OK makeup veterans, if you are a total makeup junkie then this post might not be for you. You probably know every bronzer and contour color from here to Timbuktu. As for those who are just learning the ways or the beauty junkie, you guys listen up.
One of the most commonly questions I get from girls who are just starting to get into makeup is “what is the difference between Bronzer and Contour?” Makes sense, they are both (usually) brownish powders that you apply with a brush to the skin. But there are quite a few differences ranging from what they are made for to the effect they will achieve, so I’m gonna spell all of them out for you right now. Everything a beginner needs to know about Bronzer Vs. Contour. Let’s start with bronzer, shall we?
What is Bronzer and What should I Look For in One?
Bronzer is a product intended to give a sun kissed glow to the skin. Basically mimicking what would happen if you went out in the sun just enough to get some healthy color.
When you are looking into buying a bronzer you should consider a few things. First and foremost, bronzer can be either matte or shimmery, but in my personal opinion it is best to avoid large shimmer or glitter. A little shimmer is fine. Often if a bronzer has a ton of shimmer or glitter it makes for a muddy look on the skin. Not cute. Personally I prefer matte bronzer most of the time, but that’s just personal preference. Next consider the color of your skin. For a natural effect, fair ladies should avoid anything too orange. Instead look for a more neutral shade that still has some warmth. Those with darker skin can be a little more lenient as the orange tones will actually add a warmth and glow to your skin. Generally the darker you are the more orange you can get away with.
What Do I Do With It?
There are many ways to apply bronzer but a good rule of thumb is to gently dust it onto the areas of your face that get hit by the sun the most. You are, after all trying to mimic a sun kissed effect. Areas like your hairline, the bridge of your nose and the tops of your cheek bones for example. When in doubt less is more, a subtle bronze glow is better than full on Oompaloompa or accidental “dirty face” look.
What is Contour a Shade and What Should I Look For in One?
A contour shade is used to create areas of color that mimic a shadow. If you want an area of your face to look like it sinks in further and/or sticks out less, then contour is your answer. Want your nose to look thinner? Contour. Want you cheeks to look slimmer? Contour. Want your jawline to look sharper? Create more shadow underneath with contour. You feel me?
When you are setting out to buy a contour shade there are a few things to remember. First you should know that few brands actually put out a stand alone contouring product. More and more brands are coming out with them recently, but generally speaking contour shades hide unsuspectingly among the blushes and the bronzers. I think this is where a lot of the confusion comes from actually, now that I think about it.
For example, my holy grail contour shade is actually a blush.
The first rule of contour is NO SHIMMER. I usually never make claims of hard and fast rules in makeup, but this one I feel is pretty much undeniable. The idea of a contour shade is to create the illusion of a recessed area aka an absence of light, so using something that catches light makes no sense. It just creates an area that is dark like it should be recessed, but shimmery like it should be sticking out. The result is muddy, and it doesn’t help to sculpt the face. So matte is the way to go.
The other thing to remember is that it should look like a shadow, so you don’t want a warm color. You should also remember however that shadows aren’t gray, they are gray mixed with the surrounding colors. So while you should be looking for a color that is not warm, you don’t want it to be a completely cool gray tone either, that just wont look natural. Basically, something in the taupe family will work best. To sum it up – those with fair skin want a matte, neutral taupe shade. Darker skin tones should choose a matte, cool brown (basically just taupe but darker).
What Do I Do With It?
As I mentioned above, you want to place your contour color in any areas that you want to recede. This will vary depending on your face shape, or what you want to change about your face shape. If you have no idea where to start, thats ok! Check out the awesome series Maskcara did on how to HAC For Your Face Shape, definitely very helpful and informative.
These days I like to apply my contour color with a small, egg shaped brush. Usually I use the RealTechniques Contour brush. But for a nice sculpted shape on the cheeks you can use a flat bursh like the one that comes in benefits blushes, or something like this EcoTools one. Just like with bronzer if you aren’t sure then less is more. And don’t forget to always use a light hand, you can always add more but it’s a lot harder to take it away.
And that’s pretty much everything you need to know about Bronzer Vs. Contour!
Do you have any contour and bronzer tips? Let me know in the comments!