How To Contour Pale Skin

Contouring makeup can bring out your face's bone structure while taking the emphasis away from areas you don't like such as a wide forehead or nose. Those with medium-to-dark skin tones have an easier job with both finding the right contouring products and using the products to create a natural, healthy glow. If you have pale skin, contouring can leave you looking orange, muddy and unnatural without the proper product and technique.

Here's how to contour pale skin for a natural look.

What You Need:

  • Contouring product with gray undertone
  • Angled contouring brush
  • Fluffy blending brush
  • Foundation
  • Makeup remover wipes

Step 1: Choose a Contouring Product

Most contouring and bronzing powders in stores are warm with either yellow or orange undertones meant to mimic a natural tan. But those colors only look natural if your face tends to tan in the first place. Naturally pale skin will only look muddy with those tones. Instead, look for a matte light brown contouring product that has cool gray undertones.

Why gray? Look at yourself in the mirror in a room with natural sunlight. See the shadows that fall below your browbone and cheekbones? Those shadows have a gray tone so for you, your contouring is less trying to fake a tan and more trying to fake those shadows. Note that powder products are usually best for those with little experience applying makeup, as they are easier to blend.

Step 2: Practice Contouring

You never want to contour for the first time right before heading to a big event. Practice makes perfect and you should set aside an afternoon to sit in a well-lit room and experiment with your new contouring product.

Use an angled contour brush to swipe gently across the surface of your product. Tap or blot off any excess to keep the layers light. It's easier to add more than to fix an overdose of contouring. Use the brush to first map out the area underneath your cheekbones. If you can't find that spot, make the pursed lip fishy face and that should bring the bones more to the surface. Sweep downward starting at the ear and stop when you're at a place that's about parallel to the iris of your eye. Repeat on the other side. Build additional layers until the cheekbones have more definition without the product being obvious. 

Move on to any other areas of concern. Brush the product  on the sides of your forehead to minimize width and/or at the top of the forehead to minimize height. Softly brush down the sides of a prominent nose. Trace under your jaw bone to make your chin appear stronger. When you've placed the contouring product everywhere you want, go back with a fluffy brush to soften all of the lines.

Step 3: Fixing Mistakes

If you went a bit too heavy with the contouring, apply small dots of your foundation along the mistake and blend it in. This might soften it enough to achieve a natural look without having to start over. Otherwise, you will need to simply use a makeup remover wipe and try again.

If you still can't master contouring pale skin, check with local beauty schools to see if they have open workshops or client days where a student can teach you how to learn the technique at a reasonable price.