Contour vs Bronzer

When I started my Facebook page and website I asked if there was anything in particular that people would like to know. I was surprised that the most requested topic was contouring, since it has been covered by so many bloggers and beauty gurus. Well, you guys requested so I will give you my spin on it with a three-part blog, the first part will be all about the difference between bronzer and contour, the second will be about highlighters and the third about application techniques and face shapes.

Starting with our first part, the difference between bronzer and contour, and getting direct to the point they are not the same.

Naked Flushed
Figure 1: Naked Flush bronzer swatch using my finger on top and a contouring brush below.

Bronzer is used to warm up the skin and give it a sun kiss look. It usually has a warm orange undertone and it can have shimmer. Contour products are used to mimic shadows and are always cold browns, usually with a grey undertone and are always matte.


Shade + Light
Figure 2: Shade + Light contour palette swatches, from lighter to darker, swatch with my finger followed by a swatch using a contouring brush.

Taking a makeup course, or talking to most professionals, you will probably hear that bronzers are applied where you would naturally be hit by the sun, which are the highest areas on your face. Contour is the opposite and is applied on areas where you expect to naturally have shadows.

Figure 3: Bronzer used to countour

We do see people using bronzers to contour, and lately this is a very popular look on social media. There is nothing wrong to use a bronzer this way, but it will not give you the chiseled Kim K look.

Figure 4: Countour made using proper contour shades

The easiest way to show and explain the difference between contouring with a bronzer and using the proper contour product is with photos. As you can see on figure three we still have a beautiful makeup but the cheeks do not appear to be chiseled as on figure four. To me the model on figure three appears to have more makeup than the model on four, what in reality is the opposite. The bronzer applied as contour can give the impression of a heavier look, and if not careful it can give you a “dirty” look, this is because of the color of the bronzer.

Jordan Liberty
Figure 5: Makeup by Jordan Liberty with model wearing bronzer for contour followed by proper countouring

Figure five shows on the same model the difference between using bronzer or proper contour products. As you can probably tell from this artist captions he also believes that using bronzer for contouring can cause a heavy look. You can see his YouTube video about the subject on the link below.

Bronzer however can bring your contouring to new levels. On figure six you see a collage of photos, where on the first set I used a bronzer as my contour, the photos in the middle I used proper contour products, and the last is wearing a combination of contouring and proper bronzing. Ignoring the fact that I look like I just woke up, all I’m wearing is foundation and mascara, I’m not wearing any type of highlighter or blush. Also  I only have natural light from a window.

bronzer vs contour
Figure 6: Collage of photos showing the difference on countouring with bronzer, normal countouring followed by proper contouring and bronzing

Stay tunned for the next two parts of this blog, and if you have any questios feel free to send it my way onthe comment box, on Facebook or by email.


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