Bronzer Vs Contour: Can I Use Bronzer For Contouring?

Bronzer Vs Contour: Can I Use Bronzer For Contouring?

It’s a glowdown showdown with bronzer vs. contouring!

While both are important, you might wonder if you can use your trusty bronzer to contour. 

What does contouring mean, exactly?

Contouring is when you use makeup to define and sculpt your face structure, such as by highlighting your cheekbones or making your face appear slimmer. 

It makes sense that you would think bronzer is the perfect makeup item to contour with because it’s a beautiful shade that will complement your face and make it glow, right?

Here’s what you need to know before you try. 

What Is Bronzer?

Before you can go ahead and use your bronzer to contour, it helps to know what bronzer is and how it’s used.

Basically, bronzer is a product that gives you a sun-kissed glow. It darkens some parts of your skin so that it provides more warmth, making your skin glow much more, as if you’ve just returned from a beach holiday. 

You should apply bronzer to the areas of the face where the sun would strike, so basically the highest points. These are the jawline, forehead, and temples. You have to blend it out so that it doesn’t look unnatural. Remember, bronzer isn’t about getting a fake tan on your face! 

Here’s how to apply bronzer for the best results:

  • Take a makeup brush and tap it into your bronzer product. 
  • Gently glide the brush across your cheekbones and around the face perimeter – your forehead and temples, namely.
  • You can also sweep the brush along your jawline if you wish to add more definition to it. 
  • Then, blend the bronzer in small circles. This prevents lines and stripes from appearing and makes the bronzer look much more natural. 
  • Use any excess product that you still have on your brush to dust your chin, neck, and nose. 

Pro tip: 

It’s really easy for you to end up with too much product on your brush, so make sure you invest in a large and fluffy brush that’s also tapered. When you dip the brush into your bronzer, don’t let all the product go to the central bristles.

You want to roll the brush all over the bronzer so that you get an even distribution. Always tap the brush to remove excess bronzer before you use it on your face to prevent too much from being applied.  

Wait – Should You Use Bronzer Or Blush?

Now, things can feel a bit confusing when it comes to bronzer and blush. You might wonder which one you should use, or if you should use both!

It really depends on the look that you’re going for. Bronzer is ideal for when you want to achieve a lovely warm, sun-kissed appearance. Blush is a softer color that adds a healthy rosiness to the cheeks

You can actually wear bronzer and blush together, such as if you want an even warmer look on your face, but you have to be careful to avoid the result looking muddy. Here are the steps to follow: 

  • Apply the bronzer first by dusting it lightly to areas of your face that usually get hit by the sun, such as your forehead, nose, and jawline.
  • Use a brush to apply it and add more if you want a deeper look. Applying the bronzer first will allow it to get absorbed by the skin so that it looks natural and perfectly blended. 
  • Next, apply some blush. If you have a heart-shaped face, apply it in a “C” shape all the way from your temple to the bottom of the cheekbone. If you have a round face or square jawline, apply it to the apples of your cheeks. 
  • Make sure you blend it into the bronzer so that you produce a seamless, smooth finish. 
  • Your blush should never be applied directly on top of your bronzer – that’s what can make it look too dark and muddy! It should be applied above the bronzer and then blended well. 

Best Bronzer Products To Purchase 

Not sure what bronzing product you should invest in?

Here are some top picks!

Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Bronzing Cream

Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Bronzing Cream is a total game-changer. It’s a gel cream bronzer so it smooths over skin easily and gives you a gorgeous glow, thanks to how it’s packed with light-reflecting particles.

Its combination of silica and soft-focus powder means that you can achieve smoother skin with every swipe of your brush. 

Nars Matte Bronzing Powder 

Nars Matte Bronzing Powder lets you can choose from a variety of colors to complement your skin tone.

This one’s great because it’s matte so it will give you a glowing, sun-kissed result. Although the formula is matte, it’s also silky so it’s perfect for achieving that sculpted look with more depth to your cheekbones.

The coverage is light but you can certainly build on it. This bronzer also contains botanical oils that keep your skin moisturized and prevent dryness.

