Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase using my link.
Once you’ve got your foundation, tinted moisturizer, or concealer on it’s time to cut, chisel, and define your face structure while highlighting your favorite features. That’s right, I’m talking contour.
Using making up to contour the face hasn’t always been a part of mainstream makeup-wearing trends. It was mostly reserved for theaters because the stage lights would wash out your face, and for high-end modeling for an intense catwalk feature.
But, I couldn’t be more thrilled that this game-changing technique has made its way into our make-up bags. The best though….you don’t even need a contour palette to achieve your look. Read on for easy ways to contour with something you likely already own–Bronzer!
What Does Bronzer Do?
Bronzer comes in shades of natural tans and deep browns with a variation of warm undertones. Commonly placed on the cheekbones, brows, nose, and jawline, bronzer can be used to shape the face, similar to what a contour would do.
Bronzer is lighter than contour but darker than blush. It’s primarily used to add a sunkissed glow to the parts of the face that tend to tan sooner, including the forehead and cheekbones.
Like when creating art with paint, the darker the color the further away something appears, and using a bright color makes something appear nearer. When using bronzer, those areas of your face will be pulled in or back while the brighter areas (where concealer, highlighter, and setting powder are applied) are brought forward.
Therefore, bronzer can be used to make the jawline appear sharper, cheekbones deeper, dimples more dramatic and can even shorten the forehead. But bronzer isn’t limited to the face it can even be used as a subtle or shimmery contour on the neck, color bone, and cleavage. But these aren’t just summertime secrets.
Even though bronzer can give you a tan look without you having to spend hours in the UV rays, it’s still appropriate to wear in winter. As the seasons change, it’s safe to adjust how heavy-handed you go with bronzer or just reach for a lighter shade.
Bronzer Vs. Contour
The primary difference between contour makeup and bronzer is the drama they create. Bronzer is mostly created with warm undertones, since no matter your skin color, a suntan doesn’t reflect cool undertones.
Contour, on the other hand, is usually created with cool tones of browns, purples, and grey to create deep shadows throughout the face. The shadows create a dramatically contoured appearance making everything even more defined.
Reasons to contour with bronzer instead of a contour palette are:
- For a softer, more natural contour
- Reduce the amount of makeup you have to use
- Keep the face warm instead of mixing and balancing with a cool-tone contour
- Bronzer is also easier to apply and if you go heavy-handed when contouring with bronzer, it’s easy to blend it out or fix. Contour will usually require that you completely remove the makeup or cake on addition foundation to conceal it.
How to Contour With Bronzer
Applying bronzer is all about applying with purpose and allowing a quality product to do the work. I’ve created a list of the Best Organic Bronzers to help you create your glow, naturally.
Blending is your friend, so if you notice any harsh lines or your bronzer looks like a brown streak, uses a damp makeup sponge or brush and in upward, circular motions, blend the product until your application appears seamless.
The Lily Lolo Bronzer Brush is an ideal way to perfect your application and is suitable for liquid or powder bronzer. The bristles are super soft making blending a breeze but they’re also densely packed so you can use the product efficiently without having to double-dip.
With your tips, tools, and favorite bronzers in tow, here’s how to contour with bronzer.
Step 1: Create a Blank Canvas
In order to best control the outcome of the contour, you’ll want to make sure your skin has an even tone by applying your foundation or tinted moisturizer. This way you can best decipher where pigment needs to be applied to create the best contour.
Step 2: Determine Where to Contour
Do you want to sharpen your nose, deepen your brow, reduce the size of your forehead, emphasize your dimples, sharpen your jawline, or erase a double-chin? Contouring with bronzer can do it all. Consider that everywhere the bronzer is applied will be “reduced” and will in return highlight other parts of the face.
Step 3: Think in Three’s
Step 2 can be confusing, especially for beginners, but as you learn your face over time, you’ll figure out exactly how you like to contour.
In the meantime, a general rule for contouring with bronzer is to create the shape of a 3 on both sides of the face.
Beginning just above your temples is the first arch of the 3. Then, take that down and cut just above your cheekbone to deepen it, and loop back around to the edge of your jawline to create the shape of a 3.
Step 4: Blend
Using a clean powder brush, blend the contour in an upward motion so there aren’t obvious brown lines along your face.
At the forehead, blend the bronzer into the hairline, on the cheeks blend in a soft circular motion while containing the line of contour to the desired area. Continue to blend the jawline to soften the first application and to create an airbrushed finish.
Step 5: Highlight
Now that the shadow has been created with the contour, it’s time to highlight. Apply highlighter at the tip of the cheekbones, down the center of the nose, and just between the outer arch of our brown and the temples for a truly chiseled look.
Step 6: Set in Place
You don’t want your contour to get muddy or patchy throughout the day. Set your look in place with an all-natural setting spray and keep your contour from smearing.
Here is a helpful video about using bronzer as well as how to use it to contour.
Ready to try your hand at contouring? Grab your favorite, non-sparkly bronzer and practice steps 1 through 6 to create your most snatched look!
Do you have any contour tips to share? Leave them in the comments below!