What's the Difference Between Bronzing and Contouring?

Bronzing has been a mainstream makeup step for many years, whereas contouring remained mostly in the realm of pros. This has changed in recent years, but many makeup wearers are left with some confusion about the two techniques.

It’s easy to see similarities between bronzing and contouring products, as both are used to strategically darken the skin. However, bronzers and contours should be used in different ways for different purposes.

What Is Contouring?

Contouring is the use of makeup to create the illusion of shadows on the skin in order to sculpt, define, and restructure the face. With precise application and good technique, contouring can help you achieve killer cheekbones, a slimmer nose, and a flawless facial shape.

What Should I Look For In A Contouring Product?

Your contour product should emulate a natural shadow, so the product should always be completely matte. Shadows are also cool-toned, so you need a product with grey or beige undertones. Anything orange or golden will simply muddy the look and won’t resemble a natural shadow.

You can see these ash tones and matte finish in the Designer Brands Cream Contour Kit – Light Medium. Check out some of our favourite contour palettes below.



How Is Contour Applied?

Where you apply your contour should depend on your face shape. However, you should always apply your darker contour shade on areas you want to draw attention AWAY from. This may be the sides of your nose (to slim it), the hollows of your cheeks (to enhance your cheekbones), or the temples (to narrow the forehead).

You can then team your contour with some highlight to enhance the areas you DO want to draw attention to. See below the cheek's and forehead are more defined while the nose is instantly slimmed. Highlighter is used to draw the eye to the thinnest part of the nose, lips, cheek bones and the eyes.

What Is Bronzing?

Bronzer is used to emulate a sun-kissed glow and enhance a tan. Bronzing makeup can be used to darken areas of the skin without masking it, or to add warmth. Bronzer is a great way to make your skin look radiant and healthy.

benefit-hoola-bronzing-powder-mini-by-benefit-cosmetics-353.png?transformations=f auto,w 500,h 500benefit-hoola-bronzing-powder-mini-by-benefit-cosmetics-353.png?transformations=f auto,w 500,h 500

Picking The Perfect Bronzer

Bronzing products come in different formulas: gels, creams, powders, and liquids. Some products are used all over the body and not just on the face.

You can also choose a matte bronzer or a shimmery one. A matte bronzer is better if you want a natural finish. Use a matte product to lightly define your features and warm up your skin tone. Shimmer is best for a sun-kissed, radiant finish.

Bronzers tend to be more warm-toned, which is why you shouldn’t use one as contour. A matte bronzer may look like a good contour shade, but it's more likely to warm your skin and not create the cool-toned shadows you want.

Check out our bronzer with the most reviews below!

This product is suitable for all ages, skin types, and genders. Those in search of a natural-finish bronzer that can also be used to contour will benefit most from the use of this product. This colour may be too deep for contouring very fair skin and too light for bronzing or contouring very deep skin.

How Should Bronzer Be Applied?

Bronzer should be applied to areas where the sun hits your skin the most and where you tan the darkest. These are typically the cheekbones, temples, and the bridge of your nose.

It may be tempting to raid your stash for contour and find an old matte bronzer. However, it’s worth saving that product for bronzing and investing in contour makeup instead.

It’s important to understand the differences between the two techniques. Then you can use bronzing and contouring side by side to create a beautifully sculpted AND sun-kissed look.