What is the difference between Contour & Bronzer?

Posted September 8, 2023 by Michelle Fox

Bronzer and Contour may have similarities, but they play very different roles in our beauty routine. In this week's blog, I explain these differences as I demonstrate how to apply each of them. Because not only do contour and bronzer serve different purposes, but they are applied to different areas of your face and require different tools as well. So get ready to learn lots and finally know the answer to what is the difference between contour and bronzer!

Episode #45 - What is the difference between Contour and Bronzer

Differences Between Contour & Bronzer
(and why you need to know!)

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What is the difference between Contour & Bronzer?

Sculpted vs. Sun-Kissed


The purpose of contouring is sculpting your face which is done by applying a matte cream or powder several shades darker than your skin-tone to the areas that you want to slim, minimize, or "push-back." Because you are applying contour to a very specific area, the applicator used should be precise. Examples of such applicators are a small-headed makeup brush or a cosmetic sponge.

What makes Contour Unique?

Some popular contour products are Anastasia Beverly Hills' Contour Kit; Fenty Beauty's Match Stix Trio, and Kat Von D's Shade + Light Contour Palette. These cult classics are known for their finely milled powders and creamy textures.

Examples of contour products and applicators:

Visit my Amazon Shop for more info on recommended Contour and Bronzing products HERE.


The purpose of a bronzer or bronzing powder is to add a warm glow to your face that mimics a day in the sun!  It has a golden-bronze undertone and a shimmery texture, unlike contour, which is cool and matte. And since bronzer is applied in larger areas as a "wash of color", a big fluffy brush is the applicator of choice.

What makes Bronzer unique?

Best selling bronzers include Benefits' Hoola Bronzer; NARS' Laguna, and Too Faced's Chocolate Soleil. All of these popular choices offer a wide range of shades to suit various skin tones.

Another way to get a sun-kissed look is with self tanner! Read my previous blog, How to Achieve the Perfect Summer Tan with Self-Tanner.

Note that bronzer and contour can be substituted one for the other, but if you want all the benefits of each product, consider purchasing a true bronzing powder and a true contour. It's worth the investment! (But in a pinch, go ahead and swap!)

Contour & Bronzer: friends not foes!

While contour and bronzer are different, they can be substituted for one another in a pinch. They can also be used together!

To use contour & bronzer together:

Start with your contour to sculpt and define. Then, apply bronzer to add that sun-kissed glow. See me demo this in the YouTube video at the top of this post!  

Recommended Products: Benefit's Hoola Bronzer and Anastasia Beverly Hills' Contour Kit make a great dynamic duo.

Application Chart

Here's a handy chart to help you remember where to apply contour vs. bronzer. 

Click the chart to download your own copy!

Wrap Up

Bronzer and contour both use rich bronze shades to achieve a particular goal, but that is where the similarity ends. The undertone, texture, application area, tools used, and finished look is unique for each product. That being said, they can be swapped out for one another in a pinch! And when used together, contour and bronzer create a gorgeous, sculpted, sun-kissed look that is the best of both worlds! 

Products used during demonstration

Mary Kay Chromafusion Contour in Latte

Mary Kay limited edition Get Sculpted Contouring Stick

Mary Kay Cheek Brush

Mary Kay Blending Sponge

Mary Kay limited edition Gilded Glow Bronzer

Mary Kay All-Over Powder Brush

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