Beautytips: Sculpt Your Face With Shading And Highlighting

Use these beauty secrets to apply make up that will help transform the face you've always wanted.Information on shades and highlights, colors and tones.

Any artist will tell you that shading and highlighting are what creates the illusion of depth, distance, and even form and shape in a picture. Even a subtle shadow or highlight can completely change the way the eye perceives something, much like an optical illusion. You can apply shading and highlighting techniques to your make up application to help sculpt your face.

These techniques may require some extra time to apply, especially when first experimenting. Ideally, you should set aside some time to practice with the techniques outlined below before using them as part of your daily routine. However, once you figure out what works for you and get the hang of it, it will be easy to adapt into your daily make up routine, and you'll get quicker and better at them with regular use.


You will need three different liquid or crème foundations in varying shades. One should be the shade of your natural skin tone. One should be white or as light as you can find it. The final one should be one to three shades darker than your natural skin tone, depending upon how light or dark you are to start with. Someone with a very pale complexion, or a complexion that is already very dark, should only go one shade darker so not to make the look unnatural. Someone with a medium or medium-dark skin tone can go two to three shades darker without the results looking unnatural.

Applicators will also be a very important part of the process. Triangle shaped sponge applicator pads are most versatile and work very well. The sponge blends colors well, the flat side is good for wide-spread coverage, and the narrow tip makes it easier to do more precision blending or work in small spaces or creases.

You will also need a translucent, loose powder for a final application over the liquid or crème. This will help to set the foundation. Pressed powders or powders that are pigmented will alter the shadings and highlighting that you have worked to achieve and should be avoided. Loose, translucent powder with a large, soft applicator blush will work best.

Powdered blushes in assorted shades, or even eye shadows, can be used to further enhance the shading and highlighting. Always choose colors that are neutral or skin toned, and, for shading, use flat rather than shiny, shimmery, satin or sparkly. The size of the applicator brush should coincide with the size of the area you are covering. For large areas, such as the forehead or jaw line, use a big, soft, bushy brush. For medium areas, such as the temples or cheeks, a medium-sized brush will suffice (about the size of the brush that comes with most drug store packaged blush). For small areas, such as around the eyes or nose, use a small brush meant for eye shadow application. When using powders, sponge or cotton tipped applicators do not work as well, and should be avoided in favor of soft-haired brushes. Bristles of natural fibers tend to cover more evenly than those made up of synthetic fibers.


As stated above, it is best to set aside some time to practice and experiment with these techniques before adding them to your regular routine. Everyone's face is different, so the techniques outlined here are only guidelines for you to pick and choose from, and to experiment with in order to achieve the look you desire. It may take you some time to get just the right touch, angle, or shade, but with persistence you will eventually be successful and the technique will become second nature.

Begin with plenty of time, a fresh face, and a well-lighted mirror. Make sure you have cleaned, dried and moisturized your face well, and that your hair is secured back and out of the way. Your mirror should be large enough for you to see all of your face at once, and your face should be lighted evenly from the front (not from the back or an overhead light). If you don't have a well lighted bathroom mirror, you can set up a mirror by an open window on a bright day, or at a table in which two lamps with 40 watt soft bulbs are placed on either side (a lamp on only one side will create an imbalance of shadowing, and you will not be able to tell if you are applying the make-up evenly).


The whole point of the techniques of shading and highlighting is to add or subtract contour to the features. Use shadow to create to recede, to narrow or to sharpen features. Use highlights to bring out, to widen or to soften features.

Shading: Start by applying the darkest color foundation to the area. The more you blend the edges, the less sharp the definition will be. Finish by applying foundation that matches your own skin coloring, either lightly over the shaded area (for a much subtler look), or around the area, blending at the borders. For further shadowing, after applying translucent powder, brush the area with a darker neutral or skin-toned blush or eye shadow. Do this by lightly running the brush over the color, tapping out the excess on a tissue, and lightly brushing it onto the area, working from the edge or center outward.

Highlighting: Apply the white or lightest color foundation to the area. Blend lightly in the center of the application, and more thoroughly as you work your way outward. Use the foundation that matches your skin tone color to blend around the edges (never go over lighter areas with a darker foundation; you'll just cover it up). Brush with a translucent powder.

