Your browser is not supported. We do our best to optimize our websites to the most current web browsers. Please try another browser.

Underpainting: Try the Contour Method Behind Hailey Bieber’s Flawless Makeup

A closeup shot of Hailey Bieber at the 2nd Annual Academy Museum Gala, with her makeup beautifully contoured
Getty Images

The new makeup trend that’s taking the internet by storm is already Hailey Bieber-approved. After the must-try sensation that was the glazed donut nail trend inspired by the star, we’re ready to try the latest beauty method showcased by the model. Beloved for its soft-focus look, “underpainted skin” is quickly becoming a staple for fans of the clean girl makeup aesthetic.

See more: ‘Angel eyes’: Could this ethereal eye makeup trend take over in 2023?

What is underpainting?

While underpainting isn’t actually a new technique, its quick rise to popularity today can be linked to celebrity MUA Mary Phillips. Phillips has worked with stars like Kendall Jenner and, of course, Hailey Bieber to achieve the glowing-from-within skin finish from underpainting.

The underpainting technique is pretty simple: you lay down the “bones” of your makeup by applying your contour, blush and highlighter prior to foundation. The order of the steps can sometimes vary with either the highlighter or blush being applied after the foundation (depending how much you want each to pop), but the basic methodology remains the same.

See also: Beauty picks 2023: Our favourite beauty products to try this January.

How to achieve underpainted makeup in 5 steps

Phillips explains what she calls her “base technique” in a now-viral TikTok video (that Bieber herself has commented on!).

  1. Lay down the bones: Using a cream contour, Phillips contours her cheekbones, temples, jawline and nose, lifting the face and adding dimension. As an option, she sometimes contours her eyelid as a base for her eye makeup. Blend with a densely packed brush to soften.
  2. Add glow: Next, add your highlighter anywhere you want to glow. Phillips applies hers to her nose, under her cheekbones and under the eyes.
  3. Conceal any darkness: Use your cream concealer to brighten up your under eyes. Optionally, you can conceal any imperfections or blemishes at this stage, if necessary.
  4. Time for skin: Apply your liquid foundation with a damp beauty sponge and buff out using a Hakuhodo brush.
  5. Blush it up: Phillips goes for a double helping of blush, applying two different blush sticks to the tops of her cheekbones, forehead (just where the sun would hit) and a light sweep across the bridge of her nose.

And with that, you have your soft-focus, naturally glowy finish that’s worthy of a red carpet.

You may also like: Is this cult-favourite 2000s makeup product making a comeback?

Get the underpainted look

For best results, use cream and liquid products that blend easily. If cream products aren’t your thing, you can substitute for powder, but keep to one finish for your contour, blush and foundation (ie. all powder or all liquid/cream products). The highlight and blush steps offer flexibility, and you can choose to add on either before or after your foundation in your preferred finish.

Cream contour stick

Phillips starts with her pick for a cream contour in an easy-to-blend satin finish which she buffs out with a large foundation brush on her face. For her nose, she opts for a smaller brow brush for those finer details.


A product image of the Westman Atelier cream contour stick with a swatch in the background

Westman Atelier Face Trace Cream Contour Stick in Biscuit, Sephora, $64.

Highlight and contour palette

For that radiant glow, Phillips grabs her RCMA highlight and contour palette (a great professional option for both contouring and highlighting that you can use to achieve the underpainted look).

The RCMA Highlight and Contour palette in medium-dark
RCMA Makeup

Highlight and Contour Palette, RCMA Makeup, $30 USD.


If you’re using a concealer, Phillips recommends the cult classic from Nars, which she uses in shade Creme Brulee. It comes in a wide range of 30 shades (in both full size and mini) for your perfect match.

Related: 2022’s most viral makeup products.

A product shot of the Nars creamy radiant concealer

Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer, Sephora, $42.

Liquid foundation

For foundation, you won’t want to go too full coverage and completely paint over all your underpainting work. Phillips uses this satin finish, medium coverage liquid foundation from Chanel (that’s becoming hard to find, thanks to the viral nature of her underpainting technique).

A product shot of a glass bottle of Chanel Vitalumiere Foundation
Shoppers Drug Mart

Chanel Vitalumiere Foundation, Shoppers Drug Mart, $74.

Cream blush

For the final step, Phillips adds colour back in by applying two different cream blushes with a light hand for a natural finish.

Nudestix Nudies Cream blush with case and built-in brush

NUDESTIX Nudies Matte Cream Blush, Sephora, $39.

She finishes off with another pick from Westman Atelier, a cream blush in a beautiful dusty rose shade, Petal.

Westman Atelier baby cheeks blush stick in Petal with a swatch in the background

Westman Atelier Baby Cheeks Lip + Cheek Cream Blush Stick, Sephora, $64.


For more trending beauty tips, check out these hairstyles we think will be everywhere in 2023.

All products featured on are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy through links in this article, we earn an affiliate commission.

Latest News

This content is restricted to adults of legal age.
Please enter your birthdate to confirm.
Date of Birth