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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Step 8: Finally, dab blush onto the apples of your cheeks, blending it towards your hairline and into the contour colour slightly.
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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
    August 30, 2015 at 10:11 am

    This is a great tutorial – you look absolutely amazing! Would be great if you could do a tutorial on your eyeshadow look in this post. It’s perfect! 🙂

    • Reply
      September 5, 2015 at 12:36 pm

      Thanks for the feedback Sheryl! I’ll make a note to do a tutorial on this eye look as soon as I can. I jet off to LA next week, so it might take me a while…feel free to hound me on IG and remind me if I forget!

  • Reply
    August 27, 2015 at 5:12 pm

    Oh my gosh what a fantastic idea to use the highlight shade to blend! I never thought of that and the highlight in this palette is matte so it’s perfect! I’m super excited to try this tomorrow! Thanks for using the Marc Jacobs palette, I absolutely love that palette so much and now I’m going to try some serious contour with it. Stunning photos I love the step by step! The rest of your makeup is beautiful, as always!

    • Reply
      August 27, 2015 at 9:48 pm

      Glad I could help Ellen! I find that using the highlight shade to blend really helps my contour look more natural, kind of like a transition shade for eyeshadow. And I have to agree – the MJ palette is seriously amazing!

  • Reply
    August 27, 2015 at 9:51 am

    His Emily, this post on contouring is the best I’ve seen, you make it easy and it does look very natural. May I ask what the lipstick you’re wearing in this post is?
    Thank-you englishroseamongthorns from mua

    • Reply
      August 27, 2015 at 10:01 am

      Thank you so much Alison/EnglishRose! I’m wearing Sephora Lustre Matte in Fig here – one of my fave liquid lipstick formulas to date as it doesn’t dry out my lips at all.

      • Alison
        August 27, 2015 at 10:50 am

        It’s a beautiful colour but sadly we don’t have support in the UK. I’ll have to see if I can find a dupe, thank-you 🙂

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