If you already have a solid bronzer in your beauty arsenal, do you really need a contour, too? Short answer: yes. Most of us are guilty of using bronzer and contour interchangeably, but the truth is, they serve completely different purposes. Here’s everything you need to know.

The difference between bronzer and contour

Bronzer adds warmth to your complexion, so you look like you just spent days soaking up the sun on a tropical getaway. Contour, on the other hand, adds dimension and shadows to sculpt the face.

Bronzer and contour shades and finishes

Bronzer typically has warmer undertones—like orange, red, and yellow—and is available in matte and shimmer finishes to add a sun kissed glow, while contour features neutral, cool-toned undertones in a matte finish.

Applying bronzer and contour

Contour mimics shadows, so you want to apply it under the cheekbones, the jawlines, temples, and on the sides of the nose to shape and define your facial structure.

Bronzer should be applied anywhere the sun would naturally hit your face on a bright day—on the cheekbones, across the forehead, and along the bridge of the nose.

Choosing between bronzer and contour

While both bronzer and contour add depth and enhance your complexion, they both deserve a spot in your makeup routine for different reasons. Wear them alone or let them work together (contour first, then bronzer) to sculpt your structure and warm your complexion—they aren’t mutually exclusive.

For a sun kissed complexion:

For a defined, snatched shape: