How to Contour Round, Chubby Cheeks

What to do when you’re not 100% sure where your cheekbones are.
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What to do when you’re not 100% sure where your cheekbones are.

The first time I heard of contouring, I immediately thought, “Nope! Not for me!” I dismissed it super-fast because my makeup routine already seemed complicated and long enough. 

And as for these chubby cheeks that I’ve been rocking since I was born? There’s no "fixing" this! It didn’t help, either, that a lot of experts who demonstrate contouring use models who already have sky-high, razor-sharp cheekbones and basically look like they’re tracing already-visible shadows. I can barely find mine when I suck my cheeks in the mirror.

For a while, I saved my best contouring attempts for special occasions and kept everything really, really light, because that’s what you do when you’re not 100% sure where your cheekbones are. 

But everything changed this past Halloween, when, during another contouring attempt, my beau, who is fond of brushes and blending and whatnot, refused to let me out in public with horizontal streaks across my face. According to him, I was holding my brush all wrong and I wasn’t blending it well. Oops. He then proceeded to fix my contour, making me the most confident Wednesday Addams EVER, and he gave me some helpful tips that I didn’t hear too well since I was so busy admiring my new cheeks in the mirror.

Anyway, I’m kind of glad I forgot a lot of his tips because it gave me a reason to experiment on my own and reopen the topic in my brain. So, here are a few tips that have been helping me contour my round, chubby cheeks.

Select the right color.

Since contouring is a fairly recent mainstream beauty trend and production can take a while, cosmetic brands often offer just one or two contouring shades for their customers. Don’t fall into the trap of just buying the shade they offer you. There isn’t one universal contouring color out there. What works for me may not work for you, so it’s worth the time to really find a contour product that’s the right undertone and shade.

Neutrals or cooler shades are often recommended since they mimic natural shadows on our faces. My natural contour is more of a grayish brown, but I worked with a lighter brown when shooting this because I was having second thoughts about how deep to go. As the photo shows, I could definitely go darker next time.

Take the time to find your cheekbones

Yes, my fellow chubby-cheeked people, there are cheekbones there, even though they’re not as prominent as the ones other people have.

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A lot of makeup artists suggest sucking in your cheeks to figure out your contour placement, but since mine has so much surface area, I still wasn’t confident when using this trick. Instead, what I do is I smile in the mirror, and find the highest point of my smile. I use that as a guide and make sure to put my contour just below it (where my cheek mound is). I also have this weird slight shadow on my cheek where my cheekbones supposedly are that I sometimes follow, but honestly, I had no idea why I had that shadow before.

Be picky about your tools

Wearing Gerard Hydra-Matte Liquid Lipstick in Serenity.

Wearing Gerard Hydra-Matte Liquid Lipstick in Serenity.

I love an angled, flat contouring brush because it lets me get very precise about the contour I create. I use a Sonia Kashuk one from a gift set, and it's amazing. Angled blush brushes, on the other hand, give me a bigger, more blurred contour since there are so many bristles. For my chubby cheeks, I prefer the former since I really want to get a nice edge to my contour. I’m creating cheekbones out of nothing, people!

My updated contouring technique

Remember, the goal is to create a triangle that points toward the mouth area. The line below the slope should be the longest side, and the side by the hairline should be the shortest. For rounder faces, the contour should be more vertical than horizontal since that’ll help elongate the face.

The round face I’m going to be working on.

The round face I’m going to be working on.

After I determine my contour placement and load up my brush with product (tapping away the excess, of course), I align my brush with my hairline.

Notice how I’m holding the brush vertically.

Notice how I’m holding the brush vertically.

Then, I drag my brush across my cheeks toward my lips, stopping an inch or so away. As I drag the brush, I slowly release pressure so my contour gets lighter as it approaches the center of my face/mouth.

Adding the finishing touches to the triangle.

Adding the finishing touches to the triangle.

I also angle my brush to help the contour look more triangular.

Next, I blend over the contour, starting from the hairline, in circular motions.

After some blending.

After some blending.

I don’t blend too much back and forth or horizontally when using this technique since I don’t want the contour to be too long.

Lastly, I add blush, blend, and then add a highlight.

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The final look...

contouring hero.jpg

Aside from wishing I used a darker contour color, I really think I'm getting the hang of contouring.

  • Has anyone recently started feeling confident about their contouring skills?
  • Do you have chubby cheeks? Do you contour them differently than this?