Bone structure-defining tips from A-list makeup artists

Kim Kardashian may have put contouring on the map with her Instagram face charts, but it’s no longer reserved for celebs only. Contouring, the practice of sculpting your face with makeup, is a technique that more and more women are trying since it allows you to enhance your best features (hello, cheekbones!) and make your face seem slimmer.

“It’s become such a big trend that women are copying what they see in pictures,” says Daniel Chinchilla, a celebrity makeup artist who counts Ariana Grande as one of his regulars. “Really, you have to use a different application when the results aren’t for photographs.”

What You Should Know Before Getting Started
You only need a few products to contour: Bronzer, highlighter, and the right makeup brushes. First, you’ll use the bronzer to define your bone structure and sculpt your features. Then, you’ll apply highlighter—a product that illuminates the skin and creates a candlelit-like glow—to add brightness to your face and draw the eye’s attention to those areas. Chinchilla recommends using powder ones for both since liquid products require more skill to blend—and powders have a more natural-looking finish.

“For contouring, you should go two to three shades darker than your natural skin tone,” says Chinchilla. And regardless of your coloring, you should stick with browner tones (think hues that resemble eye shadow shades). That’s because bronzers that are on the red or orange side can make you look like you’ve just applied blush to your entire face instead of having defined any of your features. Chinchilla’s favorites include Too Faced Chocolate Soleil Matte Bronzer ($30, and MAC Mineralize ($32,

Using a highlighter after applying bronzer will help enhance whatever feature you’re trying to accentuate, says Lusiane Galadjian, a celebrity makeup artist whose clients include Victoria Justice.

Chinchilla suggests using a larger brush—like an angled contour brush or a blush brush—when you apply the bronzer, and a smaller brush—like an eye shadow blending one—when you apply the highlighter.

How to Actually Sculpt Your Face
You’ll want to make sure that you prep your skin properly before you start contouring. Apply your foundation as normal and then concealer to cover up any splotchy areas of skin or breakouts, finishing with a translucent powder to set everything in place. The nose, cheekbones, and chin are the most popular areas to contour, while some women also like to contour their foreheads as well.

To make your nose look smaller, apply bronzer with a makeup brush in light swipes down both sides of your nose. Then, with your finger, gently dab a little bit of highlighter along the bridge of your nose, says Chinchilla.

To make your forehead look smaller, Chinchilla recommends swiping bronzer along your hairline and then dabbing highlighter in the middle of your forehead.

To define your cheekbones, apply bronzer directly to your cheekbones and then add highlighter right above the bronzer. 

To slim your chin, brush bronzer all along your jawline, blending it down into your chin, says Chinchilla.

As a final step, blend everything together with a large brush to ensure your makeup looks soft and subtle, says Chinchilla.