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Bronzer vs. Blush: The Real Difference and When to Use Which

bronzers and blushes on marble table
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To give your complexion a bit of dimension (and accentuate those beautiful cheekbones), blush and bronzer are beauty bag essentials. While they may seem to serve similar purposes, the ways in which they’re used—and the looks they achieve—can vary drastically. Depending on the occasion, as well as your face shape and mood, it can be hard to know which to use. Ahead, watch makeup artist Bob Scott's blush and bronzer tutorial, plus pro tips about the differences between the two.

From This Video

To get things started, Scott shares the golden rule to keep in mind when it comes to knowing the difference between bronzer and blush: "Bronzer is basically blush, but blush is not bronzer." Blush should be used to add warmth to the cheeks, while bronzer is used specifically to make you look tan.

Bronzer: The key to keep in mind with bronzer is that it's meant to create what Scott calls "a halo" of a glow. "The important thing to know when you're picking a bronzer is you want to find one that has minimal shimmer to it, if any," they say. "So I'm just taking a little bit on my brush, tapping a little bit off, and I'm going to go across the cheek very lightly, because you can always apply more. It's best to build it up just so you have that soft, effortless looking glow."

Blush: Blush, in the meantime, can be used directly on the apples of the cheeks to warm up the skin. "I'm using the same brush [as the bronzer] because it's okay if they mix. I'm going to apply this on the apples of the cheeks at the very end of where I applied the bronzer. They're going to compliment each other that way," they say.

More Tips: Bronzer vs. Blush

In a nutshell, blush is used to add a flush of color to the cheeks, while bronzer is intended to make the skin look sun-kissed or tan. As a result, blush tends to come in variations of pink (sometimes with peach or plum undertones), where bronzer is typically brown or gold in color.

Another major difference between bronzer and blush is how they’re applied: blush is made to be applied directly to the apples of the cheeks and cheekbones, while bronzer can be applied both to the cheekbones and brow, jawline, and other contours of the face and décolletage.

When to Use Bronzer vs. Blush

Choosing between bronzer and blush is a matter of mood and occasion. If you’re going for a natural look, bronzer can add a hint of color and definition. Bronzer is perfect for casual weekend events, as well as more made-up evening looks, particularly those that include contouring.

Blush can add a touch of softer, flushed color and is also great for daywear, but use it sparingly—blushes are often very pigmented and can go on heavy if you're not careful. Whichever you choose, keep in mind that less is more, and be sure to keep the color (whether pink or bronze) within range of your natural skin tone.

What They're Best For

Blush is ideal for adding a hint of natural pink to the cheeks. This is perfect if you’re looking for a vibrant, fresh-faced look. Seasonally, blush can add a rosy glow during fall and winter, and it can also play beautifully in spring.

Bronzer is great for creating a sun-kissed glow. While bronzer can definitely be worn all year round, keep in mind that it often looks “summery,” making it a natural choice for warmer months. Bronzer is also the right choice for contouring, but be sure to use a matte bronzer that’s free from glitter when you're chiseling out your cheekbones.

Bronzer and blush can also be used in combination. To pull off the look, apply blush first, directly to the apples of your cheeks. Next, create the appearance of lifted cheekbones by gently sweeping some bronzer in the hollows of your cheeks. Use your makeup brush to blend the tones for a smooth color gradient that naturally accentuates your cheekbones.

Pro-Approved Bronzers and Blushes

estee lauder bronze goddess
Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess $45
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glossier cloud paint
Glossier Cloud Paint in Storm $18
Shop
butter bronzer
Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer $16
Shop

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