This technique is often talked about but little understood. Done badly, it can look as if lines have been “drawn” on the face, but when it is done well, the shape of the face is subtly altered. Remember: the job of makeup is to emphasize individual beauty, not make every face conform to a perfect oval.
This opposite of highlighting, where a lighter color is used to draw out or bring forward, contouring uses a darker color to hollow or recede. The two techniques work in combination, but you don’t have to highlight right next to a shaded area, since the normal will already seem more prominent by comparison.
Use foundation or powder two shades darker than your skin tone. If you use a bronzer or powder eyeshadow for this, be careful it doesn’t contain too much shimmer – it should have the same luminosity as skin, so it shouldn’t be completely matte, either. Apply with an oval-headed cheek brush or a sponge and use a larger brush for blending.
Be precise in application, then blend. Bones are curved, so shadows are, too-a hard edge looks false, while any shadow that goes beyond the point you want to deepen will destroy the illusion. Start with very little product and add more as required.
Suck in your cheeks to find your natural hollow. This can be emphasized by shading the area with a tadpole shape – the “head” in the hollow under the cheek apple, the “tail” blending to nothing toward the hairline. The contouring should not be too low, just on the underside of the bone. Balance this with a dot at the hollow of each temple and blend. A wide forehead can be slimmed by shading at the temple hollow toward the hairline.
To slim a wide nose, shade either side, starting from below the bridge and ending above the nostrils. A flared or bulbous nose needs a touch of shade only at either side of the tip. Those with very flat noses can add a shadow at the inner corner of the eye.
Those with a droop, should shade just below the jawline and blend upward to the edge. A square jaw can be shaded at the corner under the earlobe, blending out to remove am impression of over heaviness. Contouring under the jawbone will define the jawline and slim the neck.