Tutorial – Contour, Blush, & Highlighting the Face

Contour, blush, and highlight tutorial for the face.

Skill Level: Beginner-Moderate

You need the following tools for contouring: a contour brush (I use MAC’s 168) and a contour color (I use MAC’s Enriched Refined Bronze). An angled powder brush can usually double as a contouring brush, just like you can make your choice in the color you want to use to contour. In general, I would assume a color that is darker than your normal skintone is ideal. Contouring adds shadows to your face to create more dimension (carving the cheeks or accenting the cheekbones, thinning out the nose, etc.).


Contouring is really pretty easy, so long as you place the contour line in the right position, and it is quite simple to find that right area. You need to make a “fishy” face, which is when you suck in your cheeks as much as you can. You can see/feel the hollow it creates below you cheeks; this is the area!


Using your contour brush, pick up your contour color, and apply in the hollow created by the fish-face. This is why makeup is done in private, usually, because this pose is not at all flattering 😉 The brush should fit nicely into the hollow of your cheeks, and you simply guide it upwards alongside the hollow/curve.


I followed my natural curve, which you can see resembles the same angle/line of my jaw.


This is what the finished product looks like, and of course, you need to blend this out if you weren’t going to use blush later on (which I will be doing). You can see that I have followed my jawline almost, only beginning in the hollow of my cheeks. For me, that means the curve ends around the middle of my ear.


You need the following tools for adding blush to your cheeks: a blush/powder brush (I use Philosophy’s blush brush) and a blush color (I’m using MAC’s Margin blush for this tutorial). Any large, fluffy powder brush will prove to be a decent blush applicator. The blush color you choose can be whatever color you want, and I usually match my blush color with the rest of my makeup. There aren’t any restrictions on the blush color just because you have contoured your cheeks previously, though.



It’s time to smile real big and cheesy-like! When you smile very large, your cheeks will puff up a bit, and these are the apples of your cheeks. You want to take your blush brush and pick up the blush color and apply beginning on the most pushed out part of the apple and then brush upwards toward your temple.


As I have done here…


This is what it should look like at this point, and I have deliberately done my best not to blend as I go along so I don’t skip over steps someone might want to see! It is pretty clear that there is a pinkish color and a darker brown color on my cheek, and nobody wants to look like this.


I usually blend my contour color into my blush by picking up more of the blush color with my blush brush and adding some to the gap/harsh line between the two, which is just under where I originally placed the blush.


Again, I move from the inner part of my cheek towards my temple.


It’s getting better, isn’t it? You can see that it isn’t quite blended at the innermost portion, so I’m going to fix that.


I fix this by repeating the process and making sure to start lower and at the point that needs to be blended better.


At this point, it’s not a bad idea to simply make small, light-handed circles on your cheeks to facilitate in blending.


I usually move in small circles beginning at the bottom inside and move my way upwards and outwards.


Make sure you do it to the apples of your cheeks, too!


All the way up to your temple…


And just a little more. All done. You have to realize that even though it took several photos to show the process, in actuality, it takes but several seconds to do it. Mostly the photos are taken to show you the placement of the brush since this isn’t video.


You will need the following to highlight: powder brush (I use MAC’s 182 buffer brush) and a highlight color (I’m using Pink Opal pigment in this tutorial). You can continue to use your blush brush, even an angled brush, but anything that is going to be soft and nice against your skin. A highlight color is usually quite light, and my two basics are Gold Dusk and Pink Opal pigments. I know some have been using Lightscapade mineralize skinfinish lately.


When using pigments as a highlight, a little goes a long way.


Using my 182 buffer brush, I pick up the Pink Opal pigment and dust it on very lightly right below my eye and on my cheek bone (you can use the cheesy smile pose to help find your cheekbones – the cheekbone point is not the prominent part of the apple, but where it dips down to your normal face “plain” at the top; press it, you should feel something hard – bone!).


Pull the highlighter out towards your temple.


Voila. You can always blend the contour color less than I have in order to make it stand out more or give you a darker line of contour. It is important to blend between the contour line and blush line so that the two are seamless, though!