How to Contour Your Nose

Contouring your nose can make a wide nose appear narrower, a long nose appear shorter, or a short nose appear taller — it all depends on the placement. Contouring is also called shading or shadowing, and it’s the process of using a darker color than your skin tone to create “shadows” to transform your features and make them more defined. When I contour my nose, I like making my nose appear a little taller and narrower:

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You can use many different products to contour, but I mainly use powder. A brown blush or sculpting powder with a gray undertone (since shadows are gray) that’s two to three shades darker than your skin tone works best.

Before you contour your nose:

  • Apply foundation, if desired.

I usually contour my nose as after I have all my makeup on already. If you contour with a cream-based product though, contour your nose before powdering your face.

Here’s how to do it!


Figure out what type of look you want for your nose to determine the placement of the powder (or cream).

To make a wide nose look narrower, the placement will be similar to the lines shown in this picture. A trick is to take 2 Q-tips and hold one in each hand (using your thumb and pointer finger). Align the Q-tips on either side of the cartilage of your nose, parallel to the middle of your nose. The Q-tips will look like the 2 lines in the picture. Keep in mind where these lines are, because this is where you will be contouring.

To make make a short nose look taller (or to make a flat bridge more defined), follow the curve from your brow bone to the top part of your nose and continue with the placement in the picture on the right.

To make a tall nose look shorter, the placement will be on the curve on the tip of your nose (between your nostrils).

You can also do any combination of these placements, depending on what look you’re going for.


Pick up some powder (that’s about 2 shades darker than your skin tone) on the tip of an angled shading eyeshadow brush. I like using a chiseled double angle brush, because it has a point at the very middle for more precision when it comes to placement. If your placement includes the curve from your brow bone to the top of your nose, begin placing the powder on the inner part of your brow bone, follow the curve, and then go straight down the line determined in Step 1 (like I did in the picture on the right). Where you place the brush initially will have the most amount of product, so you want the darkest part to be near your brow bone. However, if you don’t want to do this, begin your line about where your tear duct is and then brush down the line.

If you’re contouring the tip of your nose to make it look shorter, then apply powder on the curve between your nostrils.


Using the same brush, blend the powder by moving the brush down the sides of your nose, working from the top to the bottom.

If you are contouring the tip of your nose, blend powder down right between your nostrils.


Apply some invisible powder or a translucent powder 1 to 2 shades lighter than your skin tone down your nose. The placement of the powder is shown in the picture on the right. Either buff it in with a kabuki brush (if you have oily skin) or blend it with a fluffy powder brush using a vertical motion down your nose. Continue blending the powder until it’s not visible anymore.

If you contoured the tip of your nose, also apply and blend in some invisible or translucent powder on that area.

You can also get the illusion of a straighter nose by using a lighter powder in Step 5 without having to contour a dark powder on the sides of your nose at all. If you do both though, it will create more contrast and hence a more dramatic change to your nose.

Here are some pictures of me without and with my nose contoured so you can see the difference:

This technique can take some practice to master, but once you get the hang of it, it can make a subtle yet big difference to your look!

August 4th, 2010 in Techniques | Share