How To Contour Your Face: Contours, Bronzers & Highlighters

By: Cherelle Lim / March 19, 2021
Categories : Makeup, Makeup Tips

Are you confused about what is contouring? Do you actually know what contours, bronzers and highlighters do? What about the different brushes? Personally, I used to be confused as well about what contours, bronzers and highlighters were. The problem was sometimes these products leave out instructions on what they are and what they do. So, you don’t really know what you have! Over at Beauty Insider, we are going through this together as we learn how to contour our faces. As well as learning about bronzers and highlighters. 

What is a Bronzer


A bronzer is warm-toned and tends to mimic sun-kissed, glowing skin. It is best to apply when you want to look a bit tan. Now, bronzers and contours can be a bit confusing. They are too similar! The difference is how you apply it. When bronzing your face, you want to apply it to the areas that the sun would usually hit. For example, swipe a bit of bronzer across the bridge of your nose. On your forehead and even the apples of your cheek for a natural glow. Applying so can help add definition and warmth to your skin.

What is a Highlighter


A highlighter is usually used to reflect light. Being a cult favourite of the beauty community, beauty gurus are always using it to brighten up the face. Also known as “strobing”, there are quite a few places you can apply highlighter on. Just a reminder, this highlighter, is different from the ones you use to highlight your notes! Highlighters come in a variety of forms such as powder, liquid and cream. Typical places to highlight are the inner corners of your eyes and your cheekbones. Therefore, you can now have a dewy glow when the sun hits! 

What is Contouring 


On the other hand, we have contouring. To contour your face, you need to blend vigorously so there aren’t any harsh lines. Contour products are often always matte. When you do your makeup and contour your face, you’re trying to create depth. Thus, allowing the angles on your face to pop and stand out! Instead of trying to shimmer when the sun hits, contouring creates shadows. The goal of contouring your face is to enhance its features or change its shape. Usually, contouring your jawline can make it appear sharper. Contouring your nose can also make it seem smaller too! Contour colours tend to be quite neutral as well compared to the orangeness of bronzers.

Determine Your Face Shape

Now that you know a bit more about bronzers, highlighters and contouring, it’s time to find out your face shape! Before we start contouring, you should first determine the shape of your face. Knowing what your face looks like can help you determine how you want to contour and where. If your face is rounder, you might opt to make it look more angular. If you have a heart-shaped face, you might want to enhance your features by accentuating them. 

The Different Face Shapes

Now, let’s take a look at the different types of faces. Which one do you have? Let’s find out! All you need to do is look at three points. Your forehead, cheekbones and jawline.


Look into the mirror and ask yourself, which is the widest part of your face. If you said the cheekbones, then you have a round face! Rounded faces tend to be shorter and the cheekbones aren’t very prominent. Round faces are also quite symmetrical, so you don’t have any angles. A tip for round faces is to contour starting from behind your ear, all the way down to your cheeks. Create depth and add a little highlight on the highest point of your cheekbones to put emphasis. Some celebrities with round faces include Ginnifer Goodwin and Drew Barrymore!


If you have a strong jawline, you most probably have a square face shape. Still not sure? Just take a look at your forehead and cheekbones! Your three features will be more proportionate as they will all be the same width. Even though it’s similar to the round face shapes. Square-faced jawlines are wider and more pronounced. In terms of contouring your face, you should contour your jaw and temple for a softer look. Some celebrities with square faces include Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Aniston and Demi Lovato!


For those with a Diamond face, you are definitely a gem! Even though you have a sharp jawline, you also have a narrow forehead. Your cheekbones though sit high and proud on its throne! Contour wise, you might want to start in the centre of your forehead and along your hairline. Since you already have a pointed chin, opt to contour it just a tiny bit, for a lifted look. Some celebrities with diamond-shaped faces include Megan Fox!


A dead giveaway for a heart-shaped face is usually a widow’s peak! Those who have it can clearly tell they have a heart-shaped face. This creates the point in which a heart arches in. Don’t worry, if you can’t see a widow’s peak, look out for these other features! Your forehead would be the widest part of your face, and your angles more towards the chin. Leaning into a point. Now, if you want to soften your forehead, use a bronzer to shade the sides of your temple and under your chin. Some celebrities with a heart-shaped face include Mary-Kate Olsen, Reese Witherspoon and Scarlett Johansson!


Also frequently called an oblong face shape, oval faces are typically longer rather than being wide. Even though your forehead would still be the widest part of your face. Your features are also mostly rounded and soft, and the lower half of your face is longer! You’re also in luck if you have an oval face shape because…you can basically rock any style of makeup! What’s it like having an ideal canvas for makeup? Because of that, when it comes to contouring, you can just use it to enhance your features! Remember, less is more! Some celebrities with an oval face shape include Rihanna and Charlize Theron!


Lastly, we have the rectangle face shape. Your face is technically a mix of the square face shape, and the oval face shape! Instead of having a long face with soft, rounded features, you have more angular features! Even with a high forehead, your square jaw is longer. Contouring can help soften the edges of your face! Some celebrities with a rectangular face include Meryl Streep and Kim Kardashian!

A Makeup Contouring Kit

Contour Kit

Now, all you need is a makeup contour kit! First off, you need to get yourself either a bronzer or contour colour that is at least two to three shades darker than your own. But, make sure that the shade is still in the same undertone family as your normal shade. For example, if you are more cool-toned, look for some greys. If you’re warm-toned, look for some reds! 

Next, decide whether you want to use powder or cream contours, bronzers and highlighters. For this, you’ll need to think about your skin type. For those with dry skin, you may want to use a cream contour. If you have oily skin, try opting for a powder-based contour. 

Lastly, you need to invest in a good brush! For contouring, it’s best to use an angled contour brush. Angle brushes are easier to use as they can follow the natural curves of your face. If you don’t know what they look like, pay attention to the handles of the brush! Sometimes, the brush itself holds the key. The function of the brush is usually stated on it. If not, look out for angled brushes and not flat brushes. 

Steps to Contour 

Now that we’ve covered ALL of that, we can finally move on to how to contour your face! Once you know how to contour, you can customise it to suit your own needs. In the meantime, here’s a step-by-step Beauty Insider guide to contour your face.

Step #1

Before you start any kind of makeup, always prep your face first! Prime it, moisturise it and apply your foundation. Honestly, contouring could be the last step in your makeup routine!

Step #2

Next, use your bronzer or contour to map out the areas you want to define. A quick tip, you can draw an ‘E’ or a number ‘3’ depending on the side of your face, for a quick outline. Apply contour onto the bridge of your nose, jawline or even T-zone. Add some highlights where the sun hits like the tip of your nose and highs of your cheekbone. 

Step #3

Now, BLEND! Take your angular contour brush and start blending everything in! Make sure you blend everything so you don’t get stuck with harsh lines. You don’t want to leave the house with a strong, dark brown line on the side of your jaw right? Yikes!

Step #4

Finally, after you know that you have blended EVERYTHING out, set your face and give a couple of sprays of setting spray! Depending on your skin type, you might want to hold back on how much you’re spraying! Use a setting powder if you have an oily skin type, while mists are fine for dry skin types. Voila, you’re ready to rock the world.