Bronzers and contouring products may seem interchangeable to most, but spoiler alert: they’re not! I think my biggest pet peeve as a makeup artist is seeing people use shimmery or too-orange bronzers to contour their faces, and them not realizing that they are doing the complete opposite of what they’re trying to achieve. The image above is a quick guide on where to contour and where to bronze. The contour is the dark brown and the bronzer is the lighter brown. So, here’s a quick little lesson on the difference between bronzing your face and contouring your face.

The purpose of contouring is the add shadows to the areas of your face you want to slim. You want to sink these figures in to, say, thin your face up. Many contour products tend to be more red/brown-based with NO shimmer in them. So, if you have a round face like me, you would probably contour your cheekbones, and contour your jawline. If you want to make your nose appear slimmer, you would contour the sides of your nose. You can also contour around your hairline, as well. If you add a contour right under your lower lip, you’ll make your lips appear slightly fuller.

The purpose of bronzing is to make yourself appear tanner. When people sometimes mistake you for Casper the Friendly Ghost, bronzers will kiiinda become your best friend. Bronzers tend to be more orange-based, and many have some sort of shimmer in them. You would apply a bronzer wherever the sun would naturally hit you, such as the tops of your cheekbones, temples, bridge of your nose, top of your chin, and the top of your browbone.

Sometimes there are bronzers that are more red/brown-based than orange-based and are completely matte. The Bobbi Brown Bronzer is a great example of that, and is one of my favorite products to contour with. So there are some exceptions to the rule. For bronzers, I’m a big fan of the Milani baked bronzers. And if you’re interested in some related reading, here’s an old post where I break down the difference between contouring and highlighting, along with some of my favorite products to contour and highlight.

Do you have any tips in regards to bronzers and contour products? What are your favorite products to use?