Contouring Tutorial for Asians

December 12, 2012

I find contouring is particularly challenging for everyday makeup. I have tried different ways of contouring my face over the years, and I have finally figured out a way that enhances my typical Asian bone structure. The reason I said that is because if you are an Asian like me – you would probably realize by now that there are a lot of makeup tricks that work on other races but do not work on Asians/Orientals. That’s because our bone structure, facial features and skin tone are completely different to that of Caucasians, so one solution does not fit all..

To make contouring work, you really need to study your face and this exercise is more important than the amount of tutorials you watch/read. I have made a few generalization of standard Asian features which might apply to some of you.

Cheekbones: Asians generally have a bigger, flatter and wider face (sad but true…) Contouring cheekbones is never a mainstream makeup application as the highest point of our cheekbones is already over the nose bridge. Hands up how many times you have given up a pair of sunnies because it is sitting on your cheekbones rather than on your nose bridge?! Whereas for the Caucasians it is the other way around. The placement of our cheekbone is slightly different too. They are normally more prominent (slightly protruding) on the side of the face (below the temple areas), whereas Caucasians’ cheekbones are more prominent to the front.

Jaw: The gold standard of Asian beauty is that we don’t want chiseled jaws. We want a v-shaped face!

Nose: Kindergarten knowledge! Asian noses are much flatter, lacking of a prominent nose bridge, with a rounder or wider nose tip.

So based on the above ‘general Asian features’, I have put together this contouring tutorial.


Cheekbones: Apply the contouring product starting from the hollow of the cheekbones all the way up to the temples. More product is applied on the side of the cheekbone for a slimmer face effect.

Nose: Apply the contouring product starting from where your eyebrow begins to fake a v-shape for the nose bridge. Bring it all the way down to the bottom of the nose for a more refined nose tip. I also applied a bit of product along the nostrils for a slimmer nose effect.

Jaws: Apply the contouring product starting from the side of your chin up to the cheekbone. More product is applied to the side of the jaws.



Blend, blend and blend. I find that a good blending brush really makes a big difference to the result. Start light-handed, and do not apply too much contouring product in the first place. Start blending within a small area then blend the residual product outward – that way it gives a natural looking gradient of shading.



How much to blend is really your personal perference. I wish my face was that small (see pic)! I just blend the contouring shade to cover the areas covered under my hands.


Final Result:

contouring-tutorial-for-asians-frb-step5Added cream blush to the apple of the cheeks

contouring-tutorial-for-asians-frb-step6BEFORE AND AFTER

Left: With foundation only – my face is looking flat without contouring and highlighting applied.

Right: Final look.


Products Used: Tom Ford Shade & Illuminate Intensity One, with Giorgio Armani Blender brush. Reviews coming soon!



{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenni December 12, 2012 at 2:19 pm

oh i have the blender brush too!! love it!! used it to apply designer lift foundie XD


Reika December 13, 2012 at 12:03 pm

I know. I love this brush so much so I’m seriously considering buying the GA foundation brush!


NeenaJ December 12, 2012 at 2:22 pm

Thank you so much for posting this tutorial! Even though I’m not Asian, my face (while technically oval) is definitely rounded around the cheeks and jawline. I’ve never seen a contouring tutorial like this before and think your methods could really make my features pop. Will be giving this a try over the weekend!


Reika December 13, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Thank you 🙂 I always like to tweak the conventional makeup techniques to make them work for me feature 🙂 Hope it will suit you!


Andromeda December 12, 2012 at 3:11 pm

A v-shaped face might be the gold standard of Asian beauty, but I think you look much cuter the way you are now than if your face was shaped like in the picture where you cover your jaw with your hands. There’s a simple reason for that, your actual face looks a lot more proportionate. Having said that, I do agree your face looks flatter without contouring and highlighting applied.


Reika December 13, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Spot on Andromeda! I agree with you that makeup is all about making your face look proportional and more symmetrical!


elaine December 12, 2012 at 5:59 pm

I think contouring is always a great way to prepare whenever you’re going to have photos taken. Helps you look more 3D especially when you’re being washed out by all that flash! Great tutorial!


Vilde December 12, 2012 at 6:02 pm

Lovely tutorial from you, Reika! So helpful – I might have to pick up the Tom Ford Shade & Illuminate. My wallet will weep, a lot.


Reika December 13, 2012 at 12:13 pm

It’s a great product, and the contour shade works well with my skin tone as it doesn’t make me look muddy.


Ginger December 12, 2012 at 6:59 pm

I’m Turkish but I would do everything just to have ”1” of the Far-Eastern features. We Caucasians look more beautiful if our lids tend to be mono -like Jennifer Lawrence. I simply don’t believe you deal with contour etc. thing:) You look like a doll illustration but real at the same time!!


Reika December 13, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Thank you for the kind comment 🙂 I love Jennifer Lawrence. Yes I agree with you that some Caucasians look beautiful with hooded eyes.


Kay December 12, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Thank you for this excellent tutorial on contouring for Asians! The contoured face looks a lot more chiseled and sophisticated but I must say I love the uncontoured face also as you look younger and fresher. I think it’s all about the look you want to achieve and can pull off. I’ve been trying contouring and although I have a round face, I think it’s not a great look for me — perhaps because I am older and the overall fresher look trumps the perfectly shaped face.


Reika December 13, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Agree Kay – it’s all about how comfortable you are with the look. I’ve been using the same makeup technique to my face for years! I’m sure you look great with/without contouring 🙂


Jane December 12, 2012 at 10:51 pm

Thank you for this! I have been struggling with trying to contour my face as my features are not very prominent and rather flat. Other tutorials have not led me to results that I want simply because their face structure is different from mine. Thanks again!


