beauty:: the art of highlighting and contouring to reshape the face.

By Diane Penelope 


What is highlighting? 


In make up terms, highlighting, strobing or luminising, is a way to add a lighter colour or light reflective particles to the face to give the face a “lifted” look.


What is contouring?  


When you contour in makeup up, you use a matte, deeper colour to deepen shadows and hollows of the face to exaggerate the depth of the facial features.


Colour theory in makeup


Cooler, deeper tones:


Colours with cool darker tones push the features back, so cooler tones (more ‘blue’ based) will make something look further away or “pushed back”. So it follows that if you want to give the face depth, you contour with a cool based shade, slightly darker than your skin tone in the areas that you want to sit back. This may include:


Cheek hollows - creating a shadow under the cheek bone, with make the cheek bones sit up higher and slim the face


Nose - if you have a wide or long nose, a subtle contour to the sides and tip can make it look slightly narrower and shorter.


Eye crease - if you have quite a flat eye contour, adding a crease shade can deepen the look of the eye


Forehead - if you have a large forehead, adding a matte cool shadow slightly deeper than your natural skin colour will add dimension to the top and sides


Chin - if you have a slight double chin, a subtle contour can make your ‘extra’ chin recede slightly (it should be subtle).


Cleavage - when you are looking to create a deeper cleavage, add a little contour between the ‘girls’ to enhance the depth.


Lighter, warmer tones:


Hues with warmth and light (including light reflective particles) will ‘lift’ the areas that you want to accentuate or print forward. These areas can include:


Brow bone (just under brows) - before applying shadow and after using a primer on the lid, just dust a little highlighter to lift the brow arch - The Balm Mary-Lou Minizer is a good choice for most skin tones.


Cheekbones - apply light amount of a warm toned luminizer (highlighter) to the top of the cheek bones. If you have enlarged doors on the cheeks, don’t bright the higher down too far as it will highlight enlarged pores. I love Benefit Highbeam for this, over foundation, but under any powder.


Cupids bow - highlighting the top of the lip can make lips look fuller. Don’t add too much or you will look sweaty.


Jawline - you can accentuate the jaw with a subtle dusting of highlighter. If you have a receding chin add some highlighter to strengthen it’s shape.


Bridge of nose - if you have a pretty nose, accentuate it’s bridge with a subtle swoosh of luminiser. I see a lot of Youtubers with shiny noses, especially the tip, but don’t fall for this, especially if your nose isn’t a perky little turned up number. I still don’t understand why they do it, as it is n’t flattering, it’s distracting.


Middle of forehead - brings the forehead to the fore, with some luminiser in the very middle, blended right out.


Collar bones and shoulders - if you are wearing a strapless or scrappy dress, adding a highlight to the collar bones and shoulders can accentuate them.




Luminizers and highlighters:


The Balm Mary-Lou Manizer 8.5g Champagne Hued Highlighter, Shadow & Shimmer, 8.5g.



Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder - Radiant Light




Benefit Cosmetics high beam liquid highlighter - luminescent complexion enhancer






Illamasqua Gel Sculpt - Silhouette



AC On Tour Powder Contouring Palette




About the Author

Diane Penelope Kennedy comes from an art direction background as well as having been the official makeup for Miss World Australia and running her own makeup line for 5 years. Apart from being obsessed with every beauty product ever made, Diane is a classically trained painter and designer and uses this knowledge to create makeup tutorials, tips, tricks and techniques as well as beauty product reviews at her own blog at