Introduction to Blush

Blush adds color to your cheeks, which can help make you look healthier if you don’t have natural redness there. Also, if you’re wearing foundation, blush will help keep you from looking washed out. Blush comes in cream and powder formulas.

  • Cream blush – can be applied with fingers and blended out with a stippling brush or fingers. Cream blush is especially good for dry skin. Also, you can layer powder blush on top of cream blush to increase wear time if that’s a concern for you. Note that cream blush should never be used on top of powder foundation, as it won’t blend out well over powder.
  • Powder blush – applied and blended out with a blush brush. If you use liquid foundation, particularly if you have oily skin, be sure to powder your face before applying powder blush; it’ll blend out more easily that way.

Some drugstore blush recommendations:

  • Milani
  • Wet n Wild
  • Black Radiance
  • Sleek

Blush placement

As a generic bit of advice, don’t bring your blush below your nose or past the middle of the pupil of your eye (see the image).

Optimal blush placement may vary depending on your face shape. If you have a long, thin face, try applying blush in a sort of horizontal line from the apples of the cheeks out to the ears. Keep it diffused/blended, not stripe-y.

If you have a round face, try applying your blush further back, from the back of your cheekbones towards your temples.

Blush application

The best way to keep from “looking like a clown” is to (a) only apply blush in natural light, (b) only apply a little at a time, and (c) try a stippling brush, which allows a very subtle application and makes it even easier to blend. If you use a stippling brush, very lightly touch the tips of the brush fibers against the blush, then apply to your cheeks and blend.

If you do accidentally over-apply your blush or if it looks patchy, you can bounce a damp makeup sponge off your cheeks to absorb the extra blush and blend it in better.

If you have any blemishes on your cheeks, don’t sweep your blush on – that will disturb the foundation/concealer you put on your cheeks and uncover the blemishes. Just gently pat your blush on and keep patting until it blends out.

Blush color selection

It’s a good idea to loosely coordinate your blush and lip colors by making sure they have matching undertones. Some loose suggestions:

  • Berry lipstick – burgundy, plum, or mauve blush
  • Fuchsia or mauve lipstick – mauve or cool pink blush
  • Coral lipstick – coral, peachy/warm pink, or orange blush (depending on whether the lipstick leans more pink or orange)
  • Peachy lipstick – peach or peachy pink blush
  • Red lipstick – try applying a thin layer of your red lipstick and blotting it to really see the undertones – does it lean pink? Orange? Brown? Purple? Then you can choose a blush in that color family.

As far as choosing colors for your skintone goes:

  • If you have very warm undertones, look for warm pink, peach, or coral blushes.
  • If you have very cool undertones, look for cool pink, lavender, plum/berry, or fuchsia colors.
  • If you have dark skin, you would want to avoid shades that are light because they would either not show up or appear ashy. Strong pigmentation is also important to ensure that shades show up; NARS, Milani, and Sleek all make highly pigmented blushes that work well on dark skin.
  • If you have light skin, then light-to-medium, sheer or buildable blushes are much easier to use than dark or strongly pigmented ones, which will require very careful application and blending. A stippling brush can sheer out those types of blushes, but if you’re looking for something you can just put on and go, then I’d stick with more sheer, buildable options such as MAC’s sheertone blushes, most of Clinique’s Cheek Pops, or Tarte’s Amazonian Clay line.
  • If you look good in muted colors, bright blush shades may look rather unnatural on you unless they are well-blended. On the other hand, if you look good in bright colors, muted blush shades may look muddy on you.

Some specific blush color recommendations from all price points are below. Please note that you can certainly wear colors that are listed here as being for darker skin than yours; you may just need to apply the blush more lightly. If you have light skin and want something pretty foolproof or easy to use, I would suggest sticking to the blushes in the “light” or “medium” categories.

Light skin Muted colors:

Bright colors:

Muted colors:

Bright colors:

Medium skin Muted colors:

Bright colors:

Muted colors:

Bright colors:

Dark skin Muted colors:

Bright colors:

Muted colors:

Bright colors:



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