Friday, 18 September 2015

A Guide To: Contour & Highlight

Hi Guys,

To say contouring is a huge deal still just now is an understatement, usually trends seem to last for a while and slowly disappear. Contouring is not one of them, as well as its almost new counter part, Strobing, I say almost new as I am not overly fussed over the new name I will admit. It is basically just highlighting without the contour, but we will go with it! I thought I'd add this in my A Guide To Series, as although its so popular still, its not exactly as easy as it looks. 
There's a lot that goes into contouring, wether it's studying your face shape, no one is going to have the exact same contour. What works for Kim K isn't going to translate onto everyone. Theres also the tones, the finishes and a whole array of methods to chose from. With more and more appearing, it can become a little overwhelming.  But with the right products for you, you've already won half the battle, the more and more you practice with them, the easier product placement will become. So these are my personal favourites to contour and highlight in different finishes.
Powder contouring is one of the easiest to achieve, especially if you want it to be photographed a lot. This is because its actually easier to blend, so when photographed, it won't appear as a solid block of colour, unlike a cream which can look harsh if not completely blended. You also want to make sure you pick up a contour shade that has no shimmer, the shimmer will reflect the light, which won't create the shadow you're wanting to achieve with contouring. 

If you're pale like me, NYX Powder Blusher in Taupe is fantastic, as it has a grey undertone to it. The last thing you want is to look orange and muddy, so picking a grey toned product creates a more natural shadow. But you can also use a bronzer, as long as its matte. It will not only contour but add warmth to the skin too, Nars Bronzer in Laguna is a great one for pale to medium skin tones.
If you do want a more dramatic contour, then a cream is the way to go. As long as you take your time blending the edges, you can get a fantastic full coverage contour and really melts into the skin. A very popular product to do it with is Illamasqua Cream Pigment in Hollow, this actually has a waxy consistency, so if you layer anything over the top of this it won't move, slip or slide. It's also got the grey undertone to it, giving it a brilliant shadow, as well as having more of a matte finish too.

Probably the newest formulation around is gel. Gel is one of the easiest to work with, as its still sheer,  but gives the most beautiful natural definition. My go to for this is the Illamasqua Gel Sculpt in Silhouette, it works on practically every skin tone, as its so sheer, it mimics the natural shadow but still shows the skin underneath. If you're new to contouring, this is a wonder product, it makes it so easy to do and gives amazing results every single time. 
Once you've added your depth to the face with contour, you want to enhance the higher points of the face with a highlight. Or just leave the contour and highlight, for the "Strobed" effect. There are so many types of product on the market now, to give you that perfect glow. 

A mistake that can often be made about these pen like highlighters, like the YSL Touche Eclat is that its actually a concealer. The E.L.F Radiance Enhancer in Sunrise is kinda less hard to be mistaken for, but they're fantastic as a quick highlight. As they're a pen form, you can just sweep it over the tops of your cheek bones, cupids bow and down the nose, for a subtle highlight, once blended in.

Liquid highlights are very popular too, they give a beautiful sheen, are easy to blend into the skin and can be mixed with your foundation or moisturiser as well as used as a stand alone highlight. I love the Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Opal for its pretty peachy glow. You can also now get a primer, that's also a brilliant multi-use product, in the form of the new Illamasqua Radiance Veil, I did a full review on it here, If you'd like a full run down!

There is also the cream version, which is usually a little thicker and again will give a incredible sheen. Especially if its the Illamasqua Gleam in Aurora, as it warms to the skin, you can really buff it in and as it melts, it leaves a sensational glow. It's an instant product and can really be built up to give the most dramatic glow.  
Another thing you might want to think about is if you want to have a matte or shimmer highlight, most on the market are shimmer. But matte can make an incredible highlight, as it doesn't add a shine, it just adds a lit from within look to the skin. 

A very popular highlighter to add a sheen is the MAC Mineralise Skin Finish in Soft & Gentle, the Skin Finishes come in an array of shades. Soft and Gentle is the champagne pink of the family, which suits pink toned complexions really well, its a very strong highlight as its so finely milled it does really pack that punch, a little bit goes a long way.

Then on the other hand, the matte highlight also does the same. Illamasqua Powder Blusher in Intrigue, even though a more subtle highlight, needs to be used with a sparingly hand, as it is so pigmented. You don't really want to be left with white patches dotted around your face. It is probably one of my favourite highlights, just as it is so natural, its perfect for everyday use and if you have an oilier skin, you can highlight without having to worry about if you look overly shiny.
Finally you can get some fantastic contour palettes out there now, due to their array of shades you can mix and match to find your perfect custom shade. I love the Illamasqua Sculpting Palette as it contains multiple shades, to cover aspects such as a more natural grey shadow, but still has the warmth of the orange, which is fantastic for darker skin tones. Plus you get your two different highlight shades too, I've also reviewed this palette here, if you'd like to see more about it.

You can also get the Makeup Revolution Ultra Contour Palette, which I have actually misplaced, otherwise I would include it in the pictures. If you'd like to see it though, theres a full review here. But its a fantastic palette for the price, even including a yellow toned satin shade to highlight, which can be a brilliant equivalent to Intrigue for a darker skin tone.

If I could recommend one brand to you for contouring and highlighting ultimately, it would be Illamasqua just for their sheer versatility within their range. As well as the fact that they're amazing quality too. But again its all down to finding the best product that works for you, I hope this has helped to narrow down the vast contour and highlight world! 

Eloise x


  1. Ahh, I love MAC's soft and gentle, such a good guide to contouring and highlight, I think there is nothing worse than anything too obvious and unnatural looking!

  2. I love using highlighter but haven't tried to properly contour/strobe with it as didn't know much about what products to use etc... Great helpful post! :)

    Tayla | Daisychains16


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