How to Contour

What Is Contouring?

Contour Palette

Contouring is a makeup technique that alters how people perceive facial shapes. Carefully placed shades create illusions of depth, sculpting a glamorous visage. With good technique, you can enhance or downplay features, and frame the face in a way that looks completely natural—or not, depending on the look you’re going for.

Important Things to Keep in Mind

  1. Darker shades push areas back. Use them to minimize the appearance of certain features or create contrast to emphasize others.
  2. Lighter shades bring areas forward. Use them to highlight features and define certain shapes.
  3. The goal is always to create the best look for the individual. Adjust your technique to fit the face.
  4. Contour should match the occasion. Save full contour for big occasions and keep everyday contour light.

What’s the Difference Between Contour and Bronzer?

Bronzer is meant to create a warm, sun-kissed glow when applied to areas that naturally catch the light (cheekbones, nose and forehead). Contour on the hand (or should we say cheek?), is intended  to visually “reshape” the face, using different shades to carve out areas or minimize the look of imperfections. .

For a tanned glow, use bronzer. For sculpting and depth, use contour. You can use bronzer like contour in a pinch, although it may not look as natural and or be as ideal for everyday use throughout the seasons.

How to Contour Your Face Based on Its Shape

Product placement is crucial when contouring.. There is no one-size-fits-all method, but you can start with a technique based on your face shape.


The key: Soften the angular edges of the square shape.

How it’s done:

  • Contour at the “corners” of the face (upper left and right along the hairline, the corner points of the jaw). This creates areas of shadow that “cut off” the angles.
  • Square faces have good bone structure that don’t require a lot of contour. A quick swipe will do. Then, add just a bit of highlighter to the top of the cheekbones.
  • Highlight at the center of your forehead and chin to draw the eye away from the edges and toward the middle line of your face.


The key: Create a more defined, elongated shape.

How it’s done:

  • Contour along the sides of the face and the jawline to help “reduce” the width of the face and slim out the appearance of rounded areas.
  • Contour beneath the cheekbone to help it stand out on full cheeks.
  • Contour at the temples to help narrow the sides of the forehead area as well.
  • Highlight across the chin to emphasize its structure and create contrast with the jawline contour.


The key: Focus on good balance between the upper and lower face.

How it’s done:

  1. Contour the sides of the forehead and temples to “narrow” the area slightly.
  2. Balance the lower half of the face by highlighting along the jawline to make it appear slightly wider.
  3. If you find the chin a bit too pointy, contour the lower middle edge of it to help round it out.
  4. Create a strong contour line under the cheekbone to keep the middle of the face from looking too rounded.


The key: Emphasize structure and definition to make the shape slightly less soft.

How it’s done:

  1. Contour along the hairline, temples and outer jawline to create the appearance of a slightly less rounded shape.
  2. Add contour under the cheekbones and highlight the tops of them to enhance the underlying bone structure.
  3. Highlight the middle of your forehead and chin to bring those areas forward and prevent the face from looking flat.
  4. For more depth and definition, highlight the tip and bridge of your nose and contour the sides of it.


Sculpting and Contour N°1

The key: Give the impression of a shorter, more balanced face length.

How it’s done:

  1. Start by contouring above the forehead along the hairline to visually bring the top of the face down.
  2. Contour along the jawline and under your chin to slightly reduce the appearance of jowls.
  3. Highlight the center of your forehead to bring more focus to the upper-middle region of your face.
  4. When contouring under the cheekbones, curve it slightly for extra lift.

Serve Flawless Face with Contour from Scott Barnes

Scott Barnes’ Sculpting and Contour palette is a professional-quality palette for celebrity-level results. It features high-quality, smooth, blendable contour product in a variety of shades for all skin tones. Shop Scott Barnes today to find everything you need to unleash your inner sculptor!