Blend, Blend, Blend! The Secrets to Highlighting and Contouring

By Kara Winslow
Highlighting and Contouring

I’ve been doing makeup for a long time, and that includes highlighting and contouring. I started highlighting and contouring 20 years ago after studying the books of legendary makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin to perfect the technique. Back then, there was no YouTube or Instagram, and the technique was not the “BIG FAD” of makeup popularized by celebrities like the Kardashians. It was something makeup artists had been doing for years, but wasn’t particularly mainstreamed.

Today, you can find different techniques splashed all over social media for highlighting and contouring, ranging from the simple to the extra intense. Why should you be doing it? How do you do it? And how can you use it on a daily basis to enhance your look?

Why should you highlight and contour?

 It can help fix those pesky little nuances in your face that bother you. Round cheeks and crooked noses can be corrected and you can even enhance your eyebrows, giving the temporary look of a lift to your face. Highlighting and contouring is the smoke and mirrors that allow you to create your ideal look.

How do you do it?

Look at your face in the mirror and imagine that you are looking at your skull, void of skin and tissue — just the bones and the empty space between them. This sounds weird, I know, but what highlighting and contouring do is enhance your bone structure. Where you want the bones to come out more you add light, just like the white of the bone. So highlight your brow bone to lift the face, the cheekbone to raise your cheek, and the center of your nose to straighten it. If you would like to give the illusion that a part of your face “goes in” where there is no bone, add a shadow. To slim the nose, add shadow on the sides of it; to slim the face, add a shadow under the cheekbone; and to hide a double chin, add it under the jawline. See the chart to illustrate these concepts.

Once you learn your face structure and what areas need a highlight or shadow, the biggest thing is to BLEND, BLEND, BLEND! You don’t want random streaks of color on your face. That is not cute and does not enhance your face in any way.

Dramatic highlighting and contouring is trending heavily right now, but you don’t need to go that heavy to make your face look amazing. As a makeup artist, I do highlighting and contouring every day that I wear makeup, and most people don’t even know. The goal of applying makeup is to allow you to look like yourself, just an enhanced version. Investing in the right colors and tools will help. And remember to BLEND!! You can use blending sponges, brushes or even your fingers, depending on what works best for you.

Make highlighting and contouring work for you and don’t be afraid of it. These are techniques that every woman should have in her beauty arsenal.

Helpful Tips:

  • Pick and choose the highlighting and contouring technique that best fits YOUR face.
  • Bronzer is a great product to use for contouring. Make sure it is matte brown WITHOUT any shimmer or glimmer.
  • Use a concealer trio as your basic starting point to highlighting, concealing and contouring.
  • Be careful not to use too much sparkly highlighter. If overused, this can give you oily-looking skin.
  • After using concealers, enhance the look with matte powders.
  • Keep it simple. At night you can go more dramatic, but be careful during the day as it can look like stage makeup.

Kara Winslow is a Gainesville native who graduated Cum Laude in 2004 from Rollins college with a bachelor’s in theatre. Upon returning to Gainesville she worked in theatre education, administration and production. In 2008 she was cast as a spokesmodel for ybf Beauty on Home Shopping Network. Around the same time she launched her company as an on-location makeup artist and in 2013 she was promoted to ybf’s official USA makeup artist. Her work has been seen on MTV, CNN, FOX News, and HSN, as well advertising campaigns for Gatorade, UPS, AT&T, Speedo, AXE, Procter & Gamble and more. Her celebrity clients have included Olympic swimmers Ryan Lochte and Dara Torres, football legend Harmond Wages, actress Lyndon Smith, politicians Steve Oelrich and Ted Yoho, and Miss Florida USA Ashleigh Lollie.


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