Bobbi Brown Summer Glow Medium/Telluride Bronzer 

Bobbi Brown Summer Glow Medium/Telluride Bronzer is great because it has two bronzers in it – one’s a peach color and the other is a terracotta shade, so you can mix them together to create a beautiful effect.

The formula easily glides over your skin, which makes applying it easy. You can also dust it onto your eyelids if you like for an all-over radiance you can’t ignore.

What Is Contouring And How Should You Do It?

When it comes to contouring your face, you might wonder what makeup product you should use.

It’s best to reach for your current foundation but add two stick foundations to the mix. You want one that’s two shades darker than your skin and one that’s two shades lighter. Ready?

Let’s contour!

  • Dip your brush into the foundation you currently use and apply it all over your face. This will create a base for the contouring and give you a smoother appearance.
  • Then, take the darker stick of foundation and use it along your temples. 
  • To accentuate your cheekbones, you want to ensure you contour the right spot. Put your fingers on the sides of your face. Focus on the spot where you feel your face dips underneath your fingers. You want to apply your foundation just above that, in a slanted line. To make your cheekbones look higher, you should apply contour underneath them. 
  • On your nose, you want to apply the foundation along either side of the bride.
  • Now that you have lines across your face, you need to blend them. Use a damp beauty blender for this task. Tap it gently over the areas where you have applied the contour color. This allows it to blend into the base of foundation you earlier applied. You want to use the rounded, larger end of the beauty blender. When tapping it against your nose, you should flatten the beauty blender in your hands before use. 
  • Use your lighter foundation stick as a highlighter under the eyes to remove any discoloration there and brighten your eyes
  • Take a large fluffy brush and use it to dust loose powder all over your face.

The result?

A natural, sculpted, and gorgeous effect!

Extra Tips To Master Contouring

  • Always make sure you apply foundation and concealer before you contour so that you work on a smooth, seamless foundation. 
  • Highlighting some parts of your face is a great thing to do before you begin the contouring process so that your face looks dewy. Apply highlighter to the under-eye area, between your eyebrows, around the inner corners of your eyes, above your cheekbones, and also above your upper lip (the cupid’s bow). If you’re using a liquid highlighter, you should use your fingers or makeup blender to apply it; if you’re using a powder highlighter, use a fan brush. 

Best Contouring Products

In order to make sure you achieve the best contouring, get your hands on the right products. Here are some worth checking out. 

Clinique Chubby Stick Sculpting Contour

Clinique Chubby Stick Sculpting Contour helps to create the illusion of depth when applied to your face.

It is long-lasting and oil free, so it won’t cause breakouts. This chubby stick blends well, is easy to apply, and prevents muddiness. Since it’s so easy to use, it’s perfect if you’re just starting out with contouring. 

Stila Shape & Shade Custom Contour Duo

Stila Shape & Shade Custom Contour Duo contains a cream product and highlighting shade.

But it’s perfect for you if you want to tackle some skin issues while getting a more sculpted face. It fills lines so that your skin looks seamless and smooth. This is a velvety, long-lasting formula that blends easily. 

Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Contour Wand 

If you want the ease of applying contour without having to use a brush, you’ll love Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Contour Wand wand and product.

It comes with a fluffy applicator that enables you to produce a seamless, even contouring job. Choose a light-to-medium or medium-to-dark shade and then get contouring easily! The product itself is light and creamy, so it blends easily. 

Bronzer Vs. Contour: What’s The Difference?

Bronzer Vs. Contour: What’s The Difference?

By now it’s clear to see that bronzer and contouring products really do vary quite a bit. Bronzer is really about making the skin look warm and healthy, while contouring is focused on sharpening your face even though it should still look natural. 

That said, you can use your bronzer to contour if you don’t have foundation sticks handy. However, it’s important to be wary of your skin tone. If you have fair skin with a cool undertone, bronzer will work really well to contour.

If you’re medium or dark-skinned as well as warm toned, bronzer can work but you have to ensure you don’t use too much of it

It’s also important to choose a bronzer that is matte instead of shimmery as that could potentially create too much of a glow on your skin, causing you to look shiny.

