Sunday, January 5, 2014

Contour vs. Bronzer

Alright ladies.  Let's discuss contouring and bronzing, shall we?  I spent many years misunderstanding and confusing the two.  However, once you understand the key elements, it's really becomes a no-brainer. 

Let's get started.

First let's talk color:

For a contour shade, you want a cool-toned brown.  Contour is all about creating shadows in the hollows of the face.  Think about shadows for a moment.  They're dark and cool.  So choose a shade that's a few shades darker than your skin tone and has cool or grey undertones.  It may look too dark or a bit frightening in the pan but fear not, proper application and blending will do the trick. 

Additionally, it may seem a bit difficult at first to find a good contour shade so expect some trial and error.  And don't be afraid to find products that aren't billed as traditional contour powders.  The L'Oreal powder I use is just a typical face powder but it happens to be a perfect contour shade for me.   

Bronzers a bit easier.  A bronzer is supposed to (duh) bronze the skin so you're looking for a shade that gives the appearance of a sun-kissed glow.  Warm browns, occasionally with a slight dew or shimmer, are best.  Try to avoid shades that lean too orange because it lends to a fake-n-bake look.  I've been using Pixi's Subtly Suntouched (from my Ipsy Glam Bag) and I've really enjoyed it.  It's quite a bit lighter than shades I've used in the past and I've discovered it's the perfect subtle glow for my pasty winter skin.  

Onto placement:
Placement is really key to successful bronzing and highlighting.  When you think of it, it's actually quite simple.  Contouring means emphasizing the hallows on your face to make the "peaks" stand out.  So contour powders should be placed in the shadows of your face.  In the picture above, you'll see that powder is dusted in the hollows of the cheekbones, near the temples, along the sides of the nose, and right by the hairline.  This slims the face by emphasizing the high points.  

Bronzing, on the other hand, is quite the opposite.  Since bronzing is meant to mimic the sun's kiss, bronzer placement should be wherever the sun would naturally hit the face.  Dust bronzer on the tops of the cheeks, along the forehead, on the tip of the nose and chin.  These areas are where the sun might naturally hit the face and will give you the most natural effect.  

Last, let's talk tools:

To contour, you're really looking for something rather small, precise, and tapered.  I love the Real Techniques Contour Brush (part of their Core Collection) for application.  It's fluffy enough to create a soft-focus finish but tapered enough to still provide a precise application.  Use a light hand when contouring and most importantly, blend blend blend.  

For bronzer, I love a big fluffy brush.  The Real Techniques Powder Brush is perfect.  It's large and fluffy and ensures that I never use bronzer too heavy handed.  Lightly sweep the brush over the high points of the face.  You can always add more if you'd like but be careful not to over-due it.  

If you're interested in learning even more, you should visit Maskcara.  She's got a phenomenal blog and she's possibly the queen of highlighting and contouring.  

What are your favorite contouring and bronzing tips?


  1. Fantastic tutorial, super easy to follow! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh !!!!!!!!! (sorry : the penny just dropped :D )

    I googled a search contour vs bronzer and found your blog : I'm going to read some more of your posts now.

    Thanks for this crystal clear makeup lesson.

  3. This is really helpful! Thankyou :)

  4. I stumbled upon your post and found it very clear and easily understood! Thanks!