How Do I Contour For An All-Day Beauty Look?

Kristin Gallegos

Dear Kristin,

I love the contour cheek look, but it seems dramatic.  How can I do a contour on an every day beauty look?



That’s a great question!  Contouring isn’t something every woman knows how to do. And most people that attempt it are a bit heavy handed. The point of contouring isn’t for there to be a line on your face and it shouldn’t be used in place of blush. Contour is supposed to be an illusion that slims the face and defines the cheekbones seamlessly. You can contour the forehead, nose, and jawline too if you are looking to reshape the face a bit. But the key thing is that you want to make sure that the color you choose to contour with isn’t too dark and that you make sure you blend everything really well — you want it to look as natural as possible.

So let’s focus on hallowing those cheeks! You could use a powder, cream, or liquid when contouring, but the easiest of all of these is to use powder. A soft angled blush brush is the easiest to use (I prefer MAC’s #168 Large Angled Contour Brush) because  it basically does the work for you. Now for the powder, you want to find a matte contour powder or eyeshadow that’s a couple of shades darker than your skin. You want to make sure its not a brown that has a lot of red or orange undertones. Go for a more taupe-brown. My favorite contour powders are by Kevyn Aucoin and MAC.  The Kevyn Aucoin sculpting powder is genius. MAC Pro makes great contour powders as well but as those are only available to artists you can find eyeshadow equivalents for any skin tone. It’s not effective to use shimmery powders when trying to contour the face. You save the shimmers for highlighting the face!

Now, to make this as natural as possible you need to make sure you barely put any powder on the brush. Remember you can always add more but its much harder to take it off if you put on too much. You want to find the hollow of your cheeks which is directly under your cheekbones.  You can easily find this by making a “fish face” by sucking in your cheeks. Once you find your cheek bones you want to start at the hairline (with the longest hairs of the brush at your hairline) and go in a line under your cheek bones in the direction of your mouth. Move the brush downwards so most of the color is deposited nearest the hair line and not in the middle of your face.  The color should fade out and you can stop halfway down your cheeks. Don’t go all the way to your mouth. Once you have the color on there you don’t need to add more powder and you can just blend it out using circular upward motions with the brush until you feel that it blends into the skin nicely. You can even use your fingers to help blend it in.

It’s really as easy as that!  Once you have done that you can use a light shimmery cream or powder to highlight the top of the cheekbones and you can pop on a bit of blush onto the apples of the cheeks for a nice little flush of color. You could do this everyday without it being noticeable or dramatic! Voila!

Kristin Gallegos, Community NYC makeup artist, will be answering your beauty questions regularly here at Beauty High, so submit any makeup qualms to with the subject: Dear KristinKristin began her work as a makeup artist assisting the talented likes of Dick Page and Lisa Butler to refine her own skills, and has since worked with legendary photographers such as Terry Richardson, Patrick Demarchelier, Peter Lindbergh, David Bailey and many others. Her work has been captured in the pages of “Vogue”, “V Magazine” and “Self Service” with clients such as Michelle Monaghan, Amy Ryan, Amber Heard and more. Kristin has also been featured in StyleCaster’s 50 Most Stylish New Yorker’s and The Kiss. You can reach Kristin directly on Twitter@KristinGallegos!

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