Contouring: Sculpt, Define & Highlight Like A Pro!

Wondering what all the fuss is about when it comes to the contouring craze? We’ve delved into the trend to discover all you need to know!

Contouring is one of the most popular and misunderstood beauty trends of all time. Reinvented techniques with names like ‘strobing’ make the thought of even attempting the technique seem almost impossible. 

Contouring is the process of using highlights and shade to sculpt the face, although more commonly people shade and neglect the highlights, which can create harsh and unnatural looking contours. Highlights, on the other hand, can be used without shading and are the easiest way to cheat a lifted, smoother and more youthful appearance. 

Your aim when contouring is a result that looks natural. Contouring is like shape-wear for the face, it should lift and define in all the right places. Try and stay away from the heavily made up almost drag-like looks found on certain social media platforms; unless you are in a photo studio such harsh contouring techniques have little practicality for real life.

The correct products and tools really do make or break the technique. A medium sized brush is essential for larger areas like under the cheekbones, the jaw and forehead, and for smaller areas like the nose and eyes try a small fluffy eye shadow brush.

After tools, product choice is key! You’ll need a product to shade and highlight. To shade (or make an area recede), the most durable, effective product and easiest formula to apply is a matte powder; choose a colour two shades darker than your skin tone. 

To highlight (or bring out or lift an area), a subtly metallic cream or powder formula are both easy to apply; choose a colour two shades lighter than your skin tone.  

Let’s Contour!

Before you even think about starting, apply your base (foundation/concealer/powder). Now, look in the mirror and assess the areas you either wish to define, sculpt or make look slimmer; this is where your shading should be applied. Start with a light application then build as you feel you need more definition.  

Three steps to shading like a pro:

  1. Find your cheekbone by looking in the mirror and taking your index, middle and ring fingers, press them under your cheekbone to find the hollow part – this is where you apply your shading. Swirl your blush brush over your shading product then sweep over this area. 
  2. Add further dimension to the face by applying a small amount of product to the temples; this is the ideal step for creating a really chiselled look. For best results use a fluffy blush brush and blend from the end of the brow upwards, blending towards the hairline. 
  3. Define your eyes by blending your shading product through the socket of the eye – blend upward and outward to lift the eyes.

Highlighting is the opposite of shading and should be applied to areas you wish to accentuate or lift. 

Three steps to highlighting like a pro:

  1. To give the face a lifted look, highlight the top of the cheekbones. Using a blush brush or your fingertips, lightly sweep or tap your highlighting product onto the top of the cheekbones and blend upwards toward the hairline.
  2. Create a fuller pout using your fingertips to tap your highlighting product onto the cupid’s bow.
  3. Make your eyes pop by using a fluffy eye shadow brush to apply your highlight to the brow bones and inner corner of the eyes.

Contouring pallets come in either cream-based formulas or powders and there’s an insane selection around now, but here’s a few suggestions to get you started!

NUDE STIX Sculpting Pencil 40.00

I love a NUDE STIX crayon! And I’m slowly making my way through all of them, but this doubled-ended, all in one shade and highlighting crayon is easy to use and infused with moisturising shea butter and vitamin E. It leaves your contour looking natural, enhancing your features in a light, gentle way. And they’re vegan!


NYX Born To Glow Highlighting Palette RRP 25.00

With six shades this palette will suit any complexion and its creamy powder formula makes it easy to apply. Plus it’s vegan! Add a little shimmer to your life!


NYX Three Steps To Sculpt Face Sculpting Palette RRP 12.00

This little trio is available in 4 colour wheels to suit all complexions and skin tones. Consisting of a creamy pressed power they’ll contour, highlight and illuminate.


Charlotte Tilbury Bar of Gold Palette – Highlighter Palette RRP $90.00

Charlotte Tilbury is the modern-day goddess of makeup – in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever used a product of hers that I haven’t loved. Its a light-reflecting, high-tech, ‘wet’ powder that highlights, tones, and bronzes in three glorious shades of gold, rose gold, and gold bullion.

The Body Shop Honey Bronze Highlighting Dome RRP $22.00

These funky little domes of shimmer are a brilliant addiction to your contouring arsenal. They come in three shades to contour and highlight with a natural shimmery glow.
Sephora Collection Colour and Sculpt Stick RRP 19.00

This chubby crayon makes defining a breeze, super bendable and easy to use. 


Napoleon Perdis Light Switch Luminizer Palette  RRP 70.00

This multi-function compact comes in gorgeous natural shades that generously illuminate your skin easily and naturally. I’ve even used these in place of eyeshadow when I’m travelling and have limited space in my suitcase! Add a little light to your life. I am completely in love with the pink ice shimmer!

Natio Contouring Palette RRP 19.95

Shape, define and enhance with Natio’s natural powder contouring palette that contains three natural colours. I love the big built-in mirror inside and the hidden how-to guide!


Natio’s double-ended contouring brush is worth a mention here too!

Napoleon Perdis The Ultimate Contour Palette RRP 65.00

complete with mini guide this luxe tri-colour powder palette sets you on the perfect contouring and highlighting path, easy to apply and long-lasting, it’s a must-have in any beauty bag! It contains nourishing marine extracts and is paraben-free. Blush, shade and highlight all in one!

Maybelline Face Studio Master Face Contouring Kit RRP 19.95

Features three light to medium shades that are easy to blend and suit just about any complexion to define, highlight and shape. 


Lancôme Belle De Teint RRP $90

A beautiful textured powder that offers a natural glow and the power of blurring your imperfections with a sheer matt finish. I love it because technically it’s a bronzer but the shades and texture of the powder makes it brilliant if you need a natural contour or to lightly top up on the go. 




Smashbox Cali Contour Palette RRP $60.00

It’s hard not to love a Smashbox product, and I know my teen is always a fan. This palette comes with six shades to shade, highlight and bronze like a pro. It blends beautifully and you can bet it will be on many a teens wish-list! I love it because the inclusions are so versatile – it is the perfect bronzer for our up-and-coming summer season!

Morphe 8L Lo-Fi Sculpt & Shimmer Highlight + Contour RRP $ 38.00

This another fabulous multi-function palette and you can bet you teen is all over this brand too! Four of these powders are matte, and the other four offer a sexy glimmer and shimmer. Ultra creamy and blendable! You can’t go wrong!

Thanks to MUA Shev Kelly for her contouring tips & advice! Find her here!

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