Thursday, 23 July 2015 10:52

Highlighting and Contouring

Written by   Angelica Itomura, makeup artist at Downey Makeup Academy

The concept of face sculpting, or contouring, is creating a symmetrical face. The key factors of highlighting and contouring are in the understanding of light and shadows. Understanding the way light falls on the face is how the eyes will perceive shadows. When using both techniques, the illusion of a balanced face can be created.

Highlighting by lightening brings forth facial features, while contouring pushes back the features. The products used to reconstruct the face can be foundations, powders, eyeshadows, and pencils. The foundation should be applied, followed by the contouring and highlighting. When using the products, use two shades lighter than the foundation for a highlighter and two shades darker than the foundation for contouring. After the product is placed, blend. Blending is a crucial part of highlighting and contouring. Once highlighted and contoured, blend into the hair line. Without properly blending, the harsh lines of the products can be seen in unnatural lighting. Any makeup tools can be used to blend from a sponge to a brush. Although sculpting and contouring are the rage, consider limiting this technique for evening looks and photoshoots, due to the harsh contrast of light and dark products. The end results will appear clownish in unnatural lighting.

"The benefits of contouring are thinning out a round or plumed face and softening a square face."


Highlighting and contouring are for changing the face shape to appear more oval. The ideal face is considered to be oval since it is symmetrical and features are evenly balanced. The process of contouring and sculpting varies on facial shapes. With a heart face, highlight the jaw and chin and contour the forehead. With a square face, contour the jaws with a z-line shape. A z-line shape consists of contouring between the cheekbone and the jawline, starting from the indentation under the cheekbone in front of the ear, to just before the apples of the cheek, down to jaw, and down to chin. With long face, contour the face with placing the horizontal lines on the chin and top of the forehead. With a round face, contour the face by the z-line shape on the bottom part of the face. With pear face, highlight the forehead and contour the bottom half of the face with the z-line shape. The oval face only needs highlighting on the cheekbones. When highlighting and contouring, imagine an oval face as a template. When sculpting the face, refer to the “triangle of light” (cheekbones to temples, to nose, which is the central part of the face). Applying a highlighter to the triangle of light will make the cheekbones appear more prominent and the eyes will seem brighter. The benefits of contouring are thinning out a round or plumed face and softening a square face.
Contouring and highlighting can be a technique that can be used by any face. Both techniques are used for making the face seem to have lost years of aging. If done correctly, this technique can be highly beneficial and add another aspect to makeup routines.

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