Sculpting and contouring can be a scary concept with even scarier results. As someone who started using makeup in the 1980s, I remember those weird stripes of a dark blush placed where no blush should ever go in an attempt to make one's face look thinner and enhance the cheekbones:
I spent years trying to imitate the effect and make my cheekbones suddenly appear out of nowhere. Thankfully, I had the good sense to realize it doesn't work and never to leave the house sporting a brown zebra face. It was only years later when I discovered Kevyn Aucoin's work and books that I fully understood the idea and principles behind effective face contouring and learn what it can and cannot do for me.
The drawings in Kevyn Aucoin's book are one thing, but watching the magic happen is a lot more effective. Wayne Goss, aka Gossmakeupartist on YouTube has some of the best tutorials on the subject (the British accent makes everything even better):
I can't tell you how many times I watched these until I learned how to work with what I have. While I usually avoid messing around with my non existent cheekbones, I often contour my nose and chin using Kevyn Aucoin The Sculpting Powder in medium. The reason this product works (unlike the myriad of blushes and bronzers many of us have tried) is a combination of color and texture. The color of Kevyn Aucoin's Sculpting Powder in Medium looks quite dark in the pan and may seem muddy in the swatch (I applied it with the useless sponge that came in the compact, so you can see the color as clearly as possible). However, when actually contouring the face you need to use the lightest possible touch (and a good directional brush, not a sponge, please) to get the gossamer shadow-like effect. When you do that, you realize that the color of this sculpting powder gets a taupe/almost gray cast that-surprise!- looks like your skin in the shade.
The texture of Kevyn Aucoin's powder is whisper light and can be manipulated and blended to perfection. It's completely matte- there's no trace of shimmer or any of the light-reflecting elements that make contouring with a blush or a bronzer so horrible-- it's simple, really: a blush or a bronzer are meant to bring light and color to the areas you apply them. It's the exact opposite of what you're trying to achieve when shading for contouring purpose.
Bottom Line: this is the one.
Kevyn Aucoin The Sculpting Powder ($42) is available from Nordstrom, Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman and dermstore.com.