There are lots of crazy contouring tutorials out there, but if marking up your face like an art project doesn’t appeal to you, don’t fret—you can still get a sculpted look with a more natural, real-life finish. One of the trickiest features to get right? The nose. Go too far, and it can look like you tried to contour your nose, which is the opposite of what you’re going for.
There is no one-size-fits-all technique since it depends on the shape of your nose and what your desired result is, but there are a few general tips you can keep in mind. To help us avoid joining the ranks of contour casualties, we asked celebrity makeup artists to show us exactly how it’s done.
Learn How to Contour Your Nose From Makeup Artist Matin
Meet the Expert
- Matin is a celebrity makeup artist and non-toxic beauty advocate, with clients among the likes of Angelina Jolie, Rebel Wilson, Awkwafina, and more.
- Mario Dedivanovic is a renowned celebrity makeup artist and founder and CEO of Makeup By Mario. He is also Kim Kardashian's trusted friend and beauty guru.
Keep reading to learn how to contour your nose like a pro.
Know What Contouring Does
Before you dive into YouTube videos on how to make your nose look like Kim K's, it's important to know what contouring does for the face. "Nose contouring cinches the most pronounced feature of the face and for some people, it can make them feel more confident if they’re insecure about the shape or size of their nose," says Dedivanovic. "Be careful in the daylight, however, as a contoured nose really looks best under lights or for photos."
Choose the Right Contour Product
Surprisingly, Matin advises against contouring with bronzer, since bronzer is often formulated with a warmer hue, which may not look like a natural shadow on all skin tones. Instead, he recommends looking for something (like a brow product) with a more neutral, grayish hue, which looks more like a natural shadow than bronzer.
However, Dedivanovic recommends a cool-toned or neutral bronzer that’s one to two shades darker than your skin to help create a softly sculpted shadow. "My SoftSculpt Bronzer ($28) and E 3 Makeup Brush ($22), will help achieve a natural-looking result. The bronzer formula is super lightweight and buildable and won’t require a lot of blending or fussing, making it easier to perfect this technique," he says.
Try to avoid creams as it can get tricky (or muddy) to blend properly, especially when setting with a powder after.
Connect the Dots
Rather than drawing a line on either side of the nose, Matin recommends drawing a series of dots. Once you have a few dots lined up vertically on either side of the nose, smudge them together (vertically), which tends to create a more natural cast than a harsh line. Be sure to perform this step on both sides of the bridge of your nose.
"Apply right below the inner brow. The closer you are to the bridge of the nose with the bronzer, the more cinched the effect will be," adds Dedivanovic. "A small fluffy brush made for targeted areas will ensure that there aren’t dark, harsh lines running down the nose."
Contour the Tip
"To make the tip look more sculpted, you can just add a little bit of contour [to the tip of the nose]. Think of contour as a shadow, not as a color or as a bronzer," says Matin. "You should not be able to see lines or any type of redness."
Dedivanovic likes to blend with a translucent powder to further diffuse the product.
Dedivanovic recommends sculpting the nose after bronzing and contouring the rest of the face. "This helps me gauge how much or how little product is needed on the nose, or if I even need to contour at all. Sometimes I will just add a touch of product to warm up the center of the face," he says.
Intensify the Color
If the look of a natural shadow is a bit too subtle for you, Matin suggests retracing the lines you created in steps one, two, and three with powder contour. Just remember to go little by little. It's much easier to apply more contour than it is to erase excess product.
For his final step, Dedivanovic uses a highlighter down the bridge of the nose with a smaller brush to thin out the center and create a contrast against the shadows.
No matter your skin tone, Dedivanovic says that anyone can contour their nose. "If you have super deep skin, focus on highlighting the bridge versus creating depth with contour along the sides and you’ll achieve a similar result," he says. Haven't mastered the art of contouring just yet? Practice, practice, practice. "I don’t think nose contouring should necessarily be an everyday technique since it takes a bit of practice to achieve a more natural, softly sculpted look," says Dedivanovic.
How do you blend contour makeup?
Once you've applied the makeup to your face, you can blend using a foundation brush or a blending sponge, patting until the two shades blend together and the look isn't quite so severe.
What kind of makeup should you use to contour?
You can either use a contour palette or a light foundation or concealer paired with a darker (i.e. bronzer-like) shade for definition. Contour kits make the job very easy and there are several high-quality versions we love.
What parts of the face can you contour with makeup?
You can really contour your entire face, from the forehead to the neck. Makeup artists most often use the contour technique to shape the nose, cheeks and forehead.