Your guide to bronzing and contouring
By Mary Van*
Contouring is one of the latest beauty trends. What is it, and how is it different from bronzing? Both contouring and bronzing can help you enhance your facial structure. Anyone who loves beauty should know the difference-- and understand when and how to use both.
Bronzing & contouring 101
Contouring and bronzing are both techniques, not products. However, many people use a bronzer for contouring. Even so, these techniques are different. Contouring is used to sculpt and define the face, while bronzing is used to give the look of a shimmer and glow from natural sunlight.
Note: If you want to use a bronzer for contouring, use the appropriate shade. If you aren’t sure which shade will work for your skin tone, then it’s a good idea to stick with a product that’s specifically for contouring. These contouring products will have the appropriate undertones, ensuring your look looks natural.
What is contouring?
Contouring is used to sculpt and define the face, enhancing overall structure. This can give a more striking appearance, reducing your problem areas and highlighting your best features. Many want their face to appear more angular with sharper features, and contouring can help. Just remember-- you need the right shade and application technique to make it work!
It might be tempting to paint yourself up the first time you try contouring, but it’s much better to go for a more natural and subtle look. However, people opt for more intense contouring if they are going to be photographed. If you’re just starting out, use a light hand. It’s easy to add more, but hard to get rid of too much product.
How to contour
Step #1: Look for areas that recede
Look at your face in the mirror, and try to figure out which areas of your face recede. For most people, these areas are at the temples and under the cheekbones. These receding areas are where you will want to focus on when contouring.
Step #2: Prepare your products
If you are a little timid or a first timer, gels are easier to work with and blend. Powders are for the more confident as they take a little more skill to apply.
Step #3: Look in the mirror and make a fish face
If you want a natural look-- which, trust us, you do! -- apply a gel product over or under any foundation. Start with the Foundation Blending Brush and swipe the flat side of the brush in the darker shade of the Duo (Deception). Blend under the hollow of the cheek. When using a powder, the Contour Brush makes it easy for even the most challenged newbie. Dip the tip of the brush in contour shade Snob, dab on a tissue and sweep the brush diagonally across your cheeks where they are indented. Remember-- almost all of the product will be deposited where the brush first touches your face. Start at the outside edge near your hairline (rather than near your mouth). You only want to go about halfway toward the corners of your mouth for a natural application. Repeat on the other side of your face, and then blend edges. Blending is very important, and you can’t over blend, so don’t skip this step! Remember-- almost all of the product will be deposited where the brush first touches your face.
Step #4: Go for the temples, jawline, and lips
Now it’s time to address your temples, jawline, and lips. Put more product on your brush and get ready to go. Blend the areas together-- you want your face to look and feel connected, so if you have any product left on your brush, drag the brush across the top of the forehead. Use the same method applying the color just under the jaw line, blending down the neck. This creates a shadow and helps define the jaw. To make lips look larger and more full, place product where your face indents under your mouth.
Step #5: Complement with highlighting
Contouring is not complete without highlighting. Anything you add light to brings it out more, so it gives you a greater impact when combined with the contouring or shading. Sadi Brooke Burress, a freelance makeup artist, suggests highlighting the top of cheekbones if your highlighter has a shimmer/glow appearance like Mineralogie’s shade in Tease. For other areas of your face like your forehead, bridge of nose and tip of the chin, you can use a cream concealer in a shade or two lighter than your foundation.
Once you become more comfortable with contouring you can play with it in ways to detract attention from the shape of your nose by slimming down the sides with a contour shade or applying highlight on the outer edges to make it look less pointy.
Want to look like you just came back from spring break? Yep! This is the time when you want to use a bronzer. When it comes to bronzer, you may be tempted by shimmer. Shimmer looks great, but just make sure you use something that creates a glow, rather than a chunky, glittery sparkler.
Choosing a bronzer shade
When you get a natural tan, what does it look like? That’s the color you should be looking for in a bronzer. You want it to look natural, rather than overly orange or glittery. Barcelona Bronze is a neutral shade that works for many skin tones.
How to bronze
When you use a bronzer, you should focus on the places that would be hit by the sun if you were outdoors. This means you should concentrate on your nose, forehead, and top of cheekbones. Some people like to bronze a bit on their chin, as well.
The application method is much the same as the Contouring. To start, dip your brush (we recommend the Dome Brush for this) in powder and then tap off the excess. Place product on your forehead, then add to your cheekbones, chin, and nose. Be sure to blend! Don’t use too much product-- what looks good in your bathroom mirror may look far too intense in natural daylight.
Experiment and have fun
Contouring and bronzing are fun ways to enhance your look, but they do take a bit of practice. Don’t be afraid to experiment and have fun. If you have doubts about your technique, ask an honest friend what they think, or have them take some photos of you so you can assess for yourself.
*Guest post courtesy of Mary Van, a nationally accredited makeup artist and founder of Mineralogie Makeup - an eco-friendly, 100% mineral makeup company based in Dallas, Texas. With more than 25 years of experience in sales, marketing, and product development, Van has transformed the way mineral makeup is branded and sold.