How to contour your face – tips and techniques for each face shape!

by 40+Style

How to contour your face |

Facial contouring is a technique in which makeup enhances and shapes the facial structure. It was originally designed for catwalk models and photo shoots, but is now a part of many women’s daily routines.

For me, contouring is subtly defining one’s features and for it to be elegant it should be barely noticeable. With the right tools and neutral colour tones you can create the illusion of a slimmer jawline, a sculpted nose, chiseled cheekbones or defined eyes.

Contouring isn’t just shading with darker shades; it also encompasses applying lighter colours, highlighting, to define you.

I find that before any of my clients try to contour their face, it’s important for them to understand the tools of the trade. For most novice ladies, I suggest starting with creamy products, as they are easy to blend.

Always stick to matte bronzers and highlighters. You can always add shimmer later when you are more comfortable with the process.

Invest in some good brushes. Ideally, it would be good to have an angled contour brush or a foundation brush, a smaller brush for more detail and a brush to blend the edges of the shading and highlighting.

Blend, Blend, Blend. If you still struggle with harsh lines and a brush isn’t do doing the job, try using a beauty blender or a foundation sponge in a rolling or dabbing motion. Sometimes a damp sponge works the best.

Colour tone is important. I recommend picking colours suited to your skin tone, ideally 2 shades lighter for a highlighter and 2 shades darker for a contour. This really gives the illusion of shadow.

Now that you have the basic tools, you are able to start your contouring journey. Let’s have a look at the best way to contour.

Discovering your face shape first

With most of my clients, the question that then comes up is “I don’t know my face shape?” So I ask them to stand in front of a mirror and I take an eye pencil or lipstick, if you’re daring, and I trace the outline of their face on the mirror. This is an easy for you to do yourself and don’t worry the eye pencil or lipstick comes off easily. It’s with this outline that most women can easily identify their face shape.

How to discover your face shape | 40plusstyle.comHow to contour for each face shape

Round Sides of jaw, temples and the neck areaCentre of the nose, cheeks, chin and foreheadJust under the cheekbones
LongForehead near the hairline, lower cheeks and chinAbove the cheekbones and templesOn the cheekbones
Square Sides of jaw and templesCentre of the nose, cheeks and chinOn the side of the cheekbones
Heart/triangleTemples and chinLower cheeks on jawlineOn the cheekbones
OvalSides of jaw and templesChin, temples and above the cheekbonesOn the cheekbones

Here are some visuals c/o Makeup Forever (you can find their contouring set here)

How to controur a round face |

How to contour a long face |

How to contour a square face |

How to contour a heart or inverted triangle shape face |

How to contour an oval face |   

See how it’s done!

I recommend watching Lisa Eldridge’s Effortless Contouring video.

What I like about the video is that she shows you the basics of what I would call the “elegant” version of contouring with a cream product. The outcome is not like the very defined and dramatic versions you see floating around the Internet.

This is a fantastic starting point to your contouring adventure and as you get confident you can delve more into the depths of shading by trying the little tip she gives at the end for your lips.

So the most important tips to remember are:

  • Less is more
  • Subtle is elegant but defined
  • Don’t forget to add some colour to your cheeks
  • Practice, Practice, Practice!

Have you ever tried contouring?

kellysignatureKelly is 40+Style’s makeup and beauty expert writer. She is a professional makeup artist currently residing in Singapore. For more information or bookings contact her through her website.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Greetje

Not my forté. Too much hard work. Strange but true.


2 Lisa M

The thing I don’t like about contouring is it assumes that there is a look that is “perfect” and if you just fool the eye, you can make your face fit into that category.

I want skin that is healthy first and foremost, and to the extent I use make up I want it to help me look refreshed and alive — not some mask that makes me look like someone other than me — wrinkles, gray hair and all.


3 Silvia

Beautifully explained. Simply and elegant not like many tutorials where they over do it ending with their noses highlighted like a fox. Lol!
Thanks so much!


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: