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Bronzer 101: How to Contour and Highlight


Bronzer header

Hey girls! Last week I shared with you my top 5 favorite bronzers and got a lot of great feedback, so this week I’m going to share with you my technique for contouring and bronzing my face.

I’m going to be using two of the bronzers (pictured below) that I recommended last week as well as two different brushes, both of which make using bronzer a breeze.

Physicians formula shimmer strips bronzer in vegas stripNyc smooth skin bronzer
Physicians Formula Shimmer Strips in Vegas Strip | N.Y.C. Smooth Skin Bronzing Face Powder in Sunny

Bronzer may look difficult or intimidating at first (I know, nobody wants to look orange or fake!), but I swear it’s so much easier than it seems! Below, I’ll show you how to contour and highlight using bronzer. Let’s get on with the tutorial, shall we?

How to Contour with Bronzer:

Use an angled contour brush – this is incredibly important as it will give you the most sculpted, precise application. My angled brush is from Sigma Beauty, which highly recommend picking up. Then with your bronzer, (I used N.Y.C.’s Sunny Bronzer for this step) you’re going to apply this to the part of your face RIGHT below your cheek bones. To help find the spot where you’re supposed to apply the bronzer, it helps to make a fishy face like I did in the photo on the left:

How to contour with bronzer

You’re going to just lightly blend the bronzer all throughout that specific area. I would also recommend that you blend the bronzer up to your temples and down your neck to balance everything out and frame your face (this is otherwise more commonly known as the E or 3 shape).

Now that you’ve contoured your face, depending on if you want to or not, you can choose to dab a little bit of your brush into the bronzer and lightly blend this down either side of your nose, as this will help slim your nose if you’re looking for that effect!

How to Highlight with Shimmery Bronzer:

After you’ve finished contouring your entire face, and your nose (if you choose to), it’s time to add a bronzy, glow-y highlight to help accentuate the highest points on your face (meaning this is going to reflect off light and give your face an AMAZING glow).

How to highlight with bronzer

To do this, I took the Physician’s Formula Shimmer Strips that I talked about in my last article, and with a small, fluffy blush brush from E.L.F., I swept the brush across the entire palette (in order to pick up every single color), then applied it to the apples of my cheeks. Next, I took the top two colors from the palette (the lightest ones) and blended those right above the apples of my cheeks for an additional highlighted glow. This will help enhance the shimmer and also bring more light and bronze-y-ness to your face.

And that’s it! Of course, you don’t have to use any of the products that I mentioned, although I highly recommend them, as they’re great quality and extremely budget-friendly.

Before and After:

Take a look at these before and after shots — you’ll see a big difference.

Before and after 1 smallBefore and after 2 small
From the front and the side. (Click the images to enlarge.)

Your thoughts?

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! Do you use bronzer? What’s your technique for contouring and highlighting? Will you be trying out this tutorial? Let me know if it works for you or if you have any other articles you’d like to see. Happy ‘tanning’! :)

Posted on on April 25, 2013 / Filed Under: Beauty & Hair / Tags: , , , , , , ,

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17 Responses to “Bronzer 101: How to Contour and Highlight”

  1. 1
    April 25th, 2013 at 11:11 am

    Really Nice :D i was searching for forever to find an easy way to do contouring just with what i had at home :)

  2. 2
    April 25th, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    Thank you for using budget friendly products!!!

  3. 3
    April 25th, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    Nice one!!! This is where I learned the Highlight and Contour technique I use, and it’s now my favorite thing, I do it every day! I contour with my Too Faced Chocolate Soleil bronzer, add concealer in strategic places, lots of mascara, and blush high on my cheeks, and BOOM – I’ve got a Victoria’s Secret Angel face every single day :) but to do my cheek contour, I use a big tapered brush from Real Techniques.

    youtube . com/watch?v=Yd9GCnHntcs

  4. 4
    April 25th, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    wow cool tutorial…
    I think you look a little bit like Amy Fleming from Heartland… Do you know this show? It’s a canadian horse/family show

  5. 5
    April 25th, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    I’ve been trying all kinds of different techniques for contouring. The one I’ve been trying is just to make a line under my cheekbones and I look…well I look like a crazy person with an orange line on my face :-P I love this, it looks easy and gorgeous! Thanks!

  6. 6
    April 25th, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    That bronzer looks a little too orange compared to your skin? Or maybe it’s the lighting?

  7. 7
    April 25th, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    I agree with Taylor, I did not think the color looked right on you?

  8. 8
    April 25th, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    This tutorial is great! I love using bronzer but I’ve found that having a warm bronzer like the one you used is great for a sun-kissed effect. But a cooler toned matte bronzer (or just a darker foundation) gives a more natural contour colour.

  9. 9
    April 25th, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    matte bronzers are my favorite! they look more natural especially when contouring. besides under the cheek bone, its really important to even it out around your face close to your hairline and on your jawline and chin. those are my tricks :)

  10. 10
    April 25th, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    Sorry, but to me that bronzer looks wayyyyyyyy too warm toned for your fair complexion. I think you’d do better with a soft, light taupe shadow than that orangy bronze color. Plus it looks like it’s on your whole cheek.

    I think the PixiWoo sisters also have a really good video on contouring. Also The Beauty Department.

  11. 11
    April 25th, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    This is perfect! I just ran across a few other posts on this and was wanting to try it out myself. My only question is this: where does the blush go in this scenario?

  12. 12
    April 26th, 2013 at 5:19 am

    I wonder, is contouring common in the usa? Here in Holland ive never met somebody who does that.

  13. 13
    April 26th, 2013 at 9:21 am

    Normally I like your posts, but I don’t think this is the best example of highlighting and contouring. You’re wearing way too much bronzer.

  14. 14
    April 26th, 2013 at 11:34 am

    Good tutorial, thanks! I disagree with the comments saying it’s too much product. I think it only looks too dark in the first photo where you’re clearly applying it, before blending. The effect looks natural and non-orange in the finished pics. The point of bronzer is to give your skin a natural glow, no?

  15. 15
    April 27th, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    Oh yay, you found better lighting/are using a better camera! Lovely final look, and we can properly enjoy it this time ;)

  16. 16
    April 30th, 2013 at 11:33 am

    Ash – I think that the side view shows a stark difference between the bronzer and her skin tone, which isn’t really a “natural” glow.

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