The Difference Between Contour And Bronzer

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Makeup can be as simple or as complicated as you’d like it to be. There are a few techniques that you can do. Sometimes, people tend to interchange the terms because they can be similar.

Bronzing and contouring are an example of those terms. Although many may interchange them, there is a clear difference between the two products. Today, we are here to help you understand the difference between contour and bronzer

To do that, we’ll first discuss what each is, then we’ll discuss in detail what makes them different from each other. By understanding contour vs bronzer, you’ll be able to properly use the products as they are intended to be used. 

Plus, we’ll also give you some tips on how to properly contour or bronze your face. That will also help you improve the overall makeup look you want to achieve. 


Defining Contour vs Bronzer

Contour and bronzers are makeup products that can help define your face. They can come in a powder or cream form.

A bronzer usually has a shiny finish to it. It gives the skin a natural shine to make it appear like the skin is naturally glowing with a tan. It’s generally easier to apply, and is less finicky than contour.

Luminous Bronzer

A contour is a makeup product that helps shape the face. It accentuates areas to better define the face. Usually, this is two shades darker than the skin tone. With it used, you can give your phase more depth. 

Many contours come in multiple shades in order to create additional depth.


It can also be used to shape areas of the face as you would want it to look. It helps trick the eye by creating shadows on the face.

That creates the shape of the face. That is why it could also be used to make the face slimmer than it really is.

The Difference Between Contour And Bronzer

Although contour and bronzer are similar to each other, they are quite different from each other when looked at carefully. They differ in terms of areas where they are applied to and their use or function.

Area Of The Face


You don’t just apply a contour or a bronzer randomly on the face. You must remember that contours create shadow-like areas.

This is why they are used on the temples of the head, the hairline, hollows of the cheek, and the side of the nose.

On the other hand, bronzers give a shinier finish. They are usually placed in areas where light hits. That gives you a glowing finish on such areas.

Bronzers are typically applied on the middle of the forehead, tops of the cheeks, the tip of the nose, and chin.

Use Or Function

Contour placement

Contour is used to improve the depth of the face. It is used to create shadows to shape the face. If you want to slim down the appearance of the face, the contour is better used.

It can help slim down or trick the eyes that an area is smaller than it is due to the play of the darker shade. 

On the other hand, bronzers give more emphasis on the area where it is because of the shine. It produces a glow that you’d typically expect from beautifully tanned skin. It helps brighten and warm up the face by adding a healthy glow to it. 

How To Contour 

Those who haven’t tried contouring before can find it intimidating to do. However, with practice, you’ll do it flawlessly. Plus, we will guide you on how to contour your face with the easy steps below. 

1. Find The Right Products And Tools

Angled Contour Brush

Finding the right products and tools may take a little bit of trial and error. Some products work better for certain faces.

Contours come in various formulations and some work better for particular skin types.

Those that have dry skin may want a creamier or more liquid product than powdered contour. 

Apart from the consistency of the product, you should carefully select the right shade for you. Usually, you’ll aim for a shade that’s two shades darker than your skin tone.

Do take note that during summer, when we tend to have some color, you may want a darker shade compared to what you might use in the winter when we tend to look paler.

Apart from the contour product itself, you’d also want to select the right tool for contour application. An angled contour brush  is ideal for powdered contour products.

However, if you are using cream or liquid ones, a sponge blender  works well. 

2. Know Where To Apply

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One of the main differences between a contour and a bronzer is the area where you place it. For contour products, you have to be more particular where you place it.

Don’t just sweep it all over your face!

It needs to be precise so you can successfully shape your face or make it look slimmer. If it isn’t precise enough, it will look unnatural and messy. You need to keep it in certain areas where shadows are likely to fall depending on the shape you want to achieve. 

Usually, the contour is applied to the face in a pattern that looks like a number “3”. This will add a shadow around the hairline, the hollows of the face, and the jawline.

If you are going to apply some on the sides of your nose, make sure that you use a slim brush to make a clean line.

3. Blend Properly

Lastly, you have to blend the contour you just applied. Blending will help remove harsh lines that make your contour look unnatural. Blending it properly to the face will only a minute or so to do.

It is a simple step but makes a huge difference when done well. 

A well-blended contour will make the face look naturally sculpted. There aren’t any harsh edges and the darker areas will blend softly with the rest of the face.

You’re looking for smooth transitions. 

