Tips and Tricks for Contouring Dark Skin Tones

by Ivy Boyd

Tips and Tricks for Contouring Dark Skin Tones

While many contouring and highlighting tutorials are aimed exclusively at lighter skin tones, every skin color can benefit from them. Contouring dark skin tones is actually very similar to contouring lighter tones when it comes to technique; you just have to choose the right products and shades. This tutorial will show you how to highlight certain planes of your face, recede others, and select the products you need to get it done properly.


The biggest difference between contouring dark skin tones and light skin tones is selecting the products; the technique is very much the same. If you have dark tones, you’ll want a highlighting powder that won’t leave an ashy, chalky appearance and a contouring powder that is deep enough to create dimension on your skin. The placement will be the same.


African American Cream Contour: Steps 1-2


1. Start with the areas you want to highlight and bring forward. Using a makeup sponge or brush, apply a generous amount of a yellow-toned powder to your chin and jawline, under your eyes, in the center of your forehead, and on the bridge of your nose. Allow this to set or “cook” while continuing to the next steps. A great pro pick is Ben Nye’s Luxury Powder in Banana, Topaz, or Sienna, depending on your skin tone’s depth.


2. Next, sweep a contour powder under your cheekbones, at your temples, around the hairline, and under the jawline. It can be difficult to find contouring powders or palettes that offer shades dark enough to accurately contour with, but the It Cosmetics My Sculpted Face palette offers a nice deep contouring powder as well as the Make Up For Ever Sculpting Kit in shades 3 and 4.


African American Cream Contour: Steps 3-4


3. Using a smaller brush, like an eye shadow brush, lightly apply contour powder to your nose for a slimmer, more defined appearance.


4. After letting it cook a bit, gently sweep the yellow powder from your highlight areas. This will leave just the right amount of powder behind to highlight in a subtle and bright way.


African American Cream Contour: Step 5


5. Finally, apply a golden bronze highlighting powder over your highlight areas for extra oomph. We recommend BECCA Shimmering Skin Perfector in Topaz or Blushed Copper.


For more makeup tutorials from Ivy, check out Wake Up for Makeup.