The right way of Contouring

Fira Z Ahmed

Untitled 5Contouring is a corrective make-up technique, which means shaping and restructuring of the face. In simple language, contouring means giving shape to a particular area of the face and enhancing the facial structure with makeup, which is not supposed to be noticeable.

If you have a round face, contouring under your cheekbones can make it appear smaller. But if you have a narrow face, it could make it look even longer. Instead, shade along the top of the forehead and a bit on the chin. This technique softens angular features and creates a more rounded effect.

This technique has been popularised in recent years by the likes of Kim Kardashian, who started her KKW Beauty Empire with cream contour sticks that combined dark and light shades, designed to supposedly deliver razor-sharp cheekbones.

Hollywood and Bollywood has been contouring for decades and many celebrities use contouring techniques to make their nose look smaller or their lips look fuller. We just did not know it before, because of clever lighting!

Unless you know exactly where to place the products and blend properly, the shadowing can look false and obvious in daylight.

In recent times, the contouring trend is going wrong because it tells women there’s something wrong with their face. There’s beauty in a full face, so I personally do not like to paint in a cheekbone that doesn’t exist. Instead, I prefer to spotlight cheekbones with a pop of blush and utilise the skin’s natural glow.

Untitled 3Contouring ends up looking bad if the person doing it is not seasoned or a professional. Sometimes contouring looks like a dark patchy line or a dirt lump on the area of the cheeks. As a beauty expert, I strongly believe in individual beauty, and it’s just not my aesthetic. One must know how to enhance and highlight the actual facial features of an individual instead of making a false artificial look with artificial contouring.

It’s time, make-up artists say, to stop smearing muddy streaks onto your face and instead, embrace the gentle art of blush and shimmer.

Here are some tips on how to enhance your features the subtle way:

  1. Brush on bronzer (Bronzing Powder)

We are seeing a shift towards soft contouring, which is the use of a bronzer as opposed to foundations etc. Bronzing Powder is a great alternative, giving a translucent bronzed effect whilst also nourishing the skin.

  1. Frame your face (Blush Duo in Soft Apricot)

Blush, the secret weapon of every make-up artist, can be used to help women balance their facial features and bring them into harmony. Applying an extended brush stroke onto the cheekbone can help to frame the facial features.

  1. Put away the powder

Blusher is making its revival this year with new products on the market, like gel and jelly blushers, which act as hybrid formulations to melt into the skin.These products are best applied with fingers. Choose shades to match your lip color, which takes the hard work out of deciding what shades will look best for your skin type.

  1. Don’t go too low

For blush, the rule is to never have it lower than the nostrils, as it tends to pull the face down rather than lift it. Always apply highlighters to elevated areas of the face and NOT the end of your nose.

  1. Sculpt with subtlety

I love to softly sculpt the skin using cream textures. Using my fingertips, I press the cream blusher onto the apples of the cheek which gives that natural ‘flushed’ look. Then, using a fluffy brush, I sweep the highlighter along the top of the cheekbone, to capture the light and give the illusion of a model-worthy bone structure.

  1. Choose the right highlight

Strobing is the new updated version of highlighting, which focuses solely on the highlight to define the face, and not on contouring. Cream or liquid products are best, as they blend seamlessly into the skin rather than looking like they are sitting on top of it. Highlight should have a hint of a sheen and should almost be the color of your skin. People with paler skin should aim for those with a slight pink tone; and those with dark skin, a more golden tone.

  1. Don’t overdo the shimmer

For highlighting, it is better to ‘enhance’ the skin, rather than go shimmer crazy. With the summer heat, stay away from highlighters that are too creamy or oily. Pop it on the bridge of the nose, cheekbones and center of the chin, then blend in with your fingers.

  1. Pick a peach

I veer towards a peachy tone, adapting a shade suiting the skin tone. Pinks are great too, but can go ‘hot’ on the cheeks if you choose the wrong shade. So look for blushers that have the right mix of each. Remember, your perfect shade will be the one that makes you look healthier than you did before you applied it.

48ddc1e0-3795-4fe0-862b-cb7186a72fe3Author Bio

Fira Z Ahmed is the founder of Fira’s Make Up Academy based in MumbaiYou can know more about her academy at or reach out to her at



*All images used in this article are either Eyra’s own design or widely and freely available on the internet.*

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