Bronzer vs Contouring: There Is a Difference!

Happy Monday! Hope your weekend was fabulous and here we are starting another week. Father’s Day is coming up and will be here in a week! Have you thought about gift ideas? I am currently looking Barry a few things from the kids and Brooklyn, it seems it’s always hard buying for him for some reason.

I was putting my makeup on last week and Brooklyn was sitting in the bathroom watching me and was asking questions and playing with my brushes. When I was applying my bronzer, she asked, “What’s that grandma?” I told her I was giving me some sunshine! She looked very perplexed and said, “Well, we can go to the beach. There’s sunshine there.” LOL! (inside note – it’s been raining all weekend here) But her questions inspired this post. Contouring or Bronzer? Bronzer is my pick of these two. I’m older and don’t want heavy makeup on my skin, too much blending for me with contour (I’m looking quick and easy). Bronzer is a few strokes and I’m done! I do use contouring if we are taking pictures, but for a daily look, I stick with a little bronzer.

What is contouring?

Contouring is a makeup application strategy where deeper and lighter shades are applied to specific areas of the face; this is done to shade and define certain features, such as the nose, forehead, chin, and cheeks. It calls for the use of matte powders, creams, or pencils that are roughly two shades darker than one’s actual skin tone in order to reshape the face, creating higher cheekbones, slimmer noses, and sleeker jawlines.

Contouring used to be a secret weapon reserved by beauty gurus used at photo shoots; now, contouring has infiltrated the social media and YouTube scene, inspiring ordinary enthusiasts to give it a go – with more or less success. When contouring is done wrong (for example, say, with a bronzer) it can look disastrous. Contouring creates shadows, taking away light to lend a hollowed appearance.

Too much, and you can look gaunt or as though you were knocking on death’s door. Alternatively, bronzers are used to shape the face and break up the monotony of a plain foundation. It adds dimension by framing the face, bringing its various features to the center. The eyes, nose, cheeks, and lips become the center of attention. It adds a healthy dose of color to the complexion, making the face appear vivacious and radiant.

Perfect Bronzer #1 takes the guess work out and looks great on any skin tone.

Both contouring and bronzing your face are great skills to have and everyone should know when and how to use them. There can be confusion, because quite often people use a bronzer to contour with, and this is totally acceptable as long as you are using the correct shade.  If you aren’t sure, then it’s a good idea to stick with a product marketed specifically for contouring because this will have the appropriate undertones.

If you’re wanting to give yourself a little color then stick with a bronzer. It’s simple to use and a little goes a long way!

Bronzer Techniques 101

Reach for a bronzer when you want to look like you just came home from a fabulous tropical vacation (but without the sun damage).  It’s fine to use something with shimmer, but think light-reflecting glow and not chunky sparkle).  When you do pick your shade think of a color you would naturally tan. You want the look to be realistic.  Perfect Bronzer #1 is one of my favorite shades to use for this! You are typically bronzing areas of the face that would naturally be hit by Sun; such as your nose, forehead, top of cheekbones, maybe a little on your chin.  Think of the areas that sunburn first if you are outside watching a ball game and forgot your sunscreen at home.

The application method is much the same as the Contouring in that you will dip the brush in powder (I always use the Classified Contour Brush for this) and then tap off the excess. (If you are using brushes for any powder for your face or eyes – ALWAYS tap your brush and knock off the excess). Start with your forehead first and then add powder to your cheekbones, chin, and nose, blending as you go.  Try to be very light handed because sometimes if you have made any mistakes or haven’t properly blended it might not be noticeable in your bathroom mirror, it will be more obvious in daylight.

Bronzer // Glowing Blush used as Highlighter // Translucent Powder

Personal Story of a Bronzer Fail

When bronzer first came out, I was in Belk and a lady at the makeup counter wanted to try this on me. I let her, but to make a long story short, when I got in the car and looked in the rearview mirror, I looked like a clown. I had to grab napkins and wipe off huge amounts of “orangy looking stuff”, it was a mess! I have always been very careful in picking out a bronzer since then and my favorite is the Perfect Bronzer by LL. So remember this, brush lightly – just enough to lightly kiss your skin or you may end up looking like I did that day. Thank God I checked the mirror before I went back to the office – I would have been so embarrassed! LOL!!

What about skin tones and undertones?

  • Bronzers for cool undertones: For skin with cooler, pinker, or beige-based undertones, opt for a peachy or cool-toned bronzer with a taupe finish.
  • Bronzers for neutral undertones: Most bronzers will look great on those with neutral undertones – even a little bit of red in the product won’t hurt.
  • Bronzers for warm undertones: If you have warm-toned skin, definitely stick with golden hues, as many bronzers can look too orange otherwise.

Once you know which undertone your skin has, and which tone to look for in a bronzer, you can begin looking at different shades:

  • Bronzers for fair skin tones: Go for warm shades of beige and honey to town down the natural pink tint of alabaster skin. Find a shimmer bronzer in your shade, as they work particularly well to give a believable summer glow to those with light or fair skin.
  • Bronzers for medium/olive skin tones: If your skin is naturally tan, find neutral shades of amber and gold to even out the complexion and add a youthful radiance. Matte bronzers work best for medium or olive skin tones because they enhance the skin’s natural warmth without overpowering a complexion with shimmer.
  • Bronzers for dark skin tones: Sheer bronzers are especially great for those with very dark skin, because they allow for added warmth without necessarily adding distinct color.

Warm up your complexion – whether it’s hot or cold outside – by following these tips on how to get glowing skin with bronzing powder. If you play to your skin type and skin tone, you’re sure to find the perfect bronzer with a luminous finish. 

