Reverse contouring is my favorite way of highlighting/contouring because it looks the most natural, and the easiest and fastest way to sculpt a face. It works great on all sexes, all races, all skin tones. This is especially good on dark skin tones because it will define the areas like the cheek bones without turning darker or muddy. On porcelain skin tones, you may find just one color of foundation can leave you ghost white while contouring may look too muddy; reverse contouring will give a natural dimension and effect to the face.
What is reverse contouring? You are using the highlighting color to bring everything to a point or forward. It gives the optical illusion of depth, yet making it look normal which leaves out the need for the dark contour color. I guess it is kind of like that duck/rabbit picture.
Again Joy has volunteered (aka Gingitsune on MUA). Here I picked a palette with two colors: highlighter and Joy's matching skin tone. You can apply them at the same time, then blend or individually blend then apply the other, whatever works for you.
Application of Highlighter
First starting with the highlighting cream. For highlighting cream, you can use a foundation that is 2 or 3 shades lighter or a cream that is specifically made for highlighting like Joe Blasco Highlights & RCMA Countershades as examples. 1 & 2-Here I show the front and side angles of the face with the outline of the areas that are to be highlighted. The obvious area of highlighting the forehead and bridge of nose, the highlighting of the inner corner of the eye and around the under eye up to the temple then going on top of the cheekbone down to about the corner of the nostril and connect with above but do not color the side of the nose, the hollow of the cheek stopping right before the corner of the face, and finally the lip line and chin. 3 & 4-Colored in with the highlighter. Looks like warpaint or a vanilla cream tiger stripes doesn't it?
The area untouched is to be filled in by the normal foundation color. I will blend the highlighter color first so you can see the overall effect. 5 & 6-See how the highlighter brings your focal point to the front?
Application of Foundation
7 & 8-Apply the foundation onto the areas untouched by the highlighters. I usually just draw stripes around the areas that need the foundation if I am using a pigmented cream one. I apply onto the eye area with the amount that will be on sponge AFTER I have spread it around. This way there won't be a thick layer of foundation on the eyes. 9 & 10-Foundation blended. Looks like warpaint at this point.
Now, the only part that takes practice in this technique is the blending. You have to meticulously blend the colors so there isn't an obvious separation of color yet not mix it completely to make one flat color. What you are really doing is creating a third color for a graduated effect. 11 & 12-Blending the area in between the two colors.
13, 14, 15 & 16-Before and After pictures. After meticulous blending, the highlighted areas should look subtle and not "whited out". Just set with powder and you are ready to apply the rest of your makeup. 17 & 18-The reverse contouring pattern. Looks like some tribal mask! It may look like I have forgotten the area around the nose, but if you blend it out, that area becomes covered anyway.
What you use can vary in this technique. For pigmented pro brands I stick with my own skin tone level for foundation color. However, some pro stuff can easily be blended and I sometimes use a darker color for a slight bronzed look. ( I do spread out my foundations thinly to the point it is like a tinted moisturizer, my preference.) With a tinted moisturizer, you may go darker even to a bronze color to give you that healthy summer-looking bronze glow since the mixture is sheer. Whatever you choose, remember practice makes perfect!
Special thanks to Joy again for her pix! :-)