Ever since the invention of photography, we have been constantly bombarded with images of beautiful women with flawless skin most of us would kill for. However, behind all that glitz and glamour, every red carpet-walking celebrity has the help of a vital make up technique called “highlight and contour.”

Highlighting and contouring is the master illusion in the magic of makeup. One can take a square face and give it the illusion of a heart shaped face. Want a slimmer nose or a more defined chin? No problem! Highlight and contour is the technique for facial definition. In simple terms, highlighting means making an area of your face stand out. Contouring is the art of creating shadows on the face to make certain areas less noticeable. This process begins after the application of foundation. As with most aesthetic techniques, subtlety is almost always desirable. This can be achieved by blending.

For highlight, choose a color that is a few shades lighter than your foundation. You may also use white. As for contouring, go two shades darker than your foundation and always stick with a matte color. Some people use a bronzer for contouring, but be cautious, because some bronzers come with shimmer or sparkle—which, of course, defeats the purpose to shadowing. For evening make up, feel free to apply more to produce more significant contrast. However, always make certain that you blend it in with your foundation.

To achieve the look of a slimmer nose, start from the middle of your brows and run the highlight down to the tip of your nose. Then, with a small angled brush, start from the corner of your eye and contour alongside the bridge of your nose to your nostril. Blend by brushing lightly down toward your cheeks. Do this for both sides of your nose. If you notice the model in the picture above, the middle of her nose is a lot lighter than the sides of her nose. Contour

For a more defined brow and cheek bones, highlight right below the curves of your brows. This will make your eyes pop! Continue to highlight around your eyes to your cheekbones. Then, suck in your cheeks and draw a straight contour line from your earlobes to where it sinks in. Blend well!

For a slimmer face and smaller neck, contour the sides of your face down to your neck. If you are unsure of where to shadow, use your hands to cover the side of your face to the desired shape. Contour the area where your hands were. Remember to blend it in afterwards!

Using make up to highlight and contour will help disguise undesired facial features. One might think of contouring as decreasing volume, while highlighting adds volume and attracts attention. Thus, a general rule is to highlight any features you want to stand out and contour any areas you want to hide.

For our more visual readers I suggest you watch contouring cheeks by Marlena (Marlena Make up ). It’s a great video that shows you how to instantly get higher cheek bones. Play around with it to get the look you want.