How to Highlight and Contour Your Whole Face

Hope you’re ready for a jillion compliments!

Prom is coming up kinda soon, and for those of us that are ballin’ on a budget, hiring a pricey makeup artist just isn’t a viable option. But you don’t need a pro to achieve next-level makeup that’ll make you look like a million bucks!

Highlighting and contouring are two crafty li’l tricks that you can use to enhance your bone structure and make it look like you’re constantly under the most flattering movie lighting possible. Even if you’re not going to an event, it’s fun to experiment with elements of ~drama~ in your makeup. This tutorial will show you how to use foundation, concealer, and powder to put a spotlight on your natural gorgeousness. Let’s get to it!

What you’ll need:

A note on picking your contour and highlight colors: Don’t choose shades that are drastically lighter or darker than your natural skin tone. If you have fair skin, use a very light shade to highlight and a fair to medium color to contour. If you have darker skin, use a medium-toned highlight and a contour slightly deeper than your skin color. If you have very dark skin and can’t find a deeper shade of foundation to contour with, a dark eye shadow will do the trick!

How to do it:

Step One:


After cleaning and moisturizing your skin, apply your foundation all over your face using a foundation brush or your fingers.

Step Two:


Blend your foundation to about midway down your neck. Since my skin is naturally darker there, this step makes the difference between my face and neck less stark.

Step Three:


Mix your lighter concealer or foundation with your regular foundation using a brush or your fingers.

Step Four:


Using a concealer brush or your fingers, apply the lighter makeup mixture to your T-zone (the area right above your eyebrows and the spot between them, if you have one; down the center of your nose; the middle of your upper lip; and the middle of your chin), your under-eye area, and right above your cheekbones.


Step Five:


Paint a thin line with this highlighting mixture right above your jawline.

Step Six:


Use a brush, sponge, or your fingers to blend your makeup until there is no visible line of demarcation between the highlighter and your foundation. You want this to look seamless.

Step Seven:


The “contour,” or darker makeup, goes on the sides of your nose, right under your cheekbones, and around your hairline (the darkest areas on the diagram above).


Step Eight:


Blend in your contour just like you did your highlight. Easy, right?

Step Nine:


Apply finishing powder to your whole face to get rid of any excess shine and set your makeup.

Step Ten:

blush (1)

Add blush to your cheeks, moving upward from the apples to your temples, which are the pinkest parts indicated on the diagram above.


This will add dimension to your face and give you a pretty glow.


Pow! You’re all set. Now go astound the world with your flawless skillz! ♦


  • Arabelle March 13th, 2014 7:30 PM

    <3__________<3 murdering me with your genius

  • spitcurl March 13th, 2014 7:32 PM


    • spitcurl March 13th, 2014 7:57 PM

      THOSE EYES..I, I can’t look away @_@

  • Faith March 13th, 2014 7:38 PM

    akjjhlkajshfksa Rookie! I’ve been wanting to learn how to contour my face for the longest time! Although I’m not sure whether to buy a contour and highlighter stick, to make it easier for me. ugh, lol. Also, Indigo you looked hella fly from the beginning of the tutorial to the end! ^^

  • Chantilly March 13th, 2014 7:50 PM

    How does this work for someone who’s so pale they are virtually WHITE like I am? I already use the lightest shade available for most products.

    • sophiethewitch March 13th, 2014 9:38 PM

      White eyeshadow, maybe?

    • Indigo March 13th, 2014 9:43 PM

      I know NYX concealer wands come in very fair shades. I think Porcelain is their fairest shade. Also higher end brands like MAC and NARS tend to be very accommodating, if you feel like splurging.

      There are also many highlight and contour palettes that include near white highlight colors. Blank Canvas Cosmetics has one, “It” Cosmetics has one, there are lots of brands that sell them, but off-brand/wholesale palettes can also be found on eBay!

      Another great thing you can use is the e.l.f. Shimmering Facial Whip in Spotlight. It is so, so pretty. Although as you can see in their product video, it is applied differently. This is a product that is more for highlighting just your cheekbones and giving your face a kind of dewy, shimmery look, it doesn’t really go all over the face the way i applied my highlight in the tutorial. Combined with the blush and contouring steps, it will still add dimension and accentuate your features!

  • Brodie March 13th, 2014 8:17 PM

    rly wish i could send you a picture story of the SHOCKED AND ADORING faces I made throughout this whole thing. BEAUTY BABE! + HELPFUL TIPZ!

  • March 13th, 2014 8:21 PM

    Amazing, this is actually something I think I might be able to follow. I’ve alway found most make up tutorials in magazines kinda hard to understand, but this is so well set out, love the illustrations.

  • dessertstealer March 13th, 2014 8:28 PM

    I love this tutorial!!

    I tried to highlight and contour many times, and I think I did an okay job but the color of my face is always different from the rest of my body?

    • Indigo March 13th, 2014 10:06 PM

      I sort of have that issue too! Skin is hardly ever an even tone all over, so sometimes it’s not the application or color choice that is wrong, it can also just be the fact that we’re exaggerating the lighter tones in a face that is already lighter than other parts of our body.
      For me, I noticed that my hands and arms were the same color as my face and so is most of my chest/torso. But my neck is just naturally darker than my face, and that’s what makes me seem more pale when I highlight. I also noticed that my highlight color was a bit too light. So what I do is when I apply my foundation, I also put it on my neck. This makes the difference between my face and neck less stark. Also, I mix my highlight color with my foundation to tone it down a bit, but another solution would be to just buy a darker concealer, haha.

