Various makeup brushes and tools needed for effective contouring

What Makeup Products Are Needed for Contouring?

Have you ever wondered what makeup products are needed for contouring? Contouring may seem confusing to beginners, but it doesn’t have to be. The core of this makeup technique is all about illusion, using dark and light colors to redesign your skeletal look. The end result is a lifted, sculpted, and defined-looking complexion. There are a variety of dedicated contouring palettes out there, but you really only need a few core products. With practice and the right tools, shaping and refining your facial features will become second nature. This ultimate guide details everything you need to take to the next dimension.

Key Points:

  • Contouring sculpts and defines your facial features with cool-toned powder or cream products.
  • The basic products needed are contour powder/cream, foundation, concealer, makeup brush, blender sponge, and setting powder.
  • Proper color selection and mixing techniques are the key to avoiding a dull or overly dramatic look.

If you want to take your makeup skills to the next level, consider becoming a professional makeup artist and learn even more contouring techniques.

Contouring 101: The Basic Products You Really Need

So you want to try contouring but aren’t sure where to start. I get it! The sheer amount of YouTube tutorials and intimidating contour palettes at Sephora are enough to make anyone feel overwhelmed.

Here’s the good news – contouring is totally doable for beginners with just a few key products. While certainly not an exhaustive list, these are the essential items needed in your makeup bag before attempting to chisel those cheekbones:

1. Contour Powder or Cream

This special project calls for a matte bronzer or contour shade a few shades deeper than your natural skin tone. The key is to find a cool-toned color with subtle grey undertones rather than warm orange hues. This mimics natural shadow for the most realistic effect.

You can use a pressed powder or cream contour formula – it’s personal preference! Creams melt beautifully into the skin but can lift the foundation if applied underneath. For powder rookies, go for a blendable powder first.

Product Recommendations:

  • Drugstore: NYX Wonder Stick, ELF Primer Infused Bronzer
  • Mid-Range: Tarte Park Ave Princess Bronzer, Milani Silky Matte Bronzing Powder
  • Luxury: Hourglass Ambient Lighting Bronzer, Fenty Match Stix
NYX Wonder Stick
Source: NYX Cosmetics

2. Foundation

A smooth, flawless base allows contour and highlights to really stand out. Find a lightweight liquid or powder foundation that seamlessly matches your skin tone. Neutral undertones typically work best for contouring.

Always apply foundation first before layering on any kind of sculpting. Think of it as the blank canvas for your work of chiseled art!

3. Concealer

To balance out all that shadowy drama, you need something to brighten! Enter concealer, which highlights and draws light to certain areas of the face. Brighter, luminizing formulas work best.

Dot this under the eyes, down the nose, on the chin, etc. for a wide-awake effect.

What makeup products are needed for contouring? Find out as we break down the essentials for achieving flawless cheekbones!

If you’re feeling a little intimidated about trying contouring for the first time, start with this simple beginner’s guide to contouring. Or check out this breakdown of contouring specifically for round face shapes.

The Contouring Tool Kit: Brushes, Sponges & More

We’ve covered the key makeup products, so now let’s talk tools! Properly applying contour and highlight takes specialized brushes and sponges designed to buff and blend.

While fingers or generic brushes work in a pinch, having the right implements makes a world of difference. Here’s an overview of the tools needed to flawlessly sculpt your features:

Makeup Brushes

• Angled Contour Brush – Sturdy, angled bristles deposit the perfect amount of powder right into the hollows of cheekbones for depth. Sweep in an upward motion.

• Blending Brush – Softer, fluffy brushes seamlessly fade any harsh pigment lines. Use circular motions to marry contour with foundation.

• Highlight Brush – Smaller tapered brushes apply brightness to specific areas like under the eyes, nose, and Cupid’s bow.

Beauty Sponge

The makeup world sings the praises of the Beautyblender sponge for good reason – it’s the gold standard for blending! This squishy, teardrop-shaped sponge diffuses cream and liquid makeup for undetectable layering. Dampen and bounce across the skin.

Beautyblender sponge

Setting Powder & Brush

Don’t skip this vital step! Just like setting the foundation with powder, always finish contouring the same way. This locks everything in place and prevents slipping and transferring.

Lightly dust translucent powder all over with a fluffy powder brush, concentrating on contoured regions. And voilà – carved cheekbones for hours!

Executing the Contour: Step-by-Step Application

Now for the fun part – actually sculpting your face! Applying your contouring products properly is key to avoiding any overly chiseled mishaps. Follow these steps for flawless dimension:

Prep Work

Always start with a clean, moisturized canvas. Dry skin will grab and cling to powder. Apply your favorite primer if desired an extra smooth base.

