Often, we hear the terms bronzing and contouring used interchangeably but they are distinctly different techniques that require different products.
Both techniques are used to enhance facial features and facial structure. They are also used to darken specific areas of the face, but the similarities end there. Some will tell you that a bronzer can be used as a contour color, however this can be a difficult substitution because the color needs are different between contouring and bronzing. They were not designed to used as a substitute for each other and the incorrect use of these products can lead to a lot of frustration and failed makeup applications.
Let’s talk about the differences so you can best decide what product you need to create the look you desire.
First, Bronzers give a shimmery sun-kissed glow. They were created to mimic a radiant and healthy warm natural tan without the damage caused by sun exposure. Bronzers tend to have rosy, gold or peach undertone that warms the skin and gives it a soft highlighted look. The highlights in the colors catch the natural light and give the illusion of glowing beautiful skin. Bronzers are more mainstream and more user friendly. A simple light dusting to add color on the cheeks and nose and you’ve added instant beautiful color to your face. As always, the goal is a natural look, so use bronzers sparingly and always check your application in natural lighting. Bronzers are applied to the areas of the face that the sun would normally hit, specifically your forehead, top of cheeks and nose.
Contours are designed to sculpt and define areas of the face. Contouring requires more time and technique. Until recently, contouring was saved for the pros. Now that contour kits are accessible for all, we need to learn when and how to use them effectively. Contours are matte colors usually with a grey or beige undertone. This is because we are trying to create the illusion of shadow on the face. While bronzers are warm, contours are always cooler in tone. Contouring creates sharper angles on the face, shapes and gives a more dramatic look. Contours require a good color match to your skin tone to look natural. Usually all that is required is a couple shades darker than the foundation color you use. The proper application of contours is very important because we do not want to look bruised or dirty. When you are first starting to use them, and for everyday wear, start with a very light application of contour. You can always deepen or darken the color if preferred but it is very difficult to remove color once applied. Take your time and practice with your contour.
One last word of caution, whether you are using bronzer or contour, to achieve a natural look, blending is key. Both products will require a setting powder if used over a liquid or crème foundation to blend effectively.