Beauty Tools / Face / Hearts/Farts / Make up / Trend

On Highlighting and Contouring: New Products

Hello, excuse me for the inactivity around here. As you probably know, I went on an unplanned beach trip recently. Here’s the post that I promised.

I’m actually too lazy to do individual reviews for these new products I’ve acquired so I’m doing a tutorial-slash-review for you instead. One sure-fire way of looking all made-up and done-up is by contouring and highlighting, as championed by uh, Kim Kardashian (?). Of course, there are exceptions and I actually do them separately sometimes (highlighting and contouring), depending on what kind of look I’m gunning for. But doing both sure ups your makeup quotient (if there’s such a thing!).

Okay, basic color theory: Light lifts, dark recedes. That’s all there is to it.


The photo on the left shows my bare powdered face while the photo right shows a subtly contoured and highlighted me. I don’t know if you see a dramatic difference, but I guess that’s the point.  Read on for the breakdown and products!


In makeup terms, you use a highlighter (any light, shimmery powder, liquid or cream makeup) to lift those areas you want to accentuate. These are usually the higher planes of your face: the nose bridge, top of your cheekbones, chin. I have two new products for this purpose:


ELF Healthy Glow Bronzer in Luminance, Php 179

…is technically a bronzer, but this is the lightest shade with no actual brown pigment, just a warm shimmery powder that can be used to highlight. For its price, I say this is a good highlighting powder, very shimmery but not chalky, it gives off an effective glow to the skin. You can apply this with a small powder brush, or as I do, a stippling brush.


ELF Shimmering Facial Whip in Lilac Petal, Php 179

…is a cream highlighter which runs a bit tacky but sets to a light shimmery film with a dewy finish. Best applied with fingers or maybe a stippling brush. It is actually very similar to the ELF color sticks (smells the same, looks and applies the same) so you can also go for that.


Perhaps more than highlighting, contouring has an even dramatic effect in terms of shaping and sculpting the face. A highlighted face is gorgeous but a well executed contoured face is something else. It can change the way you look! By putting certain, strategic areas of your face in shadow, your face can look slimmer, with higher, sharper cheekbones, or a well defined nose. Personally, I’m not too crazy with nose contouring but you know, different strokes (literally!) for different folks.


NYX Blush in Taupe, Php 240

This looks scary dim/shady on the pan, but actually applies to a believable contour color on the face. It’s matte and subtle; you have to build up the intensity depending on your face color but proceed with caution, a lot of this product on your face might look like you bruised!


I’m sure you can find a thousand contouring videos on Youtube, but the single most important thing that only you can do is to analyze your face. What’s your face shape, what would you rather sink in than stand out? I personally like to contour under my cheekbones, extending up to my temples and jawbone (but not so much on the nose, etc). I think you call this the “E” and “3” method, coz you kind of move your brush to an E and a 3 on the left and right sides of your face. For a more precise contour, I use a small tapered brush to get the pigment of the NYX Taupe blush exactly where I want them, and then tilt the brush on the broad side to blend. But remember the like for like rule: powder for powder, cream for cream. Since I’m using powder contour, I powdered my face first. (Similarly, if you’re using a cream contour, put it after your wet foundation.)


Afterwards, buff the whole thing some more to get rid of the tell-tale strokes. If you went overboard, buff a bit of powder to “kill” the color a bit.

And now we highlight! Using a small stippling brush, I carefully pick up some of the ELF Healthy Glow in Luminance and tap it on to the tops of my cheekbones, nose bridge, etc. I don’t use a dense brush, and I don’t swipe the powder on so I wont end up with stripes/blocks of shimmer on my face. If I want to lessen the shine, I just tap my clean finger to lift some powder off (and blend somewhat). I really tend to hold off on the shimmer because it tends to look more obvious than the matte contour powder, and sometimes too much shimmer just kills it.

highlight copy

And here are some MORE photos (he he) of the after, showing the makeup in different angles. For everyday, I tend to go for a subtle C&H, something that takes a bit of practice (and blending). For shoots/events, you can get away with a heavier hand.


I hope this was a bit helpful to you—if you have any questions, ask away! Or, just go ahead watch the Youtube videos, those would probably make better sense!


4 thoughts on “On Highlighting and Contouring: New Products

  1. Pingback: Link Love Vol. 6 | Softly Sometimes

    • Hi, Tin. In these photos I’m using an ELF small tapered brush (contouring) and an ELF small stippling brush (highlighting). I recommend the Real Techniques contour brush as well and any angled blush brush for contouring-you want a sort of small, dense brush for accuracy. For highlighting, I like using fan brushes and stippling brushes coz those are not dense and great for blending. 🙂

  2. Pingback: Hearts/Farts: Snoe Slim Shade Me Face Sculpting Cake | an artechoke

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