Contouring and Highlighting Techniques: Using Letters and Numbers

Contouring and highlighting can be really confusing if you aren’t use to incorporating it into your daily makeup routine. So, here is an easy way to remember where and how you should be contouring and highlighting by using letters and numbers.

easy contouring and highlighter techniques

If you aren’t familiar with contouring and highlighting, it’s basically just sculpting your face using dark and light makeup in specific places of the face. You are simply drawing out and pushing back places of the face to give it more depth and light.

where and how to contour

Using numbers for contouring on your face makes it simple for you to remember. Let me walk you through how to do it.

8- Grab your favorite blush color and makes a circle eight on your face.  Start at the apples of your cheeks and stop about a half inch from your hair line making sure to stay on your cheek bone.

3- Sweep a matte brown contouring color in the shape of a three along the sides of your face. Start at the side of your forehead, sweep it down under the cheek-bone, and then right along the base of your jaw line.

11- Use the number eleven to remember how to contour along the sides of your nose.

7- Start of the outer bottom of your lash-line and sweeping it into the contour of your eyes using a blender eyeshadow brush. When doing this technique, make small little circles so that you blend well.

Where and how to highlight

Highlighting is my favorite technique because it really makes your face look alive.  Here is a way for you to remember where and how to highlight using the shapes of letters.

c- Start above your inner brow and make the shape of a “c” ending under your lower lash line towards the side of you nose. This helps to brighten your under eyes and lift your brow.

q- Make sure to highlight in the center of your forhead and down the center of your nose using the shape of a lower case “q.”

v- Highlight above your lip in the cupid’s bow  in the shape of a “v” to create a fuller lip.

z- For your lower-eyelid,  use a flat eyeshadow brush with a light eyeshadow color and it into your lower-eyelid in the shape of a “z.” Doing this will help you cover your entire lower-eyelid (without flinging product everywhere) and give it dimension with your contouring.

I hope these easy contouring and highlighting tricks help you the next time you are doing your makeup! Have a great day!



note* there is nothing to disclose.

Are you on The List? Join the Citizens of Beauty newsletter for insider events, behind the scenes photos, and exclusive beauty tips and tricks to your inbox!
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.
  • Allison @neversaydiebeauty

    I belong to a group on FB filled mostly with MUAs. Most of them hate the H&C craze primarily because regular women don’t know how to do it correctly. Love this tutorial. It’s fabulous!

  • This is seriously amazing! Thank you for this!! I do have a question for you. I dislike highlighting around my eyes, I have an “indent” (not a scar or dimple) just right above where my eye socket ends, in the middle. If I highlight there, it accentuates it, which does not look good. I’ve just been skipping highlighting there, for now; should I continue to skip eye lighting in that area, or how would I modify my H&C routine?

  • Love this diagram! Very helpful!

  • Norah Salazar

    I use a slightly different approach with contouring but that’s just me and also this really depends on the person’s face.

  • This is such a cool method! Very easy to follow.

  • There’s a secret code in there, isn’t there? 😉 Thanks for sharing this info.

  • wow. game changer 🙂

  • This is an awesome tutorial. Love the diagrams!

  • Cindy Ingalls

    Great post!!!

  • OMG, this all seems so overwhelming but so very cool. Contouring ain’t for this chica but I love watching people do it. Especially the Queens, who are the original contouring masters!

  • Seriously this is AMAZING!!! The tutorial with the numbers is perfect. OMG you just made it sooooo simple and perfect. Love, love, LOVE this!!! Total must read for anyone who ever wondered how to do it right. Gonna be contouring like Kim K shortly.

  • Great tips! I do the figure 8 on my cheeks when I apply blush.

  • This is so helpful! I love seeing the 3 for contour and the C for highlighting.

  • Ange

    Such an awesome way to learn!!

  • Mnemonics For The Win! Great tips, especially for someone like me who is still learning this stuff. I’ve never seen the ‘q’ for highlighting before!

  • Justina

    This is SO useful. Thanks for the great way to remember all of these tricks!

  • great round up of #s and letters for contouring <3

  • FabZilla_Kath

    Who would’ve thought numbers and letters! Now I’m educated w/ makeup application, haha! Great tips mama!

  • I have to remember this one! This is so helpful! I have been using this 3 method for applying my bronzer, but I have to try the rest of them too!

  • Mai

    I love this diagram because it really makes it easy to remember how to contour!

  • Aleya Bamdad

    This is fantastic. Thanks for taking the time to put it together.

  • Awesome tutorial. There are so many people that I know struggle with this and it’s always great to have a great reference.

  • Pink Sith

    OK. This is genius. I’m totally sharing this with my makeup challenged friends that claim they cannot contour or highlight!

  • What a way to teach us. Awesome work Kendra

  • I love that you idiot proofed this for me. Where have you been all my life?!

  • I love these! You are such a genius.

  • Anastasia

    Very helpful pictorial! I really need to amp up my contouring game.

  • Pingback: Highlighting Makeup Tricks to Look Younger!()