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The Difference Between Contour and Bronzer — & How to Use Each
When it comes to makeup, what you don't do is just as important as what you do. Using contour as bronzer is one makeup mistake makeup artists see often. Although bronzer and contour products can appear similar at first glance as they come in shades and formulations that look alike, they serve different purposes. To help clear things up, we chatted with Marsha Page, a New York-based makeup artist — known as the Melanin Therapist for her knack for making people of color, in particular, feel beautiful and seen — about all things contour and bronzer, including the differences, why using bronzer as contour is a makeup don’t and where to apply each product.

"...bronzer is meant to amp up warmth and a sunkissed glow."

"Contour acts as a shader to push your features back and define them more..."

Why Bronzer Doesn’t Always Work as Contour

Because of the similar shades and formulas bronzers and contours are available in, it's easy to see why some people may be tempted to use them interchangeably. Bronzer adds warmth and color and [gives a] sunkissed glow to the skin, while contours typically come in more neutral tones with a matte finish, making them more appropriate for creating a sculpting effect. 

For fair and light skin tones, bronzer can actually work as a contour if it's done correctly because it creates less of a contrast than a contour in a deeper shade., Page says. If you choose to use a bronzer as contour, she recommends using one that is a few shades darker than your natural skin tone and has a matte finish.

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