The 5-Minute Highlighting And Contouring Routine That Makes Me Look 10 Times Better

And I use a super-inexpensive palette that isn't even meant for contouring.
Publish date:
November 3, 2014
makeup, Benefit, contouring, highlighting, Eyebrow Powder, milani, Fast Makeup

Sometimes, when I’m procrastinating, I get sucked in to YouTube videos. (This is how my daughter knows every Katy Perry song.) One afternoon, I found myself falling down a rabbit hole of makeup tutorials, and a little something called highlighting and contouring. I couldn’t stop watching -- the transformations were incredible. Honestly, some of the women looked like totally different people.

I don’t necessarily think most of us want to look like a completely different person after we put on makeup, but a little highlighting and contouring can help bring out your best features and give you a little glow, which is especially important to me as a work-at-home mom who survives on very little sleep and forgets to drink enough water.

When I want to look a little special or a more awake, I do this quick little highlighting-and-contouring trick. The best part is also that you don’t need a ton of fancy cosmetics or brushes to do it either; I use a flat brush to highlight, my fingers to blend, and a soft blending shadow brush to contour.

Because the eyebrow powders in the Milani Brow Fix Kit are matte, this is perfect for contouring, and it happens to include a highlighting quadrant as well, so you kill two birds with one stone. You also get a little tool kit. This set is a STEAL and it comes in three shades (Light, Medium, and Dark) to complement your skin tone. I use the mid tone as my contour and the dark tone to fill in my brows.

Optional: Benefit High Beam. (I have the small sample version -- a Sephora Beauty Points Perk -- and it lasts a long time!) I love the sheer glow, although because it’s a liquid, you have to be careful not to overdo it. I use this mainly on my cheeks instead of powder highlighter.

And now, my five-minute makeover, with a little highlighting and contouring action:

Step 1

I put on my moisturizing BB cream and fill in my brows a little (with the same Milani set! Score!). Bonus: I could use this look as a zombie costume for next Halloween.

Step 2

In my super-artistic diagram, white is where to highlight -- brow bone, inner-eye corner, nose bone, tip of nose, cheekbones, cupid’s bow, middle of chin -- and brown is where to contour -- below cheekbones (gently bite the insides of your cheeks to see where the natural shadow happens), all along the jawline.

Step 3

The results of the diagram placement: This is when you look scary and can freak out your significant other/children. But just wait….the magic is about to happen!

Step 4

BLEND! Use a blending brush or sponge and blend really well until you just have a glow and some natural-looking shadows. I blend the nose, eyes, chin, and cupid’s bow with my fingers first, then I go over my whole face with the blending brush.

Step 5

This is when I do my eye makeup (quick liner and mascara) and blush (a pop of bright pink on the apples).

Step 6

Add a swipe of lipstick, and then let down your hair like you’re the nerd-heroine in one of those late '90s teen romantic comedies.

I feel like a little highlighting and contouring just makes me look like a prettier version of myself: more awake/hydrated/glowy. And it’s easy enough that even if you don’t play with makeup very often, you can do it in just a couple of minutes to add a special touch to your style routine for a date night or event.

Do you contour and highlight regularly? Or is it just a once-in-a-while thing? Or a never thing?