How to Contour Cheekbones, The New Way

I got an email from a reader, asking, just how do you contour cheekbones? With that being a major newly updated beauty trend happening this spring/summer and even through this fall, I thought I’d offer a how to tutorial. Because if you’re like me and remember the old school days of contouring, (ala the 80′s) well, it’s just so not like that anymore.

What do you need to get great sculpted cheekbones?

1. The right brush
2. The right bronzer/contour shade
3. The right technique.

1.The Right Brush

This is not the time to grab your powder or regular blush brush. Why? They’re just too big in shape and size to do the trick. What to use?

A smaller, contoured, angled blush brush.

Like these:

Girlactik Beauty Angle Blush Brush


Sephora Brand Professionnel Angled Blush Brush #40

Sephora Brand Professionnel Platinum Blush Brush #49

See what all these have in common? A shorter bristle and an angled cut to the brush. This is what you need. Not sure if the one you have will work? Just place the brush back by your ear. Does it fit in that hollow part of your cheekbone perfectly or does it cover it? If it fits, perfect. Covers the whole area? Too big, keep looking. Here, it’s all about the size and shape of the bristles…

2. The right bronzer/contour shade

Next, is the right bronzer shade. Think soft, bronzy. Not chestnut brown. The new matte bronzers are perfect for this.


Amazing Cosmetics Sun Shine Sun Bronzer Sun Bronzer


CARGO Bronzer Medium – Matte

CARGO The Big Bronzer Medium

Trend? Keep the bronzer matte for this trend. No one shimmers on the side of the face.

3. The right technique.

Remember way back when? When contouring the heck out of your cheekbones was all the rage?

Let me refresh your memory.

Contouring was done way back in the 80′s to bring out the cheekbones on a photo shoot, that was blasted out with hard, flashing lights. Literally so much light that your bone structure was almost gone and you had to literally put it back in with highlights and contour. Thanks to the dramatic lighting of Francesco Scavullo, dramatic bone structure was all the rage. Which lead to many women walking around with dark stripes of shadow down the sides of their face in daylight.

In color:

200804011305-1

I hate to burst your illusion, but in the color shot of Halle Berry? That’s not makeup making her cheekbones look amazing. That’s lighting…. This is the new generation. Contoured cheekbones are now an illusion, softly applied and just a HINT of something there….

How to?

My favorite way.

Forget the old ‘chipmunk’ way of applying contour. Remember? Suck in your cheeks, and apply from the ear to the nose, or just follow the line that you’re making as you suck in your cheeks. Why it doesn’t work? Your cheekbones are not near your mouth. They’re by the back of your ear.

THAT’s the shadow you want to create. And yes, contour should be on the sides of your face, not the front. If you see contour as you look head on in the mirror, well, you went to far forward and too far down the face. Sadly, contour should only show when you turn your head…. and remember, this is not a photo shoot, this is real life.

Take your bronzer, and start at your ear and follow under your cheekbone until you hit the outside of your eye.. that’s where you stop. Or smile, and stop right before you hit the apple of your cheek. That’s it.

Now make it modern. Take a cherry blush color and hit the apple of your cheek… make sure the bronzer and blush are near the same intensity of shade. No dark brown contour with a soft pink blush. The idea is to melt the two together.

But my new fav way to contour? It’s back to contouring and highlighting, but with my fav shimmer highlighting powders. You just did your contour. Now smile. (no blush here..) and hit the apple of your cheek. Best part? Light, whether it be sunlight or the flash of a camera makes your cheekbones look dewy, strong and illuminated.

Vincent Longo Day Play Duo Compact Highlighter Beauty Sin

Have you seen Jennifer Lopez lately?


Yep, she’s got that sheen going on. On purpose. Highlights the center of the face, brings out your cheekbones, and also your eyes.

See? That wasn’t so hard now was it…..

Script Elke-4

One thought on “How to Contour Cheekbones, The New Way

  1. hey- thanks for this. my best friend took me to sephora today and turned me on to the contour brush- but when i got home just now, i had no idea where i was supposed to start and stop on my face. this really helps, and thanks for the pictures.

    personally, as a recommendation, i like using a surprise product for my highlighter- i use a silvery nars cream eyeshadow because it’s subtle and stays in place, unlike loose shimmer highlighters. that way, you don’t have shimmer falling all over your face and lower jawbones, causing you to look like britney spears in a music video- yeah, you know what i’m talking about.

    also, it works on every skintone- i’m indian, and it works on my friends just as well.

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