Let’s make blush happen again! In the last few years I think we’ve forgotten a little bit about blush (just like bronzer), what with the contour and highlighter obsession that’s gripping people’s attention. However, I think blush still has an important place in everyday makeup routines, because it gives so much life and balance to the face!
You are not totally without cause to be a little wary of blush – when overdone it can look really ridiculous, and figuring out exactly which blush is best for your skin tone, and where it should be placed is no cakewalk.
I break it down here, by listing all the different types of blushes, and helping you figure out how to make blush work for you, both based on your face shape and your skin tone. I’ve got recommendations for the best blushes for every skin tone, as well, along with some blush application tips and tricks. So what are you waiting for? Get painting!
Blush Makeup Guide: Contents
• Types of Blush
• Best Blush Colors for Fair Skin with Cool Undertones
• Best Blush Colors for Light Skin with Yellow Undertones
• Best Blush Colors for Medium Skin with Yellow Undertones
• Best Blush Colors for Medium Skin with Neutral or Cool Undertones
• Best Blush Colors for Tan Skin with Orange Undertones
• Best Blush Colors for Olive Skin
• Best Blush Colors for Dark Skin with Warm Undertones
• Best Blush Colors for Dark Skin with Cool Undertones
• How to Apply Blush for Your Face Shape
• Choosing Your Blush Applicator
• How to Apply Powder Blush
• How to Apply Cream Blush
• Matching Blush to Your Lipstick
• Blush Makeup Tips & Tricks
Based on its texture, a blush comes in different forms, some of which work best for oily skin type, while others can be excellent for dry or mature skin. To get that natural looking glow on your face, you need to figure out which blush formula is best for your skin type. These are the common types of blush you can experiment with:
Powder blush usually comes either pressed into a compact, or as a loose powder in a jar. It is the most common type of blush people use because it’s very easy to apply and blend, besides it gives the much-coveted natural look without looking overdone.
However, a powder blush doesn’t last as long as a liquid blush does, and throughout the day as it absorbs the oils from your skin, the color might change slightly.
Powder blush is better for those who like a traditional makeup look, and since it is only applied to a small part of the face, it is good for all skin types.
Cream blushes are becoming increasingly popular, especially with those who are nervous about overly pigmented powder blushes, or who have very dry skin. Cream blushes are very easy to apply, and give a very gentle wash of color to the skin.
They work better than powder blushes if you don’t like to wear foundation, since they are easier to apply on bare skin. Cream blushes come in a variety of forms, from jars and compacts, to roll-up sticks, to even cushions!
While cream blushes are perfect for dry skin, they also work for almost all skin types, except for oily skin.
Liquid blushes are similar to cream blushes, but their texture is more fluid, which gives room for easy custom blending. They can be blended with moisturizer or foundation for the sheerest of flushes, or mixed with a different liquid blush for custom colors.
Liquid blushes are longer-lasting than regular powder blushes, and they normal retain the same color throughout the day. Like cream blushes, they are great over bare skin, and suit dry skin the best.
Stain blushes also take the form of a liquid, but they are extremely pigmented and highly concentrated. All it takes is a tiny drop, which will dry quickly, giving lots of color.
Stain blushes are great for anyone whose blush seems to fade quickly, as they give a long-lasting color thanks to the water-based formula they feature. Stain blushes are excellent for oily skin types, although they can work for any other skin type as well.
Best Blush Colors for Each Skin Tone
Once you have figured out the right blush formula for your skin type, it’s also important to learn how to choose the right blush color for your skin tone.
You want either a very pale berry or a light pink blush when your skin has a cool undertone, at least if you want to play it safe. They will blend into your skin perfectly, and look most natural, while still giving your cheeks that coveted glow.
If you want a matte blush, choose a lighter color, but if you want a bit of shimmer or glow, your blush can even be a medium shade. Overly orange or peachy colors can clash with your skin, but if your foundation is perfectly applied, that clash can actually look very modern and high-fashion.
Unless you’re prepared to blend forever, stay away from darker blushes.
1. Tarte Amazonian Clay 12 Hour Blush in Dollface
This highly pigmented soft pink blush goes smoothly on the skin, giving a romantic effect. You can pick it up at Sephora.
2. Benefit Posietint Lip & Cheek Stain
This long-lasting cheek stain is an excellent blush for days when you’re skipping the foundation, or want a soft, long-lasting flush. This ultra-soft pink is a lovely match for pale, cool skin. You can find it at Sephora.
