Face Contour Week: What's the difference between bronzer and contour powder?

When I announced Face Contour Week, many of you gals became excited about a tutorial. Hold your horses though - that'll be up on Friday! I need a bit of time to shoot it. ;) In the meantime, I decided to answer a question that was asked several times: what's the difference between bronzer and contour powder? Which one should you go for?

These two products are completely different, although some products that are labeled "bronzer" could be used for contouring. Bronzers usually come in coppery or shimmery tan shades and are meant to be applied on the cheekbones, bridge of the nose, forehead, and chin. It's a product that's designed to create a sun-kissed look - not really to contour, although if your bronzer is deep enough it can be used for that purpose.

Contour powders are usually matte, and can be used define or slightly alter our face shape. You can create a smaller, more angular face with contouring powders. 

My favorite bronzer is the Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick in Bronze, while my best contour powder is the MAC Blush in Harmony. These two are mainstays in my routine! I've had them for some time now but there's barely a dip in the pan. That's why it doesn't really hurt to invest in products like these; a little goes a looooong loooong way.

MAC Harmony versus Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick in Bronze

So which one should you use? If you're after straightforward contouring then go for an honest-to-goodness contour powder or a foundation that's two shades darker than your skintone. I highly recommend you do this if you're going to be photographed or be in a place with harsh lighting.

If you want a healthy, just-got-back-from-the-beach glow on your face with a bit of definition, go for a bronzer! If you want to contour and add some extra dimension on your face then use a contour powder first then dab a sheer layer of bronzer on top.

Here's my face with zero contour! It's okay for everyday makeup, but for shoots or events I find I need to contour to make my face look less big in flash photography or bright lighting.

Wearing MAC Harmony to contour my cheeks, jawline, temples, and nose. It looks a bit harsh here since I want the contour to be visible in photos.

And here is the Shimmer Brick in Bronze used liberally on my cheek bones, bridge of the nose, chin, and forehead. My skin looks surreal, no? This is the closest I can get to being a bronzed goddess haha. I think the nude lip clinches the deal.

So there you go. :) If you love giving your face more definition and a healthy sunkissed glow on top of that, you must have a bronzer and contour powder in your kit. It's fun to play with them separately and together! You can achieve different shapes and effects, especially with a striped palette like the Shimmer Brick.

Are you Team Contour or Team Bronzer? Or do you play for both sides? Haha!