Legendary Cheekbones, And How To Create Them

Vicomtesse Jacqueline de Ribes, taken by Richard Avedon, 1955
Vicomtesse Jacqueline de Ribes, taken by Richard Avedon, 1955 (That nose!)

Cheekbones, those promontories of the skull, are without a doubt one of the most important, yet under-rated, facets of your appearance. High, prominent cheekbones, and a defined facial structure, makes one look more adult (by which I most certainly do not mean older), thinner, and disguise tired, puffy faces.

I was once working in Italy when we had to meet with customers all day, and take them out for endless dinners etc all night. After three or four days of four hours of sleep or less, I woke up to see my face was wan and puffed up like a beach ball. A makeup artist on our team used just a brush and a contouring bronzer to literally paint a bone structure onto my face, like a sculptor would carve a bust. Ever since then, I have been a devoted advocate of sculpting and contouring, not just to disguise tiredness, but also to bring light to the face.

As you can see in these immortal examples of terrific cheekbones, it’s all about bone structure, dahling.

Angelica Huston:

Angelica Huston having makeup applied by Jerry Hall, London 1985
Angelica Huston in Prizzi’s Honor, 1985

Faye Dunaway:

Faye Dunaway in Bonnie and Clyde, 1967
Faye Dunaway (and Steve McQueen) in The Thomas Crown Affair, 1968



Faye Dunaway


And the best facial structure of all time; Michelle Pfeiffer in Scarface (not that being a cocaine waif is attractive. But Michelle Pfeiffer is.):

Michelle Pfeiffer Scarface 1

Michelle Pfeiffer Scarface 2

Michelle Pfeiffer Scarface 3


Michelle Pfeiffer Scarface 5

Michelle Pfeiffer Scarface 6

And the best thing is, it is so easy to achieve. All you need is a good contouring colour product, either a powder, or a cream formula if you are a little more brave, a good brush, and a non-sparkly highlighter. We shall say “luminescent” instead of “shimmery”.

Blend the dark contour product in a smooth, slightly curved line from the ear, under the cheekbone, to mid-way down the cheek. If you start from the ear, it will look more seamless and avoid any jarring, too strong changes in colour. There is a wonderful trick to stopping the line in the right place – so that you look more Katharine Hepburn, less Leicester-Square-on-a-Friday-night. This is called the Magic Line. Bring the colour down from the ear, but stop it directly underneath the outer corner of your eye. Hence:

Magic Line

Also blend a little darkness from the hairline at the sides of the forehead down to the temples, and in a curve underneath the sides of your jawline. Finally, just a little underneath the centre of your chin. I suggest that you apply the shade with one brush, and then blend out with another, very thoroughly, but in the direction the shadow should go.*

Put a little highlighter where you would like light to hit if you had more pronounced facial structure, so, on the top of the cheekbone, down the centre of the nose, above the eyebrows, and an eensy bit in the centre of the forehead.

Now, products. The Tom Ford Shade & Illuminate is exceptionally good and absolutely my favourite – easy to blend, and just dark enough. The highlighter is also not too shimmery, it is just nicely dewy. However, it is rawther expensive, and a cream, so is slightly more intense and tricky to deal with, and the highlighter can be sticky (which I love; apply a blush on top and you look super glowy, but might not be everyone’s cup of tea).



For powders, you will get a more subtle effect, but make sure that whatever you use is completely matte, otherwise you will lose the illusion of contouring and just look like you have daubed sparkly brown stuff all over your face. Also make sure that it does not have too much red in it, but is more grey – this is not a blush/bronzer idea. The Benefit bronzer in Hoola is good, as is Smashbox Bronzer in Bronze Lights, or MAC Sculpting Powder Pro Palette.

*This is where most bloggers would show you a picture of themselves with this all done, pre-blending. But I shall not do that, because a) I have just shown you some pictures of rather beautiful women and the comparison is not amusing and b) eurgh.

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