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How-To: Contour

After several years of attempting to shape my extremely square-faced/full-cheeked self, I've come to a few conclusions that have helped me achieve the look I want.  It took me a couple of years, so here's hoping I save you a little time.

1) Colour: What product are you using to contour?
For far too long, I continually attempted to slim down my face and nose with a bronzer.  I don't even know what I was thinking -- what kind of shadow is orangey-brown?  Find yourself something properly cool-toned; your colour should mimic the natural shadow on other areas of your face.  For extremely pale skins, something a little more rosy/taupe will work beautifully; for more olive/yellow toned people, lean towards gray.

2) Placement: Don't suck in your cheeks.
I'm not sure who decided that was the right way to go about; I imagine it's the same person who thought smiling while applying blush was also flattering.  However, when you suck in your cheeks, your contour ends up extremely low on your face, resulting in a botched cheek implant surgery look.

Base | Estee Lauder Daywear BB Cream in Light
Contour | Benefit Hoola / Benefit Dallas / MAC Copperplate
Highlight | Dior Amber Diamond
Brows | TooFaced Velvet Revolver
The orange lines are guidelines -- the vertical line goes from the end of your brow to your jaw -- your contour shouldn't extend farther forward than that.  The other orange line goes from the bottom of your ear to the vertical; your contour shouldn't extend lower.

The blue triange is your contouring sweet spot -- the upper angle follows the slope from the top of your ear down to the orange vertical, giving you the most natural placement for the top of your contour.  Focus your product within the blue triangle and blend in every direction -- voila!  Natural-looking contour.

3) Procedure: Go slowly
Many people hail the MAC 109 as their go-to contour brush.  Maybe mine's newer, but it picks up way too much colour for a natural-looking contour. Start slow -- build up your contour gradually with a soft, medium-sized brush (from MAC, I like the 138 blush brush) until you get the right level of shadow.  If you`re using a cream product, be sure to give yourself plenty of room to blend well; try not to swatch on a ton of product at once.  You can always go back and add more!


  1. Love this post! I have the 109 too (picked it up because everyone was raving about it) and I don't see whats so special about it :( It isnt as soft as some of my other brushes.. Id rather just use my mufe blush brush to contour haha. I knew sucking in my cheeks wasn't right.. but I just am so into the habit of doing it now :(

    1. Those habits are hard to break! I can't help but apply foundation EVERYWHERE even though it's more ideal to just apply where you need. It just looks so weird when I don't.


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