Beauty: Highlights in all the Right Places

14 October 2014

The before and after transformations using dramatic highlighting and contouring techniques are typically so drastic the before is often wildly different compared with the after. I cannot condone such drastic measures that render one to look unrecognizable. Rather, I wanted to understand the techniques that enhance your innate features, like illuminating your chiseled cheekbones or defining your beautiful deep-set eyes. I did what any beauty novice would do:  looked up online GIF tutorials and how-to’s on Pinterest!  But given my last attempt at self-contouring, I ended up looking like a zebra with stripes in all the wrong places. That’s actually far too kind. I really just looked like a drag-queen. A bad drag-queen, like the back up drag-queen who gets called in when the A-team drag-queen has fallen ill. It was as bad as it sounds. 

Therefore, I leaned on my go-to-beauty blogger+ former colleague, Meagan Murphy, to dive into the much buzzed about trend of contouring and highlighting to lead us ALL in the right direction. If you recall, Meagan wrote her last series on big brows and is responsible for the mess of my eyebrows at the moment as I have been growing them out since that very post! 


After my last post, I found myself hyper-aware of all things brow-related in the media and beauty news… I couldn’t escape it! Every turn, there were more products, articles, videos and tutorials about how to get fuller brows. And then I got to thinking: what else are we obsessed with these days?

The Answer: Contouring and highlighting.

You can’t go to a beauty site or store without seeing some new product to help you highlight and contour with the likes of the Kardashians (I hate that I’m mentioning them, but I simply cannot deny their makeup artists do WORK contouring); but I digress. How does one achieve this look without looking like a clown?

This is where I may have screwed up + forgotten to blend, blend, blend. Kim K and her contouring and highlighting war-paint.

This is where I may have screwed up + forgotten to blend, blend, blend. Kim K and her contouring and highlighting war-paint.


I’m not going to lie, it’s intimidating, even for someone who loves makeup as much as I do! But, truth be told, it really is a simple way to enhance your look; and as long as you blend (blend, and then blend some more), it’s a fun way to bring out your best features in a few easy steps.

First: I recommend investing in a good highlighter. Even if you play around with this and decide contouring just isn’t your cup of tea, highlighters are a simple way to cover blemishes and dark circles and instantly make you look luminous. I recommend the holy grail of highlighters, best-seller, YSL Touch Éclat, simply because that’s been my go-to for years; but there are many great products on the market, so you can get a highlighter from any drugstore brand or beauty retailer in your area. Simply pick a color 1-2 shades lighter than your natural skin color and BAM– you have your highlighter. For contouring, you can use your current bronzer, but try to avoid anything with shimmer, since adding shimmer brings forward what you want to shade away.  If you’re still questioning how to start, fear not; many retailers are even coming out with specific contouring/highlighting kits now, so have some fun and try out what works best for you!

YSL's Touche Éclat is one of the best selling beauty products in the world. Someone once told me that one unit is sold every second. (Still looking for validation on that fun-fact.)

YSL’s Touche Éclat is one of the best-selling beauty products in the world. Someone once told me that one unit is sold every second. (Still looking for validation on that fun-fact.)

Application: I like to peruse Pinterest and just think of it as just extending my bronzer beyond the apples of my cheeks. You want to use the contouring color to accentuate the natural hollows of your face and give it greater depth and dimension.  Put it on the sides of the bridge of your nose, hairline, jaw line and cheekbones. Follow the natural curvatures of your face and use a light hand and you really can’t go wrong. For highlighter, I put it on my nose, chin and put the most emphasis in making a C-shape around my eyes (translation: underneath my eyes and a bit above my brow bone).

You’ll want to take into consideration your personal face shape and remember that no one contouring map is the same.  That might be the single best thing about this trend: it’s different for everyone! I classify myself as having a large forehead and round face. So I use a completely different technique than someone with a small forehead and long, slender face. I use the makeup specific to me and me alone and that’s what I love about this.

If you don’t have very high, defined cheekbones (cough, cough, that would be me) that’s ok. This allows you to play up the features you do want to accentuate and make them appear more defined. However, please do not attempt to paint on your face, ladies. That would just look crazy.  Please keep in mind that celebrities on red carpets are going to have a very different (heavier and more defined) contouring applications than us, everyday folk.  Start out lightly and see what you like best. It will guarantee to make your next selfie flawless and you’ll be proclaiming #iwokeuplikethis.


before + after executed brilliantly.

before + after executed brilliantly.


save yourself some trouble and stick to this tutorial, here.

Do you have a favorite contouring or highlighting makeup brand or technique? Do you think this is just a fad, or this makeup routine is here to stay? Sound off in the comments and let me know what you think!


Meagan’s a fashion-loving philanthropist and self-proclaimed beauty addict from NYC. She has a background in communications and events planning in a wide range of industries from the arts and fashion, to the nonprofit sector, helping to fund cures for cancer. She dabbles in all social media, so check her out on Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram.

Featured Image: Beauty Marks

Categories: beauty, Fashion

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