Contour Makeup Techniques (Lowlights and Highlights)
A good alternative for makeup bronzers is to use it for contour shaping of the face which is what many makeup artists use to contour for professional photography makeup. Contours are used to shape the face and to play up or down facial features. For professional photography makeup, the heavy, oil based pancake makeup covers all flaws and discolorations, but it also tends to make the face appear flat and wide, particularly with the bright lights professional photographers use (and on fashion runways and stage); it washes out your features and lightens up all shadows, so applying contours (lowlights and/or highlights) is essential to achieve depth and dimension to your face and facial feature correction can be done at the same time. You can utilize the same techniques for everyday makeup or for special events but on a lesser scale so it doesn’t look artificial. Contours should be very carefully blended so they are not obvious. You don’t want to look like you have a racing stripe under your cheekbones. Use gentle zigzag or circular motions to blend the edges well so the edges fade into your foundation. You can play with light and dark shadows to minimize or emphasize features and alter the shape of your face. Remember the principal that dark shades make objects recede or look smaller, and light shades make objects appear larger or come forward. Just don't overdue it. To make sure the shadows look right, test a technique, then take a digital photo of yourself to check the results since it can be hard to determine in a mirror.
Contour Lowlights (darker shades):
Use bronzer one to two shades darker than your foundation. Contours can be used to shape the cheek bones, forehead, nose, chin, as well as creating a more exotic look for eyes.
To enhance cheek bones and make them more prominent and full, apply bronzer just under the cheekbones (and a highlighter to the top of cheekbones if desired for better results). Brushing bronzer from the hairline near the area where the ear attaches at the top, the contour should follow the line of your cheek bones, just under the bone (if you sucked your cheeks in, it would be the hollow area), and fade to nothing approximately two finger widths away from the corner of your mouth. Be careful not to get contour shadows on the jaw line and avoid angling the shadow downward toward your chin which results in a frowning look to the face. Blush should be applied as normal on the apples of the cheek starting in the center of the fattest part and blended back and up into contours so the two blend slightly. Don't over do it and take care not to get blush close to your eyes or nose which will result in a sunburned look. The blush color should be a light color and add just a healthy glow to your cheeks. If your face is very wide and full or cheekbones too prominent, you can play with shadows to downplay the width by lightly dusting the sides of your face with bronzer, concentrating the most color in the middle and fading upward and downward, then apply a bit deeper shade of blush than your skin would normally blush to, placed just slightly more to the outside of the apple, blended up and out toward temples. When applying shadows to cheekbones or sides of your face, use care not to pull the shadow over your jawbone which will make your jaw look like it disappears into your neck and lose jawline definition. This is one of the biggest mistakes I see girls do in my makeup classes. And be sure to pull color into your hairline so you won't have a pale strip that stands out. Also see tips under Hair catagories for styles that help alter or camoflage facial shapes.
To slim a wide nose, apply contour shadows on each side of your nose, blending carefully. Adding a thin line of highlighter down the center of your nose will slim it even more. Applying a slight shadow directly over the sides of just your nostrils will diminish the size of them. Just a touch of color is all that's needed to make a difference. When I show this trick to girls in my classes, they are amazed at the difference when we compare the side with the slight shadow and the one without. Placing a spot of bronzer to the center of the nose or bridge will help disguise a prominent bump. Place a little shadow just under the tip of the nose to shorten a long nose.
If you have a wide forehead, apply a light bronzer to each temple and blend well up and into the hairline. This will create a shadow effect causing the head to look more rounded and make your forehead appear narrower. If your forehead is high, place the shadow at the top of forehead near the hairline (and into the hairline) and blend well downward. For a large forehead (wide and high) place the shadow in a ‘C’ shape starting at the center of the forehead at hairline and sweeping across and downward along hairline into temple area. If you have sharp angles to your forehead (as with square or diamond shape faces), soften the angular areas by applying shadows on them into the hairline. For heart shape faces with large foreheads, dust bronzer all along the hairline, fading as you get to the temples.
