How to: Contouring Your Cheekbones

Hey Renee. Just making an official request about what makeup I should wear for graduation, because there will be a lot of photos, argh! I’m gonna try to run a little so I’ll have less cheeks by May… but I wanna do a nice amount of contouring… blush, bronzer the works. So will you hit me up with some hints and tips? I’m also ready to do some makeup shopping! – Di

My best friend emailed me this the other day, and that woman… I love her but she has been talking about her so called “fat cheeks” for years! Tsk tsk. Either way, it gave me an idea to write a general post on contouring and how to bring out your sexy supermodel cheekbones (yup, we all have them, and all it takes is a little makeup technique called “contouring” to bring them out)!

Gisele cheekbones

The Tools

First, there’s 3 things you need:

  • A highlighter
  • A contoured blush brush
  • A countor blush color


A highlighter is a makeup product in several formulas (powder, liquid, cream) that will bring some kind of light to your face. Whether it’s a liquid illuminator, a powder highlighter, or even a pearly nude eyeshadow; this is a must-have for bringing out your cheekbones. Below are some suggestions:

highlighter makeup

Benefit High Beam (buy here) is a pink-pearly liquid illuminator that you apply with a brush. Just “dot” it on and rub with your fingers to blend. Next is YSL Touche Eclat (buy here), a super famous product (that is also super expensive) and gives skin a nice glow. I’ve only heard good things about it, so it’s worth a try. And lastly, NARS blush in Albatross (buy here) is a cult fan favorite.

If you’re not into buying a whole, separate problem; just grab a shimmery (or pearly) nude colored eyeshadow. Work just as well.


I don’t have any recommendations for bronzer colors, but the rule here is to get a matte bronzer that is at least 3 shades darker than your natural skin tone.

makeup bronzers

My personal favorites have always been MAC (they used to have a few great contouring blush colors*, but have been discontinued, so bronzer is the next best thing). If you’re too lazy to buy two seperate bronzer, check out Benefit 10 (buy here), which is a 2-in-1 bronzer and highlighter powder.

Edit: Emi commented that actually MAC does still have a contour blush called Sculpt – thanks for the info, Emi!

Contoured angle brush

Don’t let them scare you! They look kinda weird, no?

angled contour blush brush

You can go all out and spend a ton of money on brushes by MAC or Bobbi Brown (though they are expensive, they usually last a good 15 years) if you’re in serious cheekbone business. If you’re not into buying another brush, just grab any old blush brush and stick your finger through one side of it so it has a “scoop” shape.

The steps

Now that you’ve got all your tools, here’s what to do!

  1. Grab your brush and bronzer. Swirl your brush around in your bronzer powder, say 5 times, and then “tap” the brush on the back of your hand to let any excess powder go off.
  2. Look in the mirror, as as hard as you can, suck your cheeks in, Zoolander style. See those two lines that are forming? That’s where your bronzer is going. Starting from the apples of the cheek (the fleshy bit), hold your brush there and gently sweep up in a crescent shape up towards the top of your ear.
  3. Step back and check your work. Is that line that you saw when you sucked your cheek now filled with bronzer? Success! If it’s too light, go over a few more times. And if you’ve overdone it, you gotta check out this tip to get rid of it – two obvious brown lines are not hot!
  4. Repeat on your other cheek.
  5. Next, grab your highlighter. If it’s a liquid highlighter, squeeze a few drops on your finger tips. If it’s a powder, grab another blush brush.
  6.  Look straight onto the mirror and dab a few drops (or brush on) your highligter above your bronzer “line”. The point of the highlighter is to “bring out” the cheekbone; while the bronzer was to create some depth. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s the space that’s right under your eye area, right before your cheeks. Start from the center or your eye and blend until the end of it.

Here’s an amateur-drawing diagram to show you (and obviously, the brown means the bronzer and white means the highlighter):

contouring cheeks makeup chart

And just in case you want an “after” shot… check out this sexy model with her smoldering eyes sporting this technique perfectly: bronzed line of the cheekbone, hightligher from the center to the outer corner of the under eye area. Tres chic! And make sure they don’t look like two obvious lines – so don’t forget to blend, blend, blend!

contour cheekbone makeup

And, other non-puffy cheeks tips for photos.

  • Limit your salt intake. Or, if it’s for a special event like my friend’s above, just don’t consume a lot of salt before your event. (I once ate a whole bag of Kettle Chip’s Salt and Vinegar chips – they are so good! – before a friend’s party. BAD idea. I looked like a puffer fish in all my photos!
  • Keep hydrated. (And by “hydrated” I don’t mean with alcohol. Alcohol is also a major factor in puffy, big cheeks. This is what else it does to your looks.) Stick to water!
  • Exercise; cardio is the best in these cases.

That’s all from me, folks. I hope you enjoyed this post. What are your favorite highlighters and bronzers? Do you ever contour your cheeks for major cheekbones or are you more of a soft-pink-blush kinda girl?

