Drag Princess Tips: Contour Like a Pro


It’s an undisputed fact: Any queen worth her weight in glitter should know how to contour.


What is contouring?


Contouring is the art of strategically applying highlights and shadows on your face to subtly sculpt or enhance features. It can make your eyes look larger, nose thinner, cheekbones more pronounced and soften your jawline. While it’s not surgery or magic, it can still make an enormous difference.


So how do you do it?


The basics is that you want to apply highlights/lighter shades to the parts of your face you want more prominent (such as the top of your cheekbones) and shadows to the parts of your face you want to recede (such as under your cheekbones).


What do you use?


There are many product options for contouring, dependent on how much or little definition you are going for.

If you just want a subtle, every day enhancement, I would recommend a highlighting powder and a matte bronzer.

However, for more a dramatic change I recommend using a foundation for highlighting and a contouring powder. You will need a foundation for highlighting because a powder will not be able to give you enough coverage. I also recommend a contouring powder for the shadows because unlike a bronzer or darker foundation which will only have brown tones, products created for contouring contain grey tones to help simulate shadows. Bronzers are great for subtle contouring, but excessive amounts can give your face a “dirty” look—I mean, you are essentially putting a dark brown streak across your face! A product with grey tones will be much more natural and flattering.



How to apply:


Here’s a general guide as to where you should apply your highlighting and contouring products. I know, I know, I should definitely not be quitting my day job to become a graphic designer!





Anyway, this is just a general guide; the beauty of contouring (and makeup in general) is that it works with the natural outlines and features of your face—it’s personalized just for you! You can also choose how light the highlights are, as well as how deep to go with the shadows. As a general rule, the shadows should be darker & thicker near the sides of your face, and taper off as it reaches the middle. This same rule goes for your jawline highlight. You can also put shadows on the outside of your nose, as well as above your crease. I typically don't put contour on the sides of my nose, but I'll use highlight up against it so the contrast with my regular skin tone makes my nose slimmer (as pictured in my illustration).


This is what you should look like with the contouring on. Let the foundation (especially if you're using a creme) sit on your face for a minute or two to “cook.” Your body heat helps the foundation melt onto your skin, and improves its natural finish and blendability. 


After you’re done cooking, blend the lines with a sponge. I like to use the bottom of these disposable wedges, but you can use any sponge you like. Use an up & down dabbing motion—do not drag, pull, or smear!—to slowly blend out the lines!


And this should be the finished look!

Compare to before:




(Sorry, I don’t know what’s wrong with the lighting in this photo, and I also forgot to brush my hair out of the way. The difference is still obvious though!)

Other tips:

  • Apply highlight after you put contouring powder on. This way you don’t accidentally deepen the highlighter by getting contouring powder on it.
  • If you are highlighting with crème foundation, don’t put your regular foundation all over your face first because the crème foundation will provide more than enough coverage. I will typically only put foundation over the blank and shadowed areas.
  • Applying a lot of highlight is a great way to have the appearance of a brighter or lighter skin tone without looking like you’re trying out for mime school. Not that there's anything wrong with that!


Work them fake cheeks, girl!

 Blake Karamazov is a San Francisco based makeup artist, Swagger Cosmetics creator and only eats vegan glitter and rhinestones. 


Additional information