11 Makeup Tips Perfect For Highlighting Narrow Faces

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How many makeup tutorials have you seen with tips for slimming down your face? Probably a lot! Tons of tutorials offer great advice, but they don't always cater to all face types or features, either. For example, many eyeliner tutorials out there are not helpful if you have hooded eyelids. Similarly, lots of makeup advice on the internet is geared toward those who want to slim down their faces, not those who want to add width to them. Slimming your face is super effective for those with wider face types, like round or square faces, but if you have a narrower face, such as an oval or rectangular face shape, the final result could look the opposite of flattering and leave your face looking narrower than it really is.


That doesn't mean you should worry, though. Just as there are makeup tricks for slimming your face down, there are many for adding width to it, too. With some tweaks to makeup placement, you can help bring more space and dimension to your face and highlight your best features so your face shines just how it's meant to.

Know your actual face shape

Even if you already know your face tends to be narrow, figuring out its precise shape can help you get the best results when doing your makeup. Typically, those with narrower faces either have an oval or a rectangular face shape (which is sometimes called oblong).


Oval faces are usually twice as long as they are wide, which means they're pretty balanced proportionally. They also tend to have a soft, rounded chin and jaw. Those with oval face shapes can pull off a wide variety of looks, even though they are prone to appearing narrow at times, especially if they're in the habit of using makeup techniques that slim the face. Jessica Alba, Charlize Theron, Bella Hadid, and Millie Bobbie Brown are all celebrities who have oval faces.

Rectangular or oblong faces tend to be about one and a half times longer than they are wide and are usually more angular than oval, with stronger chins and jaws. People with this face shape can get away with bold looks and chunky jewelry. Even though not all rectangular faces are necessarily narrow, the overall length of the face may make them appear that way by comparison. For reference, a few celebrities with rectangular faces are Sarah Jessica Parker, Liv Tyler, Giselle Bundchen, and Hillary Swank.


Create width and dimension

Whether you have an oval or rectangular-shaped face, what you need to focus on the most is creating the illusion of width overall. It's helpful to remember this throughout all steps of your makeup routine, but it can be particularly important when contouring and highlighting (which are actually complete opposites) since these two steps do the most to create shadows and define the planes of your face.


When using contouring and highlighting techniques, get ready to throw all the old ones you know out the window. Drawing a "3" shape from your forehead to temple to cheekbone likely will not give you the best results if you have a narrow face. The same is true of applying your highlighter in a "C" shape at your temple.

While a lot can be achieved through makeup, it's beneficial to assess your hair and jewelry choices, too. For example, long straight hair can make your face look longer, whereas more layers and waves can help pump up the volume. Long, dangling earrings can draw attention to the length of your face, whereas studs or shorter, wider earrings may help bring width to your overall look.


Use the right tools

Using the right makeup tools makes a big difference when your face is on the narrow side. Many makeup brushes are too large to apply product accurately for a slender face. A huge blush brush can lead to an overwhelming amount of blush and messy application. A smaller brush, such as this Baby 'Buki brush, can be great for applying blush with precision. This way, you know you look naturally glowy and not like a middle schooler who just discovered makeup (before the internet).


Along with smaller brushes, smaller blending sponges, such as these Micro.Mini Pro sponges, can be great for getting into small areas and creating more refined or detailed looks. If you have a narrow face, experimenting with different kinds of tools, in general, can be super helpful. Just because a brush is labeled for eyeshadow or concealer doesn't mean you can't use it for something different. What's key is that you have total control over the amount and placement of the product you use.

Another thing to think about besides the tools themselves is how you hold your brushes. Holding them close to the base (where the actual brush part is) could make it harder to apply the product. Instead, hold them closer to the end, like a pencil, for more control over placement.