You want to use a contouring product to highlight the structure of your face, but a shimmery bronzer won’t do that properly. 

If you want to achieve subtle definition, a matte bronzer can do the trick. But, if you’re looking for a more defined effect, you won’t achieve it with matte bronzers.

They’re too warm to create those shadows you want, such as on your cheekbones. They can also create a muddy or patchy effect that will ruin your entire look. 

Although a bit of bronzer can work if you’re really desperate for a contouring product, it’s really worth your time to invest in foundation sticks that you can use to contour properly and effectively. 

Strobing: An Alternative To Contouring?

An alternative to contouring is strobing, which is basically just a way to highlight your face. It’s gentler than contouring and gives you more of a glow, so it’s worth considering if you don’t want to contour. 

Strobing is a way to bring more light to your face and make sallow or discolored areas of your skin more invisible. This makes your skin look youthful and refreshed! Here’s how to strobe. 

  • To strobe successfully, you need a highlighter that you’ll apply to the forehead in a triangular shape – the point of the triangle should be between your eyebrows. You also have to apply a strip of highlighter down the bridge of your nose, a short strip along the upper lip, two strips underneath your eyebrows to accentuate your eyes, and two strips across your cheekbones in a slant – just follow the bone. 
  • Then, make sure you blend the highlighter so that you can’t see where it begins and ends. It must melt into your foundation to create a seamless finish.  

Pro tips

  • Make sure you use a highlighter that complements your skin tone. If you have a fair complexion, you should use a champagne hue, while gold and rose gold are great for darker skin tones. It’s a good idea to avoid any silver hues of highlighter on any skin tone as these can be too harsh and they look unnatural. They also tend to overpower the rest of your makeup.
  • If you have oily skin, you might worry that highlighter will make it oilier. To prevent this from happening, it’s important that you first apply mattifying powder to your skin before you apply foundation and then highlighter to strobe. 

Best Products For Strobing 

What are the products you should use to strobe? Here’s a rundown of some of the best.

1. Kiehl’s Sodium PCA Oil-Free Moisturizer – You can’t have a perfect glow without naturally illuminated skin, so make sure you prep your skin with an oil-free moisturizer like Kiehl’s Sodium PCA Oil-Free Moisturizer. It holds onto moisture and keeps your skin smooth and free of oily shine. 

2. Marc Jacobs Beauty Dew Drops Coconut Gel Highlighter – This is ideal for fair skin because it’s got a lovely gold-peach color. It makes your skin absolutely glow and the gel formula is easy to apply. You’ll love how this product lasts a long time because a little goes a long way to keep you shining in all the right ways. 

3. RMS Beauty Magic Luminizer – This is the best highlighter to use if you have medium-to-dark skin. On medium skin, it gives you a bit of a blush with a glow, while darker skin tones will love how glossy and warm it looks. It’s basically a peachy tone with a bit of a shimmer to make you dazzle. As a bonus to your skin, it contains organic oils that will keep it healthy.

4. Trophy Wife 3D Hyper Metallic Gold Fenty Highlighter – This Fenty highlighter is beautiful on darker skin tones. It’s light and has a creamy yet powdery formula that makes it long-lasting. Don’t feel nervous about how bright it looks – it doesn’t go on too strong. Rather, it blends in perfectly with your skin so that your glow looks natural but still eye-catching. 

Related Questions 

Should your bronzer be shimmery? 

A bit of shimmer is always good, but if you have oily skin it might not be the best idea because it will prevent a more natural look.

So, choose a matte or satin finish bronzer.

Should you use your fingers to contour? 

If you’re using a creamy product to contour your face, you can use your fingers as they warm up the product so it blends and melts into your skin.

However, if your product is a powder, you should use a fan brush as this will distribute the product lightly. 


Bronzer, contouring, strobing. It can all become a bit confusing!

But now you know what products and tools you need to take your makeup to a more glamorous level, look healthier, and glow with a more defined face. 

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