Contouring 101 Part 2: Placement & Blending

Hi! I am aware that people want to see demos but the truth is that demos are deceiving. Contouring is not like Copy Paste. Once you understand why we do it and how it relates to the human skull, you’ll be able to do it on everyone. We learned some important basics about choosing a contouring shade in Part 1. Now, let’s take a look at application. This involves two aspects:


Remember that contour is meant to recreate the natural shadows on your face. Where do shadows appear? Wherever light is blocked by something. The high points of your face have bones which block light. This causes the areas underneath them to be shadowed. Where should your contour stop? Right where the bone stops. More on this later.


There are different directions for each part of your face so we’ll discuss them all separately. People tend to think that using larger brushes makes it blend better but that’s not the point. Stay within your correct placement area. That is crucial. It’s best to use a fluffy brush for blending. It doesn’t have to be so big.

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Where to contour?


Many people tell you to contour your forehead but that’s not where you should be contouring. Why? There are no shadows on your forehead; only highlighting on the highest points. You may use a bronzer on your forehead for a sun-kissed look. Try a foundation one shade darker blended well on the perimeters of your forehead if you want to make it look smaller. As for a cool toned contour shade, apply is sparingly on your temples where there’s a valley between your forehead and cheekbones. A valley remains in shadow, right? The blending direction is up towards the hairline.


Please don’t contour your jawline sideways! Shadows exist as gradients. This means that shadows fade away into your natural skin color moving further away from the bone. Where is the bone? Your jaw. The contour should be darkest right at your jawline and fade downwards on your neck. Make sure to blend well.

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Underneath cheekbones

Look at your bare face when you’re flushed and sweaty from exercise. The sweat is most prominent on top of your cheekbone. That’s where you highlight. The flush will probably be higher up on your cheeks disappearing into your hairline. That’s where you apply blush (you may bring it to your apples too). Lastly, there’s a shadow the whole length of your cheekbone. That’s where you contour. Notice that the shadow is darkest near your ear. It becomes thinner and lighter towards your mouth. It stops way before it reaches your mouth. Note that spot. Your blended contour should never cross that point.



This is one of the most abused places in terms of contour. It’s totally obvious when you do it wrong. Your nose is important to your facial balance so leave it alone if you can’t do it right. Most people don’t need to contour their nose anyway. Even if you have a crooked bridge (like me) it doesn’t require correction. It’s charming. Here are a few points to remember while understanding nose contouring:

  • Never put shimmery highlighter on the tip of your nose especially if it’s already pointed. It just stands out like a beacon.
  • Don’t put shimmery highlighter on your nose period. It makes it look oily.
  • Placing contour under the tip of your nose will shorten it.
  • No one has a super thin bridge so please don’t try to slim down your bridge unnaturally.
  • Nose contour should blend into your crease naturally right at your brows.

You can see a good example of nose contour below by Pony. She’s Korean with a nose that’s not super 3D in comparison to say, Pakistanis. She did not try to slim down her nose bridge but just traced it while blending upwards into her crease. In her case, shading below her tip makes her nose seem more pointed and her nose is not particularly short either.

Eye crease

Your crease is also in shadow that’s why it’s the deepest part of your eye that you can use to define your entire eye area. We all have a bone around our eye, right? The crease falls right underneath that bone creating a shadow. Remember not to place your crease color on the bone but rather underneath just like like contouring out cheeks. Don’t try to extend it rather keep it in the shadow-y region. Even if you have hooded eyes, blend your crease color into your hood too. Your hood is not part of your lid. It is part of the crease. This shadow is darkest near the lid and fades towards the brow bone.

Again, Pony is a good example. She uses a cool toned contour to make her crease prominent and then moves in with warmer colors. Notice how she has gently shaded very close to her brow bone. Don’t leave a blank space there.

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That’s all folks! Hope you’ve understood the basics of contouring now ๐Ÿ™‚ Good luck!

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