For those with light skin and yellow undertones, peaches are the way to go – especially if they have a sunny, golden glow. These kinds of blushes will totally warm up your complexion, giving you a natural glow.
Your other option is a neutral, pale berry blush or a coral. On your warm skin, these neutral blushes will register as rosy and fresh, and will give you an innocent flush that is perfect for the colder seasons.
1. NARS The Multiple Orgasm Blush
This blush is the holy grail of many, with a flattering peachy shade and golden flakes for extra glow. It is available in a creamy stick formula at Net-a-Porter, where you can also find it as a powder or liquid.
2. Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Diffused Heat
This blush is easy-blending for those with pale skin, and is a bright coral with a gorgeous satiny finish. You can find it through Net-a-Porter.
Those same peachy blushes your light-skinned friends wear will also look great on your slightly darker, yellow skin, albeit they’ll look much softer and more natural – perfect for a daytime look.
You can get a similar but more sun-kissed effect with a pale golden-bronze blush. For a blush with more presence, you can try a well-pigmented coral, a burned apricot, or a darker berry red tone.
1. Too Faced Love Flush Blush in How Deep is Your Love
This bright and sunny coral has a lot of pigment and a buttery texture, so it’ll show up colorful and uplifting on your skin. The packaging is super cute, to boot! It is available for sale at Sephora.
2. Anastasia Beverly Hills Blush Trio in Peachy Love
So this is a three-for-one recommendation, with three blushes perfect for medium warm skin. You get the gentlest pale peach, a brighter coral, and a muted warm-rose, in a wearable powder formula that will always suit your skin. You can purchase this blush set at Sephora.
Darker cool blushes were basically made for medium skin tone with cool undertones. You can rock the same pale berries as just about everyone else, but they will nearly disappear into your skin (which hey, that might be what you’re going for!), but for real drama, mauves and plums are your friends.
True pinks are also an option for medium skin with cool undertones, as they will give your skin a bright, glowy flush.
1. Lorac Color Source Blush in Chroma
This deep berry shade is a perfect cool-toned blush for medium skin tones. It gives a feminine touch to the cheeks, and reinvigorates the whole complexion. It can be purchased at Ulta.
2. Chanel Joues Contras Blush in Rouge Profond
With a silky texture and a luxurious container, you cannot go wrong with a Chanel blush. This shade is a bright yet cool pink, with more than enough pigmentation to show up perfectly on medium skin! You can pick up this blush at Nordstrom.
Bronzy blushes are so beautiful on tan skin – something that has a lot of golden glow, and a peachy or even reddish tint. These blushes will make your natural tan look healthy and golden.
For a lit-from-within flush, you can choose a straight-up bright orange or peach, although remember that if their color is not strong enough, they will simply not show up on your skin.
For a more sophisticated look, you can opt for muted brown-red blushes that will define your cheekbones elegantly – pair them with a golden highlight for a three dimensional look. For a blush that will gently contrast against your skin, you could even play around with muted purples.
1. Charlotte Tilbury Cheek to Chic Blush in The Climax
This bronzy, frosted blush will give the perfect coppery definition and glow to your tanned cheeks. It is duo-toned, so you can amp up the peach, or use the brown outer ring for contour. You can find this powder blush at Nordstrom.
2. Make Up For Ever Artist Face Color Blush in H312
This perfect, shimmery bronze has just a hint of red in it to perfectly complement your tan. It gives an intense glow to the skin, with a silky-smooth formula. You can purchase this gorgeous blush at Sephora.
Olive skin tones are the hardest to match a blush to, as most colors in the red family work against the green undertones in your skin. Bronze and golden blushes are the easiest choices, as they will give definition and glow without even a hint of a clash.
Muted oranges will give more of a bright flush, like a true blush, while not being too far opposite the undertone of your skin. Muted mauve blushes will do something similar in the other direction, and are perfect for those with a cool olive undertone.
1. Urban Decay Afterglow 8-Hour Powder Blush in Rapture
If you like a cheeky blush name as much as the next guy, then Urban Decay has you covered almost as well as NARS. Rapture is a deep, muted mauve, with a gorgeous jewel tone finish that looks extremely elegant on olive skin tones. You can find it at Sephora.
2. MAC Powder Blush in Coppertone
Despite the name, this muted-apricot blush is not too shimmery. Instead, it gives an orangey flush to the skin that is well pigmented and long-lasting. This blush is available at Nordstrom.
