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Want slimmer cheeks, a more defined nose, and cheekbones that pop? Well, thankfully enough, you can get all these desirable features without going under the knife, if you don’t want to. The solution lies in something a lot simpler: highlighting and contouring.

So, what exactly is the difference between the two, and how do they complement each other to enhance and define your features?

Contouring involves the use of either a cream, powder, or liquid product that is a few shades darker that your natural skin tone. It is used in areas that you want to sculpt or re-shape, such as your nose, forehead, chin, and under your cheekbones. Highlighting, on the other hand, is applied to accentuate areas of your face that you want to naturally catch the light.

The combined effect? Features that are sharper, brighter, and more luminous than before. And who doesn’t want that?

The problem is that highlighting and contouring are often seen as an “advanced” makeup technique that many makeup beginners aren’t willing to try. But guess what – they are actually much easier than you think!

Check out the following seven-step guide that we picked up from YouTuber Roxette Arisa. With practice, you’ll be a pro before 2021 ends!

Step 1: Set your base


Before you start highlighting and contouring, set your base. Besides applying your foundation in the right shade, you can use concealer to help “map” out the area that you’d want to contour.

Here’s where you can place your concealer (refer to the image above):

  • At your forehead, above the area between your brows
  • Down your nose bridge
  • Under your eyes in an inverted triange shape
  • Under your nose
  • On your chin

Step 2: Contouring stick


Here’s something you need to learn for a start: always apply cream products before powder products.

Cream-based products are great for blending and have a stickier texture to they that cling snugly onto your face. After you’ve used cream-based products, applying powder-based products on top of them to help “set” the cream so that the overall look can last longer.

Now that we’ve got this concept out of the way, you’d understand why we’re applying a contouring stick first (and later, contouring powder).

Apply this onto areas that you’d want appear smaller, for example, the edges of your forehead, under your cheekbones, and the sides of your nose.

DV Tip: If you have trouble deciding where to contour along your cheeks, suck in your cheeks and the sunken areas will be where you should apply your contouring product on.


After you’ve applied the contouring stick, use a blending sponge or brush to blend out the lines between the contour and concealer. Be patient with this step and make sure that you’re not leaving any obvious lines behind for a more natural look.

Step 3: Liquid highlighter


Now that you’ve nailed down your cream-based contouring product, it’s time to get your cream-based highlighting right.


Use a liquid or cream highlighter to go along the areas that you’d like to accentuate. These will include your brow bones, nose bridge, cheekbones, cupid’s bow, and chin.

Blend the liquid highlighter out with a sponge or brush.

Step 4: Set with powder


After these cream-based products have been applied, you can set your makeup lightly with loose translucent powder to make sure that they won’t budge.

DV Tip: Use a dabbing – rather than brushing – motion to set your makeup so that the cream-based products you’ve already applied won’t move too much. You may also want to focus more on areas that tend to oil up during the day.

Step 5: Bronzing powder


You’re actually pretty much done at Step 4 if you want just a simple contouring and highlighting routine.

In other words, it’s all bonus from this step (Step 5) onwards. But if you’re looking to achieve a more sun-kissed look or get more definition, you can follow the steps from here onwards.

Go in with a bronzing powder to go around the areas you’d like to contour.

You can also use bronzing powder to increase the intensity of your nose contour.


To enhance the contouring effect on the nose so it appears sharper, use a flat brush to “stamp” the contouring product on the sides of your nose and under your nose tip.


Then, use a fluffy eyeshadow brush to blend it out.

Step 6: Highlighting powder


For a more dramatic glow effect, finish the look by applying highlighting powder on the areas you really want to accentuate. These areas can include your cheeks and brow bones.

Step 7: Do a final blending


Lastly, using a clean brush, do a final sweep across the areas where there are obvious lines to make sure that everything is well-blended for a more natural look.

Contouring products to try

We’ve picked out the products you’d need to copy this tutorial. We’ve included one splurge and one save option – so take your pick!

Fenty Beauty Match Stix Matte Skinstick

Fenty Beauty Match Stix Matte Skinstick

This versatile makeup stick can be used for concealing, correcting or contouring, depending on the shade you pick.

Great for layering, the buildable cream-to-powder formula is easy to blend and finishes matte.

Retails for S$41. Click on the link to check for promotions.


Cezanne Shading Stick

Cezanne Shading Stick

This has a warm brown tone that flatters Asians with warm skin undertone (a more yellow-based skin tone) and has a natural-looking shadow effect when applied and blended.

Retails for S$15.90. There’s a promotion going on at the time of writing, so click on the link to check for latest price.


Gucci Beauty Poudre De Beaute Eclat Soleil Bronzing Powder

Gucci Beauty Poudre De Beaute Eclat Soleil Bronzing Powder

This bronzing powder doesn’t just help create a contouring effect, it also blurs the appearance of fine lines and pores for a more flawless look.

You’d love its soft and silky formula and how it helps create a healthy-looking glow.

Its gorgeous case is certainly a great bonus too!

Retails for S$95. Click on the link to check for promotions.


The Balm Bahama Mama

The Balm Bahama Mama

You can use this as a bronzer, eyeshadow, or a contouring powder – whichever way you prefer!

This multipurpose powder has a matte finish and no orange undertone – a problem some bronzing powder comes with.

Retails for S$29.90. There’s a promotion going on at the time of writing so click on the link to see latest price.


Highlighting products to try

Benefit Cosmetics High Beam Face Highlighter

Benefit Cosmetics High Beam Face Highlighter

This cult-favourite highlighter has a flattering pink shade that gives your skin a dewy glow.

It comes with an applicator that looks like a nail polish brush so you can use it to deliver a precise application.

Retails for S$31. Check the link for latest promotions.


Australis AC On Tour Strobe Stick

Australis AC On Tour Strobe Stick

This creamy stick has a blendable formula that makes highlighting easier.

You’ll also love that there’s a handy sponge on the dual-ended stick that allows you to blend effortlessly. This makes it great for touch-ups too!

Retails for S$24.90. There’s a promotion going on at the time of writing, so click on the link to check for latest price.


MAC Extra Dimension Skinfinish Highlighter

MAC Extra Dimension Skinfinish Highlighter

This highlighting compact contains powders that reflect light so you’ll look super luminous.

It also has a unique creamy powder formula that lasts for up to ten hours.

We love that the three shades it comes in are super flattering and deliver a lit-from-within look.

Retails for S$62. Check the link for latest promotions.


Canmake Highlighter

Canmake Highlighter

Containing silky-smooth powder that blends easily, this delivers a delicate dewy look. This product is great if you prefer a more subtle effect.

Retails for S$16.90. There’s a promotion going on at the time of writing, so click on the link to check for latest price.


Video tutorial to learn how to contour and highlight

Prefer watching a video? Here’s one we love: