I receive more requests for tips on highlighting and contouring than anything else, and there are several different ways to achieve that look. I've previously done a highlighting and contouring tutorial using liquid and cream formulations and thought it would be nice if I could show you a different method. You can apply this either on top of a cream/liquid contour for a really defined contour, or simply on top of your normal foundation for a more subtle look.
Step 1: Powder Highlight
After prepping and priming your skin and applying foundation, start by applying your highlight. For lighter skintones or a more prominent highlight, I use Ben Nye's Super White powder; for medium to dark skintones I use Banana powder; and for very dark skintones I use Topaz. You can also mix these powders together for a custom highlight-- for example, I usually use a mix of Super White and Banana on myself and a mix of Banana and Topaz on all but the darkest skintones. You can find these colors in pressed versions quite often as well-- the Anastasia Contour/Highlight palette is my absolute favorite but many brands make excellent versions as well. If you're using a pressed powder you're going to apply using a flat blush brush and a patting motion instead of a sponge and a stippling motion.
I use a damp (DAMP NOT WET! like 1-2 spritzes of water from a small spray bottle!) cosmetic sponge to pick up the loose powder and stipple it on. It will look super cakey at first-- don't worry, we're going to dust off excess powder and blend later. Apply your highlight to: undereyes sweeping up to the temple, cheeks, bridge of the nose, the forehead above the eyebrows, and the chin. You can also apply around the mouth area if you'd like.
Side note: you'll notice that I'm applying my foundation and powder after I've applied my eye makeup. I always do this to avoid any fallout; however, you can also achieve this by applying your eye makeup while your powder highlight sets and any eyeshadow fallout will be brushed away with the excess powder. Or, if you're super confident, feel free to apply eye makeup after your face is done.
Step 2: Apply Powder Contour
Using a fan brush, angled powder brush, or small blush brush (I like the Real Techniques Contour Brush or a large fluffy eyeshadow brush), apply your powder contour. Use either a cool-toned matte bronzer, a cool-toned matte beige eyeshadow 2 shades darker than your natural skin tone, or a powder designed specifically for contouring. Contour: the sides of your nose, both temples, the hollow of your cheekbone, and your jawline from next to your ear to halfway towards your chin.
Step 3: Blend and Buff
Dust excess powder off using a fan brush or very loose powder brush. Buff and blend your powder highlight into the skin using a buffing brush such as the Real Techniques buffing brush or a kabuki brush. This will allow you to remove any harsh lines and make your highlight and contour appear more natural.
Step 4: Powder and Set
Powder your face to set your highlight and contour. I like to use a translucent powder such as RCMA's No-Color Powder, Ben Nye Neutral Set, or a loose HD powder for a super-matte finish. To avoid disturbing your highlight and contour, shake a little loose powder into a powder puff and gently but quickly pat it into your face. Fun fact: this technique is the origin of the term "beat that face"!
Step 5: Voila!
You're highlighted and contoured! This is a much faster way to highlight and contour than with creams/liquids; however, it will fade faster. For more staying power, layer this over a cream/liquid contour. For added sparkle, add a touch of shimmery neutral eyeshadow to your highlight powder before applying. If you're interested in how to get my eye look from this tutorial, check out my St. Patrick's Day tutorial!