How To: Apply Bronzer & Contour

Welcome to the next segment of my How To series… each segment of the series will tackle a category of makeup and cover how to properly apply each one. For you beauty gurus out there this may be old news, but I’m hoping this will be helpful for beginners or those who have always dreaded makeup application.  Stay tuned as we work our way over the whole face!

Today’s topic is bronzer and contour. We will discuss the differences and cover the basics of formulation and application.



So what is the difference between bronzer and contour?  Bronzer can be added to any portion of the face and body that would naturally receive a tan, and is meant to mimic the bronzing effects of the sun.  Bronzers have a slight warm tone to create this effect.

Contour is meant to be used to create shadows, which will change the appearance of the face’s structure.  Contour formulas are a very ashy, almost grey, brown, and should have zero warmth.  Because shadows are rarely orange, you know?


Like most beauty products, bronzers and contours come in both powder and cream formulas. Which one you choose will come down to preference and skin type.

Cream products usually impart a more luminous look, which may not be ideal for those with oily skin. Powders can provide a more matte, diffused look.


For powder bronzers, use a fluffy brush to apply it to the places that would normally be touched by the sun, such as the face and neck for an all-over glow.  Apply bronzer after your base and powder, but before any additional color. Gradually build up the product until you achieve your desired color.

Application for cream bronzer is similar, except you should apply it after your foundation, but BEFORE any powder products.

You will need a smaller, denser brush for contour application because you will want to concentrate the color in a smaller area.  The most popular placement for contour is the hollow spot under the cheeks , which will create the illusion of more structured cheekbones.  Contouring is also possible on the nose, temples and jawline.  For some great instruction on contouring click HERE, HERE & HERE.

As with bronzer, cream contour should be applied before face powder, and powder contour after.


This was always my preferred method of applying bronzer, but I never knew it had such an official name!  I take my bronzer on a fluffy brush, but I apply it in a rough contour pattern… around the perimeter of my face, on the nose, jawline, etc. This will not define or give the illusion of structure, but leaving some areas of the face untouched will add some lightness and dimension.

I hope you enjoyed these little tips for the perfect bronzer and contour application!  If you have any suggestions for bronzers and contours, either formulas or application, please comment! I would love to hear!

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You might also like: How To: Apply Concealer  &  How To: Powder




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