How to Contour Pale Skin in 8 Easy Steps
Achieving a perfect—read: natural-looking—contour on pale, porcelain skin can make even the most seasoned makeup pros uneasy. Make no mistake, carving cheekbones and accentuating facial features with contour is no easy feat to begin with, but the difficulty gets amped up a few notches for the paler set. Nobody wants to over-do it and end up looking like a pre-school craft project. But finding a bronzing product that’s not too orange, not too brown, and—believe it or not—not too white is only half the battle. Applying said product properly and blending it just enough to achieve that ever-elusive glow is equally imperative.
Pale girls, we understand your strife. That’s why we’re sharing helpful tips on how to contour for fair skin tones—plus, the best products for the job—below.
STEP ONE: PREP YOUR SKIN WITH PRIMER
First things first, prep your skin with primer. This will help any subsequent products adhere to your skin better and last longer. (We’ve laid out the best primers for every skin type, here.) Once your primer has absorbed, you’re ready to get to your makeup application.
STEP TWO: USE YOUR MATCHING FOUNDATION OR BB CREAM SHADE
To make your contour look as natural as possible, you absolutely need to find a BB cream or foundation that matches your skin tone. Think of foundation and BB cream as a base color: if the base isn’t right, it will throw off everything else. While BB creams can get difficult due to their limited shade ranges, many brands have expanded their foundation ranges to 40+ tones, so it’s easy to find the shade that’s right for you.
STEP THREE: FIND THE NATURAL ANGLES OF YOUR FACE
Since there’s nothing worse than harsh, dark streaks swept along your temples, jawline, and cheeks, you’ll want to listen close to this next part. To find the natural angles of your face, tilt your face in all directions to see where the shadow hits. (When in doubt, suck in your cheeks and follow that line.)
STEP FOUR: APPLY HIGHLIGHTING CONCEALER
Before you get to shadows and defining, you need to apply a highlighting concealer to the areas you want to be highlighted. To do this, you need a concealer that’s 2-3 shades lighter than your natural skin tone. Apply this concealer to areas you want to stand out: your under-eyes, middle of forehead, brow bones, middle of chin, and the bridge of your nose. The key for pale-skinned gals is to not go on too strong. That’s a dead-giveaway that the sculpting is faux.
Blend out the concealer, and then use a translucent powder to set and avoid creasing and greasiness — this process is known as “baking” your face. Let the powder sit as you move on to defining your facial contours.
STEP FIVE: APPLY CONTOUR CONCEALER
Using an angled brush, apply product that’s one shade darker than your natural skin tone and start at the forehead and go along the perimeter of your face. Then trace from the top of your ear and follow along the hollow of your cheek, stopping in the middle. This should create a “3” shape along each side of your face. Then, apply product onto the sides of your nose to give it a slimmer effect.
STEP SIX: DUST OFF TRANSLUCENT POWDER
Don’t think we forgot about the translucent powder — now that you allowed your highlighting concealer to “bake” for a few minutes, you can dust off the translucent powder. Your highlighting concealer should look crease-free, even, and matte.
STEP SEVEN: BLEND, BLEND, BLEND
When you’re ready to blend, sweep a blush brush over the lines in an upward motion—or better yet, use a damp blending sponge. The trick is to blend out the product without completely wiping it away so it creates subtle definition.
STEP EIGHT: USE BRONZER
If you want a more intense contour, use a bronzer to trace over the darkened areas after blending. This is an optional step, so if you want a more subtle look then you can go ahead and skip this.
THE BEST CONTOUR PRODUCTS FOR FAIR SKIN
Be choosy with your product! It might take some trial-and-error, but the end result will be well worth the time spent. If you need a helping hand, here are some of our favorite bronzers and contouring palettes for light skin tones by NYX Professional Makeup.
NYX PROFESSIONAL MAKEUP CONCEAL, CORRECT, CONTOUR PALETTE IN LIGHT
This palette boasts six shades that can help cover up problem spots, even out imperfections, and accentuate features in no time flat. Combine the hues together or wear them solo to create the ideal tone for your skin.
NYX PROFESSIONAL MAKEUP WONDER STICK IN LIGHT/MEDIUM
Contouring has never been easier thanks to this creamy dual-shade contour stick. Apply the lighter shade on the high points of your face, and use a darker shade to gently sculpt your cheekbones, hairline and jawline. Blend it all out—pay close attention to the edges of the lines—and you’re all set!
NYX PROFESSIONAL MAKEUP HIGHLIGHT & CONTOUR PRO PALETTE
Very fair skin tones will love the many options in this palette. The range includes light highlights, as well as warmer tones for sculpting.
NYX PROFESSIONAL STUDIO FINISHING POWDER
This translucent powder is an essential for every contour-obsessed. The loose powder may have a white hue in the jar, but applies sheer and neutral on the skin, making it a great choice for people of all skin tones. It leaves a radiant, luminous look that will be the envy of all of your friends.
NYX Professional Studio Finishing Powder, $10 MSRP