Whenever I was tired, cranky or overly frustrated with life, my mother would say, “Slap on a little blush. You’ll be fine.” It was her way of telling me to put on my big girl pants and move. Of course, 99% of the time it was also her way of telling me to slap on a little blush. A makeup maven herself, my mom wasn’t shy about giving free beauty advice in the form of wear more blush. It seemed like every conversation ended with reminders to wear sunscreen and more blush. And the older I got, the more I heard it. But hey, I get it. Blush (along with lipstick) is one of the best things you can do to perk up your look and your mood. Of course, as I’ve gotten older not any blush will do. I’ve learned that powders and overly shimmery formulations don’t do me any favors. Instead, it’s about finding the best formula and shade that flatters for a natural look. Forget about pressed powder blush and opt for rich creams, hydrating sticks or water-based gels and tints. Here’s my advice on how to choose the right blush for that perfect, youthful glow.
Cream or Liquid Blush
Cream or liquid blushes are all the rage today. Nearly every makeup line offers a version and they often do double duty for cheeks and lips! This formula is easy to apply (with your fingers) and just looks more natural. Creams and liquids are also less likely to settle into those lovely fine lines and creases. Whether housed in a tube, pot, or bottle, they have more pigment and glide on effortlessly. So you don’t necessarily need to wear foundation first. They feel weightless on your cheeks and give you a natural dewiness. Often containing essential oils and moisturizers, they are ideal for dry and parched skin. But other skin types (except for very oily skin) can also use this formula.
Wearable Tip: You can layer a highlighter or oil on top without fear of streaking or pilling.
- Glossier Cloud Paint – This cream is highly pigmented but light. How is that possible? No idea. But it’s as good as all the reviews say. I have four shades and they blend seamlessly.
- Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge for Lips & Cheeks – Excellent texture and wearability. It only comes in 3 shades though. But miraculously, all of them work well on most skin tones.
- Fenty Beauty Cheeks Out Freestyle Cream Blush – Summertime wine is my favorite. Tons of shades so it’s easy to choose the right blush.
- Kaja Cutie Bento Creamy Lip & Cheek Duo – Ignore the middle school, 7th grade packaging. The texture and glow are vibrant but natural.
- ILIA Color Haze Multi-Use Pigment Soft, whipped formula that’s lightweight and easy to blend out for a soft wash of color on cheeks or eyes. (I wish it offered a broader range of shades though.)
Stains provide a long-lasting look that stays on all day and gives you a natural, healthy radiance. Apply a little at a time — once it sets into your skin, it’s hard to blend out. If you end up looking clownish, rub a dab of foundation onto your cheeks to dilute the color. If you need more color payoff, layer on the product until you reach your desired hue. In my experience, I think stains look better on top of foundation (rather than naked skin) as they need something to “grab” onto.
Wearable Tip: I apply the stain on my fingers first – then to my cheeks. It gives me more control over how much to apply and where.
- NARS Liquid Blush – Does double duty as a highlighter too. The ‘Orgasm’ shade really does look good on everyone.
- Armani Beauty Neo Nude A-Line Liquid Blush – Really pretty finish. And the sponge tip makes this easy to apply and control.
- Benefit Cosmetics Benetint Rose Lip & Cheek Tint – Cult favorite for a reason. Looks so pretty on lips, too.
- Ere Perez Cheek & Lip Beetroot Tint – This natural product is water-based and formulated with beetroot extracts known for their nourishing and hydrating properties.
- 100% Pure Fruit Pigmented Lip and Cheek Tint PhotoReady Cheek Flushing Tint™ – This tint contains emollient sunflower oil and plumping hyaluronic acid to help lock in moisture for a smooth and supple texture.
The refreshing gel-like texture makes this water-based blush a great option for oilier complexions. Intensely dark in the tube or pot, they are quite sheer and offer a quick way to bring a healthy glow to your face. The stinker is that they are not very long-lasting. And if your skin tone skews medium to dark, gel blushes may not offer enough color. Gently put gel on the apples of your cheeks and blend with your fingertips. Just make sure not to apply too much — it’s easy to go overboard with this pick.
Wearable Tip: Gels can be layered, so you can also add a cream, powder or highlighter to amp up the intensity without a problem.
- Pixi Beauty Sheer Cheek Gel – Don’t be put off by how dark this looks in the tube. It’s crazy sheer and can be used on lips too.
- Origins Pinch Your Cheeks – Easy to use tube makes it ideal for on-the-go.
- Milk Makeup Glow Oil Lip + Cheek – This formula is infused with rice bran oil, an antioxidant-rich hydrating oil that easily absorbs into the skin.
- NUDESTIX Gel Color Lip + Cheek Balm – A multitasking balm that provides a fresh, wet gloss without stickiness for cheeks and lips. The shades are so, so natural, it makes it easy to choose the right blush. You’ll want more than one!
I literally have tried all of these (and own more than I care to admit), so if you have questions or comments, please let me know in the comments below!
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