Hair & Beauty

Out With Contouring, In With Strobing

By Bree Nowland
24th Feb 2016

First thing’s first… What exactly is strobing?! Put simply, it’s the complete opposite of contouring. I know, I know… Just when we got our heads around contouring… 

So let’s refresh. Contouring (made famous by our favourite/least favourite Kim) was all about sculpting the face through creating the illusion that certain parts of the face are receding, using painterly techniques and blending bronzers to carve cheekbones, slim your nose and even hide a double-chin.

The new contour, AKA strobing, is all about enhancing your natural beauty—there’s no heavy foundation or setting powders, there’s highlighting and highlighting alone.

This beauty game-changing trend is all about strategically defining and accentuating your facial features rather than trying to mask or morph them; think a dewy complexion, highlighted cheek and brow bones, subtly sun-kissed skin and a lit-from-within glow. Coined ‘the French way to contour’, strobing is far less high-maintenance than contouring, uses far less products and you’ll be out the door in a third of the time. Whew!

So, bin that foundation three shades darker than your actual skin tone (faux cheekbones never had anyone fooled, anyway) as we break down the techniques and products you need to get your strobe on… 

1. Perfect your canvas

You can layer as many products as you wish but there’s no achieving a luminous glow if your skin isn’t hydrated first. Remember, this look is anything but a brick-heavy foundation mask—you want to let your skin shine, so you want to get your complexion as flawless as can be. You know the drill; keep your water levels up, invest in your skincare regime and stick to it! Ensure you’re using a moisturiser with SPF in it and, for a little complexion boost, a weekly hydrating face mask will work wonders, especially during winter.


Clinique’s Superdefense SPF 15 Moisturizer

2. Prime time

You’re not smothering your skin in layers of matte makeup, so you need a great base to ensure the products you do apply last and a little help in blurring any imperfections never goes astray.


Mecca Cosmetica’s Lit From Within Primer
MAC's Strobe Cream

3. Conceal and pick your base

A minute after applying your primer; whip out your favourite concealer to mask any blemishes or redness. Follow with a light-weight base such as a luminous tinted moisturiser, BB or CC cream or foundation with light to medium coverage. You want something with a dewy finish; not a heavy powdery finish. A base with very subtle shimmer particles works perfectly as they will complement the strobing technique, getting you one step closer to that lit from-within-glow.


Hourglass’ Illusion Tinted Moisturiser
Urban Decay’s Naked Skin Beauty Balm
Laura Mercier’s Illuminating Tinted Moisturiser

4. Create a glow

You want to create a (faux) glow about your complexion before you emphasise your features through strobing. A quick buff of bronzer and/or blush will work a treat; you want to do this before you highlight as most highlighters/illuminators will be somewhat shimmery; when buffing powder on top of shimmer it’s easy to get carried away and for your makeup to start looking heavy. Use cream based products where possible to assist in achieving that dewy final look.


IT Cosmetics’ Live Love Laugh Vitality Face Disc | A bronzer, luminous blush and radiance boosting highlighter all in one.
Charlotte Tilbury’s Beach Stick in Ibiza

5. Time to strobe!

Note that you can actually skip steps 3 and 4 and go straight for the strobe if you wish or if you are strapped for time. The key to nailing this look is finding a highlighter that works for you and your skin tone. A killer highlighter is the ONE product you need to strobe, look for cream or gel formula as they will give you a dewy, radiant look, as opposed to being mistaken for a shimmery powder you had in the 90’s.  

A pearly champagne shade is universally flattering; however those with darker or olive skin tones can opt for a highlighter that is a little more golden; while fair-skinned lovely ladies best opt for cooler shades that are a little more pink.

Now you want to highlight the points on your face that would be ‘hit by the light’ should you be looking directly at the sunshine. These points are:

Above your cheekbones
The bridge and very tip of your nose
Your brow bones just underneath your eyebrows
Your cupids bow and just right underneath your lower lip
The corners of your eyes


Nars’ Illuminator
Benefit’s High Brow highlighting pencil 

6. Blend, set & go… 

Blend your highlighter until it melts into the skin; you can do this with a foundation brush or lightly with your fingertips—there should be no harsh lines, just a dewy glow.

To make your highlighted complexion last, you can ‘set’ your highlighter with a radiance boosting, luminescent powder, opt for a highlighting powder in a golden champagne shade and dust it over the areas you’ve highlighted ever so lightly with a fluffy blush brush. We recommend the Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess Illuminating Powder— a universally flattering shade of pearly light-bronze in luminous powder-form.

Seal the deal (and your new, flawlessly glowing complexion) with a few spritzes of a hydrating facial mist, such as Jurlique’s balancing rosewater mist and a slick of a lip gloss or balm either in a clear or pinky nude shade.

Image credit: Pinterest

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