How to Contour Any Face Shape

Female with contour makeup

In the earliest days of the Alcone Company, knowing how to contour a face was a well-kept industry secret, reserved for the stage and screen starlets. Makeup artists would spend hours sculpting and highlighting their clients’ faces to create the ‘ideal’ shape. Today, contouring is less about trying to fit into a mold and more about using makeup to highlight and showcase the features we love most about ourselves.

As we learn how to contour, think of it as less about the pursuit of perfection, and more as the perfect way to play up everything that makes you, you. Before getting started, step in front of the mirror so we can start to map out exactly what that is!

First, we’ll determine your face shape so we know which features to highlight and which to shade. If you’re having a hard time deciding on your shape, grab a dry-erase marker or an old lipstick. Use your marker or lipstick to trace the shape of your face directly on your mirror, following your cheeks, chin and hairline as closely as possible. Now step to the side and look at the outline you’ve just drawn. Compare it to the shapes below – whichever it most closely matches is your face shape!

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Face Shape Diagram (Source: BeBeautiful.In)
  • Heart Shaped: Your forehead is the widest part of your face and your chin is pointed. Those with heart-shaped faces will be contouring mostly the bottom half of the face to smooth the shape of the chin.
  • Round: The measurements around your face are equal and have gently rounded corners. If you fall into this category, you’ll create a more angular shape by contouring the sides of your forehead, along your temples, below your cheekbones and on your jawline.
  • Oval: Your forehead is larger than your jawline, your face length is longer than the width of your cheekbones and the angle of your jaw is slightly rounded. Those with oval-shaped faces have largely proportionate features and can focus on contouring smaller details. If you’d like to slim down your nose, for example, concentrate the darker shade down either side of the bridge of your nose.
  • Square: The width of your forehead, cheekbones and jaw are all nearly the same. Those with square-shaped faces can soften the edges by contouring along the perimeter of your face.
  • Diamond: You have a pointed chin and high cheekbones, with a narrower hairline. Those with diamond-shaped faces can contour the sides and center of the forehead to make it appear longer.

Now that you’ve determined where you’ll be focusing your attention, it’s time to get started on your contour!

Step 1: What do you need to contour your face? Like any project, starting with the right tools can make all the difference. And professional-quality makeup, like the products you find at LimeLife, is only half of the equation!  When it comes to applying contour to your face, you’ll also want to have a variety of high-quality brushes on your side.

Each of LimeLife’s Classified Brushes are made by hand with vegan bristles and are designed to perform at professional standards. The sleek, black weighted handle is easy to control and ideal for precision highlighting and shading. For this tutorial, we’ll be using:

Step 2: Cleanse. Before you start building your contour, start with a clean, fresh face. Our Quench Cleanse cream cleanser with aloe and sunflower cleanses skin while moisturizing, allowing nothing but your own bright skin to shine through. After massaging the cleanser onto wet skin, rinse with a few splashes of warm water followed by a cool water splash to close your pores.

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LimeLife by Alcone’s Quench Cleanse Facial Cleanser

Step 3: Prime. It’s called primer for a reason! Even the best artists start with it to create a smooth, flawless canvas. LimeLife’s First Base Oil-Free Priming Spray has a specialized, fine mist to reduce the appearance of large pores and prevent makeup from settling into fine lines. Just shake well and spray two to four times in an ‘X’ and ‘T’ formation. 

Step 4: Build Your Foundation. That fierce, flawless feeling starts with a great foundation. We’ve found that smooth skin makes us feel more confident – and nothing can beat a self-assured glow! LimeLife’s Perfect Foundation is a highly pigmented, paraben-free, botanical cream foundation that comes in 22 shades to celebrate all skin tones.

If you typically apply your foundation with a makeup sponge like our Blenderful, you might want to give a brush a try for a slightly more full-coverage look. Foundation Brush #04 was created to flawlessly apply your Perfect Foundation, creating an opaque but natural finish to build upon with contouring. Gather a small amount of product on your brush and apply starting at the center of your face, blending outwards and layering until you reach the level of coverage you prefer. 

Step 5: Conceal and Perfect Skin. With a high-impact look like a full face contour, spending a little extra time covering discoloration and blemishes adds extra polish. Our Complete Concealer comes in eight shades and is a highly pigmented cream formulation (A little goes a long way)! Its wax base makes it water resistant, long-wearing and a great base for the color coming later. Swirl your Concealer Brush #06 in the concealer until the texture becomes a bit more pliable. Dab it lightly under the eyes and on any blemishes.

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LimeLife by Alcone’s Complete Concealer

Step 7: Create Shadow with a Darker Color. Now that your base is in place, it’s time to get to the main event! We’ll start with a darker color for creating shadow in strategic places. This darker color might be a foundation a few shades darker than your skin tone or a bronzer. Our Perfect Bronzer comes in seven shades and is – you guessed it – perfect for contouring! We tend to use a matte shade in this case, as the color will be used all across the face. Refer to your specific face shape to determine where to shade and swirl your Highlight & Contour Brush #18 in the bronzer. You might be sweeping it along your hairline, under your cheekbones or along the sides of your nose.

Make sure to apply the bronzer in a circular, sweeping motion, making sure to blend to avoid any harsh lines. For accentuating your cheekbones, play with color just underneath them, which gives the appearance that they are high and more pronounced. The best way to achieve this is by angling your brush at the top of your ear and moving it towards the corner of your mouth. To contour and slim your nose, create two parallel lines down the sides of your nose, continuing them up and into the creases of your eyelids. Finally, for heart-shaped faces and others who want to contour along the chin area, use the bronzer to create a “V” shape of shading.

Step 8: Highlighter. Now it’s time to call attention to your best features! The goal of a highlighter on your face is pretty much the same as a highlighter on paper – to call attention to the most important parts. Take another look at your face shape diagram, and grab either your favorite powder highlighter or a Perfect Color Powder a few shades lighter than your skin tone. We’ll be using the same Highlight & Contour Brush #18, so swirl it on a tissue to get most of your shadow shade out of the bristles. Using a light amount of product, sweep your highlighter color on the features you want to bring forward. This might be on the center of your forehead, the top of the cheekbones or lightly down the jawline. If you contoured your nose and or any other specific feature, apply the highlighter color in between all shaded areas to create light.

Step 9: Finish and Set. Almost done! Now that you’ve put in the hard work, make sure you take a few more seconds to make your handiwork last all day and night. Pick up a light layer of LimeLife’s Perfect Translucent Powder on your Buffer Brush #05 and dust it over your entire face. It’ll absorb the appearance of excess oil and create a flawless finish. Finally, finish up with a quick spritz of a setting spray like our Time Setter oil-free spray. This fine mist prevents makeup from settling into fine lines and creasing to give you a more youthful, professional look. It extends makeup wear, prevents transfer and creates a soft, matte finish. Just like your priming spray, spritz it two to four times in an ‘X’ and ‘T’ formation.

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LimeLife by Alcone’s Time Setter Oil-Free Setting Spray

Now that your face has been perfectly contoured, you’re ready to top it off with a bold lip, a retro cat-eye or any look that fits your plans for the day. Whatever your make-up goals, play, explore and have fun. Experiment with different shades for a bolder or more natural look. Find what works best for you, so you can confidently celebrate your own unique beauty, strength, and joy. Let it shine!

Do you have tips and tools to contour that we didn’t mention? We’d love to hear them!

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