You determine the shape of your face with a few basic measurements. You can just eyeball them in a mirror or a straight-on photograph -- no need to break out the tape measure (although we admit to being tempted). It's all about how the width of your forehead, cheekbones and jawline measure up to one another. Actress Reese Witherspoon, for example, is a good example of a heart-shaped face, which is characterized by a wide forehead, high cheekbones and a pointy chin. Katie Holmes, on the other hand, has a classic, oval-shaped face.
The oval face shape is considered to be the most balanced face shape. Its oval shape means it has a little more length than width. People with oval-shaped faces have foreheads and jaw lines that are the same width, and broad cheekbones, which are the widest part of the face.
But that's just what nature gave you. With a little contouring, you can make a few changes. For example, if you have one of the non-oval face shapes a little skilled contouring can give you a more balanced, oval-shaped appearance.
Contouring also allows you to emphasize -- or de-emphasize, as the case may be -- certain facial features. With a little powder and cream, a few makeup tools and a lot of blending you can define your jawbone, narrow the bridge of your nose, sculpt your cheekbones, slim your forehead or whatever else you may have in mind.
To do the job correctly, you'll need to add highlighter and bronzer to your makeup bag. Be sure to choose products that are one or two shades away (lighter for highlighter and darker for bronzer) from your skin tone for the best and most natural-looking results. Contouring products are used under your makeup, and the key to not looking overdone (or stripy) is to blend well. Highlighting products are used to emphasize or highlight, while contouring colors such as bronzer are used to create shadows that sculpt and slim.
If part of the point of contouring is to achieve that balanced, oval-shaped look -- and it is -- then those with oval-shaped faces have a head-start.
Let's talk about contouring four areas of the oval face: the forehead, the jawline, the cheeks and the nose. First, contouring the forehead. Lightly applying a bronzer along your hairline and around your temples will help shorten a big forehead. Bronzer can also be used to define your chin and jaw and minimize a double chin when applied under the jaw line. Give yourself sculpted cheekbones by using bronzer under your cheekbones and highlighter above the cheekbone (at the highest point of your cheeks). And if you've always wanted to make a few tweaks to your nose, blend a contouring product along the sides of your nose and a highlighting product along the center -- how you blend along the sides of your nose and along the center can give you different results, such as slimming or shortening the appearance of the nose.
The thing to remember here is that, just the way your best friend's lipstick looks amazing on her but somehow off-putting on your own smile, contouring is highly individual -- some of us may sculpt a new look every day while other faces may not need any contouring at all. Oh, and don't forget to blend.