Strobing A New Name for an Old Trick

I am not a fan of contouring unless you are being filmed, photographed or work on the stage. Contouring is never an appropriate technique for daily makeup. Seriously stop! (My alternative look, strobing, is below)

Strobing Temperley London
Temperley London.

I am not a fan of contouring unless you are being filmed, photographed or work on the stage. Contouring is never an appropriate technique for daily makeup.  Seriously stop! (My alternative look, strobing, is below)

Most people use contouring to create highlights and lowlights, give the illusion of shape and to define the natural angles on the face. What usually happens is a mask-like effect which, up close, looks like clown makeup. There is a better way to create glow, definition and shape – and it is the more appropriate technique for daily wear, street ready makeup.

Strobing is really strategic highlighting.  Think of it as the reverse contour.  Highlighting creates lots of glow while accenting certain areas of the face. Strobing is a lot easier to achieve and requires fewer products.  In fact it’s so easy to do it is almost foolproof.

1  Prep the skin with moisturizer – make sure the skin is well hydrated before attempting to strobe. I like to apply moisturizer at least 10 minutes before I begin the strobe application.  Ensuring the skin is well hydrated will prevent the effect from looking irregular and flat. This is the most important step in strobing!

2  Catch the light – apply the highlighter on the cheekbones, at the temples, down the bridge of the nose, under the arch of the brow, inside the inner corner of the eyes and in the cupid’s bow of the lip. These are the places the face naturally reflects light and applying highlighter here will enhance the face’s natural features. Concentrate the highlighter in these areas only – do not spread out, up or away from these areas.  Strobing works only if the areas are highlighted – blending across the entire face just makes it look shiny and greasy.

3  Overlay a dusting of a matching setting powder, blending any hard lines of highlighter as the powder is distributed across the face.  Don’t use the powder like a foundation – it’s not about creating coverage it’s about creating a contrast of matte against the light, an effect of dimension to make the strobe stand out.


Products for Strobing

My Product Picks


Daniel Thompson Beauty
The Supreme Skin Oil, 30 ml; $198.

Sisley Black Rose Precious Face Oil, 20 ml; $295.

Guerlain Abeille Royale Face Treatment Oil, 20 ml;  $185.



Daniel Thompson Beauty Absolute Light,  2.3g ; $64.

Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat, 2ml; $50.

By Terry Touche Veloutee, 2ml; $82.


Matte Setting Powder

Daniel Thompson Beauty Complexion, 13g; $78.

Cle de Peau Luminizing Face Enhancer, 11g; $115.

Burberry Nude Glow Powder, 8g; $70.

To create this effect you only need these

Great moisturizer – not optional because any dryness on the skin will detract from the strobe and create a dry dull patch in the overall effect.

Unfrosted highlighter. Make sure it is correct for your skin tone: fair skin– champagne tones; medium skin – pink tones; olive skin – bronze tones; deep skin – terracotta tones.

Matte finishing powder – in the same tone as the highlighter.

This original article first appeared in the Spring 2016 issue of City Style and Living Magazine.