Yishan December 12, 2012 at 10:54 pm

What a great tutorial, thank you!! I’m glad to know that I’m doing it right, despite having to figure it out on my own based on altering other contouring techniques to suit my face shape. I’ve shared your blog post on my Twitter @beautyswatch!


Reika December 13, 2012 at 12:18 pm

Thank you so much for the tweet 🙂


SF December 13, 2012 at 1:03 am

Thanks for doing the tutorial! Can you do a tutorial on your eye make up?? thanks!


Reika December 13, 2012 at 12:18 pm

It’s on my to-do list 🙂


HW December 13, 2012 at 5:35 am

Thank you so much for this amazingly helpful tutorial! All of your explanations and photos are wonderful. I, too, have struggled with contouring my typically Asian features, and it’s great to know what’s worked for you. That palette from Tom Ford’s been on my wish list for ages; I think this just might make me take the plunge. What kind of cream blusher did you use, if you don’t mind me asking?


Reika December 13, 2012 at 12:19 pm

The cream blush is by Nars multiple tint Cadaques.


Elaine December 13, 2012 at 6:36 am

Great post… I am also into contouring & highlighting for the past few weeks after admiring some Korean celebrities with very sharp features…. *lol


Reika December 13, 2012 at 12:20 pm

The Korean celebs’ makeup always look flawless yet sooo natural!


lyn December 13, 2012 at 6:38 am

Thank you for such a fab tutorial! I must try this as I’m having trouble contouring my fat face 😉


Debby December 13, 2012 at 7:13 am

Thank you so for sharing such useful tips! I just followed your tutorial today and it worked!


Reika December 13, 2012 at 12:21 pm

Thank you, I’m so glad to know that!


Helen December 13, 2012 at 11:30 am

One of the best contour tutorials I’ve seen!


Reika December 13, 2012 at 12:21 pm

aww..thank you so much!


Jeslynj December 13, 2012 at 4:42 pm

Great pictures and explanation. I’m going to try this. It might just work for me…i’ve been asked several times if I’m have half asian 😉 But as mentioned, it’s about the look you want to achieve and what works for you.


Petrina December 13, 2012 at 8:40 pm

Love this post! So true esp re the cheekbones and my sunnies ALWAYS sit on them sometimes leaving a mark yuk. Will be experimenting as soon as bub allowse more than 3 hours sleep a night!!


faye lu December 14, 2012 at 12:32 pm

ahhhmazing post! love the ‘where to apply’ pictures. it’s only in the last year (after almost 10 years of wearing makeup) that i have become slightly obsessed with the art of contouring – it takes a little bit more time and more effort when getting ready … but makes the biggest-but-still-subtle difference. i have a traditional asian flat nose .. but with a little contouring .. gives it that lil boost =)


Raelene K. December 14, 2012 at 3:39 pm

i’ve never commented, but I just had to leave a comment for this genius post!

Also, love your blog so much, wish you’d blog more often!


Rainy Days & Lattes December 14, 2012 at 11:38 pm

That is an amazing tutorial! I am so amped to try it. Thanks so much! And you look so soo pretty =)


Edith December 26, 2012 at 5:38 am

Great tutorial indeed! Thank you Reika! I’ve always love the contact lenses you wear, which ones are these?
Thanks 🙂


Reika December 27, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Hi Edith the lenses are called glamour brown by NEO.


Kristine January 4, 2013 at 8:09 pm

Reika, thanks so much for this!!!

What are you using as contour here?

I have struggled my whole life with getting contour down, and I have NEVER been able to get the right contour color. It always looks too brown, grey or taupe to look natural. I’m the same skin color as you (armani silk foundation #4) so I am going to copy exactly what you have done here.


Tatiane February 18, 2013 at 6:26 pm

I just found your site and have to say: It’s unfair, everything looks gourgeus on you!
I loved this post, I love that you are able to use make up and look so simple and glamorous at the same time, please teach us!
Sorry for my bad english


Mandy February 22, 2013 at 4:19 pm

Hi Reika, what a lovely post!! I love highlighting & contouring too; I do it almost everyday. Good to check in with a fellow Asian on techniques etc. So glad I found your blog! xx


Winnie February 24, 2013 at 3:46 pm

So helpful thanks for putting it together Reika!

Can easily see the before and after, yet its super subtle. Such a wonderful / useful post! xo


Laura April 4, 2013 at 11:58 pm

Love this post. Thank you for the pictures and explanations. I am half Chinese and half German/Scottish and I haven’t settled into a specific contouring routine. I just recently acquired the Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder and I think I’ll try this out on my very typical “Asian” face. 🙂


Debby April 25, 2013 at 8:16 pm

Just used the same product and followed your tutorial today, and the result was flawless. Thanks, Reika!


Reika April 30, 2013 at 3:19 pm

Thanks for letting me know! I’m glad it worked for you 🙂


Lily June 5, 2013 at 1:19 pm

Thanks for the tutorial Reika! I have a rather silly question – what brush do you use to pick up the products originally? I dont have the Tom Ford set but have a similar Nars duo and just wondering what to use to pick up the products 🙂 thanks!


Lilian Hii June 23, 2013 at 9:09 am

Hi Reika, I love your contouring tutorial! I just starting to follow you. U r such a great blogger! Love ur Chanel bags btw. I hope you could be my shop buddy. It would be nice to have a fren who can shop together.


Sola October 3, 2013 at 3:39 am

Love this tute. Thanks for sharing it!


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