While contour and bronzer are often used interchangeably, understanding their distinct functions can significantly enhance your makeup application.
At first glance, contouring and bronzing may seem similar, but in reality, these makeup techniques play two distinctive roles: contour is all about sculpting and defining your features, while bronzer adds a natural warmth to your complexion where the sun normally would. By understanding when, where, and how to apply your bronzer and contour, you can elevate your makeup application and maximize the versatility of your products.
What is Contouring?
Traditionally used to chisel cheekbones and delineate jawlines, contouring is a makeup technique designed to emphasize and enhance your natural features. This is achieved by creating the illusion of shadows and highlights with light and dark shades.
To accentuate the natural contours of your face, it's best to use matte powders, creams, or pencils slightly darker than your skin tone. The ideal contour product will have a cool or neutral undertone, and it's essential to opt for a shimmer-free formula to avoid reflecting light. For this, we like the Eye Shaping Stylo, a versatile 4-in-1 cream matte stick, designed to define all areas of the face with precision. Its fool-proof format and creamy, pigmented formula offer long-lasting wear.
What is Bronzer?
Like contour products, bronzers come in a variety of formats including powders, creams, liquids, and sticks. However, they typically have a warmer tone and may contain shimmer to create a sun-kissed, light-reflecting effect akin to a natural tan.
While products designed to bronze and contour can be used interchangeably, their primary distinction lies in their application. To achieve a healthy, radiant look, apply bronzer to areas where the sun naturally hits your face like the forehead, cheekbones, and the bridge of your nose. Unlike contouring, bronzing won’t emphasize the natural hollows of your face. Rather, it will deliver warmth and radiance for a healthy looking complexion.
Contour vs. Bronzer - Application Tips
When applying contour, strategic placement is key. Apply to the hollows of your cheeks, along the sides of your nose, at the hairline, and under your jawline and buff in with a blender brush for an undetectable, seamless appearance.
Your contour formula will determine how it’s best applied. If you're using a contour stick like our Eye Shaping Stylo, we suggest directly applying the bullet where you want to enhance depth and dimension. Subsequently, ensure a seamless transition by blending thoroughly. In the case of powder contour, we recommend using an angled makeup brush for precise definition.
For bronzer application, opt for a fluffy makeup brush which will distribute product softly and evenly, creating a radiant, seamless glow and avoiding patchiness or harsh lines. Thorough blending is key for both contouring and bronzing to ensure a seamless, integrated finish.
Choosing The Right Shade
In general, it's important to consider your skin tone when selecting the right bronzer and contour shades. Those with fair skin might opt for cooler, lighter shades, while medium to darker skin tones can afford to go richer and warmer. For best results, swatch on your neck and cheek to ensure each product delivers your desired pigment and finish.
Although bronzer is designed to warm the complexion, we recommend selecting a shade that isn’t overly warm to achieve a subtle glow and avoid an unnaturally orange or patchy appearance. We love MAKE Beauty’s Skin Mimetic Microsuede Bronzer for its matte, buildable formula designed to deliver a customizable, sun-kissed look.