So you weren’t born a Hadid. (Same.) Even so, you’ve probably enjoyed the advantage of full cheeks, which give your face a youthful appearance. There’s a reason it’s called baby fat, after all. Unfortunately, it’s common to lose this fat over time. In fact, while every face has its unique anatomy, “we all start to get bone resorption and displacement of fat pads in the face starting [around] age 30,” says Kimberly Jerdan, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon in Oklahoma City and LA.
This combination of shrinking bone and redistributed fat means your cheeks can appear slack, hollow, or droopy, depending on your bone structure. But there’s good news, too: there are ways to recreate sculpted cheeks that genes alone couldn’t deliver . . . or that you lost to time. Keep reading to discover the beauty products, skincare techniques, and aesthetic treatments that can help.
The Doctor’s Orders #1: Replace Volume
Since volume loss — of both fat and bone — is the primary source of the changes in the face that occur with age, the solution is delightfully straightforward: Replace it. Board-certified New York City dermatologist Susan Bard, MD, places injectable filler over the bone, where it can temporarily create a scaffolding to support the cheek. “It really does depend on structure and how much volume loss a person has,” explains Dr. Bard of getting treated with filler. “When you place too much cheekbone filler, people start to look like aliens,” she adds. “This is a well-known phenomenon among dermatologists, and we try to avoid and discourage this.” Most licensed providers know not to overfill and to instead start slowly . . . which brings us to the next point.
Injectable filler is a temporary treatment that adds volume to areas of the face such as the lips, cheeks, and laugh lines. Like any medical treatment, it has potential risks and side effects. Be sure to talk to a licensed provider to see if they’re right for you.
The Doctor’s Orders #2: Add Volume Slowly
If you’re looking to add to what you already have — versus replacing volume you’ve lost over time — remember to have patience and proceed slowly. “The best results are those that are gradual and slowly developed,” says Dr. Jerdan. Consult with your provider, who can put you on a treatment plan to get you to your cheek goals in an incremental way. “And, if you’re one of those [people] who doesn’t want anyone to know work was done, then this is absolutely the best way,” she adds.
The Doctor’s Orders #3: Consider the Ogee Curve
“Many times cheek filler is used to recreate bone structure underneath and create an ‘ogee curve,’ which is the curvature seen typically in younger faces, giving the upper and mid-face fullness and width,” says Dr. Jerdan. (In addition to creating the ogee curve, you can also opt for filler to help soften the appearance of nasolabial folds that become more prominent as we age. However, Dr. Jerdan says, “you need to keep somewhat of a fold to look natural and age-appropriate.”)
The Doctor’s Orders #4: Have No Fear
The discomfort of injectable fillers — and needles! — can be off-putting, but worrying is largely unmerited, says Dr. Jerdan. Hyaluronic acid-based fillers, in particular, are generally well-tolerated, so long as numbing cream is applied beforehand. “I usually have patients numb for 30 minutes prior,” says Dr. Bard. Your provider’s technique is also a factor, so it’s imperative to choose someone with experience.
Individual experiences may vary.
The Esthetician’s Recommendation #1: Use Your Fingers
Face massages don’t just feel nice — done right, they can actually benefit the facial muscles. (It’s like a DIY version of a fascia facial, which purportedly relaxes and simultaneously drains excess fluid to enhance the appearance of bone structure.) First, apply your usual serum. Then, “using firm pressure, run your fingers along the jawline and working up the face to help relieve tension and stagnation,” says Madalaina Conti, a licensed esthetician and the US National Training Manager at FaceGym®. “This will have a slimming effect and increase circulation, leaving the skin and cheeks looking more supple.” You can also use your fingers to make pinching motions (using your thumb and index finger) on the cheek area, which can help temporarily plump the skin there.
The Esthetician’s Recommendation #2: Try a Face Tool
If you have a gua sha tool, such as the Hayo'u® Beauty Restorer Gua Sha Stone ($40), certain motions can similarly target your cheekbones. “Starting with the neck, use light, feather-like strokes in outward and downward directions,” Conti explains. “Repeat on the jawline, cheekbones, undereyes, and forehead.” Then, repeat on the neck. It’s like a mini lymphatic drainage massage for your face, moving fluid so the natural contours of your face — cheekbones included — are more apparent.
If you take blood thinners, talk to your doctor before using a gua sha or rolling tool.
Makeup Artist Advice #1: Set Your Lineup
The best products to enhance cheekbones are contouring creams, bronzing powders, and highlighters — but whatever you choose is a matter of preference. “Try to stay away from heavy or full-coverage textures,” notes Mari Shten, makeup artist and founder of Mari Shten Beauty®. “They are very hard to blend.” She’s a fan of lightweight creams or powders, such as Tom Ford® Shade & Illuminate ($88) and MAC® Powder Blush in Taupe ($25). You’ll also need the right tools in hand — namely, a fluffy, angled brush and a makeup sponge. (More on how to use them later.)
Makeup Artist Advice #2: Choose Color Wisely
“The best is to choose a taupe color that is only one to two tones darker than your skin color,” says Shten. “Don’t go too dark.” That can make skin look muddy. Ideally, the shade should be similar to that under your jawline, which tends to have a perpetual shadow; in most people, this doesn’t have a warm tone — and therefore warm tones should have no place in your sculpting shade of choice. “Your face just ends up looking orange,” Shten explains.
Makeup Artist Advice #3: Use the Right Tools for Each Product
First, select your makeup tool: Choose your fluffy brush for powder formulas and a wet sponge for creamy textures. Place the product of choice directly beneath your cheekbones (think of the point between your ears and the corners of your mouth). “Make sure to blend the product in an upward motions towards your ears,” Shten says. Err on the side of applying less product to start, since you can always build it up if you need.
Save your highlighter for the very last step. “Once the makeup is done, use a small fluffy brush to apply highlighter only on top of your cheekbones and blend it to your temples,” says Shten. “If you bring the highlighter too close to the center of the face, it will make your face look wider.”
Makeup Artist Advice #4: Blend, and Blend Again
There are two major giveaways that your cheekbones are not-so-natural: You’ve applied too much product or haven’t blended it in — or both. “You don't want to have bronzer lines on your face or too much highlighter, which overpowers the rest of your face,” says Shten. “The contouring is supposed to be seamless.” And don’t blend the contour all the way to your ear, which looks unnatural (since the cheekbone isn’t supposed to be visible in that area, anyway).
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