How to Contour Your Face for a Natural, Everyday Look?

Hi beauties! Today I want to share with you my go-to technique for contouring and highlighting to achieve a natural, everyday makeup look. Contouring has gotten a bad rap in recent years for being too heavy and obvious. 

But when done right, contouring can subtly sculpt and define your features, while still looking like your own gorgeous skin.

I’ve spent years perfecting my contour routine to get that “your face but better” effect. It’s all about using the right products, placement, and blending. Whether you’re a total beginner or a contour pro, these tips will help you master the no-makeup makeup contour. Let’s get glowing!

What is Contouring and Why Do It?

Before we dive into the how-to, let’s talk about what contouring actually is. Contouring is a makeup technique that uses darker shades to create shadows and definition, and lighter shades to bring forward and highlight certain features. It’s based on the principles of light and shadow – we add darkness where we want to recede areas, and lightness where we want to pop them out.

Some of the benefits of contouring include:

  • Enhancing your natural bone structure
  • Balancing asymmetry in your features
  • Slimming down round faces
  • Minimizing a prominent nose or forehead
  • Creating the illusion of higher cheekbones

When contouring is skillfully applied, it can transform your face by adding dimension and creating a more sculpted look. But the goal for everyday isn’t to drastically change your face shape. It’s to subtly enhance what you’ve got and create a healthy, natural radiance.

What Products Do You Need to Contour?

To contour, you’ll need two main products:

  1. A contouring shade that’s 1-2 shades darker than your natural skin tone. This can be a powder, cream, or liquid. I prefer a cool-toned taupe shade for the most natural shadow.
  2. A highlighting shade that’s 1-2 shades lighter than your skin. Again, this can come in various formulas. I like a lightweight liquid or cream for a dewy sheen.

You’ll also need the right tools. While you can use your fingers, brushes will give you the most precise application and seamless blend. For powder contour, use a small, tapered brush. For creams and liquids, try a damp beauty sponge. A fluffy brush is perfect for blending out any harsh lines.

Some of my favorite contouring products:

  • Fenty Beauty Match Stix Matte Contour Skinstick
  • Kevyn Aucoin The Sculpting Powder
  • Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Contour Wand
  • Westman Atelier Face Trace Contour Stick
  • Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick

For highlighting, you can’t go wrong with:

  • RMS Beauty Living Luminizer
  • Glossier Haloscope
  • L’Oreal Paris True Match Lumi Glotion
  • Maybelline FaceStudio Master Strobing Liquid Illuminating Highlighter
  • e.l.f. Cosmetics Baked Highlighter

How Do You Find the Right Contour Placement for Your Face Shape?

The key to natural contouring is to follow your unique face shape and bone structure. The placement will be different for everyone. Here are some general guidelines for the most common face shapes:

Round Face

The goal with a round face is to make it appear longer and more angular. Contour along your temples, under your cheekbones starting from your ears, and blend along your jawline. Highlight the center of your forehead, bridge of your nose, chin, and under eyes.

Square Face

To soften a square face, focus your contour on the perimeter – temples, sides of forehead, and along the jawline. Blend well so there are no harsh lines. Add highlight to the center of your forehead, down the bridge of your nose, and the tops of your cheekbones.

Heart-Shaped Face

With a heart face, you want to minimize a pointy chin and balance a broad forehead. Contour the sides of your forehead, under your cheekbones, and blend slightly underneath your chin. Highlight the center of your forehead, under eyes, bridge of nose, and cupid’s bow.

Oval Face

Oval is considered the ideal face shape, so you don’t need much contouring. Lightly contour under your cheekbones, starting from your ears and stopping in the hollow of your cheeks. Add a bit of contour on the sides of your nose if you want to slim it. Highlight your under eyes, center of forehead, and chin.

The most important thing is to blend, blend, blend! Use light pressure and build up the product slowly. Stand back from the mirror and assess as you go to avoid going overboard. The contour should look like a soft shadow, not a stripe.

What’s the Best Way to Apply Contour for a Natural Effect?

Now that you know where to place your contour, let’s talk about application. Here’s my foolproof method for nailing that natural contoured look:

  1. After applying your foundation and concealer, take your contour product and begin at the top of your ear. Using short, light strokes, draw a line under your cheekbone, stopping about an inch from the corner of your mouth. Repeat on the other side.
  2. Suck in your cheeks to find the hollows, and blend the line upwards to diffuse it. Use a light hand – you can always build more color, but it’s harder to take away.
  3. To contour your forehead, apply the product to the temples and along your hairline. Blend up into your hair for the most natural look. If you have a prominent forehead, add a bit in the center too.
  4. For your nose, draw two short lines on either side, starting from your inner eyebrows and stopping before the tip. Blend outwards and down the sides. Avoid getting too close to the center or it will look unnatural.
  5. If you want to define your jawline, blend some contour from your ear to your chin. Focus on the areas that recede, not on the point of your chin.
  6. Once your contour is blended, go in with your highlighter. Tap it on the tops of your cheekbones, down the bridge of your nose, on the center of your forehead, your chin, and just above your cupid’s bow. Blend out the edges for a seamless glow.
  7. To finish, lightly dust a translucent powder over your T-zone to set everything in place. Avoid putting powder on top of your highlight or it will dull the radiance.

