It seems pretty straightforward, right? Throw on a little contour with a dusting of highlighter and bam — chiseled cheekbones. If only it were that simple. Sure, contour and highlighter are key components in making your cheekbones pop, but how you apply, where you apply, and the other products you use are just as important.
For some insider tips and tricks on making your cheekbones look flawless, we hit up a few celebrity makeup artists who were happy to share their best advice.
A Prepped Face is a Happy Face
It’s often an overlooked step, but a clean and moisturized face will provide the best canvas for your makeup — including your highlight and contour.
“The most important stage of applying makeup is prepping the skin,” says Geoffrey Rodriguez, a celebrity makeup artist whose clients include Victoria Beckham, Emma Watson, and Blake Lively. “I like to cleanse with an oil-based cleanser and use a face flannel to gently remove the cleanser and any dry skin, followed by massaging in a refreshing toner or skin mist to hydrate and stimulate circulation, and lastly massage in a nourishing face serum.”
Only once your face is prepped should you move on to foundation (should you desire) and then your cheeks.
Place Product Strategically
“For Poppin cheekbones, apply foundation that is exactly your skin shade,” says Andrea D. Charles, celebrity makeup artist to stars like Tyra Banks, Gabriel Union, and Demi Moore. This may require a sheerer formulation or it may require mixing a couple shades to find your perfect match.
Next, she says you can use either bronzer or a foundation stick that’s two shades darker than your complexion as contour. “Apply just below the cheekbones, then gently blend into foundation and set with a loose powder. Next, apply the highlighter at the top of the cheekbones,” she says.
Careful application is important, otherwise, you can end up contouring your face in an unflattering way. It may help to pucker your lips to accentuate the hollows and peaks of your cheeks. Another great tip is to start your brush at the hairline and drag it down toward your lips. This allows more product at the top than at the bottom, which looks much more natural.
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Use a Light Hand
Our makeup artists all agreed: less is more when it comes to making your cheekbones pop. “My preference is to opt for a more natural, not overly-contoured look, so I like to use highlighter sparingly,” says editorial makeup artist Maddie North. “Just apply highlighter in parallel lines to the cheek hollow for the best effect.”
It’s All About That Blush
Blush is North’s go-to product for accentuating cheekbones.
“You’ll want a slightly darker shade to create the illusion of more sculpted cheekbones,” she notes. “It’s key to find a shade that works best for you, so experiment with different colors to find what suits you. When in doubt, you can’t go wrong with NARS Orgasm, $30. It’ll give you a rosy pop of color that makes the whole face look fresh.”
Rodriguez agrees on the blush front.
“I love a vibrant color — usually a bright peach or pink on the apples of the cheeks brushed slightly inward toward the nose, with minimal contouring done starting from the very base of the cheekbones, from the hairline inward,” he says. “This creates a more natural and subtle sculpting to the face, and the result is more youthful and radiant.”
Hot Highlighters Our MUAs Swear By
We made sure to get some must-try highlighter recommendations from each of the makeup artists we spoke to. Here are their favorites.
Tarte’s Tarteist Pro Glow Liquid Highlighter, $29, is Rodriguez’s absolute favorite formula. He says, “The creamy texture mixes beautifully with concealer and foundation, and it wears wonderfully on the skin.”
Flesh’s Flesh To Flesh Highlighting Powder, $28, which launched in June 2018, is one of North’s new favorites. “It’s a cream-like powder that applies so easily to give a little color to the cheeks. I love the shade options,” she says.
Marc Jacobs Dew Drops Coconut Highlighter, $44, “gives a beautiful and natural highlight and a little dose of skin care,” says Charles.
Now go and slay your cheekbones!