When done well, contour absolutely has a place in your big day beauty routine.

By Nicole Moleti
April 01, 2021
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When it comes to makeup, contour is something of a misunderstood term. While it's generally used to describe makeup that's applied specifically to highlight bone structure on the face, "contour" is often thought of as a bad thing, evoking visions of heavy-handed bronzer and results that transform someone into an entirely different person. But that's not really what contour is—or at least not what it has to be. You can play up your natural bone structure in a way that's understated and beautiful rather than entirely transformative. And this is an especially good technique to employ on the wedding day, as a contoured face will photograph beautifully. While a professional makeup artist will be best-suited to get your contour just right, with the right products and tools, any bride can achieve a gorgeous wedding-day contour that looks natural and striking on her own. Here's how.

bride getting ready
Credit: Alex Mari

Choose Your Product

A contoured face can be created using six shades in a "contour palette," but it can also be done simply with bronzer and highlighter. If you're applying your own wedding-day makeup, you'll need to decide if you're the type of person that wants to spend a lot of time blending, using several shades to create perfection, or if you'd rather use just two products to create a subtle contoured look. This decision will help inform which products you need for the big day. If you're working with a makeup artist, they'll likely make the call for you, but it's good to be informed. In general, "contour palettes" offer three or four darker shades that can be used to shade the hollows of the cheeks, forehead, jawline, and nose. These shades, when used properly, can change the shape of the face, especially the bone structure of the nose, but they really do need an artistic touch and lots of blending. Amazing results can be achieved with bronzer and highlighter—it's a lot less work, but the effects will be softer. Bronzer should be applied in the hollows of the cheeks, on the top of the forehead and on the jawline. Highlighter should be added to the "high points" of the face, or anywhere that light will hit. Think upper cheek bones, center of the face and cupid's bow.

Choose Matte or Cream

You'll make this choice based on your skin type. If you are prone to dry, flaky skin, matte powders will accentuate flaws. Creams, on the other hand, will create soft contour that will diminish lines and imperfections. If you are prone to being oily or have a hard time with making products last, powders are a better option.

Choose the Right Tools

Tools are everything when it comes to successful contouring. Ditch the big bronzer brush and opt for sleek angled cheek brushes instead. These brushes are carefully cut to sweep the inner hollow of cheeks and the sharp angles of the face. When contouring smaller areas, like the nose, choose a synthetic brush that is small and can create sharp lines; add in a brush for blending or a beauty blender for the final step, which will melt away any visible lines and create a seamless look.

Apply Products in the Contours of the Face

Once you have selected product and tools, you can play around with the angles of your face to see what makes your features pop. Shade different areas of the face—or ask your makeup artist to try a few different options—to see what you like best. When in doubt, do an online search for contouring plans for different face shapes to find what works best for you.

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