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How To: Contouring for Your Face Shape

contouring for your face shape

While it may seem like a recent trend, makeup artists have been using contouring to sculpt their clients’ looks for years. We spoke with makeup artist Abby Lauren to learn about this hot (but not so new) trend and get her contouring tips.

Contouring is the art of using makeup to give shape to and enhance the structure of the face. While the pros have been practicing this transformational art for ages, Lauren believes it’s likely due to pop culture and celebrities like the Kardashians that this trend has been brought to the masses. Previously reserved for the runway, many women are now buying contouring kits and making this part of their daily makeup routine.

If you’re trying this trend at home, Lauren says, “When it comes to contouring, blending is number one. Blend! Blend! Blend!” The order for application should be: foundation, highlight, contour, then blush. Finding the right shade of product for your skin tone is equally important. “You really only need to go a few shades darker than your actual skin tone to create a natural contour.” And if you’re looking for a natural, realistic look, Lauren recommends using powders. If you’re more into a dramatic look, creams with powder contouring on top work wonders, she says.

The order for application should be: foundation, contour, highlight, then blush.

Knowing your face shape is the first step to contouring, as it allows you to effectively accentuate your features. Let’s review the basic face shapes, how to identify each one and how to sculpt and define your best features.

  1. Face Shape: Diamond

    What It Looks Like: A diamond face comprises a narrow forehead and a narrow, often pointy chin. The forehead and chin are about the same width with the cheekbones as the widest point of the face.
    How to Contour: If you have a diamond face, Lauren says, “contour the area below the cheekbones” and highlight under the eyes, the forehead and middle of the chin.
    Note: For highlighting, this is standard. The shape of the highlights will alter depending on the face type. 

  2. Face Shape: Heart

    What It Looks Like: Lauren describes this shape as “mostly round and the chin comes to somewhat of a point,” creating the heart-like visage, with the cheeks wider than the hairline.
    How to Contour: Someone with a heart-shaped face, she suggests, should contour “the hollows of the cheeks, creating more angles as well as the sides of the jawline,” and highlight under the eyes. This will create a more narrow appearance.

  3. Face Shape: Oval

    What It Looks Like: An oval face shape is just that: oval. It can also be somewhat oblong, twice as long as it is wide. There are no major points along the jaw, chin or hairline.
    How to Contour: Someone with an oval face, Lauren recommends, should contour “the forehead to make it less prominent as well as use blush on the apples of the cheeks, blending toward the ears rather than up to the temples, to create a wider rather than longer illusion.”

  4. Face Shape: Round

    What It Looks Like: A round face is about as long as it is wide with no major points on the jaw, chin and hairline.
    How to Contour: Lauren says someone with a round face should contour the hollows of the cheeks, “creating more angles as well as the sides of the jawline to create a more narrow appearance.”

  5. Face Shape: Square

    What It Looks Like: “A square face is more angular, especially when it comes to the jawline,” Lauren notes. This face type is about as long as it is wide.
    How to Contour: Someone with a square face should contour the forehead, temples and jawline to create a softer, less angular appearance.
    Final Contouring Tips
    If you’re looking to get into the contouring game, Lauren recommends you “take a makeup lesson with a seasoned artist.” You can also visit any makeup counter and ask for help. While video tutorials can offer great guidance and are definitely aplenty, Lauren reminds us, “What you see on YouTube looks completely different in person.” Lastly, but certainly not least, using the right products is crucial for contouring and Lauren loves Becca Cosmetics, specifically their pressed powders and highlighters.
    P.S. Don’t forget to blend! 

Beauty Writer

Jessica Griffiths

Jessica Griffiths is a writer living in Los Angeles. Her essays have been published on The Hairpin and Narratively. She loves many things including puns, pups and police procedurals. She strongly believes there’s no wrong way to eat a Reese’s.