A beginner’s guide to contouring

Want to accentuate your cheekbones and show off your best features without spending hours in front of the mirror? Welcome to contouring....

woman applying makeup

by Stephanie Anthony |

Think contouring is complicated? Think again. Our easy tips show you it's as simple as one, two, three. Plus find out the best beauty buys to achieve your contouring goals.

If you're dreaming of beautiful cheekbones but aren't sure how to achieve the look or show off your bone structure to the best of its ability, then contouring is the answer.

You may have heard of contouring before but dismissed it as a technique only for makeup professionals, but it actually couldn't be easier.

woman contouring

What is contouring?

Contouring involves the use of highlighter and bronzer to define, enhance and sculpt the structure of the face.

If you've seen the images of women with different stripes or dots across their faces (as above) – this is contouring. The idea is to highlight areas such as under the eye and create shadows for extra definition.

Some people apply a range of different shades, then blend them all together to get the contouring effect.

However, there's no need to go so extreme with it. Applying too much make up will only look heavy. For a brighter, fresher look you only need three products – your base, your bronzer and your highlighter.

How and where to contour


Using a foundation the same (or close) colour as your skin evens your skin tone and provides a base you can build upon when you contour using your lightest and darkest shades.

Glowing skin helps with definition and will prevent bronzing make-up from looking too flat.

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Read more: The best foundations for mature skin


Using a big fluffy make-up brush, lightly sweep bronzer under each cheekbone, starting at the top of your ear and moving down to the corner of your mouth.

Stop where your cheekbones end and blend well.

Apply sparingly along jawline, temples near your hairline, and sides of your nose.


Apply a touch of your usual blusher on the apples of your cheeks, blending out towards your temples.

Next, blend highlighter sparingly along the top of each cheekbone at the same angle as your bronzer.

Dot a little on your cupid’s bow (on your lips), down the centre of your nose and on each brow bone.

Here's No7's handy how-to on contouring:

All-in-one contour palettes

A number of makeup companies now offer ready to use contour kits, with all the products you need to contour in one handy compact.

Best contouring kits for all skin types

Avon True Define & Sculpt Contour Face Palette

Avon True Define & Sculpt Contour Face Palette

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Still think contouring is just for the pros? Our Define and Sculpt Face Palette makes it easy, customisable and undetectable. Get ready to define, emphasise, sculpt and highlight for your best base yet.

PUR Cameo Contour

PUR Cameo Contour

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Contour yourself fabulous with Puru2019s cameo contour. Your secret weapon to flawless contouring, this double ended contour stick comes with a blending sponge for seamlessly blending in shadows and highlights. Setting to a powder finish, an oil free formula includes light reflective ingredients to blur out imperfections and leave skin looking radiant.

Rimmel London Sculpting Palette

Rimmel London Sculpting Palette

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The Sculpting Palette is a clever combo of three powder shades u2013 a highlighter, contour and blush - that seamlessly blend with your natural skin tone to create a contoured look. The kit works with every face shape and skin tone, adding definition and structure. Use a little colour for a natural, fresh look. Or be bold for an impactful, dramatic sculpted effect. The back includes a handy 'map' of where to apply each product so you can contour with confidence.

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