how to apply contour on dark skin - Raphael Oliver
how to apply contour on dark skin - Raphael Oliver

Makeup Artist

Makeup Artist and Makeup Educator. Teach courses globally.

How To Apply Contour On Dark Skin: Get The Right Color Without Looking Gray

Knowing exactly how to apply contour in dark skin can be very difficult for those who do not have in-depth knowledge in color theory. This quick and accurate guide will teach you exactly how to get great results right now.

Makeup Artist

Makeup Artist and Makeup Educator. Teach courses globally.


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Many doubts arise about how to contour dark skin to return the shape to the face, without graying, keeping perfectly in the tone and undertone of the client.

The contour consists of creating in light and shadow, where the light gives the impression of volume and the shadow of depth. For this purpose, lighter colors are used at the highest points of the face and darker where you want to emphasize the shape, such as the cheek outline for example.

But mistakes can happen in this process and the skin turns orange, gray, etc.

See how to create perfect contours in dark skins and always guarantee the finish you and your client want.

How to apply contour on dark skin?

How to apply contour on dark skin?

The contour is done in the same way for any type of skin according to the shape of the face, what differs, is that for dark skins the use of colors is different, since their color background is already dark / deep.

The biggest challenge is to find color options for dark skin, there are some tricks that, in the life of a makeup professional, are the leap of the cat and make all the difference to suit different skin tones and undertones.

If you don’t have a concealer darker than the client’s skin tone, a lighter concealer can be used to create an inverted outline. This will contrast with the natural tone of the skin, causing the desired effect.

choosing the right shades for contour on dark skin

Choosing the right shades

When trying products for dark skin, such as bases, concealers and powders, be attentive to the tone, in addition to the undertone.

Even dark skins usually have more than one tone on the face and these nuances are very visible. So, where should I try the foundation before applying makeup? Which tone should I match?

The ideal is to combine the face color according to the predominant part of the skin, which can be the neck, arms and / or shoulders. Another important detail is to always try the product on the face and never on the hands, waiting about 5 minutes to see how the product behaves and if there will be oxidation.

All skins have a tone and undertone that can be hot, cold, neutral or olive and you need to be very attentive to it.

A great tip to get around dark skins, is with cold undertone products, whether they are corrective, bases or powders, as they make up the final result better.

where you should apply contour on dark skin

Where you should apply the contour?

In the sides of forehead, nose, cheekbones and jaw.


When it comes to lighting, don’t use tones that are very different from the client’s color, the ideal is to choose colors 2 tones more or less, because the balance makes the lighting not gray and the contour does not mark the skin as traces.

The points of illumination are: below the eyes, top of the nose, center of the forehead, middle of the chin and jaw.

The contour points are: sides of the forehead, sides of the nose, cheekbones and jaw.

Graying the skin is a very common problem for novice makeup artists. When applying the concealer, it suddenly looks gray and the same goes for the illuminator. This has a very simple explanation based on colorimetry: dark with white = gray.

If you have already grayed out some make-up, you have certainly applied a product whiter (lighter) than the client’s skin tone and may have been wrong in the undertone as well.

how to mix products for dark skin

Mixing products

As it is a challenge to find color options for dark skin, a technique that many, if not all makeup artists use is to compose, mix base colors, powders and concealers to arrive at the client’s ideal tone.
This practice opens up several color possibilities and greater chances of getting the composition right, allowing you to dose and create a perfect contour and lighting and you will always know how to contour dark skin in the right way.

how to choose the right hightlighter for dark skin

The highlighter

And talking about lighting, we can not forget the illuminator, which is the icing on the cake, is that final touch that gives the skin glow. In low or high intensity, it is indispensable for a striking makeup.

Just as a dark illuminator stains light skin, a light gray illuminator dark skin.

So avoid silver illuminators, with a white background and even the lightest pink when it comes to lighting a dark skin, in short, avoid the very light and cold tones.

The ideal illuminators for dark skin are bronze and gold, as they are warm colors and a little deeper.

For skin with an olive background, the ideal is to use pink illuminators, but never too bright, always respect the luminosity of the skin.

Where should I apply the highlighter?

Inner corner of the eyes, below the eyebrows, high on the cheekbones and cupid’s bow.

How to setting dark skin after contour

Setting the skin

Dark skin has a tendency to be more oily than the others, so it is extremely important that it is sealed, (at least from the T zone), be it the base contour or concealer. Sealing, the skin is more polished and the makeup much more resistant, also ensuring that the oiliness takes longer to appear.

Sealing the contour and lighting in dark leather is a challenge. Today we find the banana powder that undoubtedly revolutionized the final result of makeup in dark skins, but just like any other product, it is not perfect for all skin tones.

In this case, the ideal is to be able to count on translucent powders, but not the white ones, but the one with a color background consistent with the client’s tone to seal the illuminated part of the skin.

The sealing can also be done with powders of the same color as the skin, also guaranteeing an extra layer of coverage if that is the goal. Check the post about banana powder.

Opt for translucent and yellowish powders for light areas and dark powders, or the same color used for the cream contour.

With these tips on how to contour dark skin, your makeup will be more and more perfect and you will have even more satisfied customers.

After all, serving well and serving everyone is the goal of every makeup artist.

How to avoid the grayish tone in dark skin with the highlighter?

Using dark illuminators according to the client’s skin tone.

Can I use translucent powder on dark skin?

Yes, but it is better to opt for powders that have a little color and avoid extremely white ones.

Is the contour different in dark skin?

No, the technique used is the same for all people, being adapted to different shapes of faces and colors of products.

What is the best product to contour dark skin?

It depends on the type of skin and the desired result. Powders, concealers and bases can be used.

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