Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Quick Lesson on Highlighting and Contouring

I know a thousand Pinterest pins, YouTube videos, beauty blogs, etc cover the concept of highlighting and contouring, but I am doing my own version:)
The general concept of highlighting and contouring is to add brightness/lightness to areas of the face you want to bring attention to (or draw forward), and to create depth in areas you want to create a shadow (or recede).  So remember, light = highlight/"pop" and dark= shade/recession.
When you see all the crazy face charts available on social media, you will notice that generally the highlighted areas are the middle of the forehead, the brow bone, bridge of the nose, under eye area, top of the cheekbones, cupid's bow, and depending on the shape of the face, the chin.  Contoured areas are usually under the cheek bones, the perimeter of the forehead, the sides and tip of the nose, and the jaw line.
Highlighting and contouring can be done very subtly (e.g.: swiping bronzer or contour powder to contour, highlighter powder or cream on the planes of the face to highlight) or very dramatically (e.g.:  the typical Kim Kardashian look, which is done with a lot of concealer and foundation in various light and dark shades).  My esthetic tends to lean toward a more natural look, so my preference is to leave heavy contouring for photo shoots and special occasions.  In person, heavy highlighting and contouring can look jarring and unnatural.  It is totally cool if you are feeling the more dramatic look, I am just giving you a heads up!

I realize this is a very popular topic, so I thought I would do a photo tutorial (my first!).  Here we go!

1.  This is me with my typical eye makeup, brows done, and a light layer of liquid foundation (brand is Face Atelier, which I use in my kit).  I do not normally wear this foundation, as it tends to make me break out if I wear it too frequently (contains silicones, which look great but can make sensitive skin reactive).  Ok, back to the topic at hand! I don't have under eye concealer on, since I am going to add it in the highlighting step.  None of my photos are retouched, as it defeats the purpose of real life makeup.
I am not feeling my hair color here, oh well!  
As you can see, the foundation makes my skin look a little flat.  Highlighting and contouring will bring some depth and life back into my face.  Since my nose is not the smallest, it will also help to shape it to appear a little narrower.  

2.   For highlighting, you will want to use a cream or liquid concealer or foundation (your choice!) in 1-2 shades lighter than your actual skin tone.  For contouring, you will want to use a concealer or foundation 2-3 shades darker than your actual skin tone.  You will also need a synthetic concealer or foundation brush to apply the product and a cosmetic sponge to blend the products (Beauty Blenders are amazing for this, but pricey).
For highlighting, I used the Temptu Concealer Wheel in the lightest shade.  For contouring, I used the darkest shade.  

3.  Apply the highlight shade to the areas of the face you would like to "pop" or illuminate.  For me, I did the areas previously listed. If you want to be really fancy, you can also use the light shade to "carve out" your eyebrows.  This basically means to clean up your eyebrows with the makeup product to make them appear neater/more even (especially along the upper brow).
 Then apply the contour shade to the areas of the face you wish to sculpt.  I chose to sculpt out under my cheekbones, the sides of my nose (going up and slightly underneath the bottom of the inner part of my eyebrow), the tip of my nose, my jaw and my hair line.
Everyone looks like a weirdo during this process! It will look good  in the end, promise.

4.  Blend out the light areas with the cosmetic sponge.  It usually works best if the sponge is slightly damp, so that is what I did.  You want to kind of press or dab the color to blend rather than swiping or rubbing it.  After you are done with the light areas, go ahead and do the shaded areas.  Be sure that there are no harsh lines, and that your jawline area is blended well.  
This is with everything mostly blended.  I thought my nose needed more contouring, so I added it after.
This is with the nose contoured more to my liking.  Sorry that the lighting is a little different here.

 5.  If you want, you can add an actual highlighter to your cheekbones.  I did use a powder highlighter (Tarte's Exposed blush).  You can also add bronzer if you prefer (I did not in this tutorial).  Add blush and then set everything with a loose powder and a big fluffy brush.

The finished product!  

And there you have it!  This is a look that takes some practice, and some getting used to, depending on how much makeup you wear on a routine basis.  Please let me know if you have any questions about this tutorial:)

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