      So to sum it up: Make sure your foundation matches, and and try a highlight color that isn’t as light as the one you’ve tried using. Also try applying your foundation to your neck.
      Making these adjustments has helped me a lot, I hope these tweaks can help you too!

  • ruby March 13th, 2014 8:48 PM

    She is so so beautiful

  • rubyredroses March 13th, 2014 8:52 PM

    this is absolutely perfect

  • Laia March 13th, 2014 8:55 PM

    wait, your face tho, you were flawless before makeup! what a BEAUT!

    <3 F L A W L E S S <3

    • julalondon March 23rd, 2014 9:05 AM

      My thoughts exactly…

  • Helena K. March 13th, 2014 9:17 PM

    This might be the prettiest person I have ever seen! I love her dark teal pixie!! Aaa!!

  • frankiestein March 13th, 2014 9:35 PM

    This is perf. I really like how this was made. I think I can actually follow this.

  • blueolivia March 13th, 2014 9:46 PM

    so helpful! also, indigo, you’re so beautiful! what a pretty face shape! c:

  • starsinyourheart March 13th, 2014 10:38 PM

    THANK YOU this is so helpful. i’ve tried contouring using powders and it just never ever worked for me. i have some scarring and it just made them stand out and made my face look ‘dirty’. definitely going to try this with the foundation as the countourer :) you are so pretty!!!

  • jezzus March 13th, 2014 10:51 PM


  • irismonster March 13th, 2014 11:23 PM

    holy freaking shit you look so good in this. whenever i try to contour my face i end up looking like a swordfish or a cartoon, or both.

  • Paprika March 14th, 2014 12:52 AM

    You’re so freakin beautiful!

  • AICUL March 14th, 2014 2:04 AM

    This is really super helpful! If I have bangs (like super blunt straight bangs) do I need to apply makeup to my forehead? I’m kinda new to makeup.

    • Indigo March 14th, 2014 5:40 PM

      When I have hair covering my forehead I tend to skimp on makeup there, honestly. I just put a little foundation, blend it out, call it a day, haha. If that area is absolutely not going to show, I don’t think its a big deal!

  • Kirthi March 14th, 2014 2:54 AM

    Do we really have to use all these paints like we are going for a war dance? IMO you look pretty amazing in the starting as well as ending picture. In fact, I can hardly tell the difference.

    • Indigo March 14th, 2014 5:56 PM

      Thank you :)
      And, this is not meant to send the message that anyone *has* to wear any sort of cosmetic, it is just meant to help anyone who is interested in more dramatic, full face makeup. As I said, prom is coming up, this isn’t necessarily an every day look for most people, as it can be time consuming.
      Also, I know it may be hard to tell the difference because my before picture is not included in this, even in the first picture my face is covered in foundation. The bright studio lighting we use also brightens everything up and may make it more difficult to see the drama that the darker tones create, but trust me, it does make a difference!

  • onlykhenzo March 14th, 2014 9:52 AM

    Contouring tutorials are usually so hard to understand but this time I got it (I get it, I get it). Or maybe I was mesmerised by how beautiful your eyes jaw-structure skin presence is. And this is also the first contouring tutorial by a WOC so thank you

  • llamalina March 14th, 2014 1:25 PM

    Ohmigawd Indigo, you are so unbelievably gorgeous and this is such perfect timing because prom is in less than a month and I was planning on doing my own makeup thank you thank you thank you!

  • the_smartorialist March 14th, 2014 2:26 PM

    Indigo, do you have a tumblr?x

    • onlykhenzo March 14th, 2014 3:39 PM


    • Indigo March 14th, 2014 5:59 PM

      Of course!
      My main blog is @indikos
      And I have a side blog dedicated to hair and makeup and ~*aesthetics*~ which is @supercillium

      • the_smartorialist March 15th, 2014 6:06 AM

        Cool, thank you :)

  • mangointhesky March 14th, 2014 2:48 PM

    This is so good- I never know how to do these kind of things!

  • paulinast March 14th, 2014 3:43 PM


  • soretudaaa March 14th, 2014 8:11 PM

    Are there any tutorials on how to magically acquire the girl in the picture’s bone structure?

  • Cynthia March 15th, 2014 12:03 AM

    oh my god, this is so cool and I rarely bother with makeup for anything but this might be useful sometime in the future when I do want to bother with makeup (year 12 formal next year + dance concerts, haha)! Wow, makeup is like art, it’s amazing!

  • ceri March 15th, 2014 9:06 PM

    oh my gosh you are so beautiful wow

  • Mary the freak March 17th, 2014 1:06 PM

    oh gosh. you are so beautiful! and your skills are amazing.

  • UneFille March 17th, 2014 8:15 PM

    I love you guys for using a model with darker skin! All the blogs I follow use models with fair skin and it’s so helpful when I can see someone applying makeup to skin that’s more like mine!

  • hazeleyedgirl March 26th, 2014 6:12 PM

    No, but seriously. Your skin is flawless and perfect and UGH. YOU DON’T EVEN NEED THE MAKEUP. But thank you so much anyway because I never managed to work out how contouring worked, but this made it really simple! Will try it on myself tomorrow :D

  • Chantalg12 May 10th, 2014 9:22 PM

    Thank you!! I’ve been trying to figure this out for ever. You made it so easy!

  • hannah19a May 12th, 2014 5:14 AM

    Wow! This is amazing. I always thought contouring was near impossible, but you make it look so easy.

  • Nayluwaylu June 8th, 2014 12:37 PM

    Woooow…. totally blew me away!! always wanted to learn how to do this and i think i just found the perfect tutorial,
    cant wait to try it out!!