Contouring Guide for Makeup Beginners

    When starting out with bronzer, it’s really easy to go over the top and end up looking quite Snooki-esque. I’m going to take you through some quick tips on how to handle your bronzing and highlighting

    First of all, let’s cover the difference between bronzers and highlighters. Bronzers are typically used to add depth to your facial features using shading techniques. Highlighters illuminate certain features and bring things forward. Since shimmer in products accentuates and calls attention to areas on the face, it’s more suitable for highlighters. You’ll find a lot of bronzers that have shimmer in them, too, but these aren’t going to give you the same dimensional effect as using a matte bronzer (in my humble opinion).

    During the winter I like lighter bronzers that are only one to two shades darker than my skin tone. You can get away with wearing a deeper color during the summer. One of my favorite bronzer of all time is Los Cabos from the Sephora Collection. It’s a really universal color that is extremely buildable, and can offer a range of different looks. I typically like using all-in-one contouring palettes, however, and my current favorite is the City Color Contouring Effects palette, which includes a cool-toned contour shade, a warm bronze for adding color, and a luminescent highlight.

    Here is a very dramatic- and digitally retouched- example of how to contour areas on your face

    contouring guide for makeup beginners

    Obviously I would never suggest you apply as heavily as this, but I’m hoping the visual will help show where to apply your bronzer and highlighter. Let’s go section by section, shall we?


    You can play around with the shape of your forehead with a few different techniques, depending on the illusion you want to achieve. To achieve a narrower shape, as demonstrated in the picture above, place bronzer on either side of the forehead, right above your temples. Start highlighting at your hairline, in the middle, tapering the bottom. If you have a taller forehead (or what some people call a five-head), you can give the appearance of it being shorter by placing bronzer starting at your hairline, in the middle, and blending downwards evenly.


    Giving dimension to your eyes is something that can either be done with your eyeshadow or a highlighter. You should use lighter colors on your brow bone to bring them forward, as well as your tear duct to give an illusion of a bigger or more open eye.


    I always highlight right on top of my cheeks to make them appear fuller and give my face a healthy glow. Bronzer goes in the hollows of your cheeks, which you can find by sucking in your cheeks, noticing the natural dip that forms underneath your cheekbones. I usually start my bronzer under the apples of my cheeks and blend upwards diagonally, ending right before my hairline. You would normally apply blush between your bronzer and highlighter, where they would naturally slightly overlap.


    I’ve always been pretty self-conscious about my nose, so I love the bronzing trick you can do to make it look slimmer! Apply bronzer on either side of your nose, then highlight directly down the bridge.


    To give the appearance of a poutier lip, apply bronzer lightly directly under your bottom lip. For that Betty Boop cupid’s bow, highlight the “V” in your top lip.


    If you have a smaller chin (or maybe no chin at all!) go ahead and plop a little highlighter at the center to make it more pronounced. You can also apply bronzer right under your jawline to give it a more chiseled look or disguise a double chin.

    The key to contouring is blend, blend, blend. Blend out any harsh lines, so the shading looks like natural shadows while the highlighting looks like the sun’s glow on your skin.

    Last Friday: Mascara Guide for Makeup Beginners

    What order do you apply your bronzer/highlighter/blush? I usually go: bronzer, blush, then highlighter as the cherry on top!

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    1. This was an awesome post!! I’m always struggling with HAC being so pale, it could go very snookielike quick if I’m not careful!!

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