I’m learning… how to highlight and contour (or HACing)

December 16, 2013
Yes, this is a beauty technique that MUAs have been applying for years, but as a true beauty novice, I’m just getting to grips with it.
I’ve been blessed with what my sister lovingly calls an egg-shaped face.  And by that I mean an upside down egg, with the smaller pointy bit being my chin.
While I would always choose this slightly plumped youthfulness over a gaunt face, it has meant that I lack strong bone structure, apart from my cheekbones.
So anyway, I never really knew where to apply my blusher.  Go straight for the apples or just shade in a hacking motion under my cheekbone??
When I was getting married a number of makeup artists highlighted me like a pro, but I never thought that I could emulate that look myself.  Nor did I think it would be an appropriate look for the daytime.
However, I’ve recently been looking at highlighting and contouring tutorials, and it’s actually a lot simpler and quicker than I thought.  So here’s how it works:
The tools you need:
  • Bronzer (or a brown-tan blusher)
  • Highlighter (you can use benefits Moon Beam or a similar liquid highlighter.  I’ve been using Vie
    at Home Duo highlighter.  The golden end is just like moon beam, only cheaper)
  • Blusher – in a slightly muted, but rosy tone
  • BBC or CC cream
  • An angled blusher brush
  • A round blusher brush
Notice something great about this product list – no foundation or moisturiser required!!!

The highlight and contour process is simple

Start by applying a BB or CC cream as a base.  I’ve been using Manuka Doctors ApiRefine CC cream as it has a light, brightening base (read my review of Manuks’a CC cream here).
You then want to use your slanted blusher brush to apply the bronzer on the part of your face you want to shade.  This is usually under your cheekbones, on either side of your nose (unless you have a very slim/sharp nose), and around the hairline on your forehead (you can skip this if you have a small forehead.  Don’t worry about these areas looking dark, the highlighter will balance this out.
Next comes the highlighting. For this I usually mix the CC cream with the highlighter.  But be sparing with the highlighter or you could end up looking to shimmery and glittery.  I would say apply two parts CC cream to one part highlighter.
You want to highlight the areas you want to stand out.  So typically it’s your cheekbones, under your eyes, along the centre of your nose, the centre of your chin, on your brow bone and just above your lip, on the cupids bow.
With clever highlighting the light will hit the right areas of your face, make you glow, and give your face some shape.

Keep the blusher light

The last thing to apply is blusher.  Apply sparingly to the apples of the cheeks.  With highlight and contour, you want to keep this colour soft and muted, otherwise it can look too harsh.  I use Mac’s Dolly mix blush.
For a day look, keep the rest of your makeup simple.  Natural or toned down lips and eyes.  For an evening look, you can experiment more.
See my attempt at highlight and contour (HACing) below:
Highlighting and contouring with CC cream, blusher and bronzer
My attempt at HACing
It takes a bit of practice, and I am still most definitely learning.  I think the key with a good highlight and contour is the blending.  You don’t want to end up with swatches of different colour on your face!
Perfect HACing should be seamless blends of light and shade.
What I really like about the highlight and contour is the fact that you look made up without being heavily made up. It’s amazing to achieve this look without resorting to foundation or even moisturiser.  Because you’re wearing less product, it lasts longer, so you’re left with a picture perfect look for the whole day.
Give it a try, and do share your results.

About the Author


I’m a British-Bengali Muslim mum-of-two. My pictures aren’t filtered and neither are my words. I’m not a makeup artist, chef or lifestyle guru. I’m just me, sharing honest beauty reviews for brown skin, halal restaurant finds, travel inspo, mum life hacks, easy Bengali recipes and more. If that’s your bag, keep reading!

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