How I Contour and Highlight: A New Spin on the Old Technique
Contouring and highlighting are makeup's gift to women: Done well, it can give the face all the right definition. The trick isn't to try to redefine the face but to work with the natural bone structure and accentuate it. I don't personally like powder or matte bronzers for contouring; I don't think they give enough definition. What I use is a stick foundation in shades much darker and lighter than my natural complexion. My current product of choice Make Up For Ever's Pan Stick: The rich pigmention, creamy formula, and wide application work well for both contouring and highlighting.
I hit the places that many have seen in Kevyn Aucoin books or tutorials: The contour shade is run along the underside of the cheekbones, along the jawline, along the sides of the nose and at the tip in a V-shape, at the sides of the forehead, along the underside of the lower lip and under the base of the nose. The highlight shade is run along the tops of the cheekbones, along the top of the nose, along the area of the jaw between the jawline and under the cheekbones.
It sounds very tricky, but with practice, this technique takes no more than a couple minutes. Yes, by the time you're done, you'll truly look like you're preparing for war or a football game. But the finished product is well worth it.
The problem I had for a while was the common trick of blending out the shades with foundation: Foundation is meant to cover, so I often found it erased much of the shading and highlighting. What I started doing was applying foundation first, then contouring/highlighting and lightly blending out with a dampened makeup sponge or stippling brush without any makeup on it. This blends out the harsh lines without erasing the desired effect.
The photos above show Nicole before and after this technique was applied. Again, the effect is subtle but gives noticeable definition to the face.