Begin with the best base

Starting with the right base is always important, but it can be extra important if you have a narrow face and need a blank slate to create more width. Skincare may not seem like it has much to do with how narrow or wide your face looks, but it absolutely does! Healthy skin glows brighter and usually needs less product to look great, which means you spend less time applying concealer and more time on the steps of the makeup process that impact the shape of your face. A priming moisturizer, like this one from Glossier, can be a great base because it moisturizes as it smooths out your complexion.


Finding a true color match with the right amount of coverage is also helpful. For heavier coverage, Pro Filt'r Longwear Matte Foundation from Fenty Beauty is a great option. If you only want light coverage, Mac's Studio Radiance Sheer Foundation might suit you better. No matter how much coverage you need, keeping it even is key because a patchy application can mean your contouring and highlighting won't show up as well.

Lightly define with contour

Good contouring can totally transform a face. However, it can be easy to overdo it, and going too hard with the contour could make you look gaunt. A light-handed approach is ideal for a delicately-defined look, as is starting with a small amount of product and then building up gradually.


Oval face shapes should begin by applying a subtle and buildable bronzer, like Physician's Formula Butter Bronzer, around their hairline, focusing on the top center. Doing so shortens the forehead and the face overall. Then, apply a small amount just under the cheekbone and next to the ear, and draw it out horizontally toward the middle of the cheek to create more width. Oval faces usually have a softer jaw and chin, so feel free to skip contour there. If you still feel like you need to, a small amount just under the chin can help shorten and define your face.

For those with rectangular faces, contouring around the hairline is also important, as is focusing on the center top. Under your cheekbone and at your hairline, start with a horizontal line, like an oval face shape. However, unlike an oval face shape, you may need to apply a thicker line of product here. Rectangular faces usually have a stronger chin and jaw, so contouring the lower half of the face is a must. Shading across the bottom of the chin can help shorten the face and create width.


Play it up with blush

The right blush can liven up your whole look and bring fullness to a narrower face. Color and placement are both things to consider when choosing blush. Typically, bright colors will be your best bet. If you have cool-toned skin, pure pinks or mauves will look more natural, while blush with peach tones will pop (the opposite is true for warm-toned skin). Along with color, the formula also impacts how your blush looks. If you have oily skin, powder blush will likely work the best. If you have drier skin, cream or liquid blush, such as NYX's Sweet Cheeks cream blush, may be better. These formulas are great for building layers of color and creating a subtle, healthy glow that illuminates your face.


When applying blush on an oval face, you will want to center it on the apples of your cheeks and slightly blend it out horizontally on the tops of your cheekbones. Keeping it focused on the top of your cheekbone can help your face appear shorter and wider. For rectangular faces, starting at the outer corner of your eyes at the top part of the cheekbone and blending in can create the ideal look. For both face types, it's important not to apply blush anywhere below the bottom of your nose. If you blend your blush too far down your face, it can add length and make your appear look narrower.

Shine on with strategic highlighter

Highlighter placement is mega-important for narrower faces to achieve a mega-watt look. Highlighters like those in this ABH Glowkit can add some sparkle and expansiveness to your face. The most important thing to focus on when highlighting is your cheeks. Highlighter should be applied to the top of the cheekbone (above your blush) and brushed straight toward your ear or hairline. As with contouring, you need to brush it out horizontally to add width. Next, whisk it up slightly toward your temple for a lifting effect.


Along with your cheeks, highlighting slightly under your eye can help draw attention to the center of your face. A small amount of highlighter in the center of your forehead can also help draw the eye up, as can a little highlighter in the upper arch of your eyebrow. This can help especially if you draw your highlighter out along with the tail of your eyebrow. Whether you swipe a skift of highlighter on the tip of your nose or your cupid's bow is up to you. However, you should avoid putting too much highlighter anywhere below your top lip, as this can draw more attention to the lower part of your face and make it look longer and thinner.