Placement Guidelines

Now for the actual contour application! Start by identifying your face shape – this determines exact placement. Here’s a quick cheat sheet:

  • Heart-shaped faces – Sweep bronzer along the hairline and jawline. Avoid the chin. 
  • Round faces – Apply to the hairline, below the cheekbones, and down the sides of the nose. Skip the forehead and jaw.
  • Oval faces – Lightly dust from temples down beneath cheekbones and along jaw to slim face.

Application Instructions

The steps go like this:

  1. Apply foundation first for a blank canvas
  2. Use an angled brush to lightly sweep contour powder underneath cheekbones in upward motions
  3. Take your time blending out the cream contour with a damp sponge
  4. Blur out any harsh powder lines with soft circular brush strokes
  5. Dot concealer on areas you want to highlight
  6. Finish with translucent setting powder to lock in your work!

Follow the steps, take your time, and don’t stress mistakes. Contouring is just makeup after all – have fun with your beautiful sculpted makeup!

Contouring for Different Face Shapes

Here’s an inside tip about contouring: placement varies depending on your facial structure! An angled technique that chisels cheekbones on a heart face won’t give the same effect on a round one.

Customizing application is crucial for a natural-looking, proportional sculpt. Here’s a breakdown of what works best for common face shapes:

Heart Face Shape

A defined jawline with a wider forehead is the heart’s distinguishing trait. Balance proportions by bronzing along the hairline and jawline only. Leave the narrow chin free of any darkness.

Round Face Shape

With full cheeks and softer jaw, round faces need angle and definition. Apply contour slightly underneath the cheeks, not directly on them, in an upward motion towards the temples. Slim side of the nose and leave the forehead.

Oval Face Shape

Ovals are considered the “ideal” shape needing minimal slimming. A light shadow under cheekbones and a subtle jaw bronzer is all you need to add dimension. Any more risks looking gaunt.

Pay special attention to the unique contouring placement needed for mature skin. Using the wrong techniques can emphasize lines and aging.

Square Face Shape

Chisel sharp angles with angled bronzer underneath cheekbones and a touch on the temples. Softening the jawline helps shorten a longer face. Always blend well or risk harsh lines.

Diamond Face Shape

Wide cheekbones and narrow chin are the diamond’s narrow points. Bronze the hairline, cheeks, and jawline but avoid the cheeks and chin which need no slimming.

Oblong Face Shape

Extended oblongs need shortening and widening. Sweep bronzer heavily along underneath the cheekbones and jawline. Contour sides of the nose. Leave the forehead and temples. Wondering what makeup products are needed for contouring? See how placement aligns with face goals? Now get out there and start sculpting like a pro!

Contouring FAQs: Your Top Questions, Answered

Learning any new makeup skill comes with questions, and contouring is no exception! Here, I tackle some of the most common FAQs about what makeup products are needed for contouring and sculpting.

What if I can’t afford all the contouring products?

Listen, I feel you. Building a makeup collection is no joke. Stick to budget-friendly drugstore versions of base products you already use. For the specialty contour shades, check out affordable brands like e.l.f. Cosmetics and NYX. Their bronzers, highlighters, and sticks create dimension for less than $10.

You really only need one dedicated contour hue along with your existing stuff to get started. Upgrade down the line if you want to!

Still, have questions about what contouring is exactly and how it differs from highlighting. This guide clearly explains the difference.

How dramatic should my contour be?

The number one rule: don’t go overboard trying to transform into a whole new face! A subtle sculpt that looks natural and undetectable to the average eye is the goal. You want people to notice something different about you maybe but not be able to pinpoint its contouring.

Build up slowly in thin layers and blend, blend, blend! Soft and muted is the vibe, not harsh lines and stripes.

How do I contour my nose?

Nose contouring deserves its own dedicated post but here’s a mini-version! Apply a cool-toned powder or cream right underneath the tip and on both sides of the bridge. Imagine a letter C turned upside down. Blend upwards and outwards.

Add a highlighter down the center bridge and dab a touch on the very tip for a button effect. Blend for a slim yet natural nose shape.

Have more questions? Let me know in the comments!


And there you have it – everything you need to know about what makeup products are needed for contouring and sculpting your best face!

As you can see, you don’t need to drop hundreds or clutter your counter with every viral contour palette. Start with quality base products paired with a cool-toned bronzing powder. Add a selection of natural bristle makeup brushes and sponges suited for blending.

If you have aging skin, be sure to use these best contouring makeup products for mature skin that won’t settle into fine lines.

Learning to properly chisel and define requires some patience and practice but the payoff is so worth it. Contouring emphasizes your gorgeous bone structure while minimizing any problem areas. The tricks instantly give the appearance of lifted cheekbones, a slim nose, and a refined jawline.

Hopefully, this guide brought you up to speed on contouring basics! Let me know if you have any other product or application questions. Now grab your angled brush, blend out that bronzer, and let your inner makeup artist shine through. Your most sculpted, snatched face awaits!

15 Best Contouring Products and Tools in 2023 |

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