Until we started contouring, the only things most of us knew that changed curves to edges were a sculptor’s chisel and a plastic surgeon’s scalpel. As early as the 1500s, actors contoured with chalk and soot.

It’s not a new art.

Contouring transforms all face shapes, providing the appearance of high cheekbones, sharp jawlines, and small or slim noses—regardless of the width.

When you master the art of contouring like a British girl, you will understand why it is the best thing since sliced bread.

Contouring Products and their Finishes

The problem with contouring and highlighting is that it’s not as easy as it seems to have it down pat. You can follow all the steps and still fail to achieve the look you saw on a how-to-contour video.

Good contouring starts with picking the right products for your skin type and complexion and knowing the products you need for the look and finish you want.

Bold Look Contouring

For a dramatic, British girl look, use a cream. Unlike powder, cream creates strong contours. It is more like the palettes and stick contours. It is also easy to use because it’s not a must to use a brush—you can blend it in with your fingers.

Use it sparingly to keep your ‘natural look’. Apply a small amount first and then add more color to achieve your contours.

Polished Look Contouring

Powders give beautiful velvety finishes. It takes time to know how to contour with powder, but it’s worth it because powder lasts long, absorbs your skin oil, and you can use it with other textures—creams, liquid, etc.

To prevent your contour from getting lost (absorbed) in the skin, experts suggest applying a translucent powder before applying the contour.

Natural Look Contouring

Liquid contours deliver a simple but stunning look. They easily achieve the natural look—especially matte bronzers.

The Dos and Don’ts of Contouring Like a British Girl

Pick the Right Shade

For best results, get products with the right shades and textures. Rule of thumb, it should not be more than two shades darker than your skin tone. If your skin is fair, opt for grayish browns or taupes. If you have a deep skin tone, go for warm, cognac shades.

Less is Not Always More

While people assume the British way is layering more-than-necessary products on the face, I would argue it’s just that British girls are not afraid to wear a little extra makeup for a more sculpted and flawless look.

That said, contouring your whole face is not a great idea. Mostly, a little contouring is all you need—forehead, cheeks, nose and jawline. But for a Brit look, don’t shy away from a more defined look.

‘Layer’ Your Products like a Pro

We contour to give the illusion of having the bone structure of the-supermodel-on-the-magazine-cover. You don’t want a face that looks overdone and contours that are exaggerated and obvious.

Use light strokes and add color slowly until you achieve a natural-looking edge or curve.

No Shimmer!

We use cool browns and matte taupes to create shadows and contours. These shades absorb light, but what do shimmers do? They reflect light. This means when you use a bronzer which contains flecks, it will reflect light.

Shimmers will undo your good contour work. For a better outcome, reserve shimmers for highlighting.

Create a Good Balance

The best way to create a good balance is by working with nature. Your job is not creating new looks, rather, emphasizing your natural looks.

One way to do this is by trying as much as possible to use products with the same texture. If your contour is liquid, powder, or cream, your highlighter needs to have the same texture.

For a better effect, lightly dab your highlighter on every spot where light hits, i.e. cheekbones, nose, Cupid’s bow on the lips, and eyelids.

Enhance Eye Contours

For a flawless finish, you need to enhance your eye contours, subtly. Using the same product you used to contour your cheeks, enhance your eyes’ contours, and then go about your eye makeup as usual. Curl and elongate your lashes, and complete the look with a good, bold lippie.

Note: You can do your eye makeup before or after contouring. However, if you intend to use bold colors, it is advisable to do it before contouring to avoid smudging.

How to Contour and Highlight—The Four Easy-Peasy Steps

After checking your boxes – the right products for your skin type and complexion, selecting your desired look and finish, and agreeing to the dos and don’ts of contouring and highlighting like a British girl – follow these four easy steps:

Step 1. Frame your forehead

Contour a dark shade along the hairline and temples then a light shade at the middle of the forehead. Your contour will create the shadows and contours and then the light side (or highlighter) will define and create contrast.

Step 2. Lift your cheekbones

Shade the hollows of your cheeks using the contour and then highlight the raised part of your cheeks. Not sure where exactly that is? Put your lips together and smile. See that lifted part? That’s where highlighter goes. Blend it towards your eyes.

For the ‘natural look contour’, use a pinkish gold highlighter because it works for all skin tones and enhances the natural skin color (especially fair and medium tones).

Step 3. Make your nose smaller

Apply the light shade on your nose (at the center), use the dark shade for contouring, and then blend carefully to achieve the slim nose look.

Step 4. Sculpt your jawline and chin

Work your contour from the ears up to the hollow of the cheeks and then slightly above your jawline. Follow this with the light shade to highlight your cheeks, and then on the chin (under the lips, down) to enhance the sculpted look.

Complete the look by enhancing your eyes with the same contour and highlighter before applying eye makeup.

Note: If you will rock a bold eye makeup, it’s a good idea to start with eye makeup to avoid smudging.