21 responses to “How to: Contouring Your Cheekbones

  1. Wow Renee this is a great post that came at the right time! This post must be a godsend LOL because recently I’ve the urge to get a bronzer for more defined cheeks! Thank you!

  2. I wish I could find bronzers that would suit me to contour. It’s impossible to find things for darker skin in SG.

  3. Samantha, I’m so glad to hear that! Good luck on your search for a bronzer… so far the only ones I’ve liked are from MAC. (Bobbi Brown’s were quite nice as well.)

    Faz, my bff is from Sri Lanka, she has darker skin as well. She says in Singapore it’s almost impossible too :( I went shopping with her once and we found a good one at Bobbi Brown – worth a try?

  4. Great tutorial! I graduate this year too and will definitely be playing up all the highlighting and contouring of my face so i have perfect photos.

    What is the best way to make contouring on your nose look the most natural? It never seems to look right to me.

  5. I love this post! Gosh I’ve been using bronzed for a few years & can’t believe I don’t even know about the existence of such contour brushes & that highlighting. Thanks for making our wannabe supermodel dreams come true, Renee! :))

  6. *bronzer (stupid autocorrect) :p

  7. Sarah and Isabel, I am so glad to hear you like this post. Yay! :)

    Sarah – blend, blend blend! And don’t put too much powder on your brush in the first place… I think for the nose, it’s better to look a little “unnoticeable” than noticeable. Or, after you apply it, you can go over it with a clean blush brush to kinda “pick up” some of the loose powder.

    Isabel – hahah oh autocorrect, never changes haha! I def recommend getting a contour brush, it’s one of the best things I’ve bought! So, so, good. You are most welcome, thank you so much for reading :) xx

  8. Hey Renee, congrats for being the 2nd runner up in the Glam Asia competition. What a great honour.! Keep up the good work.

  9. Yes, Renee, even though you didn’t win the competition, you still did Singapore proud. Hey, 3rd place is pretty good! Congrats. :)

  10. Stacey and Katherine, you are too kind! Thank you so, so much for your sweet comments :) Yes, I am so happy to be 2nd runner up! Even to be in the nominated list was like “whoa, really, me?!” Haha. Thank you ladies <3

  11. This is a great instructional, I love highlight and contour videos or blog posts about it, i just recently got into th highlight and contouring and i really like it, I watched so many videos on it, and i just got really into it, i even saw a girl contour her face and nose to look exactly like eminem now that is tallent. It was amazing because the nose lookd just like eminem the face did to and you would never believe that she would be able to do this cause she looks nothing like him, but its amazing what you can do, people make their nose look smaller or straighter,and some people seem to have a problem with that, i dont know why because people have plastic surgery usually instead of just highlight and contour, and if that makes people feel better and look better, then that increases their confidence and they dont need surgery then its a good thing. But i like a natural looking highlight and contour and that seems to be what your showing, and i think you did a really excellent job with it. Especially on a blog its hard to explain how to do it, and it really helps the way you laid it out with pictures and information.

  12. Great post! Recently I learned that it’s best to use a dedicated contour product, like MAC Sculpt or MUFE’s Sculpting Kit, rather than a bronzer to contour – the contouring products have less red tones in them so they create a more shadowed look. Matte bronzers definitely work – but contour powders work best.

  13. I’m loving this post! Great info!

  14. I LOVE High Beam from Benefit. It is one of my favorite highlighters. I also like to break out the MAC Pigment in Vanilla.

  15. Thank you ladies so much for reading and taking the time to comment, I really appreciate it. :)

    Emi – thanks so much for letting me know. I used to use MAC’s taupe and I remember the famous Emote contour colors… had no idea they had a sculpting blush, thanks for that! Will edit the post to include the info xx

  16. Hi, where can I get the ysl touché éclat in Singapore? Thanks! :)

  17. Pingback: 3 Pretty-Me-Up Quick Tips « The HOOting Post

  18. This has helped me so much! I’ve read your blog on and off for a while now, though I’ve only just found this little miracle, so I just wanted to thank you for your brilliantly worded, lovely tips that improve me day by day :)

  19. Hey Renee
    I Have medium Tone Skin and have round face, Will u plz suggest me which brand items should i use for contouring? can you gimme some suggestions?
    i have MAC Contouring Blush but i am confused about highlighter, YSL is not available in my Country :(

  20. Im sorry if this is such a silly question, but does it mean that if you use bronzers, you don’t use blusher? Ive always had the impression that you are supposed to use blusher and then a bronzer if u want to contour a little..if so, where would the blusher be? In between the brown and white parts of your picture? (very useful btw!)

    Thanks for all your help!

    • Hey Elly!

      Yeah, I think that’s how it usually goes, but you can mix it up depending on what you like! If you want a very prominent look to your cheekbones, skip the blush. If not, you apple it in-between the white and brown line, on the “apples of your cheek” (when you smile, that fleshy bit).

      No problem! So glad you found it useful :)

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