Welcome to my blog, I am Rebecca. I give an Artist's Approach to Life. Follow me for beauty tutorials and reviews, color education, creativity, PNW living, recipes, motherhood and more.

Tutorial: Powder Highlighting and Contouring

Here is a tutorial for highlighting and contouring using powders. I filmed a tutorial using creams with my friend Ali as the model, but the sound didn't come through so I am going to try and voice over to narrate it. So if you're wanting a cream contour and highlight tutorial, it is on the way.

Personally, I use powders to highlight and contour on a day to day basis, since it's easy, quick and much easier to blend. I do use a combination of cream followed by powder highlighting and contouring on myself for events and when I am doing make up for clients/models for photoshoots, weddings, etc. 
If you'd rather follow along on YouTube click here!
Also, my hair is kinda crazy in this tutorial. I wanted to add lavender around my face but kind of failed, so it's "My-little-pony"-esque in pink, lavender and blue at the moment. It should be less ridiculous in my next tutorial :)

Highlighting and Contouring with Powders

Here's a diagram of where I place color. I will go over each step in detail below.
Place a darker contour powder where you want to give the effect of a shadow and detract. Add a light highlight to places you want to come forward and draw attention to.
Products Used:
Face: Smashbox Primer - original 
Urban Decay Primer Potion
MUFE HD foundation - 118
Illamasqua Skin base - white
Ben Nye Powder - Cameo
Nars creamy concealer - Chantilly
Sephora concealer - fair
ELF Mist & Set
MAC sculpt - Shadowy
MAC sculpt - Emphasize
MAC - Peaches
Ben Nye - Antique Rose
MAC - Blanc Type
Urban Decay - Naked
MAC Pigment - Blue Brown
Lorac - Sable
MAC - Carbon
MAC fluid line - Blacktrack
UD 24/7 liner - Perversion
MAC Chromaline - NC20/NW15
L'Oreal Voluminous mascara- Carbon Black
Maybelline Great Lash - clear
MUFE aqua brow - 25 
MAC Brave

Brushes used for the highlighting and contouring:
Sigma: F05, E40, E25, F35, F15, E60, F40
Kryolan Professional Art. 1731


Mac Sculp is my go-to contouring powder for fair skin. You want to use a powder that is neutral to ashy/cool so it will mimic shadows. You also want to choose a contour powder that is 1-2 shades darker than your skin tone and is matte. NYX taupe is a good drugstore option.
Mac Emphasize is my go-to highlight for fair to medium skin tones. You want to choose a highlight powder that is 1-2 shades lighter than your skin tone in a shimmer to matte finish, depending on your preference. I personally like satin highlights. A good drugstore alternative is any light eyeshadow, you don't need a specific product for this.

I use a Sigma F05 for contouring.

I'll be using this Sigma F15 for blush. (I dont have this step in the picture tutorial but I do in the video.) This can also be used to contour.

I use a Sigma F40 to blend my contour and blush.
   I use a Sigma E40 to contour the sides of my noise and under my lip.
I use a Sigma F35 to highlight my cheek bones.

I use a Sigma E60 to highlight my nose and cupids bow.

This brush is a Kryolan Professional Art. 1731 which you can use to highlight for a softer look. 
This brush is also SO soft, I really like it.

I've marked where I apply with the dots. Take an F05 and brush the contour color slightly above the hollows of your cheeks. Placing the color slightly above will give more lift to the cheek bone. Contouring here will add definition to the cheeks as well as lift the cheekbones.

The lighter dots show where I blend the color out to. I am using a Sigma F40 to blend, the natural fibers will help pick up more pigment and blend easier. Blend upwards to keep lifting the cheekbones. Also, make sure your line doesn't go past the edge of your eye. If you stop your contour here it'll look more natural when you're facing someone.

Here's it blended out.

Apply the contour along/barely under your jaw line to add more definition. Apply it under to lessen a double chin. 

Also get the part along you ear/side of your face too.

Blend it down into your neck, as you want no harsh lines.


Place contour powder from the edge of you eyes and upwards into your hair line. This will draw more attention to the eyes as well as "life" the eye.

Blend it out well.

Place contour powder along your hair line to reduce the look of a large forehead. If you have a small forehead you can skip this step.

Blend the color out so there are no harsh lines and also make sure to blend into your hairline too.

Take a look in the mirror and re-blend any areas that look a little to harsh. You wanna make it look like you were born this way, not like you've contoured. I like using a natural brush for blending.

Use a Sigma E40 to contour your nose. Draw a line from your brow then as straight as you can along the bridge of your nose. Start light here since it's easy to make this look too artificial if you're not careful.

You can also do the tip of your nose if you have a long nose. I personally don't do this step.

Blend the color out. I am using an E40, but I also use an E25 to blend here too.


Using a Sigma F35 I place my highlight on the highest point on my cheek bone.

I bring the highlight down to this point of my cheek and lightly blend with the same brush.
You can also use a fan brush here for a softer, very natural looking highlight. If I am doing a more shimmery highlight I will always grab for the fan brush first.

Using a Sigma E60 I highlight a tad on my forehead and right along the center of the bridge of my nose. This can give the illusion of a perfectly straight nose.

I also only bring it down this far as I don't want to highlight the tip of my nose.

Using an E60 I highlight my cupids bow. This draws attention to your lips and can make them look a bit fuller.

I put this step here since it goes along with the lips, but this is actual a contour. This is optional, but if you want to make your lips look bigger, adding a contour under your bottom lip can help give you a more "pouty" look.

Highlight the inner corner of your eyes. I like shimmer highlights here a lot, which will brighten your eyes.

Highlight along your brow. Again, this draws attention to your eyes and gives the appearance of a stronger bone structure. 
Tip for hooded eyes! - Try using a satin or matte highlight here, instead of a shimmer. If you use something too shimmery/pearly/frosted it can add more "weight" to the hood, so be careful.

I pull the highlight all the way along the brow and blend.

As you can see it adds more definition to the face. The powder contour and highlight is still a softer look, but you can also make it more extreme if you'd like. I'll have a cream highlight and contour tutorial up soon.

Hope this was helpful & sorry for the changes in light! It was kinda stormy while I was taking pictures and filming. Let me know in the comments below of any tips and tricks you have, what are your favorite highlight/contour products and what tutorials you'd like to see next.  

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