If there’s one makeup product that splits people right down the middle, it has to be blush. For some, it’s an indispensable part of their makeup routine, adding life and youth to the cheeks. But for some, it has more of a questionable reputation—often looking overly obvious, and giving more of a flustered, red-in-the-face vibe. But done right, blush is the best. If you want to dip your toes into the wonderful world of blush but are unsure where to start, here’s all I’ve learned.
For a more natural, no-makeup take on blush, a liquid formula can be your best friend. These formulas tend to blend into the skin, offering a sheer wash of pigment that doesn’t sit on the face’s surface. There are a few fabulous options out there, but Glossier Cloud Paint is probably the most famous. I also love the Flower Beauty Blush Bomb, which offers a dewier finish, and the Maybelline Cheek Heat Gel-Cream Blush, which feels more lightweight and looks sheerer.
In terms of true liquids, though, I still hold a torch for the Benefit Benetint. Applied with fingers it gives a very natural-looking flush that sticks around until you wash your face. For more color variety, though, the Daniel Sandler Watercolour Blush is ideal, offering a ginormous shade range in an unbelievably lightweight formula. And for true liquid blush beginners, I think there’s nothing better than the Charlotte Tilbury Beauty Light Wands. They’re a combination of blush and highlight, meaning they’re glowier and less brightly colored than many other options. Plus, the built-in sponge applicator makes dabbing them on a total dream.
If you want a natural effect similar to liquid blush but want something a little easier to use, a cream may be the best option for you. The Stila Convertible Color, Fenty Beauty Cheeks Out Freestyle Cream Blush, and Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge all give cheeks a brightened, hydrated, dewy effect while offering tons of shades that are flattering for all skin tones.
For even more ease, you really can’t beat a stick applicator. Both the Milk Makeup Lip + Cheek and the Charlotte Tilbury Beach Lip & Cheek Stick can be scribbled on right from the tube, then roughly dabbed to blend, giving a blushed look in seconds.
Powder blushes are often in danger of looking the most obvious on the cheeks, as they can be difficult to blend and tend to sit on the skin’s surface. However, there are options out there that can mimic a more natural look. The first that springs to mind is the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush. These are ingeniously marbled with the famous Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders, giving them a sheerer pigment and a glowy, light-diffusing finish. A similar option, but at a mercifully lower cost, is the Milani Baked Blush. These feel quite similar to the touch, with a hard surface and a soft wash of luminosity running through them.
If you prefer to keep your blush matte, the best powder option I’ve found is the Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush. While matte powder blushes can sometimes veer into dangerously chalky territory, these manage to blend seamlessly into the skin and never look obviously makeuppy. The enormous and ever-changing shade range is simply an added bonus.
Although finding the right product to suit your needs is helpful, the real key to falling in love with blush is mastering your application. Getting the product onto your cheeks in a way that doesn’t look clownish can be tricky, but I’ve honed my craft and have some wisdom to share.
Firstly, it’s all about what you use. Fingers are always preferable to me, as the heat from my hands helps melt the product into the cheeks, giving a soft stain. However, many people find using their fingers to apply makeup annoying, unsanitary, or just plain unappealing, and if that sounds like you, I highly recommend opting for a microfiber sponge. This will diffuse the edges of your product seamlessly.
Obviously, fingers and sponges aren’t going to cut it when it comes to powder blushes. For these, I prefer a two-brush approach. I’ll first apply the bulk of the color using a kabuki or buffing brush. This helps target the application exactly where you want it. Then, I’ll use a fluffier brush to blend the blush out. I love the Real Techniques Blush Brush for this.
If you’re constantly finding your blush looks obvious and unflattering, another hot tip I’ve learned from TikTok (where else?) is applying it higher up than you may think to. It’ll help lift your cheekbones and create the illusion of a more sculpted face. And if you’re noticing your blush always looks a little bright, consider applying it underneath your base product. If you tend to wear a sheer coverage, applying a darker cream or liquid blush underneath can help give a more convincingly flushed glow.
My final tip for a more satisfying blush experience is the Dermaflash. This little tool works wonders, essentially shaving off any peach fuzz and loose flakes of skin to give an incredibly smooth surface. Applying blush over this baby-soft skin is what dreams are made of.