Let your eyes sparkle

Your eyes are one of the most expressive parts of your face, so you need to let them shine. The bigger and brighter your eye area is, the more open your face will look. The first step should be your eyeshadow base. If you don't like using an eyeshadow primer, then foundation, or a skin-toned eyeshadow, similar to the ones in this Barely There Palette by Juwel Cosmetics, is a great substitute. When selecting eyeshadow shades, don't overdo it with darker colors because they can make your eyes appear smaller. Instead, try using medium-toned shadows for your crease and super bright and light ones for your lid. A pop of white or silver eyeshadow in the inner corner of your eye can add another level of dimension.


Your lashes and eyeliner have a big impact on creating width, too. Fluffy, lifted lashes add liveliness to your eyes. Combing them before applying mascara can prevent clumping, and curling them can create openness. Maybelline's Falsies Mascara is a good one to try for a falsies look without the actual falsies.

Eyeliner can make a huge difference, not just in eye shape but also in helping to make your eyes stand out. Bold batwing eyeliner can add length to your eyes, as can cat eyeliner, where you whisk out a long line at the outer edge of your eye and line your upper and lower rims as well as the inner corner of your eyes.

Draw out your brows

Even though you might think your eyes are super expressive, your eyebrows are actually the most expressive feature you have. Not only do they frame your eyes and add structure to your face, but they also help communicate your emotions. How full or sparse they are can be indicators of your health, too. No matter your face shape, having balanced and healthy-looking brows is important (so if you're thinking of jumping on the '90s style train and plucking them into oblivion, don't!), but it can be even more important when trying to bring width to your face.


Avoid overplucking, especially at the inner parts of your brows where hairs may sometimes grow at different angles. Your eyebrows should be sisters, not twins, and a slightly different shape is totally okay. Next, you should ensure your eyebrows are filled in and manicured. Using something such as ABH's Studio Kit can help you cover all your bases.

Lastly, one of the best ways to add width to your face with your eyebrows is to draw their tails out further toward your temple with an eyebrow pencil. If you're feeling experimental, try shaving off the tails of your eyebrows and practice drawing them out at different angles or elongating the thickest part of your eyebrows. Depending on how high you draw them, you can not only add width to your face but also lift at the same time.


Plump up your pout

Along with your eyes (and eyebrows), your lips are another super expressive feature that can bring dimension to your face when you enhance them. A healthy pout is a good starting point. Lip scrubs like Beauty Bakerie's Sugar Lip Scrub can help gently remove any dead skin that could make your lips look dull. Healing balms, such as Burt's Bees Overnight Intensive Lip Treatment, can help retain moisture, which is key for keeping your lips full for the long term (for bonus moisture, apply right after showering or washing your face when your lips are still wet).


The way that you use lip liner matters, too. For a rounder and fuller mouth, use a little extra lip liner at the top of your cupid's bow and the base of your bottom lip. It can create the illusion of a fuller mouth, which makes your lips appear as if they take up more space lengthwise on your face. Bold colors can be fun, or, if you want your lips to shine more subtly, nude glosses can also be a great idea. To get the poutiest pout possible, trying a lip-plumping serum like Buxom's Plump Shot is a great option.

Don't forget your smile

It might sound cheesy, but a bright smile can help add width to your face. Smiling literally widens your face, creates more light on your face, and makes you sparkle from the inside out. A white smile is also a visual key to your overall health and hygiene, so there's even more reason to keep your pearly whites pearly and white.


When whitening your teeth, remember that some whiteners could damage your teeth over time, especially if you already have weak enamel. Opting for gentle whiteners, such as whitening strips from Spotlight Oral Care, could be your best bet. If that is too much, though, trying other natural ways to whiten teeth, including brushing with baking soda and peroxide, could be simple and cost-effective ways to lighten your smile.

If you have a narrower face, you might feel confused about how to do your makeup, especially with so much info that exists about how to slim your face. The good news is there are tons of options for creating width, and you might even discover ways to do your makeup that give you new reasons to look forward to your beauty routine.