Mirror, Mirror On the Wall
We’ve all seen the countless makeup tutorials on YouTube, the girls drawing shadow lines on their faces to make them look darker or lighter in the right places. Every time I watch these videos I think about the hours and hours it took for these women to perfect their methods and how brave they are to share those methods with the world. Thankfully, not all of us are trying to share our makeup techniques with millions of followers, but we still deserve a great makeup experience!
Two big keywords come up when we discuss makeup that creates facial depth – bronzer and contouring. What’s the difference and how can we use both?
What types of products will keep us looking flawless? What are some tips for mastering contouring and using bronzer? If you have these questions, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll discuss some major differences as well as how to apply our new knowledge in front of a beauty mirror.
Bronzer Vs Contour
While both bronzer and contouring products come in a variety of shades and styles, they are slightly different. One is used for definition, the other for texture/overall look. Contouring comes first, which creates the illusion of shadows in the right places on the face. It puts emphasis on the right parts, especially when you use a highlighter in combination. Next comes bronzer, creating a beautiful effect on the skin. It makes your skin look like it got the right amount of sunshine and gives it a nice, warm glow.
The combination of the two diminishes the look of a “flat face” and makes the desired features of the face stand out more. For example, people usually put emphasis on the eyes and the cheekbones to create depth. It’s all about the structure of your face with contouring – make your face whatever shape you want without being invasive at all. Bronzer is more about that glow.
For bronzing, the experts suggest choosing a shade lighter than the contouring product, maybe even something with a shimmer. This, again, highlights the parts of the face you want to stand out against the rest of your face. There are lighter powders that you can brush over your forehead, nose, and chin, helping achieve that sun-kissed look.
Don’t double dip – bronzer comes AFTER contouring, so don’t use your bronzer to contour. There are plenty of contouring products out there, especially from L’Oreal and Maybelline that can help you create those shadows and depth. What do we need to do to create the effect?
How to Use Both Contouring Products and Bronzer
The biggest thing to remember is softer is better. The last thing you want is severe lines anywhere, especially for everyday use. A gentle change between shades is best, which you can achieve with a special blender or clean brush. Once you’ve picked the right shade for your skin tone (cooler-toned powder is usually best for contouring) pick the places you want to contour.
This should emphasize where natural, normal shadows would be. Be sure to blend again when you’ve put shadows where they should go. Highlighting with some kind of highlighter powder can further emphasize the shadows and keep that definition you’re looking for.
As for bronzer, look for a shade closer to brown than orange. Warmer isn’t always better in this case, and more color isn’t always your friend. You don’t want to have that fake spray tan carrot look. You want the bronzer to hit three spots on your face: forehead, cheekbones, and jawline. Why? Those are the spots the sun would touch naturally outside. Last but not least, make sure the products are blended onto your neck a little, so it doesn’t look too different. Your face will look like a mask if you forget to blend!
What Products Do We Use?
My favorite products are the lighter, less chalky or oily products. Typically the more natural the product’s ingredients, the more natural they will look on your face. You want matte finish contouring product to make sure your face doesn’t end up becoming a shiny unicorn mess.
Make sure the product are easy to blend – the worst thing you can do is have splotches of different shades all over your face. Everyday wear products are best for this because they aren’t anything too crazy. They should help you save money too, so you won’t break the bank!
Powders tend to be best for blending since liquids and creams can stick to the skin. Use a blending brush or a cone-shaped blender to smooth out those edges. It’s ok to splurge a little on a product once you’ve tried it in the store and know it works for you. It’s better to pay a little more now for something you really love and will use frequently enough to feel more confident. You can’t put a price on healthy self-esteem!
There are also build-your-own kits if your skin tone is difficult to match or you want to experiment a bit. Most contour products have multiple shades included making the process a little easier. Smashbox has a great step by step kit at Sephora that can help walk you through the basics at first. Each section of these types of kits tells you where to apply the powders/product for maximum effect.
What Do I Need?
The utensil you use can also impact your look. There are blenders that are spongey to absorb part of the makeup, and then there are brushes for more powdery substances. There are also miniature versions of these so you can touch up what you need to when you’re out and about. Slip one in your purse and fix up any blending issues on the go.
If you’re not exactly sure what product is best for you, the masters at your nearest beauty supply store are always great people to ask!
An article in Allure Magazine said that the trend of contouring may not last for forever, but the bronzer is always a staple. Movie stars and models use contouring all the time for photo perfection – and you can too! For now, know that it’s important to understand how to define your best features, even if you’re not heading to the red carpet, just going out for a night of fun. Again, the more you blend, the more natural and long-lasting the look will be!
A Couple More Things to Remember
Don’t forget to blend! Is that sentence getting annoying yet? It’s just important to remember! Use products you feel comfortable with, but don’t be afraid to experiment within that. It’s great to try new things, and even better to feel confident with purchases – this can happen when you do your research beforehand and talk to someone at the store who can help you with individual concerns and needs. Wasting money on buckets of makeup you don’t end up liking isn’t ideal.
There’s no such thing as watching too many YouTube makeup tutorials. Get all the information you can and listen to the experts. Podcasts, articles like this one, and videos are how you get good at this stuff. Use your face as a canvas and create something different. Have a party with your girlfriends and try out new looks at each other!
Skincare is extra important to create the healthiest glow you can. Washing and moisturizing your face is key to keeping those pores clean.
Balance out your look. These two things, bronzer, and contouring should work together with the rest of the look you’re creating. Eyeshadow, mascara, eyeliner, lipstick – they all should be complementing each other and enhancing the beautiful features you love about your face.
Your external appearance doesn’t define you.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it a million more times: it’s more important to take care of yourself mentally, emotionally, and spiritually first, then take a look at how to make the mirror happy. Take time for self-care. Get that facial, that massage, that mani-pedi.
Take care of yourself and your face will reflect the health inside. Everyone else is concerned about how they look too, and the more confident you feel as a human being, the more your actions will reflect that confidence. It’s so much more important to be healthy internally first, and then spend time with the makeup session.
That being said, it’s great to use makeup to look and feel beautiful, to increase and boost your confidence. Highlight those parts of your face that you know shine. Help those best parts of your stand out and increase star appeal, whether it’s for a movie premiere or going to the grocery store for some bread and milk.
Contouring and bronzer work together to give your face that healthy glow and a little chisel for definition. They’re a power couple designed to keep you looking your very best!