January 8, 2015 Ashley Rebecca Spotlight

How to Choose the Right Colors for Contouring

The craze of contouring and highlighting isn't going away anytime soon -- in fact, it's an imperative part of makeup application. However, to non-professionals, the art of contouring and highlighting can seem like a daunting task as there can be confusion in how to pick the appropriate colors and tones for your specific skin tone. With enough practice and the right contouring shades, this face sculpting method can become an easy addition to your makeup routine. Here are my tips on how to choose the right colors for contouring.

contouring colors
1. Pick Your Poison: Cream or Powder
Some people like to contour with cream or liquid makeup, and while both are great options, I do recommend starting out with a powder texture product, as it allows for the most control. Once you get more comfortable with the technique, you can graduate to the harder, er, cream-based stuff. These days, many brands offer highlighting and contouring duos in one palette, which makes your selection process much easier!

Product Recommendations: NYX Cosmetics Highlight and Contour Powder, Maybelline Fit Me Pressed Powder, L'Oréal Paris True Match Super Blendable Powder

2. Always Test

Make sure you test multiple colors on your skin until you figure out which shade works best with your skin tone. For highlighting, pick a powder that is one to two shades lighter than your foundation, and for shadowing go with a powder that's one to two shades darker. If you have fair skin it's best to avoid anything with orange in it; for medium skin go more bronze in color; and for dark skin tones you can play with powders that have deeper shades with red undertones.

3. Don't Forget Blush!

 Adding a pop of blush to the apples of the cheeks is a great way to add color and soften your overall contoured look. The easiest way to do this is smile and apply blush where you see your cheek becomes most round.

Product Recommendations: Giorgio Armani Beauty Blush Brush, Lancôme Cheek & Contour Brush #25

4. Invest in Good Brushes.

Although this step has nothing to do with color selection, I feel its importance warrants a mention. Using quality brushes that blend well is essential to contouring, because blending is the most important part of the process. When working with powder, natural brushes are best as the hairs have cuticle that absorb and release powder easily and accurately. Apply your contouring powder onto the hollow of the cheeks and blend until you see definition, not streaks. Highlighter can be placed under the eyes, along the bridge of the nose, forehead and above lips to add brightness.

Product Recommendations: Urban Decay Naked Flushed, YSL Blush Radiance in No.7, NYX Cosmetics Blush in Coral Dream

What are some of your tips for contouring? Let us know in the comments below!

Photo: thinkstock

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    About the Author: Ashley is a New York City-based makeup artist with a robust list of editorial and celebrity clients.