Introduction: Highlighting & Contouring for Photography

About: Professional MUA, educator, and Benefit Beauty Artist working in Sacramento & the Bay Area. I specialize in film, print, editorial, glamour, & special FX. FB: In…

Makeup for photography is much different than the makeup you would put on for everyday wear. The bright lights wash you out while the camera shows fine details not noticeable to the naked eye, putting on full cringeworthy view any mistakes that you've made. Therefore, your makeup needs to be clean, precise, full-coverage, and matte (unless a dewy finish is what you are aiming for). This is also lighter, less cakey way of highlighting and contouring your face with foundations, which last longer than powders do and can give a more defined result. With traditional highlighting and contouring with foundations, you begin by applying a layer of your regular foundation and then layering the highlighting and contouring creams on top. This method skips the first step, giving you a more natural look while giving you the sculpting effect you crave.

I've begun by doing my eyeshadow first to avoid any fallout under the eyes or on my face. This can also be cleaned up with a Q-tip dipped in moisturizer or Bioderma, but I prefer to avoid any disruption in the foundation altogether. After that, I toned, moisturized, and primed my face.

Step 1: Correct Problem Areas

Color-correct any problem areas. I use apricot-colored concealer in my undereye areas to combat my dark circles and green concealer over any pimples or redness.

Step 2: Apply Your Highlight

Begin by mixing your everyday foundation (full-coverage liquids or creams are best) with a bit of white cream or concealer. I also like to add a bit of yellow concealer to add brightness. You can also buy a foundation several shades lighter than your skin tone. Apply to the bridge of your nose; your undereyes; your cheeks sweeping up towards your temples; your forehead area above the eyebrows; around your mouth; and on your chin.

Step 3: Apply Your Contour

Take either a foundation or concealer several shades darker than your skin (remember that you will want a more high contrast contour because of the bright lights if you are contouring for photography) and mix it in with a tiny bit of your own foundation. Apply to the sides of your nose; the top or your forehead stretching down towards your temples; the hollows of your cheekbones swooping up towards your nose; and the sides of the jawline reaching nearly to your chin.

Step 4: Blend

Blend your highlight and contour so you don't look like you have tiger stripes! I like to use a damp Beauty Blender or cosmetic sponge; stippling brushes and buffing brushes work as well, whatever you are comfortable with. Use a patting or stippling motion so that you don't blend your foundation or your contour away completely. The goal is to make the product blend into the skin while remaining defined and sculpted.

Step 5: Powder

Powder your face to set your foundation. An HD powder is preferable as it is the most matte but a translucent or no-color powder will do. Shake the powder into a powder puff and lightly pat or "beat" your face with the puff to buff the powder in without disturbing the foundation.

At this point you can enhance your highlight and contour using the powder technique I showed you in my "Highlighting and Contouring with Powder" tutorial, or go ahead and add blush, lipstick, and mascara and finish your application.

Step 6: Finished!

This technique is excellent for an everyday highlight and contour look. It is quick enough to add to your morning routine and light enough, depending on your application, to not look like your face is caked in foundation. It will also look excellent in high-defin