Contouring and highlighting (also known as ‘strobing’) became extremely popular some time back, and it is now a staple of every woman’s makeup routine. Contouring refers to creating shadows on your face to give the appearance of a slimmer nose and sculpted cheekbones while highlighting adds shine to your features so certain areas stand out more. It can be tricky to get the hang of it if you’re an amateur, so read on for tips to perfect your strobing routine.
1) Contour according to your face shape
No contour and highlight look can be identical because every face shape is different. Take a close look in the mirror and try to experiment with what flatters you, or consult some resources so that you can work out what will suit your face shape. For example, round faces need contouring on the cheekbones, temples, and jawline so that the overall effect can be made more oval.
2) Invest in some good tools
Makeup brushes can make contouring and highlighting a much quicker process. Rubbing makeup into your face with your fingers can be difficult and messy, and won’t always achieve the desired effect. Brushes (particularly ones made exclusively for contouring and highlighting, such as angled contour brushes and fan highlighting brushes) can make the process a lot smoother and the final look will be more subtle and finished. You can also use a beauty blender to apply and blend the makeup.
3) Wear makeup according to your skin tone
This is true for many makeup products and is certainly true for contouring and highlighting. Yes, the point is to use darker and shinier products to enhance your features, but anything that is too far removed from your natural skin tone will just ruin your overall look. Go for makeup that is one or two shades darker at the most for a contour. A highlighting product should be fairly close to your natural skin tone, just a bit more glowy.
4) Work on a good base
If you haven’t applied any other makeup, and you reach straight for your contour and highlights, it won’t turn out as you intended. Apply an even layer of foundation (or BB cream) and then apply concealer if necessary. Once everything is neatly blended and in place, you can start working on your contour and highlight.
5) Follow the lines of your face
Shade in the hollows of your cheekbones, and make sure to blend it out well. Also contour along the two sides of your nose, starting from the brows downwards. For a good highlight, lightly trace very little of the product over your cheekbones, your brow bones, and the tip of your nose, and perhaps also over your cupid’s bow.
6) Pick powder or cream
Your skin texture might determine whether you pick powder or cream products. Oily skin is better suited to a powder contour, not a cream, while dry skin is better for cream contours. Liquid highlighters, similarly, aren’t great for oily skin, but do well for dry skin. Cream highlighters give a more matte finish, but a powder highlight is probably the best bet. It works particularly well for oily skin. You can buy palette sets which will give you highlight and contour options both, so you don’t have to shop separately for them. If you’re too lazy to invest in new products, you can always use a darker concealer to try out a bit of contouring.
7) Keep it subtle
Unless you’re going for a very dramatic look, keep your contour and highlight makeup minimal and simple. The more makeup you put on, the less subtle the final look will be. The purpose of strobing is to deceive the eye as to your face shape and brightness, and if you’ve put on too much or left chunks of makeup unblended, you won’t achieve the sculpted, dewy look you were probably going for.
8) Powder it off
It’s very important to set any kind of makeup, particularly since it might start shifting as the day wears on. Use some powder (translucent is a good idea) to seal the makeup in place. If you feel you’ve put too many layers on your face already, you can opt for some setting spray instead, which should work just as well as a good dusting of powder.
Contours and highlights might seem a bit extreme and new-fangled, a difficult trend to understand. Watching makeup artists draw lines over their faces can certainly seem strange, but the idea is to blend everything together to create very subtle changes in the way the face is seen. It’s a makeup technique that’s worth perfecting if you’re interested in upping your glamour game.