You may be wondering, is bronzer the same as highlighter? Whether you’ve been wearing makeup for years or are just dipping your toes into the world of beauty, bronzer and highlighter are two staple makeup products to have in your toolbox. While products like concealer and foundation are responsible for giving you a smooth, even skin tone, bronzer, and highlighter are responsible for adding dimension, structure, and color.
While bronzer and highlighter are important parts of any makeup look, they can be confusing. Is bronzer the same as highlighter? How are they different? When should you use them? And how do you use them correctly? We’ve got some answers.
If you’re not sure what the difference is between bronzer and highlighter, don’t worry. This guide breaks down everything you need to know about bronzer, highlighter, how they differ from makeup products like contour, and how to use them so you can rock your makeup like a pro.
What is Bronzer?
Before we begin, let’s answer the question, what is bronzer? Bronzers are specifically designed to add depth and dimension to the skin. Have you ever noticed how models with airbrushed makeup also have chiseled cheekbones and structural dimensions on their faces? They have a bronzer to thank for this!
In other words, bronzers draw attention to the darker parts of your face. The shadows, the indents, the lines in your cheekbones and jawlines give you the structured look of chiseled models. You use bronzer on areas of your face that naturally catch the shadows.
There are different kinds of bronzers that have slightly different outcomes for your makeup look. For instance, there are shimmery bronzers, matte bronzers, bronzers that come in liquid form, compact form, and even mineral form. Bronzers can give you the sun-kissed glow you get naturally during the summer or give you a shiny look for the holidays.
What is Highlighter?
Highlighters perform the opposite function as bronzers. Whereas bronzers draw attention to the lower parts of the face that naturally catch the shadows, highlighters draw attention to the higher parts of your face that naturally catch the light.
The apple of your cheeks, the tip of your nose, and the areas under your eyebrows are common places to use a highlighter. These areas naturally catch the sun anyways, so adding a highlighter helps amplify the dimension that’s there and your natural beauty.
Differences Between Bronzer, Highlighter, and Contour
As we mentioned above, the general role of highlighter and bronzer is to amplify the natural structure of your face. Highlighter draws attention to the naturally highlighted areas of your face, while bronzer draws attention to the naturally shadowed areas of your face.
They’re essential parts of your makeup routine because they add the dimension back to your face that applying foundation and concealer can take away. In other words, since foundation and concealer tend to even out skin tone and cover your skin with one uniform color, bronzer and highlighter help balance this out and give your skin its dimension back. Without these products, your makeup can make your skin look flat and dull!
You may be wondering, what’s the difference between bronzer, highlighter, and contour? Let’s break it down. The truth is, bronzer and contour perform very similar roles. While you can use them in similar ways, they have key differences between them.
Bronzer is an excellent way to increase dimension to your makeup look, but the way it does this is by adding a sun-kissed glow to your skin. Contour simply performs the same job but in a much more intense way. Contour is darker, more prominent, and less warm than bronzer tends to be. You can use them together, use them by themselves, or use them with a highlighter to get the look you’re going for.
How to Use Bronzer and Highlighter
Now that you understand the difference between bronzer and highlighter, let’s break down how you can incorporate them into your makeup routine. An important principle to keep in mind is that they’re better together.
When applying bronzer, keep in mind that there are specific areas of your face that it’s supposed to go. If you apply bronzer everywhere, all you’ll do is darken your complexion. Instead, you want to focus on the areas of your face that naturally catch the shadows and accentuate these.
You should generally aim to apply bronzer in three areas: your cheekbones, your forehead, and your jawline. Take your bronzing stick or brush and sweep a line tracing the indented portion of your cheekbone to the side of your face above your ear. Be careful not to apply bronzer to the apple of your cheek, which is where highlighter will go!
Next, you can apply bronzer to the very top of your forehead tracing your hairline. This will help add dimension to an area that catches some shadows as well. Lastly, apply bronzer to your jawline. This is the area under your cheeks tracing your jaw to your chin. You can also add some bronzer to the shadowed areas of your neck to look more natural.
Here’s an easy way to remember where to apply bronzer! Aim to make a “3” shape on either side of your face! The top of the three should trace the edge of your forehead to your temples, the middle should be where your cheekbones are, and the bottom of the three should be where your jawline is. This will help you apply bronzer in a uniform, natural-looking shape!
Once you’ve applied bronzer, applying a highlighter is easy! You simply apply a highlighter to the areas of your face that don’t have bronzer.
Apply a small amount to the very center of your forehead, in between your eyebrows, on the apples of your cheeks to draw attention to where the light hits, and on the very top of your chin. You can also add a small amount of bronzer above your lip to accentuate that area and make your lips seem bigger.
Can You Do Makeup Without a Bronzer?
If you’re used to using contour instead of bronzer, there’s no harm in skipping bronzer in your makeup routine. However, there are tons of benefits of including it!
Bronzer is a much more natural-looking way to contour your face than contour is and will give you a healthy glow while adding dimension and structure. It’s also easy to use and pairs well with a highlighter. You can even skip foundation and just use bronzers and highlighters if you’re in a rush!
While you certainly can do your makeup without a bronzer, you’ll be missing out on all the benefits of using bronzer, especially that envied sun-kissed glow!
What Are the Best Types of Bronzers?
If you walk into your local beauty store or even look at your options online, there are a lot of options between what bronzers are available. From various types of bronzers and different brands, to shade options, the choices can seem overwhelming.
That’s why we’ve put together some of the best bronzers on the market that are affordable while still giving you the look you’re going for!
1. Physician’s Formula Butter Bronzer
Physician’s Formula Butter Bronzer is packed with nutrients and hydration for your skin, while also providing the sun-kissed, bronzed look everyone envies. With a formula designed specifically for sensitive skin, this bronzer is comfortable and stays on all day long! Plus, it is cruelty free and never tested on animals.
2. Drunk Elephant D-Bronzi
If you’re looking for an anti-pollution bronzer that is rich in vitamin D while also protecting your skin from the sun, Drunk Elephant’s D-Bronzi serum is for you! As a bonus, this formula reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles on your skin with use and is great for sensitive skin.
3. Rimmel’s Natural Bronzer Sun Dance
Rimmel’s Natural Bronzer Sun Dance gives you a natural-looking tan all year long. It’s available in three different shades and offers long-lasting, waterproof protection all day. Simply apply this powdered bronzer with a makeup sponge or bronzer brush and enjoy your skin’s healthy summer glow!
4. IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Bronzer
Two is always better than one, which is why IT Cosmetic’s Bye Bye Pores Bronzer is one of our favorites. It not only reduces the appearance of pores and imperfections in the skin, but it also gives you the healthy, summer glow characteristic of bronzer. Say goodbye to pores and blemishes and hello to a summer glow.
5. Elf Primer-Infused Bronzer
Another product that performs two jobs in one, Elf’s Primer-Infused Bronzer is an excellent product. It not only lets you skip the primer, saving you money from not having to buy a separate product, but it’s affordable and offers the same sun-kissed look you’ll love. Enjoy long-lasting bronzer all year!
Bronzer and highlighter are two of the most important tools to have in your makeup bag. They offer dimension and structure for your face while serving to enhance your natural beauty and give you a tanned look you’ll enjoy all year long!