Why Blush Is The Best-Kept Secret In Your Makeup Bag

Photographed by Jens Ingvarsson.

We believe that eyes and lips almost always benefit from a little cheek action to look complete. Whether you're going for a bronzy-peach glow or a petal-pink dusting, blush is key for adding brightness and warmth to your final beauty look. Even a light layer will add just the right amount of radiant polish to a smoky stare or bold lip. 

A well-executed blush application can be trickier than you might think, so we get why many people simply skip it altogether. But, if you figure out the right formula and color, the rest is easy. Here, we break down how to choose both.

Cream 
Dewy, radiant skin is in, and as a result, cream blush is more popular than ever. The perfect addition to even the quickest makeup routine, it provides color and depth. We recommend applying this formula when you haven't used a powder product on the skin beforehand. I stick to this rule: cream on cream, and powder on powder. 

When choosing a blush, start by reviewing your skin type and its moisture levels. If you're looking for something to make you look radiant and dewy, cream blushes will do the trick, especially if your skin is dry: The moisture in the blush will help hydrate you.
You can even press a cream blush, like this one from Stila, onto your lips for a coordinating wash of color and pop of life. For those desperate times when you can't find a blush, turn to your favorite lipstick: Dab a little on cheeks, and blend with your fingertips. 

To apply, use a short, natural-fiber brush and blend in a circular motion. For more liquid-y stain formulas, like Benefit’s Benetint, dab a little on the back of your hand first (this will allow you to check the intensity of the color) and apply with fingers in a patting motion along the cheekbones.

For stick formulas, like Charlotte Tilbury's, use the product as war paint! Kidding. Kind of. Smile, draw a circle on the apple of each cheek, and blend with your fingertips. 
Photographed by Jens Ingvarsson.
Powder
I recommend a powder blush for oilier skin types. This type of blush is also great if you want easy application and long-lasting color. Modern, semi-matte formulas, like this one from Giorgio Armani, have the finish of a matte, but with brilliant blending capabilities. Steer clear of powder blushes that have glitter if you plan on wearing them to the office — unless you feel like glamming it up for the workday. If you're unsure if your blush contains shimmer, just use your finger to swipe a sample of it and look for flecks of glitter. 

For those seeking radiance in the convenience of a powder, satin or shimmer textures are a great compromise. These blushes have small amounts of light-reflecting particles that mimic the dew of a cream. When applying these, start off with a light hand! You can always add more, but it's not so easy to take it away without removing the rest of your makeup.
With powder blushes, placement is everything. For a vibrant look, try using a small, fluffy synthetic brush with a bright-pink tone. Smile really big, and swirl the brush in a circular motion on the tops of the cheeks, targeting the apples. This technique rounds out the face and is effective at softening angular features. For a more high-fashion, '80s-throwback appearance, use an angular brush, stamp blush in the hollows of cheeks, and blend up, toward the temple. This application widens the face. My favorite pro tip: Apply powder blush to the cheeks first. Then, to complete the look, re-dip the brush into your blush and lightly dust along your browbone. This quick last step will bring the whole look together.
Color Choice
Consider your skin tone and whether you'll pick up some sun-kissed color in the summer season, and go from there. Some good choices for fair skin include dusty pink, soft peach, and sheer plum. For medium or olive, I like apricot, rose, raspberry, and terracotta. For dark skin, I like deeply saturated tones in raisin, brick red, or mango.

I also firmly believe that all skin tones should have a great red-based blush — the red undertone is the most natural, as it mimics your natural flush. Additionally, when choosing a shade, it's important to consider the rest of your look. How you're making up your eyes or what color you're wearing on your lips could change your blush game. If I'm doing a bold smoky eye and nude lip, I will reach for a shimmery, light-peach blush to add softness, and some contouring and sculpting powder for structure to the face. If I'm creating a look that features a bold red lip, a HINT of pink or even red blush is all I need to give the face life without competing with the lip.

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