Get the Celebrity Makeup Look with Highlighting & Contouring

Ever wonder how celebrities get the best makeup looks? One secret is contouring and highlighting.

With a few simple steps, it’s easy to bring out your face’s best features. You can create the illusion of high and defined cheekbones, minimizing what you don’t like such as a broad or long nose, and even camouflage a double chin.

For photography, contouring and highlighting can greatly enhance your pictures. While a face is three-dimensional, a photograph is two-dimensional. Unless features are defined, they can easily blend into one another in a photo and make the face appear flat.

First, start with a clean face with cleanser, toner, and moisturizer. If you are going to be photographed, avoid any moisturizer with physical sunscreens such as zinc or titanium oxide. These ingredients protect the skin by reflecting UV rays and light and therefore, will also reflect light during flash photography which will “blow out” and white out the face.

Apply a makeup primer to minimize the appearance of pores and give the skin a more even canvas to work with.

Now you are ready to begin. Although there are many highlighting and contouring products in the marketplace, I find that the easiest method is to use 3 foundations in the same formula whether it’s liquid, powder, or cream: One for your skin tone, a lighter one for highlighting, and a darker one for contouring.

Choose your best foundation color. Because the face and neck especially are usually lighter than the rest of the body, I like to match the décolletage, especially during the warmer months when we get more color and more skin is exposed. This will give the skin an overall more even appearance. If you look at fashion and beauty magazines, you will notice that the model’s skin from head to toe is the same color. This is achieved with makeup. Matching the décolletage is one way to achieve a more uniform hue to the skin.

Apply the foundation that matches your skin all over the face with a makeup sponge. If you are using a liquid or cream, “swipe” for a sheer look or pat into the skin for more coverage. Blend into the neck if it is a lot lighter than your face and chest.

Now you are ready to place the contour.

Contouring (making something darker) will do two things: minimize a feature you don’t like and also add definition.

With a light hand and using the edge of your makeup sponge, dab the darker foundation evenly on the following areas:

  • Sides and bottom of nose: This will define the nose which is especially important if being photographed. It will also thin the appearance of a wide nose. If you feel your nose is too long, you can add some to the bottom.
  • Across jawline. Again, this is important for photography to visually separate the face from the neck. If you have jowls or a double chin, you can dab on those areas as well.
  • If you have a high forehead, dab on the hairline. If your forehead is wider than your jawline, dab on the sides to create a more oval look to the face.
  • Suck in your cheeks and dab on the hollow of the cheeks.

Now you are ready to highlight. Highlighting (making something lighter) will bring out desirable features and will add the needed dimension to the face.

Using the lighter foundation and the edge of your makeup sponge, dab evenly on the following areas:

  • Down the center of the nose. If you have a long nose you would rather have appear shorter, don’t go all the way to the tip.
  • Center of the chin (unless it is very prominent). This will take attention away from jowls.
  • Center of the forehead. If you have applied contour on any areas of the forehead, this will round out the forehead and give it proportion.
  • The top of the cheekbone. This will give the cheekbones supermodel height!
  • The brow bone to open up and enlarge the eyes.

Now comes the most important part: Blending!

Using your sponge gently pat the skin until all of the foundation is blended and there are no lines of demarcation and the makeup looks natural. You can also use the palms of your hands (Be sure to wash them well first!) to press the foundation into the skin.

After you have blended properly, lightly dust the face with powder to set the makeup.

Now you are ready to add blush, eye makeup, and lip color for your celebrity look!