How To Apply Bronzer

Applying Bronzer

A contour product and a bronzer appear quite similar to each other because they come in powder, cream, or more liquid form.

However, applying them is not entirely the same. Here’s how you apply bronzer to your face. 

1. Find The Right Products

Like contour products, there are also lots of bronzer products in the market today. Bronzers that are two shades darker than your skin tone are also best. However, you also have to take note of the color tones in the bronzer. 

For beginners, it is best to select those with neutral tones instead of orange or red ones.

Like the contour products, you also have to use the right tool for the products you use. A brush would be great for powdered bronzers while a damp sponge would work well for liquid or cream ones.

Some people use liquid bronzers but simply use their fingertips to apply and blend the product.

Although you can successfully apply bronzers without brushes or sponges, you have to make sure you blend the product well so it looks flawless and doesn’t look muddy. 

2. Apply On High Points

Bronzers are unlike contours that you use to create shadows. Instead of thinking about where to place shadows just like you would for contour, this time think where the sun is likely to hit the face naturally. 

Usually, these areas are above or over the areas where you place the contour. You could place bronzers on your temples then sweep it across, along the hairline.

Bronzers are also placed on the apples of the cheeks.

3. Don’t Forget To Blend

Just like the contour products, the bronzers should also be well-blended to prevent harsh edges. With a smooth transition, the makeup will look more natural.

There are also different techniques you can use to make it suitable for your face shape or for your desired outcome. 

Which is Better, Bronzer or Contour?

Bronzers and contour products are makeup products that can help you define your face. Although both are typically darker than your skin color, the two have different uses. 

The shimmering or shiny finish of bronzers helps give you a tanned glow in various areas of the face. On the other hand, the contour can help define the face shapes by mimicking natural shadow areas of the face. 

The better one for you will depend on what makeup look you want to achieve. If you want a sculpted look, you are better off using contour products. 

These will emphasize the shadows of the face to give that crafted look. You can also use contour to help make your face look slimmer. 

Bronzers, on the other hand, are more shimmery and can give emphasis on the areas that are typically tanned or exposed to the sun. It gives your skin a sun-kissed glow. 

One product could be better than the other depending on the look that you want to achieve. You can also combine the use of the two products for a sculpted yet glowy-tanned finish. 

Can You Use Contour Without Bronzer?

You can certainly use a contour without using a bronzer if you just want to sculpt your face. 

The two products have different uses, and although you can combine them to achieve a specific makeup look, you can use just one product without using the other. 

The use of either or both of the products will depend on the look that you want to achieve. 

Combining Contour And Bronzer Together

Contour and bronzer products can definitely be combined to create a wonderful, glowing look. Contouring can help sculpt the face while bronzers add some golden glow. Both help define your features such as the cheekbones. 

The products are placed in different areas of the face so you can definitely use them both for your everyday makeup.

Here’s our guide on how to combine contour and bronzer.

Blending them properly is the key to making your makeup look natural and well puttogether. 

How Do I Choose a Contour and Bronzer Shade?

When choosing a shade for your contour makeup or bronzer, you should take a look at your skin tone. Usually, it is best to take use a contour or bronzer that is shades darker than your natural color.

This will help make sure that the products you use look realistic when applied to your skin. Both the contour and bronzer should be about 2-4 shades darker. The main difference between them is their finish. 

Usually, it is best to take use a contour or bronzer that is shades darker than your natural color.

It is possible you may want multiple shades of contour or bronzer in your makeup kit. That’s because there are times when your skin can look darker or lighter depending on the time of year.

You may observe that your skin is a shade darker in the summer due to more sun exposure. In this case, you should also use a darker shade of contour or bronzer. 

Be careful in choosing the shades and don’t get those that are too dark. They will not appear natural on your skin. 

Final Thoughts

Contour and bronzer are two makeup products that some people get confused with. Some people might talk about applying contour products when they are actually talking about bronzing products. 

Although you select two shades darker than your skin tone for contour and bronzer products, there are still differences between them. 

First of all, the contour is used to define the shape of the face. They are usually placed on areas where you want to create a shadow to form an illusion that the face is slimmer than it actually is. 

Bronzers, on the other hand, provide shine and are usually placed on areas that naturally get hit by light. It provides a glow like your skin is sunkissed or tanned. 

The key to properly using both is knowing where to place them and blending them out properly so as to prevent harsh edges. Also, you can definitely use both products on your face to achieve a warm, glowing and sculpted look.

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Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).