And that’s it! With practice, this contour routine will become second nature and you’ll be able to sculpt your features in minutes. Just remember, less is more when you’re going for that natural, everyday look.

How Can You Avoid Common Contouring Mistakes?

Contouring can be tricky, and there are a few common pitfalls that can take your look from naturally glowing to harshly overdone. Here are some tips to avoid the most frequent faux pas:

  • Not blending enough. Harsh lines are a dead giveaway that you’re wearing contour. Take the time to really buff out the edges until it looks like a seamless shadow.
  • Using the wrong shade. If your contour is too warm or orange, it will look like you have streaks of bronzer on your face. Stick to cool, grayish-brown tones for the most natural effect.
  • Applying too much product. Start with a light hand and build up slowly. It’s easier to add more than to take away. Step back from the mirror periodically to check your work.
  • Contouring every day. Give your skin a break sometimes! Contouring is great for special occasions or when you want a more done-up look, but it’s not necessary for daily wear. Let your natural beauty shine through.
  • Highlighting the wrong areas. Avoid putting highlight on any areas with texture, like blemishes or fine lines. The shimmer will only emphasize those spots. Stick to the high points of your face where light would naturally hit.

What Are Some Other Tips for Nailing the No-Makeup Makeup Look?

Contouring is just one piece of the no-makeup makeup puzzle. To really nail that natural, effortless vibe, try these tips:

  • Perfect your skincare routine. Healthy, hydrated skin is the best base for any makeup look. Focus on cleansing, exfoliating, and moisturizing to get that lit-from-within glow.
  • Use sheer, lightweight formulas. Opt for BB creams or tinted moisturizers instead of heavy foundation. Cream blushes and bronzers will melt into your skin for a natural flush.
  • Embrace your natural brows. Put down the tweezers and let your brows grow in a bit. Use a tinted brow gel to lightly fill in any sparse areas and brush the hairs up for a fluffy, feathered look.
  • Go easy on the eye makeup. Stick to a wash of neutral shadow on the lids and a coat of brown or black mascara. Tight-line your upper lashes for definition without looking overdone.
  • Choose a MLBB lip color. That stands for “my lips but better.” Pick a sheer, rosy shade that’s close to your natural lip color, like a tinted balm or satin finish lipstick.
  • Set with a luminous spray. Skip the heavy powders and use a hydrating setting spray to lock in your makeup. The mist will also add a natural dewiness to your skin.

Remember, the key to a no-makeup makeup look is enhancing your features, not masking them. Let your unique beauty shine through!


What’s the difference between contouring and bronzing?

Contouring is about creating shadows to sculpt the face, while bronzing is about adding warmth and dimension. Contour shades are usually cool-toned and matte, while bronzers are warmer and can have some shimmer. You can use both in your makeup routine, but contour first, then add bronzer to the high points of the face where the sun would naturally hit.

Can you contour with just bronzer?

You can use a matte bronzer to contour if you have warm undertones and the shade is not too orange. However, using a true contour shade will give you a more natural shadow and definition. If you’re fair-skinned, bronzer alone may look muddy or orange when used to contour.

What’s the best contour for beginners?

If you’re new to contouring, stick to creamy, blendable formulas like sticks or liquids. Powders can be harder to control and blend out. Start with a light hand and build up slowly. Focus on the hollows of your cheeks and temples first, then add more contour to other areas as you get comfortable with the technique.

How do I choose the right contour shade for my skin tone?

Your contour shade should be 1-2 shades darker than your natural skin tone. If you have fair to light skin, look for cool taupe shades. For medium to tan skin, try a grayish brown. Rich, deep skin tones can use deep browns or even black shades. When in doubt, err on the side of lighter – it’s easier to build up color than to tone it down.

Can I contour without foundation?

Yes, you can contour on bare skin or over just concealer and tinted moisturizer. The key is to use a lightweight formula and blend well. Cream or liquid contours work best for this. Set with a translucent powder to help it stay put. Just be sure to start with well-moisturized skin for a smooth application.


Contouring is a fantastic way to enhance your natural features and create a sculpted, radiant look. But for everyday wear, the goal is to keep it subtle and blended. With the right products, placement, and techniques, you can achieve a gorgeous contour that looks like your own skin – just enhanced.

The most important things to remember are to choose cool-toned shades, use a light hand, and blend thoroughly. Focus on the areas that naturally have shadows, like under your cheekbones and along your hairline. Add highlight to the high points for that lit-from-within luminosity.

Don’t be afraid to experiment and find what works for your unique face shape and features. The beauty of makeup is that it washes off at the end of the day! With practice and patience, you’ll be a natural contour pro in no time.

I hope these tips and tricks help you create your perfect everyday contoured look. Remember, makeup should be fun and enhance your natural beauty, not cover it up. Embrace your gorgeous self and let your unique light shine through!

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