Main content


Contouring came about as a method to define the face – even being used to create the illusion of a different bone structure. It’s now a mainstay in makeup routines the world over. With a place in both dramatic, red-carpet glamour and delicate, natural makeup looks, face contouring can benefit everyone’s routine. While contouring techniques can seem intimidating, there are plenty of ways to make this makeup technique work for you – whether you’re looking to carve out your features or subtly add definition. Read on for our expert face contouring tips, must-haves and a step-by-step guide on how to contour your face.

Dewy Makeup Look

Bronzer vs contour

While you’re probably aware that both products work to add depth and dimension, you may be less familiar with the distinctions between bronzer vs contour. Despite their surface-level similarities, the two have their own functions:


  • Can be matte or shimmer-based
  • Has warm undertones to mimic the look of sunlight hitting the skin
  • Like highlighter, bronzer is applied to high points of the face such as cheekbones and forehead

  • Contour

    • Always a matte formula to create natural shadows
    • Usually cool toned
    • Contour placement is tailored to add structure, symmetry and dimension

    Face contouring must-haves

    To create a natural, blended contour, opt for a product 2-3 shades deeper than your foundation. A helpful rule of thumb is to select a face contouring product that looks like a slightly too-deep foundation for your skin – rather than a shade that creates a stark contrast.

    Whether you choose a powder or cream face contouring formula will depend on your preferences and skin texture:

  • For dry skin, a nourishing cream contour can offer smooth application and won’t enhance rough patches.
  • For oily or combination skin, a powder contour will lend staying power to your makeup look.

  • Lastly, select a tool for applying contour. A makeup sponge or dense blending brush will expertly melt the product into your skin.

    face makeup contouring essentials

    How to contour: Step-by-step

    By using face contouring products suited to your skin type and shade, a flawless contour is within reach. For how to apply contour and attain a beautifully sculpted effect every time, read on.

    Step 1: Prep and prime

    Hydrating skin is the first step to any makeup look. Onto cleansed, refreshed skin, apply your favourite face cream to create a nourished base. Read our guide on How to Achieve Glowing Skin to give your complexion lit-from-within radiance beneath your foundation. For additional lasting power and skin smoothing, reach for a primer next.

    Step 2: Apply your base

    Wondering whether to contour before or after foundation? Although there are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to makeup, we recommend applying foundation first. This will establish an even base and give you more control over how defined or subtle you’d like your contour to be.

    Select your foundation match from the Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra Wear range and apply as normal. For 24 hour coverage and a breathable, transfer-free finish, opt for bestselling Teint Idole Ultra Wear Foundation. Available in 45 shades, you’re bound to discover a seamless foundation match.

    If a satin-matte finish is your preference, choose our Teint Idole Ultra Compact Powder Foundation. Infused with 50% perlite, this powder foundation will provide a smooth, lightweight base for your face contouring step.

    For a foundation formula imbued with skincare benefits, Teint Idole Ultra Wear Care & Glow Foundation is made with 82% serum. Hydrating hyaluronic acid and smoothing mandelic acid care for your skin while the medium coverage, glow-giving formulation lends your skin a diffused highlight.

    Step 3: Shade and define

    Next, it’s time to apply your face contouring product of choice. You may find yourself asking where to contour – and overwhelmed by the vast variety of options you’ll see in tutorials, guides and how-tos. While understanding your face shape can be helpful, we suggest getting to know the unique features you’d like to define rather than following a pre-set guide. Here are some areas you might like to sculpt with face contouring techniques:

    • Hairline
    • Beneath the cheekbone
    • Under and slightly above the jawline
    • The bridge of your nose

    While learning how to apply contour, begin with a small amount of product and build up to your desired effect. Remember you don’t need to contour all of the above options – adapt your face contouring to enhance your individual beauty.

    Step 4: Conceal and highlight

    Contour and highlight often go hand in hand - a dot of concealer or swipe of highlight can add impact and dimension to your face contouring look with minimal product. For a lifelike glow, we recommend a liquid or cream-based highlighter like our Teint Idole Ultra Wear Highlighter Stick applied to the very high points of the face. To create amplified contrast, a concealer will do the trick. Apply a touch of the Teint Idole Ultra Wear All Over Concealer to the bridge of your nose, centre of your forehead and above the cheekbone.

    Step 5: Bake and set

    Use a setting spray or face powder to ensure your contour and highlight looks smooth and fresh all day – or night. The best method to lock in your face contouring makeup will depend on your skin type and preferred finish. For truly long-lasting makeup, lightly dust our Translucent Loose Setting Powder across the face and finish with the Lancôme Fix It Forget It Spray.

    Enjoyed our tips on how to contour like the professionals? Next, explore our guide to concealer application.


    Orientation message
    For the best experience, please turn your device