#MakeupHacks: What is The Difference Between Highlighting, Bronzing and Contouring?

Confused about the difference between highlighting, bronzing and contouring? Contouring is it’s own technique designed to “shape” a face. When contouring you are using a darker color (often a bronzer powder) to shadow and darken an area to create an optical illusion of pushing back features you don’t want to draw attention to on your face. Contouring also means highlighting areas that you want to bring forward and draw attention to with a lighter color often an illuminator or highlighter. Depending on  your face shape and what you want to sharpen or soften you will contour in different areas.



Common problems areas contouring addresses include

  • Underneath Full Cheeks: If you have a round face you might apply underneath your full cheeks to push them back.
  • Prominent Forehead: If you have a larger forehead, applying a darker color near the hairline to make it less prominent is a contouring technique.
  • Along Sides Of Your Nose: Say you want to slim your nose.  Apply bronzer on the sides of your nose to make it appear slimmer.
  • Around A Soft Jaw: Feeling like Nora Ephron and feel bad about your neck? You can think about pushing back little bit of softness in your neck area by applying under the jawline to make it sharper and push back the softness.

The darkening and shadowing of a contour is is always combined with highlighting to bring forward features you wish to bring highlight and put more attention to and thereby shaping the features you like most by putting the most attention on them. We do this with lighter colors so you can highlight with say a lighter foundation or BB cream but a highlighter or illuminator is a popular choice. When you are contouring remember to keep in mind what you wish to highlight.

  • Focus Your Cheekbones: Want to bring out the top of your cheek bones? Apply a highlighter above where you put your darker contouring shade to hallow out a full cheek and “sharpen” and bring attention to your cheek bones.
  • Make Your Lips Fuller. Apply a bit of highlighter on your your cupid’s bow which is the indentation  below your nose and on top of your lips. Apply underneath your lips as well.
  • Open Your Eye Area. Some of us want our eyes to appear wider and brighter. A highlighter in your your inner eye area will do just that. Or apply it on top of the brow bone. Or you can do the opposite if you have wide set eyes and apply highlighter to the outer eye and darker the inner corners
  • Slim Your Nose: Apply highlighter the top of your nose in conjunction with shadowing on the sides
  • Soften A Square Forehead or Jaw. Apply highlighter in the middle of your forehead while applying a contouring shade in the middle. The same applies to your jaw. Highlight the inner chin area and apply a darker shade underneath the jaw

Sensing a pattern? Contouring is all placing an emphasis on things we love and shadowing and pushing back things we don’t want to draw attention to. Contouring is a mix of bronzer and highlighter working on top of your complexion products and where you apply a dark or light color depends a lot on your natural face shape and what you personally want to highlight about yourself. We have ideas about ideal faces culturally that may not be your ideal so recognize that and apply products as YOU see fit.

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