Chances are you’ve heard of contouring at one time or another, yet you might find yourself never having tried it for yourself or perhaps you’re a seasoned pro. Contouring the face is a widely utilized technique when applying makeup, yet sometimes the method leaves many of us wanting extra help as well as expert advice.
When done properly, contouring can enhance your already beautiful features and bone structure and may prove to be quite transformative. Whether you’re just starting out, or need a refresher course on contouring, one question remains imperative when beginning your journey: How do you go about choosing the right contour shade for your skin tone? Whether you’ve been doing deep dives on YouTube tutorials or are just beginning to contour, we’ve got you covered. We sourced NYC makeup artist Caroline Baribeau to give us her take on contouring and share tips to get to the bottom of it all. Ahead—our compiled list of tricks and techniques you can use to find the right contour shade.

First off, if you need a basic refresher course on contouring, you’ve come to the right place. To contour the face is to simply darken certain areas that you want to add more definition. The most common areas on the face to contour are your cheekbones, forehead, nose, jawline, even the chin. No matter your face shape, contouring is something you can utilize to enhance, define, or even recede your own facial features, yet it’s certainly not necessary to do every single day.
Paying attention to the color of the shadows on your face is key when choosing the right contour shades to use, and Baribeau suggests using colors that mimic or closely resemble said shadows. Your foundation is a great place to start when beginning your contouring journey. “Think the same tone family as your foundation, but one to two shades darker than your skin; that’s about as dark as you should go. Remember, you can always build a product to achieve the desired result.” Adding a little at a time is great advice for those who need to start with a subtle contour and work their way up to something more definitive.