Whether you are contouring and highlighting or bronzing…or even doing a little of it all; don’t be afraid to experiment. You don’t have to get it right the first time. Just do your best and in time, you will become a pro at it. And remember – start out small with just a small amount on your brush. Less is more when starting out! Let’s see what color of bronzers we need now!

I have been thinking about putting more videos up on YouTube, so if makeup application is something you would like to see, drop a comment below and I will start producing some!

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  • sandy

    Good morning…I have to admit that I am a tad tired this morning but I have a lot I need to get done in the next three days as we will be getting the grandkids Thursday and they will be here for nine days. They’ve never been gone from mommy and daddy that long so I hope it goes ok so there’s a ton of things I need to get done as not too much gets accomplished with a 5 and almost 3 year old 🙂 I have never used bronzer or done contouring so what does that say about me…I’m a “plain Jane”?? I use foundation and blush. I suppose I’m lazy and just don’t want to do the extra steps. Sometimes I think it would be fun to go to a make up counter and have them apply makeup and see how different I would look…hmmm, then again, maybe I don’t want to know how much better I could have been looking all these years…LOL Have a great day all.

    • Beverly

      Oh my gosh Sandy, you got your grandkids 9 whole says!! Girl, you are going to be busy!! I’ve been very busy today and finally sat down tonight and was able to look at the comments. I’m lazy too!! I sweep it on and go! My makeup routine for every day is no more than 3 minutes lol!! I know you have a lot to do to get ready for the kids. Wow-9 days!! That’s a long time lol

      • sandy

        I figured you must be having a very busy day since you weren’t back on the blog. YES…9 days will be a long time and I worry how tired I will be. Also a little concerned that the almost 3 year old is a VERY picky eater so it’s a struggle to get him to eat but I pray that God will guide me and “give me patience” while they are here. I love them to death, but this grandma doesn’t have the stamina that I use to have.

        • Beverly

          Oh-trust me -I totally understand. Brooklyn is becoming a handful. She’s starting to get in to everything and she’s a picky eater too! Barry goes to the grocery store and gets her favorites every week ha!! I don’t think I could handle 2 at once lol. Good luck!!

  • Kelly Palmer

    Good morning!! I am an only child so I didn’t have any sisters and my friends growing up weren’t the girly girl type that wore much if any makeup plus my mom didn’t wear anything aside from occasional lipstick. All of that to say that I didn’t have any knowledge of makeup or how to apply it. I recently within the past year or two started to wear minimal cosmetics. I use a moisturizer, primer, foundation, blush, mascara and Give Me Brow by Benefit since my brows have become very sparse with age. All of what I am using right now seems like a lot to me for someone who hasn’t used these kind of things before. I am clueless as to the other things that are out there to use and can get overwhelmed very easily about what to buy and how to properly apply things so I would love more posts and/or videos on this subject! Since we moved to this area and I have an Ulta somewhat nearby I am a fan of going there and trying things out with the employees help. The only problem is that sometimes I get someone very knowledgeable and other times maybe not so much. I do like when I can try something on before buying it because good cosmetics can be very expensive and it is such a pain to have to return things that don’t work. I am looking forward to future posts for sure! I just wanted to give you an update about the church that we visited yesterday. We loved it!! The people were so warm, friendly and welcoming. It was such a positive experience but one thing that really impressed me was that for communion the Pastor offered a gluten free bread to anyone that needed it. That may not seem like such a big issue if you are ok to eat anything with gluten but for me it is huge! When I have gone to other services where they are serving communion I have always felt so weird about not being able to partake like everyone else and it made me feel so self conscious. Anyway, we are planning to go back this coming Sunday and time will tell if it turns out to be our new church home 🙂
    P.S. Sandy I am so happy for you that you will get to have some grand baby time! Enjoy!! 🙂

    • sandy

      Kelly yes, we are going to have a LOT of grandbaby time and I have been saying prayers that it will go fine because they like being entertained so I’m hoping that I can hold out but also have them entertain themselves for some of the time too because I have to admit that not being use to my grands being dropped off even for just a couple of hours, having them all day for that long will be a whole new ballgame for me. They love being on the farm so yes, we will ENJOY the things we get to do outside with tractor rides and we are going to get some sand for them to play in and they love going around the neighborhood in the ranger and looking at the cows, lambs, sheep and horses that are all within a mile of us. And…my mom was like yours, did not wear any makeup other then lipstick to church so I had no one to teach me how to apply or what to wear and we didn’t have any daughters so I wasn’t able to learn from them so my makeup is also also just the basics and even at that, I know I probably do not do my eye makeup correctly!

    • Beverly

      Sorry I’m getting on so late!! When I read gluten free, my mouth dropped!! How awesome is that! I have found I do not go well with gluten either so that is impressive! I’m glad you liked the church. I’ve had girls help me at Ulta and Sephora, some are really good and others are just ok. I like to watch videos on makeup and especially the reviews!! I learn a lot from ordinary women who are sticking reviews out there.

    • Beverly

      Oh man-I didn’t mean to hit enter haha!! Anyway-I dm going to start incorporating some videos into my blog posts and more reviews. I just bought a bunch of items ( Barry is going to die when he sees our credit card bill lol) to use and start reviewing. Happy Monday!! I’m so happy about your church!!

  • Johnna

    I’d love to see a video on makeup application especially for women over 50. I’ve read we aren’t supposed to wear as much especially on the eyes. I’ve never used a bronzer because I didn’t know how to use it. Thanks for the tips.

    • Beverly

      Hey Johnna!! I’m hopping in really late tonight. Eyes are always a problem for everyone. Well, except the kids these days. I have noticed as I get older I like pale or neutral colors on my eyes unless I have a big event. I’m going to work on some soon!! Happy Monday!!

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