The cheat’s guide to cheekbones

We all like to play up our best features, draw attention to the good parts and conceal others. Artfully placed blocks of colour in dresses and tops can do this really effectively on the body, but it’s simple to do it with your makeup as well. Contouring may sound like something best left to the pros, but if you pay a little attention to the structure of your face, it’s easy to pull off.

Next dress, Sara top and Capture dress

There are all sorts of tips and rules floating around out there when it comes to contouring your face, but the essence to keep in mind is that shadows recede, and light draws attention. Look at these colour-blocked dresses and tops: they trick your eye with panels of dark and light, generally to make the figure look slimmer. You can use contouring on your face to look slimmer, or that may not be a concern of yours; either way, I think a subtle contour can accentuate the best features of your face and polish off your look.

My face with no cheekbone contour.
My face with subtle cheekbone and jawline contour. Do you see the difference?

It’s best to use a powder or cream product that’s slightly darker than your skintone, and not at all shimmery or glittery, for contouring shadows. Use bronzer, a too-dark foundation or even a grey-brown eyeshadow – something in the general colour family of your own skintone, though, to keep it looking natural. You don’t want glitter because that will catch the light and attract the eye to the areas you’ve darkened, which is the opposite of what you want to do!

I have a brush I use specifically for contouring, but if you don’t have a large arsenal of makeup brushes you can use whatever you apply your foundation with, or even a big eyeshadow brush. After foundation, gently sweep your darker shade under your cheekbones. You can figure out placement just by touching your cheeks with your fingers – feel for the hollow in front of your ears, between your cheekbone and jawbone.

If you have a wide forehead, apply your shadowy shade on and above your temples to give the illusion of narrowness. If you have a weak jaw, like me, you can bring the bronzer right underneath your jawbone to create the illusion of a shadow there, too.

I’ve marked on this picture where I would contour and highlight. THIS IS NOT WHAT THE FINISHED PRODUCT LOOKS LIKE. Just in case you thought this was real. It’s not.

One final touch with contouring, which is completely optional, is adding a lighter highlight to the highest points of the face. You can use a matte or slightly shimmery shade here, depending on how subtle you want the look to be. I usually just dab a little cream eyeshadow along the top of my cheekbones and below my eyebrows.

The big thing to remember with contouring is that less is more. Some people can get away with really intense, fabulous contouring – can anyone say Kim Kardashian? That’s not my area of expertise, but for a really good introduction to that I recommend watching makeup artist Giovanna Belling‘s videos on Youtube.

Is contouring a part of your everyday makeup routine? If not, is it something you think you’ll try?


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