How To Get The Perfect Contour For Your Face Shape

When it comes to contouring, one of the most important things to keep in mind is that not all faces are created equally. As it turns out, there are actually eight distinct facial shapes and finding out which one your's fits into is one of the first things you want to do in regards to contouring for your face. That's why we've put together a collection of some of the best makeup contour instructions for different face shapes.

It's important to learn the ins and outs of makeup contouring for different faces, as each facial shape presents a different set of features you'll want to bring out - or perhaps a few you'd like to soften. So whether you're looking to smooth down your jaw line, give your face a wider appearance, or just accentuate your favorite features, you've come to the right place.

Here you'll find a guide to makeup contouring, complete with an overview of exactly what it is and what tools you'll need in order to do it.

Photo: flickr / CC0

  • Contouring 101

    Contouring 101
    Photo: Summeryiyi22 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

    Just in case you’re not familiar with contouring in general, it’s a form a makeup application that helps to slim, shade, or sculpt various parts of your face. In order to pull off a good contouring job, you’ll need both contouring and highlighting products to achieve a natural, balanced look. 

    Contouring itself consists of using a powder, cream, pencil, or other product that’s two shades darker than your natural skin tone. For highlighting, you’ll want to use a concealer or highlighting product that’s two shades lighter. 

    After following the contouring directions for your face shape below, you’ll want to finish up by blending both your contouring and highlighting shades with your natural foundation before stepping out to show off your makeup magic.

  • Determine Your Face Shape

    Determine Your Face Shape
    Photo: Unknown / Pxhere / Public Domain

    The first step in knowing how to approach contouring your face is of course knowing your face shape! This can be a little tricky, as there are eight of them to chose from. But how do you know which one is yours? You have to look at your features and jaw to determine what kind of face you have: 

    Round- If your face is as wide as it is long, and you have no major points or angles along your jaw, chin, or hairline, then you’ve got a round face.

    Diamond- People with diamond shaped faces have hairlines that are narrower than their cheeks, slightly pointed chins, and faces that are longer than they are wide.

    Heart- You’ve probably got a heart shaped face if your cheeks are wider than your hairline, your chin is narrow and pointed, and you’ve got a widow’s peak.

    Rectangle- Rectangular faces are are almost twice as long as they are wide. Their hair and jawlines are usually about even in width.

    Oblong- If your face is 1.5 times longer than wide, the cheek lines running from your temples to jawline are fairly straight, and you have a smooth, rounded chin, then you probably have an oblong face.

    Triangle- People with triangular faces have jawlines that are wider than their foreheads or cheekbones and facial structures that narrow at the cheekbones and temple.

    Oval- You’ve quite possibly got an oval shaped face if you have no major points along your jaw, chin, or hairline, your face is longer than wide, and somewhat resembles an upside-down egg.

    Square- If your face is as long as it is wide and the width of your hairline and jawline are about even, then you probably have a square shaped face.

  • Round

    Video: YouTube

    For ladies with round faces, the main goal of contouring is to bring out the center of your face while slimming it along the sides. When it comes to highlighting, you’ll want to bring out the middle of both your forehead and chin.

    When contouring, focus first on the sides of your forehead, starting right above your temples and making a diagonal line down towards the ends of your eyebrows to make this whole area appear narrower. Then contour down the sides of your face, starting under from your ears, down beneath your cheekbones, and then straight down to your jawline.

  • Diamond

    Video: YouTube

    Contorting for the diamond shaped face is mostly about reducing the width around the cheekbone line.

    When using your lighter shade to highlight, first focus on the middle of your chin and forehead. Though these areas may naturally appear a little narrow, highlighting will give them a broader appearance. By making your jaw and forehead appear fuller with your lighter shades, you’ll ultimately be able to minimize the width of your cheeks. 

    When pulling out your darker, contour color, you’re going to shade the area below your cheekbones, making a sort of long-based sideways triangle. Start from your ears, go out to about mid-cheek, and then bring it back in to just below your jaw line. Fill in the triangle and be sure to blend thoroughly.

  • Heart

    Video: YouTube

    With a heart shaped face, the goal of contouring is all about creating balance between the wider top of your face and the narrower lower half.

    When highlighting, focus on your forehead and chin in order to help broaden each. Then you’ll go in with your darker shade and contour along the sides of your forehead and temples, ending right above your brow line. Next you’ll contour in large sideways triangles starting from your ears, extending to the mid-cheek, and then back out towards your jaw line.

    If you find your chin a bit too pointy, you can also shade in the small area right beneath it to help soften the effect. 

  • Rectangle

    Video: YouTube

    If you’ve got a rectangular face, you’ll be doing more contouring than highlighting, but you may want to add some of your lighter shade across the tops of your cheekbones and right beneath your brows if you’d like to lighten your eyes a bit.

    The major contouring happens on the sides of your forehead, which will make your hairline appear a bit narrower. You can also add some of the darker shade right beneath your hairline if you want to make it appear a little lower. To make your jawline appear narrower, contour the area right beneath your cheekbones and extending to your mid-jawline with a diagonal line.