Learn how to contour your face just like a pro makeup artist.


No doubt, it's the year of the contour. A trick long-used by professional makeup artists, you can now find countless tutorials on YouTube and a slew of new products on shelves promising to help you create pronounced cheekbones and a sharp jawline with strategically placed shadows and highlights. Thank (or blame) Kim Kardashian, who's turned the involved technique, once primarily used for photo shoots and red-carpet events, into a thing people do on the daily.

Sounds great in theory (who doesn't want cheekbones that could cut glass?), but here’s the problem: If you aren’t a pro—or if you don’t have a team of pros like the Kardashians—contouring can be a tricky method to pull off. One wrong swipe will leave you looking like a multicolored hot mess. (Trust me, even as a beauty editor, I’ve had more failed attempts than successes.) Plus, who really has time for something like that?

Some good news: there's another way.

The most foolproof way to define your face

This subtle alternative from celebrity makeup artist Troy Surratt is quick, easy, and it offers a more natural look than the Kardashian Kontour. How to do it: After you've applied foundation, draw a "W" shape on your face with bronzing powder by sweeping it down one cheekbone diagonally, up to the bottom of your nose, then back down and up the opposite cheekbone. Finish with a stroke across your hairline.

For the most natural-looking results, choose a powder that's just a couple of shades darker than your skin tone and avoid shimmery textures. Says Surratt, “The shadows you create should be matte and the center of your face light and luminous for that J. Lo glow.”

Finish by dabbing a pearly highlighter over the tops of your cheekbones and down the bridge of your nose. Voila—gorgeousness, guaranteed!

Products that make it easy

Ready to try? Use these expert-backed products for flawless results:

Surratt Beauty Artistique Sculpting Brush ($90, sephora.com) The tapered brush head hugs the contours of your face while the super-soft bristles deposit a light dusting of bronzer.

Guerlain Terracotta Bronzing Powder ($53, sephora.com) This cult-fave bronzer is available in seven matte shades; the lightweight formula is buildable yet forgiving.

Charlotte Tilbury Wonderglow ($55, nordstrom.com) Powered by light diffusers, this translucent elixir enhances skin’s luminosity for a spotlight effect.