Which areas you work on and whether you'll need to highlight or soften them will depend on the shape of your own face. If you don't see the exact effect you want listed here, apply the basic techniques.


TO CAMOUFLAGE A DOUBLE CHIN: Study the chin in the mirror. Shut off your make up light, turn on an overhead light, and make mental note of where the natural shadow of the chin falls on the neck, and how it curves. Turn on your make up lights again and tilt your chin up. Find the edge of where the chin bone and jaw bone end, and the excess skin begins to puff out. Using a clean applicator sponge and your darker foundation, draw a line on the underside of that edge. Begin to pull down the dark color in short, quick strokes and work into the neckline, fading it out around the curve where the natural shadow falls on the neck under most lighting situations. Blend lightly around the jaw line, just enough so that it doesn't look like a line was painted on. You want it darkest there, but as if it were a natural shadow, not colored in. Apply your skin-tone matching foundation on your face as usual, ending at your shaded line. Apply translucent powder. Take a large blush brush and some dark, neutral colored blush and sweep it across the area under the jaw.

TO DEEPEN CHEEK BONE STRUCTURE: Take your dark color foundation and sponge applicator. Suck in your cheeks and find the line that goes from your mouth to your ear. Just under the edge of the line, from close to the ear to the deepest indent (a little more than midway to your mouth), draw a dark line of make up. Relax your cheeks. Blend by pulling the color down with a clean applicator sponge in short, quick strokes. Take your fingers and find the top of the cheekbone, just under the outside corner of the eye socket and beneath the temple. Place a dab of white or light color foundation along that line and blend outward until it fades. Apply your skin matching foundation over the rest of your face, avoiding the highlighted area. If you feel the shaded area is too dark, you can use a light coating of your skin matching foundation to blend it further. When applying blush, use a small blush brush to smooth a dark color only on the contour line, then use your regular color on the apples of your cheeks (the rounded front parts when you smile). You can leave the highlighted area as is, or you can apply a very light translucent or shimmery blush over it.

TO WIDEN A JAW LINE: If you feel your jaw is too narrow, apply white or light foundation to the edges of the jaw line from under the ear lobes to where your chin begins (usually, just under the point where your mouth ends when you are not smiling). Blend well around the edges.Apply translucent powder. Avoid using dark blush, or brushing any color onto the lower part of the face.

TO WIDEN A FOREHEAD: Apply a dab of white to the temples, just over the broadest part of the face. With a clean make up sponge, blend upward and into the forehead with a clean make up sponge. Apply translucent powder. Do not use any dark colors on the top half of the face.

TO NARROW A FOREHEAD: Use the same technique as above for widening foreheads, only use dabs of darker colored foundation rather than white. Finish up by brushing your blush into your temples and sweeping it over your forehead.

TO NARROW A BROAD NOSE: Take some dark foundation on the tip of a sponge applicator. Rub it in a circular motion on the back of your hand just to get the excess off the sponge. Carefully make circular motions around the edges of the nose, from around the bottom edge of the eye socket and down to the nostrils, and, if desired, over the nostrils. Apply skin matching foundation to the bridge of the nose, and blend into the cheeks from where the shading ends. When applying blush, apply light colors, or apply farther from the nose.

TO SHORTEN A LONG NOSE: At the circular tip of the nose, apply a light dab of dark colored foundation and blend well, being careful to avoid the nostrils, drawing it half-way up the bridge until fading. Along the upper lip line, apply white or light colored foundation and blend upward. Use matching colored foundation to cover remaining areas and brush the face with translucent powder.

TO NARROW THE GAP BETWEEN WIDE-SET EYES: Apply some dark color foundation to the tip of a sponge applicator and rub it into the back of your hand to blend. Begin to rub it along the inner side of the eye along the part where the bridge of the nose begins to widen. Do this on both eyes, checking occasionally to ensure it is even. Use the darker eye shadow colors with an applicator brush to make a shadow along the crease of your eyelid. Start on the inside of the eye, making the shadow on the upper, or outer, side of the lid. As you run it across the lid, finish by directing the shadow deep into the crease (rather than staying on the outside of it). Repeat with both eyes, checking for evenness.

TO RAISE LOW EYEBROWS: After tweezing, apply the white or light color foundation to the upper lid, from the crease to the eyebrow. Apply a dark eye shadow along the lower lash line, not going all the way up to the crease.

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