Hi there! Love that you're taking questions!
Is contour necessary if you can use bronzer in places you’d apply contour?
Contour and bronzer effectively do different things. Contour is meant to create depth and shadow and bronzer is meant to add warmth and sheen to the skin, giving it a sun kissed feeling. This is why most contours are matte while bronzers often have some - or a lot - of shimmer in them.
Here is a primer for the who, what, when and how of contour and bronzer…
You can use bronzer as a contour if A. your bronzer is matte and B. it works with your coloring. If you are very fair skinned, you’ll need a contour that leans more taupe than orange/olive or it will read far too warm and destroy the illusion. If your skin tone is rich, you’ll want a contour that’s a shade or two deeper than your skin tone in a matte formulation so the shimmer doesn’t distract. If your skin tone is very deep, I prefer a cream contour as I find the colors blend into and marry with the skin better than powders.
If your bronzer is matte or only has a very small amount of sheen, and you fall between tan and tawny, you can use it as a contour, but be mindful of whether or not it’s too warm for your skin tone. Contour that’s too warm can look fake and very obvious, so finding the right tone for your skin is important.
For perfect placement of powdered contour, use a slightly tapered brush that can create a softly defined shadow under just under the cheekbone and ever so slightly buffed up towards the middle of the cheekbone. This feels a bit softer and more flattering than a lower contour. The Artistique Highlight brush from Surratt is the perfect shape and density for seamlessly applying contour and is my go-to for work and home. The way it gently lays color down makes the application simple and seamless. For bronzer, use a larger, fluffier brush that can diffuse the product and give you a softer, summery effect. For creams use your fingers and buff out with a dual fiber brush - I love the MAC 159 Brush and have multiples in my kit. Using a tiny touch of a cream highlighter on the very tops of the cheekbones can also really sell the illusion. It brings light forward, creating a more 360 degree effect and makes the skin look dewy and fresh, adding to the effect of it being natural. The Noto Hydra Highlighter has the most beautiful skin-like effect when applied on bare skin or over makeup. Just press it on with your fingertips, letting the warmth of your fingers melt the product into the skin.
Both powder and cream products are wonderful for contouring and bronzing and I use both formulas regularly depending on the job I’m doing and the client I’m using them on. Between powders and creams, it boils down to a personal preference and what works best for you.
I hope you enjoyed the first installment of Beauty Lessons. Don’t forget to send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org to have your burning beauty questions answered.
Until next month,