If your skin is darker with either yellow or orange undertones, you will find that a ton of blushes will work really well for you. Bronzes and coppers will give a golden flush that is phenomenal for summertime, or to pair with colorful makeup.
Darker brick reds will give a sophisticated flush to your skin. Light oranges will brighten you up, and will require very little blending.
Magentas, reds, and plumes will give your skin the youthful flush brighter pinks give to those with fair skin. Play around, and have fun, because you have nearly endless options.
1. Becca Mineral Blush in Lantana Crimson
This crimson blush is intense, with an extreme pigmentation that’ll show up on any skin tone, and a loud yet not overly warm shade that will truly complement warmer skin tones. The formula itself is buttery smooth and lasts forever on the cheeks. You can purchase this blush through Sephora.
2. Glossier Cloud Paint Cream Blush in Haze
For that girlish flush, this airy formula is an incredible choice. It’s a neutral, berry shade that goes on sheer, but because of the brightness of the shade it shows up well on the skin. The gel-cream formula can be built up, if you want to go a little beyond a natural makeup look. You can pick up this charming blush through Glossier.
Those with very dark skin occasionally have a blue undertone to their skin. When your skin leans towards blue, you want to avoid overly warm blushes with a lot of orange, as they will clash oddly against your skin. Instead, purples are your friends here.
Lighter purples will give a gentle touch of color, while darker purples will have a bit more presence. If you do want a more summery, bright flush, try a plummy-blush that has a pearlescent finish.
1. Black Up Blush in NBL02
This bright violet is exactly the kind of blush that will give your skin with blue undertones a lit-from-within, innocent sheen of pinkness without even a hint of clash. The pigmentation on the blushes from this POC-owned company ensures that they’ll show up even on the darkest skin. You can purchase this blush at Sephora.
2. Bobbi Brown Blush in Berry
This incredibly pigmented, cool berry-red is a blush that will seriously pop even on the darkest of skin tones. It has a long-lasting formula, and a wonderfully smooth texture that you will truly cherish applying. Pick up this gem at Nordstrom.
When it comes to the correct blush application, both your face shape and the makeup tools you use matter a lot. So first make sure to learn how to apply blush according to your face shape, and do it with the best tools, using the correct makeup techniques to achieve that flawless, radiant glow.
The most flattering blush shape for your face depends on both how prominent your cheeks are and on your overall face shape.
• Diamond & Heart-Shaped Face: For faces that are smaller and more angular, with sharp cheekbones, your blush application can help soften the face. Apply your blush a little lower on the cheekbone, and keep it centered and rounded.
• Round-Shaped Face: Blush can draw attention to your cheekbones, and give your face some angular definition. Apply it starting higher, near the temple, and have it come down in an angle towards the center of the apple of the cheek for the most flattering shape.
• Long Face: Whether you have a rectangular face or a longer oval face, blush can help break up and give balance to your look. Starting at the top of the cheekbone, drag your blush into the outer part of your face so that it’ll make a straight line.
• Square-Shaped Face: Blush can seriously soften and feminize a face with a more square shape and a stronger jawline, when concentrated in the center of the face, a little higher on the apples of the cheeks. However, blush can also be applied lower on the cheekbones, on an angle from the temples to the center of the face, which will emphasize the sharp features in a way that is very editorial and striking.
• Oval-Shaped Face: Perhaps saving this one to the end isn’t far, since most faces are oval-shaped. Oval-shaped faces are usually pretty balanced on their own, so a sweep of blush along going from temples to cheekbones, with a very gentle slope, would just help emphasize natural features.
You may experiment with more severe angles, as well as with softer, rounder shapes, depending on what you would like to achieve.
• Round-Topped Brush: These are the classic choice for blush application. One sweep on each cheek, and you’re pretty much done! A fluffier brush will give you a lighter coverage, while a more dense brush will give more opaque coverage. Animal-hair brushes should only be used for powder blushes, but if your brush is synthetic, you can use it both for powder and cream blushes.
• Fan Brush: Fan brushes give the gentlest sweep of color, and are excellent for anyone who is a little nervous about over-applying blush. They are also excellent for highly pigmented blushes, because they will give you a lot of control over the application.
• Fingers: When it comes to applying liquid products, I simply love using my fingers. Liquid and cream blushes are no different. It’s an especially nice method if the blush you use is a little thicker, because the heat from your fingers will warm up the cream and make it spread more nicely. You apply the blush with circular motions, and it gives a light and naturally blended wash of color.
