After you've applied foundation, your face becomes something of a blank canvas - and it's up to you to reapply the definition and shape. Craftily, many makeup artists have thought of a way of doing this, which can also be used to re-sculpt most facial insecurities and woes.
Contouring is basically the use of dark (bronzer/contour powder) and light (highlighter) colours to trick your eyes into seeing things that aren't real. Much like in art, dark colours are used to make things seem to sink in, and light colours make things stick out - because it looks like the light is hitting them!
Bronzer is basically the key part of contouring and can be used in tons of different ways to make your face appear more elongated and thinner. Any type of bronzer or contour powder can be used for this - it's recommended you use one approximately two shades darker than your skin colour, though I use a slightly darker one so I can see more results (I have a rather round face!). I use the NYX Blush in Taupe which you can see a review on here. To apply the bronzer it's best to use a slightly angled brush, but I use my Body Shop Blusher brush pinched between my fingers to make a thinner brush.
1) The first and main place I use contour powder is under my cheekbones, to make my face appear slimmer and make my cheekbones appear more prominent. Suck in your cheeks to see whereabouts your cheekbones are, and then apply a shadow of contour powder just under the cheekbones, usually from about the middle of your cheek all the way up to your hairline. This will really make them pop!
3) Another key place that contour powder is used is in the temples - this slims the top half of your face. Only use a small amount of powder in this area, as it's easy to look unnatural, and blend it into your temples.
4) If you're blessed with a rather large nose such as my own, you may want to contour it to appear thinner around the bridge. Take a small amount of powder and blend it from either side of the bridge of your nose down to your cheek - you'll be surprised at the difference this makes!
Some women also like to blend contour powder along the underneath of their jawline to make this seem slimmer.
Blusher isn't really key in contouring, though if you were planning to wear it, it would be applied just above the contour powder, on the apple of your cheeks.
Highlighter is available from almost every brand now, and comes in many forms from liquid to cream to powder. The one I use is the powder highlighter from Topshop in Crescent Moon, which I just find easier to manage than creams, which I sometimes find rub off my foundation! Review here. The thing to remember with highlighting is less is more - if someone can notice you're wearing highlighter, it's far too much.
2) The main function for my highlighter is as a cheekbone saviour - until I suddenly wake up in the morning with model cheekbones I'll be using this badboy! Apply a dusting of highlighter from mid-cheek to hair line just above the blusher along your cheekbones. This will make them stand out and slim your face.
Highlighter can also be used on the ball of your nose and along the spine of your nose (is spine the medical term i wonder..?) to slim your nose, and on your browbones to contour your face further.
If you're a contouring newbie this might sound like an awful lot of work - but the best thing is to pick and choose which techniques work for your face type, and after practice you can get this routine down to a couple of minutes tops! And let's face it, isn't a lovely sculpted face worth that two minutes less sleep in the morning?
On an unrelated note, everyone has been going crazy about Google reader being shut down - and apparently GFC is now also doomed.. I know a lot of people (lovely, lovely people) follow via GFC so I thought I'd quickly mention that you can also follow this blog via Bloglovin', which more people are bound to start using. If you go to Bloglovin', there's also a button which allows you to import all your GFC blogs onto Bloglovin', so it's really easy! If that doesn't appeal to you, I have a twitter account for the blog at @livflorence where I post an update every time I blog with links, and get involved in all the #bbloggers chats on a Sunday and Wednesday evening.