Skip the confusion and master the art of the sculpted face.
“Facial architecting” is all the rage in beauty…but what exactly is it? Techniques like contouring, highlighting, luminizing, brightening, and lightening all use light and shadow to enhance your features, but the differences between them and their corresponding products are sometimes a bit hazy. To make it easy for you, I sat down with Sephora PRO team member Julie Taing to decode these hot beauty buzzwords. KATE HELFRICH, SEPHORA COLLECTION SENIOR PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
CONTOURING When someone says she contours, it means she uses makeup to create shadows on her face, making the facial features appear slimmer. This technique is primarily done with matte, neutral tone bronzers in cream, liquid, or powder formulas. Common areas to contour include the nose, the cheeks, the jaw, and even the corners of the eyes. Julie tips, “Use a formula that is one or two shades darker than your natural complexion to add subtle definition.” One of our favorites is the SEPHORA COLLECTION MicroSmooth Baked Sculpting Contour Trio.
HIGHLIGHTING Similar to both luminizing and brightening (more on those below), highlighting uses light-reflecting products to enhance specific facial features. Depending on the look, highlighting is achieved with matte or pearlescent creams, liquids, or powders. Julie says you’d typically use a highlighter on the center of your forehead and under your eyes—the finish will bring your features forward without drawing attention to undesirable details, such as wrinkles. We like Smashbox Halo Highlighting Wand, which allows for super precise application.
LUMINIZING Luminizing is highlighting that draws attention to the high points of your face (i.e., where the sun hits) in a shimmery formula. It adds a dewy radiance to your cheekbones, inner corners of your eyes, bridge of your nose, and Cupid’s bow. Julie says a luminizer can also be used all over your face for soft coverage and an overall glow, “as long as you dilute it with a moisturizer or foundation. Otherwise it can make your skin look too reflective and oily.” A stellar product that gives just the right amount of glow is Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector.
BRIGHTENING Also a subset of highlighting, brightening gives your skin a “totally awake” appearance. Brightening products are typically matte and a shade or two lighter than your natural skintone. The formulas are often creamy or emulsion-based. In essence, brightening is a more subtle way to highlight. This is because the application is less specific—you can apply pretty much anywhere in the center of your face for a radiant effect. The best places to use a brightener are your T-zone, under your eyes, on your temples, and on the tip of your chin. One of our favorites is super easy to use because of its built-in brush applicator: SEPHORA COLLECTION Smoothing & Brightening Concealer.
LIGHTENING Lightening is often confused with brightening, but there is a distinct difference: Brightening refreshes your appearance; lightening makes your skin appear lighter than it naturally is. Oftentimes, lightening is used to color-correct dark spots from sun damage and aging. While certain skin care products can offer more long-term lightening results, liquid complexion products are perfect for a quick fix. If you want to do more than just spot correct, Julie says, “Concentrate most of the coverage in the center of your face for a softer look. Use a formula about half a shade or one shade lighter than your natural skintone.” A great instant lightener is Givenchy Mister Light Instant Light Corrective Pen.