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Come Fly With Me: Understanding the Planes of Your Face

*Post originally written by Olivia J on The Unknown Beauty Blog. If you see this post elsewhere, it has been stolen.*

As I mentioned, 2015 will be about inspiration and perspective.  Whether you are a makeup junkie or a makeup artist, I want you to see how you can understand the basics of makeup in the most unlikely places.  Or you can back away because you realized I have a weird brain.  In this post, I want you see the planes of your face for highlighting, shaping, contouring, and defining.

When I was a teen way back in the cave-days of no internet, I read practically every fashion and beauty magazine and book about highlighting and contouring.  I thought how easy it was, just a couple of stripes here and there and I was sculpted.  Well, that was then when my face was perky and tight and when my brain was naive and egotistical (to say the least).  Then, someone explained to me how sculpting the face had to cater to the individual face shape and not the masses by the planes of the face.


The Face

Huh? What? How? Forget it.  How difficult just applying makeup could be when it came to highlighting and contouring.  I let the thought sit in the back of my brain until I had my moment of epiphany!

Back in the late 80's I was watching Red Dwarf, a character named Kryten appeared and that is when I understood the planes of the face!!!! I kid you not this is a true moment for me!! I told you I get inspired from the weirdest moments.  Kryten changed my perspective on sculpting the face.

Now, I will show you the simplicity in understanding the planes of the face.

Frontal Plane


This is area where by default due to facial structure, it will be highlighted naturally (except for the neck area).  But in photography and film it is better to emphasize.  Depending on method of makeup application is used the color can be similar to the natural skin shade or a shade or two lighter, thus highlighted.

Side Plane


The side plane is where the frame of the face is happening.  This is where a bronzer or a darker foundation is used again depending on the method applied.  Notice, I don't mention contouring.  As I explained in this post, contouring is a minimal but it is still used.  Due to the advancement in digital photography, shaping the face with a skin tone color is much more enhancing than a ash colored brown (taupe).  Don't despair if you still like to contour, it does have its place as you will see.

Side Plane #2

Here is what the basic look of shaping and highlighting of the face.

The Corners of the Face


The corners of the face are the important areas because they will enhance the individual face shapes: square, pear, round, oval, long, etc.

Corners Determine Shape

You may choose to highlight those corners to give the illusion of width. Or you may choose to bronze or shape to narrow the area. Whatever you choose, you are either creating the width or narrowing the space to give the illusion of shape to the face.

Defining or Dividing the Planes

Define & Divide

Dividing the planes of the face is really defining or separating a certain bone structure from another or to emphasize that area more.  This is where the taupe or contouring happens.  For contouring the hollow of the cheeks, under the chin and jaw, the orbital ridge, and the bridge of the nose.

Highlight and Emphasize

Next is the extra emphasis on the eyes.  This area has to be highlighted more because it sits back in the face.


Notice how the eyebrows are re-highlighted.  This will give a better separation when they are drawn in.

How it Comes Together to Fly

This is how the everything should come together.

Do you see the planes of the face more clearly now?  I bet you are having an epiphany or that "aha" moment!


Here is a bit of trivia for you. Eugenia Weston the creator of Senna Cosmetics used to teach about the planes of the face when she was makeup head artist at Sebastian International.  For those who don't remember, Sebastian used to have a makeup line called Trucco.  I loved this line! I remember stocking up on their face powder and eyeshadows.  There was one eyeshadow, a color of camel beige or something like that, I loved that nude color to bits!  I think the last I had my hands on it was until the mid 90's.  Such a great color, makeup line and memories!

Anyway, so you see, knowing the planes of the face is a good thing because it is used in makeup artistry!

*Kryten pic from Red Dwarf & Getty Images*


Read by the Intelligent! Uncredited, copied, and plagiarized by the idiots!
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