What’s a makeup blog without a bit on contouring!

Contouring, strobing, highlighting – it’s all about enhancing your God-given features. Remember, you should get compliments on your features and not on the products you use.

While I love makeup and enjoy creating special looks on my clients’ already-beautiful faces, I am a strong believer in less is more. So, I use makeup to enhance rather than change a person’s looks.

Contouring, highlighting and strobing have been buzz words for a while now and I think it’s worth a blog. Contouring can be for everyone if it is done correctly. Don’t believe that you can’t do it yourself. All it takes is a bit of practise and lots of fun.

My motto is to keep it light, especially as we’re heading into Summer – we should be thinking of keeping our skin looking fresh and natural.

Before I explain how to achieve the various affects, I think it’s important to understand what they are.

Contouring is when you use a powder, cream, or pencil product that’s two shades darker than your skin tone to shade areas you’d like to define or reshape. The basic places for contouring include the area below the jawline, the sides of the temples, and the hollows of your cheekbones and the sides of the nose. Remember, contour colours should be matte. Shimmer reflects light, and when we are contouring we are trying to do the opposite. Save the shimmer for the highlighting and strobing.

Highlighting is a great complement to contouring. Where contouring darkens
the areas of your face that are in shadow and creates depth, highlighting lightens the areas that natural light would hit first. These areas are the brow bone, the top of your cheek bones, the centre of the forehead, the bridge of the nose, the centre of your chin and the top of your cupid’s bow. Remember, your highlighting shade is generally two shades lighter than the shade of your skin.

Strobing is a fancy term for highlighting and is simply a way of accentuating a feature without defining it.

Let’s put this to the test.

While our larger, fluffier brushes may be used to highlight, use smaller ones to contour.
While your larger, fluffier brushes may be used to highlight, use smaller ones to contour.

Step 1 – Create your base

Always start with a clean, fresh canvas. This means you should always wash and moisturise your face before adding a good primer. Once your primer has dried, use a foundation brush to apply your foundation and concealer as required.

Step 2

Ensure you have the right products and brushes. A powder contour will give you a more matte finish whereas a cream contour will give you a more dewy finish.

Contouring is not a job for big, fluffy brushes. You will need smaller brushes (like the ones you use to apply eye shadow) to create the contour lines.

The brush to blend out these lines should be larger.

Step 3 – Let’s Contour

Draw a line with the darker contour shade from your earlobe down to just before your mouth, following the hollows of your cheekbones, so it will be slightly curved.

Then draw a line below that on your jawline.

Follow this with a line on your forehead, along your hairline. This will make your forehead appear smaller.

Lines on either side of the bridge of your nose will help sculpt your nose.

These are the basic lines we use in contouring. But always remember to only contour areas that suit your face.

Step 4 – Time to Highlight

To highlight, use the shade that is two times lighter than your foundation. Again, you will highlight only those features you want to enhance.

You will add your highlight colour between your contour colour. This will be under your eyes, the centre of your forehead and the bridge of your nose.

Use a beauty blender to blend colours.

Step 5

Once you are done with the highlights, use your foundation brush or a damp beauty blender to blend in the darker and lighter shades. Be sure to dab your makeup and not push it around. Use the pointy part of the beauty blender on your highlights and the rounded part on your contours.

Step 6

Finish off your look with a sprinkling of matte powder over your face. This will help set your makeup.

And if you would like, you can then use some shimmery highlight over the bridge of the nose, the tip of your nose, your cheekbones and cupids bow. This will enhance your makeup look even more.

Some of my favourite strobing tools.
Some of my favourite strobing tools.


So, forget about two shades lighter or darker. All you need to strobe are a few good illuminating products.

Strobing gives you a more dewy, shimmery, youthful glow.

As with highlighting, illuminator is applied to areas of the face that light hits first – the brow bone, cheek bones, the centre of your forehead and down your nose.

This is the final step in your makeup application, so your illuminator will go on top of all your other products. The awesome part of this is you don’t have to apply layer after layer, especially on a balmy Durban summer day!

A word of warning about creating this look – be careful in your application. Too much illuminator and the look could go from glowy and dewy to Christmas glitter ball!

Prepare your skin with a good moisturiser.

Make sure you use highlighters that match your skin tone. Champagne tones for fair skin; pink champagne for light to medium skin; gold tones for olive skin; and terracotta tones for dark skin.

Use the highlighter on the areas that catch the light as I’ve mentioned. If you have oily skin I suggest you skip the chin and forehead. Powder highlighters also work best for oily skin types. If you have oily skin, opt for a matte blush, bronzer and other face products. Only your highlighter should be shimmery. Also, remember to avoid areas of your face that are prone to breakouts.

After applying the highlighter, blend out with your fingers, a fan brush or a damp beauty blender. To avoid blobs of product and obvious makeup lines, be sure to blend harsh edges of highlighter so it fades into the rest of your skin.

That’s it lovelies – a few tips on contouring, highlighting and strobing. I hope you enjoy trying it out. Practise, practise, practise – it’s the only way you’ll get it right.

Please let me know how it goes!

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