Facial contouring pictorial how-to

Nov 1, 2013 at 12:00 a.m. ET

Need to give a little something extra to your look? Try facial contouring! It’s not as tricky as it sounds. Makeup artist Nicki Soedjiman gives us the details.

Facial contouring: finished look 1

The basics

So what exactly is facial contouring? SheKnows asked makeup artist Nicki Soedjiman of Luigi Parasmo Salon in Washington, D.C to give us the down-low on this technique.

“Contouring is the key to enhancing — not correcting — our features and bone structure," says Soedjiman, an industry veteran who has styled the likes of Ariana Huffington. "All of your features are connected. Sometimes people accentuate the eyes but skip the rest — a big mistake."

What you'll need

To master the look, you’ll need to make sure you’re stocked with all the tools of the trade. Soedjiman advises stocking your makeup bag with four distinct, matte shades — a foundation that matches your skin tone and three powders: one slightly lighter than your foundation (a highlight), one slightly darker than your foundation and one slightly darker than the first darker powder. Lighter shades will highlight areas you want to emphasize — like your cheekbones — while darker shades will help conceal features that aren’t your favorite, like a wide nose.

You'll also need four varieties of brushes — angle, contour blending, foundation and powder — as well as cotton pads and sponges. Make sure these brushes are synthetic, because natural hair absorbs more product.

"Brushes are more important than the color," says Soedjiman. In his opinion, even the lowest-priced makeup will look great when applied correctly with quality brushes.

What’s his number-one rule? "Blend, blend, blend," says Soedjiman. "Otherwise, you might look like you have dirt on your face." No one wants that!

Follow the steps below as Soedjiman shows us how he gets the look:


Facial preparation

Facial contouring: facial prep

Start with a non-alcoholic toner — which refreshes even the most sensitive skin without drying it out — and follow with a moisturizer, applied with a sponge.


Eyes and brows

Facial contouring: Step 1 Apply matte eyeshadow

1. Start by applying a matte, white eyeshadow right under the arch of the brow. Feather the shadow, using a brush. “Remember that it's always better to reapply rather than erase if you've applied too much,” says Soedjiman.

Facial contouring: Step 2 Apply mid-tone shade

2. Apply a mid-tone shade to the lid itself.

Facial contouring: Step 3 Select a slightly darker neutral shade

3. Select a slightly darker neutral shade for the crease, then brush it right and left using a fluffy brush.

Facial contouring: Step 4 Use angeled brush to apply matte black shadow

4. Use an angled brush to apply a matte black shadow (not too dark!) along the eyelash line. Add a little tail at the end to lift the eyes, and blend it again with an angle brush.

Facial contouring: Step 5 Connect the eye liner with a brown pencil

5. Connect the eyeliner with a brown pencil. Make sure you only connect the eyeliner to the inner side with the powdered line.

Facial contouring: Step 6 Blend the shadow and liners

6. Blend the shadow and liners. This opens the eyes and makes them appear larger, giving that doe-eyed look we all want.

Facial contouring: Step 7 Apply mascara evenly

7. Apply mascara evenly to open those peepers up even more.

Facial contouring: Step 8 Lengthen shorter eyebrows

8. Lengthen shorter eyebrows and emphasize the angles of your face by using an angle brush and a powder shade that matches your brow color.


Create your canvas

Facial contouring: Create your canvas

Apply foundation to your entire face using a brush to even out your skin tone. Don't forget to blend just under the jaw line so you avoid the dreaded mask look! Set your foundation with powder. "I prefer mineral powder, because it doesn't contain talc," says Soedjiman.



Facial contouring: Nose

If you have a wider nose, apply your medium dark shade of power along the sides and the bridge. The color should not be too dark, maybe one or two shades darker than the complexion. This will slim the nose. If you have a smaller nose, just apply foundation — nothing else!



Facial contouring: Cheekbones Step 1 Apply a highlight color

1. Apply a highlight color underneath the eyes and between the eyebrows, as well as half of the forehead and the chin.

Facial contouring: Cheekbones Step 2 Apply blush on top of the cheekbones

2. Apply blush on top of the cheekbones and bring it all the way up towards your ears. Not sure where to find the apples of your cheeks? Smile and you’ll know exactly where to brush on that blush!


The Finished Look

Facial contouring: finished look 1

Facial contouring: finished look 2

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Photo credits: Travis Vaughn