To shorten a long chin, place bronzer on the tip of chin to shorten it or round out a pointy chin. For a broad chin, minimize it's width by placing a touch of shadow to either side of the center point of chin. To minimize a double chin, lightly apply bronzer just under the jaw line and blend it down, fading towards your neck. If you just have a little extra fat under your chin, lightly dusting bronzer on the fatty part will help disguise it.
Bronzer applied at the outer corner of the eye going upward toward the temple will give the eyes a more exotic, cat eye look. This should appear as an extension of your eye shadow for the correct application with the two blended together carefully.
Contour Highlights (lighter shades):
Highlights are a shade or two lighter than your foundation that can be used to either correct facial features or add radiance to your complexion. Using a highlighter over your foundation high on your cheek bones will give a dewy, youthful, glowing effect to your face and can create fuller, more prominent cheek bones. Dot the highlighter along the highest part of your cheekbones, beginning about the center of your eyes and up and out toward hairline, blending carefully with a patting or stippling motion. Highlights are best to use instead of lowlights if you have a very long or narrow face and want to widen it. Placing the cheek bone highlights more horizontal will help widen your face and you can apply a bit of highlight along a weak or narrow jawline to help widen or define it. Contour brow bones or eyelids to make them look radiant and stand out. Highlighter placed in a V shape between your brows and blended well can also create a radiant glow to your face and help a small forehead look larger. To utilize highlights for other facial corrections: putting a strip of highlight down the bridge of the nose will make a small nose look larger or longer. To make a small chin appear larger, apply highlighter to the center of the chin, directly under the center of the lip. Pearly highlighter can be placed in your décolleté as well for luminescence. You can add a drop of it to your normal foundation to brighten up your makeup or select areas to highlight. For pearl or luminescent highlighters, choose one with gold (for warm skin tones) or pink (for cool skin tones) and it should be lighter than your foundation by only one or two shades. Avoid using white tones to highlight since it can look severe, and on darker skin it will appear ashy. Also note that when correcting facial features with these techniques, you don't want to make too many corrections to all areas for everyday makeup. It may look ok for the stage but will look clownish up close. Select the feature you most want to play up or down and concentrate on that area instead of all over your face.
Professional Photography Makeup Foundation and Basics
For foundation, the industry favorite is the tried and true "Pancake" oil based makeup since it is heavy and covers everything depending on how thick you apply it. I instruct the girls to apply heavier in the center of your face where blotchiness and redness is most prominent and 'sweeping' the remainder toward the hairline and under jaw. You want to make sure all traces of redness, blotches, blemishes, undereye circles, etc. are erased. I prefer the 'stippling' method of applying pancake makeup with a sponge for best coverage and finish. Putting a thin layer over eyelids helps remove any darkness or redness so eyeshadow goes on true to color, really opens eyes and assists in blending makeup. The heavier the foundation is applied, the more powder it will hold and should be powdered well (with translucent powder so as not to change your foundation shade). Eyelids especially need extra powdering so they don't crease up under hot lighting. After powdering your foundation, you would then want to apply all your contours needed as described above and then put on blush which goes on the apples of cheeks and blended back into cheek contours. See the catagory on "Makeup Tips" for proper placement of blush and color choices as well as eye makeup tips. You can then apply whatever eye makeup look desired but keep in mind that with professional photography, stage, runway and TV, the lighting is very strong so you have to compensate by applying makeup heavier, darker and define your features more. Lips should always be lined so your lip line does not disappear in the bright lighting. It takes a little practice and experimenting to determine just how much more makeup you should wear with extra lighting. If you are interested in commercial work, television use to always use the traditional pancake makeup, but with the creation of High Definition TV and the amount of detail it shows, pancake makeup will be too obvious now and I would expect TV to move to airbrushing stage makeup for a more perfect finish. That doesn't mean you should go out and purchase an airbrush machine for your makeup-they are very expensive, most TV stations will probably have one on hand for doing makeup.