Thanks to Kim Kardashian, we’ve learned that contouring can make your face look like you know your angles at all times — even when you’re not holding up your phone to take a selfie. With the right contouring products, you can instantly help your face appear to be more three-dimensional, as New York City-based makeup artist Benjamin Puckey tells Allure. However, knowing exactly where to put the contouring and highlighting shades depends on the shape of your face. Yup, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all method to contouring your face. Someone with a rounder face may not contour in the same places as someone with a square-shaped face. To find out why that is, we asked professional makeup artists to share their contouring tips for the most natural but sculpted look.
No matter what your face shape is, “the rule of thumb is that anything you shade will optically recede,” he explains. Then, you highlight areas you want to bring forward. With this in mind, if you want your forehead to appear smaller, he says you can contour the sides of it and along your hairline. Alternately, If your forehead is on the smaller side, Los Angeles-based makeup artist Patrick Ta adds that you may want to skip contouring all together and focus more on highlighting the center of your forehead.
Before we dive into where you should be contouring based on your face shape, you should gather some essentials. For a low-key, everyday look, Puckey recommends reaching for cream contour kits like the Kat Von D Shade + Light Crème Contour Palette. If you want to intensify and lock in your contouring for the evening or a big event, you can layer powders on top like the Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow Face Sculpt & Highlight.
If you don’t already know what your face shape is, you can figure it out with these tips. Once you have it in mind, keep scrolling to find out precisely where to apply your contouring products for Kardashian-level sculpting.
For those with round-shaped faces, Stern says the key to contouring is to create shadows. To do so, start by sucking in your cheeks to find out where the hollows of your face are. Then, apply your contouring shade about a fourth of an inch higher than the hollows. Be sure to blend upward to help accentuate your cheekbones.
Next, you’ll want to contour your jawline, starting just below your ears. “Shading the jawline also makes your face more angular,” Puckey adds.
Because you’re dealing with a more structured, angular face shape, Stern says your goal is to bounce light off your face with highlighter, which helps soften your features (if that’s what you want).. She recommends blending an illuminator on the high points of your face like your brow bones, top of your cheekbones, and the tip of your nose. Then, don’t forget this unexpected spot: below the apples of your cheeks.
You can skip contouring entirely with these highlighting steps, but Puckey likes to shade along the hairline with a technique you might have caught on RuPaul’s Drag Race. “Drag queens who love to create a smaller, rounder forehead call this ‘the beige rainbow’ technique,” he says. You can also soften the squareness of your jawline by lightly applying bronzer along it. Just be sure to blend out the product with a large fluffy bronzer brush like the Nars Bronzing Powder Brush #11.
Stern calls oval-shaped faces a combo of round and square, so you’ll need to equally balance the contouring and highlighting tips from both.
For more specific direction, Puckey suggests shading along the hairline, the hollows of the cheekbones, and just below the chin. “Chin contouring should always be soft because it can look beard-like when done too heavily,” he notes.
“Heart-shaped faces need very minimal contour because they already have great angles,” Puckey says. With this in mind, Puckey likes to contour along the temples. You can also concentrate on chiseling your cheekbones.
Puckey’s simple trick for figuring out where you should shade your cheekbones is pressing your index finger horizontally on your cheekbones. Then, move your finger down until you feel it lodged under the bone of your cheek. “This is the guideline from which you blend the contour upwards, starting near your ears,” he adds.
Like those with square- and heart-shaped faces, you were born with a sculpted face. With that in mind, you can keep your contouring to a minimum or pass on it all together. Instead, focus on highlighting the high points of your face.
Learn more about contouring:
- 15 Contour Kits For Sculpting and Highlighting Your Face for the Gods
- 11 Contouring Products Pros Swear By
- I Just Discovered the Easiest Contouring Trick Ever From Tom Pecheux
Now, see contouring in action:
Follow Devon Abelman on Twitter and Instagram.