Beauty Makeup Tutorials

tutorial: natural contouring with powder

August 25, 2015

The best way I’ve ever heard contouring described was in an article that likened its effect to standing under the most flattering light possible. It isn’t going to change your bone structure, but it can certainly turn you into the most sculpted version of yourself. Mouse over this image and you’ll see what I mean (you may need to give it a minute to load):

Before we get started, it’s important to begin with a very smooth even base. This of course means using medium to full coverage foundation and a fair bit of concealer, plus translucent powder to set your base products and make for smoother blending.

For this tutorial I used Marc Jacobs Beauty #Instamarc Light Filtering Contour Powder in Shade 40, which I absolutely adore for its amazingly silky texture. It has a darker contour shade and a lighter highlight one, both of which are matte. Let me know in the comments if you’re interested in a full review of this. In the meantime, on to the good stuff….

Step 1: Suck in your cheeks to find the hollow beneath your cheekbone. That’s where your contour shade will be going.
how to contour1

Step 2: Using a very dense brush, pick up a good amount of your contour colour and draw a stripe of it in the hollow of your cheek. I used Marc Jacobs Beauty The Shape Contour and Blush Brush.
how to contour2

Step 3: Based on your face shape, add contouring to other areas you’d like to recede. I have a round face, so I like to add a bit of contour to the sides of my forehead and on my temples which makes my face look less wide. I also contour the sides of my nose to give it a sharper appearance.
how to contour3

Step 4: Blend, blend, blend! With a soft fluffy brush (I used Sephora’s Classic Must Have Angled Blush Brush), use the lighter shade to blend your contours out. Focus primarily on softening the edges of your contours – you don’t want to over-blend it all into a tan!
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Step 5: If you’d like, you can also sharpen your jawline by contouring along and just beneath it. I actually like to bring my contour shade down my neck a little as well just to blend my face in with the rest of me.
how to contour5

These next two steps are optional – it’s a weird little trick I do to give my contouring even more pop and my jawline better definition. It has a lengthening effect on short faces like mine, but skip to step 8 if you have an oval or long face.

Step 6: Suck in your cheeks again and locate the lowest point of your cheek hollows, just above your jaw.
how to contour8

Step 7: Using a flat foundation brush, draw a line over this area with the highlight shade and blend downwards over your jaw. With your dense brush, buff over the line. Once it’s no longer visible, you can add a touch more contour to the hollow of your cheeks if necessary.
how to contour6

Step 8: Finally, dab blush onto the apples of your cheeks, blending it towards your hairline and into the contour colour slightly.
how to contour7b

Thank you for making it all the way through my first tutorial! For easy reference I’ve included a Pinterest-friendly chart below, but I promise that after a few tries you won’t even need to look at it. If you have questions, please leave them in the comments and I’ll try to answer them to the best of my ability. Also, I’d love to hear your feedback on tutorials like this, so let me know if it’s something you’d like to see more of. I’m seriously considering a cream contouring tutorial next…

**Sale Alert! Take 10% off (15% off for members) this and all other base products at Sephora Singapore till September 3rd**


This product was provided as press sample, however all opinions and observations are my own and not influenced by the brand or its PR team. This post contains affiliate links.

  • Reply
    Kallie , England
    January 29, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    Just come across your website by chance, by searching becca pearl in images. All I can say is WOW. So pleased I found it. Stunning photos and content. Can I ask what type of eyelashes you have on in this please. That is of course if you’re wearing them. Thank You

    • Reply
      February 2, 2016 at 7:17 am

      Thank you so much Kallie! I am definitely wearing falsies here, but I can’t recall which ones exactly. Pretty sure they’re Ardell Demi-Wispies though, as those are my favourite.

      • Kallie , England
        February 2, 2016 at 4:21 pm

        Thank you so much for the reply, Emily. Will definitely check them lashes out

  • Reply
    October 14, 2015 at 3:46 pm

    I love this post/tutorial! I was just at Sephora today at lunchtime. Came back to work & found your website (through makeupalley) Now I want to go back to Sephora to get this MJ palette.

    I’ll have to make a list now. I also want to get the Physicians Formula highlighters as well.

    And I’d like to request the cream contour tutorial that you hinted at in your comments. 😉

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