Highlighting & Contouring With Powder!




About: Professional MUA, educator, and Benefit Beauty Artist working in Sacramento & the Bay Area. I specialize in film, print, editorial, glamour, & special FX. AlexYourFace.com FB: Facebook.com/AlexCassieMUA ...

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!



    • Warm and Fuzzy Contest

      Warm and Fuzzy Contest
    • Paper Contest

      Paper Contest
    • Organization Contest

      Organization Contest

    9 Discussions


    2 years ago

    every time I try to contour I look orange someone recommend me a product thas good for contour :)

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    you're probably using too warm of a powder for contouring. Unless you have very warm undertones, you should go with a cool toned contour, not a warm bronzer. Or, use both cool and warmth.


    4 years ago

    ya, I just wanted to say love the septum piercing, I have mine too and ive always loved the look of women with one too


    Reply 4 years ago

    Yes I know! Sometimes, when you attend school 70 hours a week, work 30 hours a week for minimum wage, and live in a city where the average rent for a one bedroom apartment is $3,500 per month, roots happen! However, as my hair was only this color for a few days (because if you do six processes on your hair in a single day it WILL fall out), my roots didn't really matter. In my next tutorial, you'll get to see my lovely lavender ombre hair! I'll probably put up a tutorial for that since I've been getting SO many requests and compliments if you are interested :)


    Reply 4 years ago

    I really like the root look actually(well the whole look but you know what I'm saying). I guess for some people hard work pays off in great ways! Hahaha have a blessed day! :)

    Thank you for this. We need more beauty Instructables around here. :) ps. you're beautiful!


    4 years ago

    @tstevens Didnt your mother teach you that if you dont have something nice to say shut up.


    4 years ago

    Nice nose ring.