soft brush for dusting.

Your main concern is probably which foundation to use for the actual contouring. Beginners should opt for powder over liquid, as it's easier to apply with precision. Choose one matte foundation that’s two shades lighter than your normal tone and one that’s two shades darker. Alternatively, pick up a contouring makeup palette for a range of shades specially selected for this task.

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Contour Good

Step 1: Lay the foundation

Find a day when you have time to spare so you’re not rushing to perfect your look. Start by applying your usual base of face makeup – a simple covering of foundation will do fine. Make sure you’re working in natural light to get an accurate idea of what you’ll look like when you go out.

Step 2: Deepen the shadows

Take your dark-toned foundation and add a small amount onto an applicator sponge. Suck in your cheeks to create a hollow and brush makeup from your ears down into it. Next, apply along your hairline and under your jaw. You can also do the sides of your nose if you want to make it appear smaller.

Remember that you can always build up the colour with repeated applications, but it’s much harder to tone it down if you use too much.

Step 3: Brighten the lights

Now take a shade a few tones lighter than your foundation and dab it onto a flat brush. Draw thin lines from between your eyebrows to an inch or so up your forehead. Draw more lines down the bridge of your nose and at the tip of your chin.

The largest area to highlight is above the cheekbone. Draw a curved triangle down from the edges of your eyes to above the hollow of your cheeks and fill it in with pale foundation. The exact size will depend on your natural face shape, but the light and dark patches of makeup should be separated by a couple of centimetres.

Step 4: Blend it smooth

At this point you’ll have rather severe lines and shapes drawn on your face in various colours, which might look a little concerning. Don’t worry, though. This is the part where you blend it all down to look natural and flattering.

Blend the dark colours in first with a clean sponge, working from the centre of your face out, until you’re left with a warm shadow. Next do the same for the light colours. The two tones should never blend together, only with your base foundation. A final dusting of neutral loose powder will help pull the whole look together. Voila!

Contour Face Oval

  • Oblong or oval face shape: Your face is longer than it is wide. You can alter these proportions by emphasising the contour along your hairline. Follow the whole outline of your face from forehead to jaw with a bold block of dark foundation for a more balanced appearance.
Contour Face Heart

  • Heart or diamond face shape: Your chin is pointed and your cheekbones are the widest part of your face. Make the most of those cheekbones by building up strong blocks of dark tones and light tones on the sides of your face before blending. This is one face shape where you might also want to add a little dark tone to your chin to soften its point.
Contour Face Round

  • Round or square face shape: Your face is broad and even in dimensions. To make it appear narrower and longer you can contour the sides of your forehead and jaw to create an elegant profile.