Prom Series

Prom: Highlighting and Contouring

If you haven’t been living under a rock then you know that contouring and highlighting is huge right now. It’s all over pintrest and every brand has come out with their own palette. There’s cream palettes, powder palettes, and even sticks, it can be a little overwhelming knowing what to get. Especially considering my last prom post all about setting powders. (Click here to read.)

Let’s get some basics out of the way. First, what is contouring and what is it supposed to do? Contouring adds definition back to your face. When using a full coverage foundation it can come off as unnatural and flat looking. Adding contour back into face, enhances the natural shadows the foundation has covered up.

What is highlighting and what does it do? Just like a darker contour powder will shade places in your face, highlighting brings forth features on your face. Contouring and highlighting brings your face back to life. This is like plastic surgery, without the surgery.

When looking for a contour powder it’s important to remember that contouring is not bronzing. A bronzers job is meant to warm up the face. Contouring adds natural looking shadows and definition into your face. Bronzers generally run on the warmer or oranger side, where as contour powders should be more ash and cooler, to mimic your faces natural shadow.

Highlighters can be shimmery, but for prom because of the flash photography you want to avoid shimmers on the face as much as possible. Some higher end highlighters have more finely milled shimmer in their products that gives the face a natural glow. Matte highlighters bring forth the features more prominently and generally more naturally.

Where do I apply these products?

I think this is a personal journey you need to take to figure out what looks best on you. Determining your face shape helps tremendiously and I know Pinterest has many many “maps” or “guides” for your face shape. I’ll talk general and how I personally, would apply these products.

Cream Highlighters: Using a concealer is like a two in one when it comes to highlighting. Find a concealer that’s two to three shades lighter than your natural skin tone and apply that under your eyes, forehead, bridge of your nose, cupids bow and chin. Or anywhere you want to bring forth or call attention too. For example if you have a larger nose, you’re probably not going to want to call attention to the whole thing, maybe just a little bit on the tip. Or if you feel you have a larger forehead, you’d only apply a teeny bit of highlight and more shading around the hairline. Doing that reduces the appearance of a larger forehead, but still looks natural. Do you get what I’m saying? This is all personal and what you feel looks best. Applying an upside triangle under the eyes will lift your cheekbones, giving you an overall brighter appearance. Wherever you highlight is where people are going to look. So use this to your advantage.

Cream and Powder Contours: Applying this in the hollows of your cheeks will always be the easiest and usually where everyone should start out with contouring. Just be sure to blend up and not downwards to avoid having a beard. Unless you want a beard, then I mean, hey, you do you. The jawline can be a bit tricky because you don’t want to apply too much to make it obvious and it not match your body at all. I don’t usually do this because I have a pretty defined jawline, but if you feel you want to shed a few pounds off your jawline this is perfect. Using this around the temples will automatically slim out the face and I really enjoy the way this looks on me. Because I have a heart shaped face, my forehead can feel a little large. So I take this on my temples and blend it around my whole forehead. The sides of the nose are again your preference, but this will slim out your nose. If you want a pouty bottom lip, then apply a touch of this under your lower lip.

Cream or Powder contour?: Using a powder reduces the chances of a cakey look. It’s also more suitable for beginners, because it is easier to blend. You just have to be sure to tap off the access powder off of your brush. Work with a little amount of powder, then build up. It can be almost too easy to get way to much powder, and you’re not able to blend it away. This is where the advantages of creams come into play, especially if you have dry skin. Creams are easier to blend away if you accidentally apply too much. I wouldn’t recommend using your fingers, it can be hard to get the defined shape you want. Creams should be applied with a synthetic brush or a damp sponge. These are designed to be used with liquid and creams, and will give you the most natural appearance. It is all up to you when deciding what works best, so play around with different products.

Cream or Powder highlight?: Usually you’re going to use both powder and cream highlight. Cream highlight can be achieved with concealer and powder is used to set that. You almost always need to set all of your cream products. Setting your cream contour with a translucent powder will you the best finished and won’t change the color of your contour. Set everything with dabbing motions to avoid moving all the product you’ve so carefully applied.

If you’re feeling a little extra sassy, you can go over your cream contour with a powder contour, after you’ve already set it with translucent powder. You can do the same with your highlighter. Using a liquid highlighter and then setting that with a powder highlighter will give you a Kim K glow. Just be sure to set your under eye concealer with a matte powder. Like I said previously, try to avoid glitter or shimmer as best as you can. It’s okay for a little bit, but you don’t want flex of glitter all over your face.

Drugstore Cream Contours:

  • NYX Mineral Stick foundation– Stick concealers and foundations are perfect to double as your contour. Just be sure they’re cream and not a liquid. The sticks are great because they’re user friendly and are more likely to give you a defined line.
  • L’Oreal Paris True Match Crayon Concealer– Be sure to get one that is two to three shades darker than your skin tone.

Drugstore Cream Highlighters:

Drugstore Contour Powders:

  • NYX Highlight & Contour Pro Palette– This is a little bit pricy for the drugstore, but you are getting eight powders. It’s also a fraction of the price of the higher end products.
  • NYX HD Blush in Taupe– This is matte, which is what you always want to contour with, to give the most natural look.
  • L’Oreal True Match Super Blendable Powder– Any pressed powders are great to double as a contour powder. You know it’s going to be matte and you’re less likely to get a powder with an orange undertone. Remember you want to keep it cooler.

Drugstore Highlight Powders: (Setting powders, will usually work the best.) But it’s also nice to add a little glow to the cheeks.

Higher end products are going to be easier to find for cream contours. Especially in palette form. So here are some high end cream contour palettes:

High end powder contour palettes:

High end cream highlighters (individual):

High end Contour Powders:

High end Highlight Powders:

Hope this helped! Remember to read my other prom posts to find out what foundations and setting powders are the best! Also, if you live in the central Ohio area and want to get your makeup done for prom, click here to find out details how!



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