How to Wear Bronzer with Blush, Highlighter, or All By Itself

Woman wearing bronzer blush and highlighter togetherWoman wearing bronzer blush and highlighter together


At Physicians Formula, we can't get enough of sultry and sunkissed colors! We believe the secret to a healthy bronze is pampering your complexion with bronzers made with skin-loving ingredients like hydrating antioxidants and beautifying butters.


Our all-in-one bronzer guide covers all the bronzer basics. Study up on how to choose a bronzer shade and finally learn the difference between bronzer vs. contour. Then, once you've found your perfect bronzer, take your glow from good to goddess by applying bronzer with blush and highlighter. 


Give your skin a healthy & soft all-over warmth, brought to you by America's #1 Bronzer Brand.¹


Choose the Perfect Bronzer


How to Choose the Right Shade of Bronzer

Choosing the right shade is essential for creating a healthy bronze. For an all-over glow, your bronzer should be 1-2 shades darker than your foundation to ensure it blends easily into skin. For contouring, use a bronzer that is 2-3 shades darker than your foundation to help create the effect of natural shadows. If you are choosing between two shades of bronzer, it's generally a good idea to go with the lighter shade and build up to your desired color. By layering the product, you'll create a natural blended look instead of harsh lines.


Choose a Matte vs. Shimmer Finish

  • Matte Bronzers are perfect for contouring, sculpting, and adding depth and drama. These bronzers help certain features to recede by creating the illusion of shadows. Matte bronzers work for all skin types, especially oily complexions.

  • Shimmer Bronzers are good for giving a more subtle, luminous, summer glow. You wouldn’t normally use one to contour; instead, apply shimmer bronzers to the cheekbones and up towards the temples, where the sun would normally hit your face. 

  • Satin Bronzers land right between matte and shimmer bronzers - satin bronzers can still be used for contouring, but they create more radiance than a matte bronzer.

Select Bronzing Powder Vs. Cream Bronzer

When to Use Bronzing Powder

Powder Bronzers create the classic, luminous bronze! Powder bronzers are often characterized as baked or pressed.  Baked bronzers tend to be highly-pigmented and buildable. For an enriched look with any powder bronzer, wet your makeup brush to pick up more powder and boost your glow.

Powder bronzer is usually the way to go for oily and combination skin types, but don't shy away just because of dry skin. Anyone can use a powder bronzer as long as you prep your skin with a hydrating primer or moisturizer.

Bronzing Powder in Light to Dark ShadesBronzing Powder in Light to Dark Shades
Cream Contour Highlighter and Bronzer SticksCream Contour Highlighter and Bronzer Sticks


When to Use Cream Bronzer

Cream bronzers create a beautiful lit-from-within bronze. These will offer you a more subtle glow and are better suited for dry skin types. Just like with cream blushes, they can also be applied with your fingers (or with a brush, your choice) and tend to last longer.

If you have an ivory complexion with cool undertones, it can be easy to overdo your makeup with bronzer. Try swapping in a multi-use color stick in a rosier color to bring add warmth that complements your look.

What is Bronzer vs. Contour?

When you're new to bronzing, you often hear people talking about Highlighting and Contouring and Bronzer all at the same time. It can be confusing differentiating between the terms - but it's pretty straightforward: bronzer is the makeup product and contour is the makeup technique.


There's more than one way to apply bronzer, and contouring -- also referred to as sculpting-- just happens to be one of the most popular ways because it creates the illusion of beautifully-defined cheekbones. But you can also apply bronzer via by striping your cheeks or simply dusting your collarbone. You can even wear bronzer as a neutral eyeshadow if you're in a pinch! The options for how to apply bronzer are endless, and contouring is just one of them.


How to Wear Bronzer With Highlighter & Blush or All Alone

Where to apply bronzer using contour methodWhere to apply bronzer using contour method

Classic Contour:  How to Contour With Bronzer

Bronzer is your best friend when it comes to contouring, sculpting, and defining your best features. Reach for a matte or satin bronzer like our four-season Bronze Booster when contouring in order to create the "shadow" effect.

The basic principle of contouring is to bronze and shade the areas you want to recede, such as just below the cheekbone, the sides of your nose, your jawline and hairline. With a bronzer that is two shades lighter than you are, apply bronzer lightly with a brush then blend out. Build up to your desired color by adding more layers of bronzer.

Where to apply bronzer and highlighter togetherWhere to apply bronzer and highlighter together

Seriously Sculpted: How to Highlight and Countour

Apply bronzer to the hollows of your cheeks, jawline, and hairline as you would with a classic contour. Then, using a highlighter that is 1-2 shades lighter than your skin tone, highlight the high planes of your face where the sun would naturally hit. Apply highlighter in circular motions directly on the cheekbone. Sweep some highlighter on the middle of your nose, cupid's bow, inner eye, and above the brow. You can even apply it to your neck and collarbone for a healthy looking glow from head to toe. 

As with bronzer, you have a number of highlighter options to choose from. Gravitate toward highlighting powder for combination or oily skin and cream highlighter or our cream contour set for dry skin.  If you want to look extra bronze, try contouring with two shades of bronzer, with the darker for shading and the lighter for highlighting.

How to apply blush and bronzer together demoHow to apply blush and bronzer together demo

Fabulously Flushed: How to Apply Bronzer and Blush Together

Start by contouring with bronzer as your base, adding shadow to the hollows of your cheeks and sides of your nose. Then, apply blush to the apples of your cheeks and sweep lightly upward to the sides of your eyes to create a natural-looking flush. Gently sweep some bronzer on the top of your nose to add a little extra flush.

If your skin is naturally dark or tan, try brighter blushes and pigmented formulas to add striking contrast to your bronzer. For lighter skin tones, stick to muted shades that resemble your natural complexion. If you have a light complexion and cool undertones, apply blush to your hairline and jawline like you would for contouring to ensure you don't overdo it with the bronze.

Where to apply bronzer blush and highlighter together demoWhere to apply bronzer blush and highlighter together demo

Goddess Glow: How to Wear Bronzer, Blush, and Highlighter Together

With this colorful trio, start with the darker shades and work your way to the lighter ones. Apply bronzer along the hollows of your cheeks and sides of your nose. Next, add some rosy tones to the apples of your cheeks and sprinkle some highlighter at the very top of the cheek. Then, apply highlighter as you normally would to the inner eyes, nose, and cupids bow. We like the ultra-soft & cruelty-free highlighting brushes from wet n wild. Make sure to dust some shimmer bronzer on your jaw and collarbone to create a natural all over bronze.


How to apply bronzer by striping methodHow to apply bronzer by striping method

Beachy Bronze: "Sun Striping" with Bronzer

When done right, sun striping creates a bronze all over look like you've just come back from a tropical getaway. It should resemble a natural "stripe" of bronze, like you've been soaking up rays at the beach.

Sun striping is an easy technique for beginners: just darken your complexion from cheekbone to cheekbone and across the bridge of your nose. Make sure to apply lightly, blend, and build up to your desired coverage.  Finish up with a bit of bronzer on your jawline and hairline, then dust bronzer on your collarbone (we like LORAC's kabuki highlighting brush) to complete the look. You can use any bronzer you'd like for striping, but nothing reminds us of the beach like a the light shimmer of a murumuru butter bronzer.


More Ways to Wear Bronzer with Highlighter & Blush

How Wear Bronzer and Highlighter Together

How to Contour with a Bronzer Sculpting Stick

How to Use a Blush, Bronzer & Highlighter Face Palette

Our Healthy-Glow Bronzers, Highlighters, and Blushes

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