The Harley Medical Group

Crazy about contouring! Everything you need to know about the latest beauty trend

It’s the beauty trend taking over the world faster than you can say Kardashian - so what do you need to know about contouring?

Essentially, make-up artist Nick Barose explains, contouring is “working with the contrast of light and dark” to sculpt and highlight your facial features. Cleverly applying different shades of make-up can create the illusion of supermodel-worthy cheekbones, a slimmer nose and a sharper profile as if by magic! Which all sounds very well and good, but the craze has intensified in recent months so even seasoned beauty editors admit to being confused by the latest variations.

To help you master the art of contouring, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to contouring; breaking you in gently with the basics and working our way up to the dizzy heights of tontouring (yes, that really is a thing!).

asic contouring

Skill level: Beginner

Beauty bag essentials:

Flat brush

Powder brush

Foundation x3 (your usual base, one two shades lighter than this and one two shades darker – stick foundations work well for beginners)

Translucent powder

  • If you usually wear foundation, apply your normal shade to the entire face first. This will create a uniform base for you to work from.
  • Next, start mapping your face with the darker foundation. Suck in your cheeks and apply stripes of the darker colour into the hollows, then use the colour along your jawline and underneath the chin to create a double-chin hiding shadow. Finally, use two lines along either side of your nose for a slimming effect.
  • Blend!
  • Now use the lighter shade to create highlights. Concentrate on the area under your eyes and add a line along the centre of your nose to finish off the slimming effect.
  • If you want to go all out, lightening the corner of your eyes will give you a wide-awake look and a dab on your cupid’s bow will make lips look fuller.
  • Again, make sure you blend well to avoid looking stripy.
  • Dust with powder for a matte finish.


Skill level: Intermediate

Beauty bag essentials:

Fan brush or make-up sponge

Highlighter (choose a shade that matches your skin tone to avoid a 90s frosted look)

Think of strobing as contouring with only the lighter shades. The lack of bronzer makes the look perfect for the winter months, when skin tends to be fairer and need a bit of brightening. Strobing is all about illuminating the face for a fresh, healthy glow. It may sound simple, but there’s a knack to storbed make-up that requires some skill, over doing it with the highlighter can quickly turn your complexion from ‘dewy’ to ‘sweaty’.


  • Prep: strobing offers less coverage than regular contouring, so creating that illusive ‘glow’ will require a little preparation. Exfoliating treatments like Microdermabrasion or a Skin Peel will rejuvenate dull, tired looking skin creating a smooth, bright base for your make-up. Follow your exfoliation with plenty of moisturiser and your skin’s ready to go.
  • Now you need to start highlighting. Think about the areas of your face which naturally catch the light and apply highlighter along the temples, bridge of the nose, across your brow bones and (as with contouring) to the corners of your eyes and cupids bow.
  • bones and (as with contouring) to the corners of your eyes and cupids bow.
  • Blending is the particularly tricky bit of strobing. Too little and you’ll look streaky, with obvious make-up lines; too much and you’ll smear the shimmer across your entire face – a look that’s more greasy than glamorous – use a fan brush or make-up sponge and proceed cautiously.

Clown Contouring

Skill level: Expert

Once you’ve mastered the (relatively) straight forward techniques of contouring and strobing, you’re ready to join the big leagues. Clown contouring was the creation of vlogger Bella DeLune. It’s an extreme technique to colour correct, highlight and contour.

Mapping her face, Bella follows the basic highlighting and shading principles of contouring, though she adds pink and red hues under her eyes and to her cheeks or additional colour correction.


Skill level: seasoned professionals only!

Not one for the faint hearted, tontouring (that’s contouring with false tan) offers a longer lasting sculpted result – though the potential for streaky orange disaster is undeniable!

Developed by beauty entrepreneur Marissa Carter the technique “gives you the opportunity to wake up looking naturally, perfectly contoured.” True: as long as everything goes to plan!

Marissa uses three shades of false tan to create the tontoured look. She begins with an all over glow, then uses a foundation brush to apply a darker colour around her temples and forehead and a third, darkest shade to the underneath of her cheek bones.

Preparation is key for tontouring. False tan can be tricky to work with and so it’s crucial you begin with a smooth, even base. Consider a treatment like Microdermabrasion before-hand to buff away dry, dead skin cells which can cause false tan look patchy and make sure you apply plenty of facial moisturiser.

The verdict

No longer the closely guarded secret of celebrity make-up artists, it seems contouring is here to stay. So while you might not be ready to dive in with the false tan just yet, who wouldn’t want to cheat a more chiselled cheek-bone? Let’s get practicing!

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