Psst: Here’s An Easy Tip To Sculpt Your Face Shape, No Contour Necessary
A few strategic swipes of contour can literally change the shape of your face. By enhancing your natural dimension, you can effectively carve and lift your bone structure and help those cheekbones come out of hiding.
If this sounds like a familiar scenario, allow me to introduce you to reverse contouring. It’s way easier to master than you think, and you only need one versatile product.
What is reverse contouring?
Technically, you don’t need a proper contour product to sculpt your bone structure. "Contouring" really just means carving out certain regions of your face, which you can accomplish with a variety of makeup products. Blush, bronzer…even highlighter.
If you use the latter, though, the process looks slightly different: Instead of defining the hollows of your cheeks and jawline, you’ll spend extra time highlighting the higher points of your face, like the tops of the cheekbones, brow bone, temples, and bridge of your nose.
By adding more highlighter than you might be used to, you make the natural shadows of your face appear more prominent. And there you have it: reverse contouring.
How to use sculpt the face using highlighter
"The look focuses on hyper futuristic skin created using incredible skin prep and emphasizing bone structure through cream highlights and powder,” the makeup lead shares. He does use a cream foundation, but only to spot-conceal redness around the nose. “[This] keeps the integrity of the skin, so that it doesn't feel like a makeup look,” he tells me.
Grab your highlighter—Gutierrez uses the Kjaer Weis Cream Glow in “Ravishing”—and go to town. “Highlight all the high points of the face: temple, cheekbones, nose bridge, a little bit on the chin,” he explains. You can also pop some product in the center of your lids and beneath your brow bone to further define the eye area.
Tap on more product than you usually would, since you need enough light-reflecting pigment to create that natural contrast and “bring out all the bone structure without contouring,” Gutierrez shares. “No muddy colors or anything—it just brings extreme luminosity back into the skin.
For the runway show, this technique helps exaggerate the anatomy of the human structure and creates a hyper-real radiance; but in everyday life, without the bright stage lights and flashing cameras, it delivers a much subtler sculpting effect. Think soft, natural-looking dimension that will make people think: Is she wearing any makeup at all?
For those who cower from contour (self very much included), reverse contouring might be your new favorite hack. Just grab your favorite creamy highlighter and use the lighter hue to create contrast with your natural shadows. You’d be surprised by how much of a difference a pop of shine can make.
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and more. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.