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Blush is one of those magical products that you can swipe on in a hurry to instantly brighten your complexion. Apply powder blush after all of your cream products have already set (like BB cream, foundation, and highlighter). Simply load some onto your blush brush, tap away any excess, smile, and sweep a small amount onto the apples of your cheeks. Alternatively, you can also press onto the cheeks with a makeup sponge if you really want to make your cheeks pop. Blend the color up, out, and along the tops of your cheekbones.
Try: E.L.F. Studio Blush, $3, available at E.L.F. Cosmetics.
Creamy blush formulas are often found in pots or stick-form (sometimes called "multiples"). They can be applied with brushes, sponges, or if you’re in a hurry, your fingers, to give yourself a rosy glow on the go. Use as the last step when applying your cream formulas (like concealer or foundation) and before any powder. You can use a duo-fiber brush (those traditionally found with longer white hairs and shorter black ones) for a very light finish, or just use a small blush brush — either will work! Then just dab and blend.
Tip: You can set cream blush with a light dusting of powder blush for serious staying power.
Try: NYX Cosmetics Rouge Cream Blush, $6.9, available at Ulta Beauty.
Contouring Cream or Powder
Contouring is trickier to master than blush, but once you get the basics down it can work wonders to subtly sculpt and chisel your facial features. The key is to apply lightly and build gradually.
Pick up a pea-sized amount of contouring cream with your fingers, a sponge, or a contour brush; alternatively, if you're using contouring powder, load a light tap of it onto your brush. The goal is to strategically (and subtly!) blend the product into certain parts of the face to create shadows. Typically, these are hollow points, like under the cheekbones, on the temples, under the jawline, plus the areas on side of the nose and along the hairline.
Blend up and out and keep blending until it looks seamless.
Try: NYX Cosmetics Highlight & Contour Pro Palette, $25, available at NYX Cosmetics.
Bronzer is used to achieve a warm, sun-kissed glow and is applied to the areas of the face where the sun would naturally hit your skin (think the top of your forehead, nose, and cheeks).
Similar to the process of contouring, you want to apply a small amount (tap off the excess before application) onto the areas where your skin tends to pick up sun, like the the cheeks, on the nose, and a touch on the chin — all using a fluffy face brush.
For shimmery formulas, stick to the higher points of the face, similar to how you would apply highlighter — and blend well!
One thing to note: While bronzers can double as contour powders (when they don’t contain shimmer), the latter is designed to mimic shadows on the face, meaning the colors tend to be cooler in tone. Bronzers also have warmer, orange or red undertones, which make them ideal for lending a “fresh from the beach” effect to the skin.
Try: Rimmel Natural Bronzer, $5.79, available at Walgreens.
Like contouring, highlighting can help subtly enhance your facial features and provide a beautiful, radiant quality to the skin. It's important to understand: Where contour creates shadows, strobing does the opposite, bringing forward the area you highlight.
Highlighting is a slightly easier task than contouring, though, as you can tap any formula that fits your needs onto the high points of the face (think: the tops of the cheekbones, on your brow bone, down the bridge of your nose, on the Cupid’s bow of your lip, on the inner corners of your eyes, and at the point of your chin). Then, using a face brush, makeup sponge, or your fingers, blend from the high points of the face out (you want your cheeks to look glowy, not frosty).
Try: Topshop Glow Highlighter in Polish, $16, available at Topshop.