10 Steps for Contouring and Highlighting

contouring highlighting steps tips sephora

On Sunday, I got the chance to attend a contour and highlight class at Sephora, with a few other bloggers. It was such a fun experience and I had the best time playing with a lot of different products. Since contouring and highlighting are such a big trend lately, I wanted to share how to get the perfect, full face look. Below I share with you what I learned at the class combined with tips I already discovered. At the end of the post you can shop my picks for highlighting and contouring.

contour and highlight for face shapes

Highlight: Brings Light and Emphasize

1. The Triangle of Light: You want to place your highlight shade(or a lighter shade of concealer) in an upside down triangle under your eye. Follow from just below the inner corner of your eye, down to close to the end of your nose. Then draw an angled line up to the outside corner of your eye. This will help brighten up the center of your face.  If you only place just below your eye then you will have a very stark looking highlight that is less natural.

2. The Tree: To brighten up the middle of your face even more you will want to draw a line of your highlight down the center of your nose. You will then bring this up to your forehead and fan it out (You can see how this looks in the picture above). I call this a tree because it reminds me of the way a palm tree looks. You may want to focus more on this area if you have a smaller forehead.

3. The Bottom: On the lower half of your face you will want to highlight on your chin and right above your jawline. You do not want to take the highlight up too high because it needs to be under where you will contour. You can also highlight around your mouth and on your cupids bow(this is the indent in the middle of your top lip) as an added step.

4. The Cheekbones: The last place to highlight is the tops of the cheekbones. I like to do this after I have contoured and applied blush. The placement of this is just as it says, right on top of the cheekbones. You can feel where this is if you place your finger under your eye. You will feel that bone going back to your hairline and this is where you will place the highlighter.

Contour: Create Shadows and Sculpt

5. The Hallows: This is the place you think of first when talking about contouring. You will place your contour in the hallows of your cheek. To find exactly where this is you can suck in your cheeks and make puckered lips (or as I call it, ‘the fishy face’). This should be right above the highlight you put on in step 3. You want to start by your hairline and ear. You will bring the contour in but stop about two fingers width from your lips. I would suggest a light hand at first and build it up if you want more after you blend.

6. The Forehead: To slim your face and add more dimension you can contour on the sides of your forehead. How far you bring it to the end of your eyebrow depends on how much you want to slim it. If you have a larger forehead then I suggest bringing it all the way down but be careful to not use too much. You can even add some in the middle of your forehead, above the highlight you already have.

7. The Jawline: If you want to slim your chin area then you want to contour your jawline. This can help hide a double chin. Place the contour shade right on the very edge of the jawline for both sides. This will go slightly underneath your face.

8. The Nose: The nose is probably the most troublesome place to contour. If you have a smaller nose or just happy with yours then I suggest skipping this step. If your nose is a little larger and you want to make it appear slimmer then this technique is for you. You want to place a very thin line on the outside of each side of your nose. I would err on the side of caution and draw the line as thin as you can. You want to connect the two lines at the front of your nose. Just follow the natural arrow shape on the end of your nose. If you do not connect them it can end up looking very unnatural.


9. Blending: When you are blending it all in you want to start with your highlights. When you move onto contour, blend the cheek contour you want to blend upward to avoid looking muddy. If you are using a cream contour you can blend it out with a beauty blender, a duo fiber brush, or your fingers.

10. Setting: To keep everything looking perfect you want to set it all. This helps to keep everything in place and avoid creasing. If you use a cream or liquid highlight you should set it with a matte powder with a similar color. A very popular choice is banana powder. There is a popular one by Ben Nye and one in the Anastasia Contour kit. The same goes for using a cream or liquid contour. To set the whole face use a translucent powder, or a setting spray.


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