• Sponge or Beauty Blender: If you don’t like using your fingers, a damp beauty blender or a makeup sponge can also be a great way to apply cream blushes. You can first stipple on the cream blush, and then use a clean sponge-end for blending. Sponges give you a lot of control over how light or how strong of an application you will have.
• Duo-Fiber Brush: A small duo-fiber brush can give a quick and well-blended application of cream or liquid blush. You dip your brush into the blush, and apply it to the cheeks in a rounded, circular motion. If you are nervous about a very pigmented blush, you can even blend a bit of foundation into it before applying, for a more sheer look.
• Start with cleansed and well moisturized skin. You can even use a primer if you like.
• Apply your foundation as you normally would. You can read our foundation guide, if you haven’t figured out that makeup step yet.
• If you like to do cream highlight and contour, then now is the perfect time!
• Make sure to set your foundation with a setting powder! If you wear a powder foundation, you don’t need to set it. This powder step is important, because powder blush is extremely difficult to blend when it sits over a cream or liquid foundation.
• Dip your brush into your blush of choice, making sure it is well-coated in product. Tap off the excess. If you think you loaded too much blush onto your brush, wipe it gently against a dry tissue.
• The place where you begin your blush application is where you will deposit the most product, so you want to think about that before you start. If you are going for a fresh-faced look, begin at the center of the face and gently sweep the brush outwards to the temples. If you want a more angled, sophisticated look, apply the blush at the temples, and work your way to the center of the face.
• Using a clean, fluffy brush, blend the edges of your blush for a seamless look.
• If your blush is still looking a little strong, dip a fluffy brush into your face powder, and apply it lightly over the blush. This will make the blush appear softer and as though it was naturally below the skin.
• If you want a bit more definition, you can also add powder highlight to the high points of the face, and powder contour to the areas you want to make more slim.
• Finish off with the rest of your makeup.
• As always, begin with a cleansed and moisturized face. Apply some primer if you want extended longevity.
• If you want to wear a cream or liquid foundation, apply it to your skin first.
• With your applicator of choice, begin applying your cream or liquid blush. Dot it into the skin first in a gentle stippling motion, and then blend it outwards in circular motion.
Remember that the place where you first stipple the blush is where it will appear the strongest, so for a more youthful look, begin at the apple of the cheek, while for a more sculpted look, begin at the temple and blend forward into the center of the face.
• For a longer-lasting makeup look, either set your whole face with a translucent powder, or only set your cream blush with a powder blush.
• Finish off your makeup as you normally would.
Having makeup that looks beautiful is a great balancing act, and blush makes a big part in that. We’ve all heard that dark eye makeup should never be paired with dark lips, but what about blush – how do we match blush to lipstick?
When it comes to matching blush to lipstick, your safest bet will always be to match undertones. This means that if you’re wearing a purple, magenta, blue-red, or cool-pink blush, your blush should also be cool toned. If, on the other hand, you’re wearing an orange, orange-red, brick, or peach toned lip, then your blush should also be warm toned.
This doesn’t mean that you have to wear a red blush with a red lipstick, or a mauve blush with a mauve lipstick. You could pair a soft apricot blush with a brick red lipstick, for example, or a cool-berry blush with a blue-red lip. A truly neutral blush is a safe bet with almost any lipstick, so that is also an option.
To put a wrench into that, I’ve definitely seen some really great makeup looks where the undertones of the blush and the lipstick were defiantly mismatched. The key to making such a look work is having it be extremely clean and precise, since even the slightest imperfection will turn the look from artistic to messy. Your foundation, eye makeup, lipstick, and blush all have to be perfectly applied and blended.
• For long-lasting and ultra vibrant blush, pair a cream blush with a powder blush. After applying your creamy blush, simply set it with a powder blush, and it will stay put all day long.
• If your skin has an uneven texture due to scarring, acne, or enlarged pores, avoid overly pearlescent or shimmery blushes, as they will over-emphasize the uneven texture in your skin. Stick to matte blushes instead.
• Blush can be a multi-tasker! A powder blush can also double as your eyeshadow, and a cream or liquid blush can become as three-in-one, working beautifully as a lip-gloss. This can give you a really lovely monochrome look.
• In a pinch, your lipstick can double as a cream blush – simply dot it on and then blend, much like any other cream blush. This is also a great way of making sure your lipstick and blush will match!
• For a cute, impish, and Instagram-ready look, sweep a bit of blush across the bridge of your nose. The effect is unique, adorable, and innocent.
Do you wear blush regularly? What’s your favorite blush? Let us know!