How to Contour and Highlight


Once again, we’re delighted to share a basic makeup tutorial from Los Angeles based makeup artist, Amy Clarke. She has created this lovely tutorial along with one of our favorite photographers, Bryce Covey, to detail and demonstrate how to perfect the art of contouring and highlighting using makeup.


Take these tips from Amy to add to your ever-growing arsenal of makeup techniques. We know how difficult it is to get straight information when you’re looking through hundreds of turorials on how to perfect a makeup skill (to use bronzer or not to use bronzer?!) but as always, Amy has made it easier than ever for you to learn how to use your natural bone structure and just a few key pieces of makeup to contour and highlight your best features. Use this basic makeup tip to kick your daily beauty routine up a notch!

Contour & Highlight:

1.+ 2.  Apply one layer of foundation or tinted moisturizer all over face. I used Tarte’s BB Cream in “Medium Light”. Using a foundation brush and a cream concealer (2 to 3 times lighter than your skin tone), apply concealer (the highlight) to the under eyes, down the sides of the nose, and brushed back and upward toward the hairline.

3. Using the same concealer, highlight the center of the forehead and down the bridge of the nose, upper lip, center of the chin and on your brow bone. Lastly, apply the concealer to the jawline, just under your cheekbones.

4. Once you’ve finished with all the highlighting, it’s time to apply the contour. Pick a cool-toned cream concealer or foundation thats 2 to 3 shades darker than your skin tone. Taking a smaller, stiff brush or foundation brush, apply the contour cream to the hallows of your cheeks, just below your cheekbone, all the way to your hairline.

5.+ 6. +7. Apply the same color to your forehead near your hairline, temples, jawline, the sides of your neck and to the sides of your nose.

8. Using a wet Beauty Blender or Duo Fiber Blending Brush, blend all the contour and highlighter together until there is no more distinction between the two colors.

9. Lastly, Apply a light dusting of blush, and set all the highlight with a loose powder using a small natural bristled brush. I used Tarte’s 12 Hour Amazonian Clay Blush in “Tipsy” and Make Up For Ever’s Super Matte Loose Powder in “Translucent Natural”.

Pro Tip: You can use cream or powders to contour or highlight, creams are easier to blend and tend to look more natural. Avoid using bronzer to contour. You are creating a “shadow” so think of a color that’s similar to an actual shadow, which tends to be a cooler tone.  Use Bronzer to warm up your skin and make it look sun-kissed! 

Favorite Products: Make Up For Ever’s Foundation Brush “30N” & Senna Cosmetic Face Sculpting Cream “1.

Photography: Bryce Covey | Makeup: Amy Clarke | Hair: Heidi Marie Garrett | Creative Direction: Emily Newman for Once Wed

34 Responses to “How to Contour and Highlight”

  1. Nicole

    Any suggestions on highlighter if there isn’t a color two shades lighter than your skin tone? I’m pretty pale naturally.

  2. Kaylee

    Can you list the products used in this tutorial? And possibly cheaper alternatives too? :D

    • Kimber

      I use Revlon PhotoReady in Fair 001 stick cream Concealer for highlight and Revlon PhotoReady Bronzer 100 in Bronzed & Chic pressed powder bronzer for contouring. The bronzer has 4 shades, use the darkest for contouring and the others for blush or bronzing. I set my highlight using Revlon ColorStay pressed powder in Translucent. Both of these are completely matte, so you will need a shimmer highlight to dust on the top of cheek bones going up in a “C” shape. For this, I use Maybelline Master Hi-Light in 10 Nude. I hope this helps some!

  3. lucila

    Can you be a bit more specific about how to blend? Is it more like patting or going around in circles? Any other brush you can blend with?

  4. Mer

    What cream concealer do you use?

    I also would appreciate more detail about the “blending”!

  5. Jenna

    This is exactly the type of highlighting and contouring I’ve been looking for! Absolutely beautiful results. Would love a list of the brands and colors/shades of makeup used in this tutorial.

    Much thanks!

  6. Jasmine

    This is a great tutorial! Thank you so much. It’s very easy to understand and follow.

  7. Jamie

    Why are there no replies to any of these comments? I need answers to most of these questions! Most importantly, which products were used?

  8. LeighAnn

    I thought I would address a few of these comments. I used to teach models at an agency how to do these tricks.
    sides of the neck: she means right under the jawline and chin to define, blend downward.
    a cheap “dupe” for contour is the elf bronzer cream in the duo cream blush and bronzer. If you prefer a powder, you could use the elf bronzer in the duo blush and bronzer.
    Blush-orgasm by Nars or use the Elf product above, it is almost a perfect dupe for Nars.
    You can use any cream concealer for highlighting that is 2-3 shades lighter than your skin. Choose something that is creamy but not liquid. NYX makes some good lighter pots of concealer and lid primers that work pretty well, otherwise just find a concealer you like.
    For blending I use a large powder brush from MAC. I like to set with makeup forever high definition powder. It airbrushes everything and makes it look smooth, plus it is sweat and water proof. You can also use a kabuki brush. I have not found the blenders to work as well as the brushes, but try both. You can by a beauty blender dupe at walgreens or ulta for around 4 dollars. They are almost the same as the 19 dollar one. :)

    Hope that helps. This is what works for me. Be very careful with this in everyday wear. Most times I recommended this only as a stage thing or night-time. Use the palest, pink, frosty gloss you can find. It will make your lips look huge. NYX has some great frosted pink shades. If you have plenty of cash, dior has beautiful options as well.

  9. LeighAnn

    Oh, and I would say this lip color is probably bobbie brown. she makes great lip gloss.

  10. Annabelle

    For those asking about the products she used to contour: the Senna Cosmetics Face Sculpting Kit (in 1) that she mentions at the end actually includes three shades: a highlight, a contour, and a “lowlight” (supposed to be the same shade as your skin). Here’s the link to the product on the company’s website:–p-1248.html


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