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Learning how to find the best blush is so much easier than finding the right foundation. With foundation, you have to match your skin tone and worry about how it settles across your whole face. With blush, you just need to find a shade that looks good with your skin tone, works with one area of your face, complements the makeup you usually wear and gets you the effect you’re going for.
Okay, that does sound like a lot-trust me though. Finding the right blush is so much more fun, and you can have more than one “right” blush in your collection. You can have the “right” blush for everyday makeup, the “best” blush for days you want to feel empowered, the “best” blush for your favorite smoldering makeup look, and more.
Here, we’ll take a look at how to get the right color, formula, and finish for the job.
Steps for How to Find the Best Blush
There are a few steps to follow when you’re trying to find the best blush. You’ll need to decide on the formula, color, and effect you’d like. You’ll also need to know the kind of finish that will work best with your skin and other pieces of your makeup look (to shimmer or not to shimmer?).
Finding the Right Blush Formula
To find the right formula, you’ll need to consider a few things:
- Your skin type; oily skin usually works best with powder (and some liquids), dry skin likes cream and liquid blushes, and normal/combination skin can easily use any formula
- The look you’re going for: cheerful and glowing, natural, sophisticated and understated, or subdued and non-competing with your other makeup
- How do you prefer to apply your blush: fingers or brush?
- Other products that will be on your face, since creams don’t work well on top of powders
What Color Blush Should You Wear?
The fun thing about blush is, you can choose different colors for different effects. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Want it to be the focal point of your makeup, be bold, and really stand out? Choose one with undertones that don’t match your skin tone.
- Want it to look natural? Choose one with undertones that do match yours and slowly build up the color.
- You can choose a shade that brings out your eyes by going for something opposite on the color wheel (for example, if your eyes are blue, you can choose a peach or orange blush; plummy shades will make green and hazel eyes stand out).
- Fair skin tones usually will look best in a light pink or peach.
- Medium skin tones can go for rosy or coral shades.
- Deep skin tones look great in plums, berries, apricots, and even fiery reds.
In each case, the best color will be tied to whether your undertones are cool or warm, and the effect you want from your blush.
Finding the Right Finish and Effect
Sometimes, current trends will drive the look you’re after. Sometimes, it’s personal preference or needs based on skin type or a certain look you’re going for.
What do you want your blush to do for your overall look?
Bold or Subtle
If you want your blush to be the focal point of your makeup look or if you’re just looking to have fun with color, maybe you want a bright, unusual, pigmented shade. You can achieve this effect by grabbing a highly pigmented, shockingly bold blush shade, or one that is the right depth for your skin tone, but has the opposite undertone, as mentioned above.
For a subtle look, you’ll need to match your skin tone. Build your color gradually by using a light hand to apply it (it’s easy to add more than to take some away or tone it down). A sheer formula will keep it subtle.
Dewy or Matte
If your skin is dry, you might want to add a light-reflecting blush to your skin to brighten it back up. Powders, liquids, and creams can achieve this effect. If your skin is oily, you’re probably looking to tone down the shine a bit. In that case, again, any of these formulas could work (cream will be iffy). Matte powders will be the most reliable.
Sculpted or Youthful
Do you prefer a sculpted, sophisticated look or something fresh and youthful? You can have both—you’ll just need to buy more than one blush and switch up your application methods.
A matte, muted shade can give you the sculpted look when it’s swept across your cheekbones.
This is a good choice for work makeup, but it will also work well in situations where you want heavy eye makeup (like a smoky eye) or a bold lip. There won’t be as much competition between different areas of your face with a neutral blush that doesn’t reflect much light.
You can take your sculpting further by choosing a cool-toned blush for actual contouring or use a warm-toned blush for bronzing.
A brighter, perkier, pearlescent shade applied to the apples of your cheeks and swept up toward the temples can give you a glowing, youthful look. You can pair this with bold lips for a fun, flirty makeup look; just make sure to match the undertones.
When to Choose Shimmer
Blushes with shimmer are absolutely beautiful, but they won’t be right for everyone in every situation. Quick tips regarding the sparkling blush products:
- Skip the shimmer and opt for a finish closer to matte if there’s something on your cheeks you’d rather not draw attention to, like flaking from dry skin or large pores. Look for something that’s satin or matte in finish, rather than shimmery. It sounds counterintuitive if your skin is dry and dull and all you want is to liven it up mid-winter, but shimmer may not be your best friend then. An option you may want to consider instead: pearlescent liquid highlighter added sparingly to the high points of your cheekbones. Keep the blush more subdued without sacrificing a glow.
- If you have bold colors on your eyes or lips, skipping shimmer may make your look more cohesive and less like products are fighting for attention in different areas of your face.
The Main Differences Between Cream vs Powder Blush
Unless you already know you have a strong preference for cream or powder blush, you’re probably wondering about the differences between the two and how to know which one you should use, and when. Here are some of the main differences between cream and powder blush:
- Cream blush usually gives a dewy effect to the skin, whereas powder blush tends to be more of a matte or satin finish (though this isn’t always the case).
- Cream blush is most suitable for drier skin types, whereas powder blush is usually the better choice for oily skin types.
- Cream blush can be applied with fingers or brushes that have synthetic bristles, whereas powder blush is best applied with a brush every time.
- Cream blush melds well with liquid or cream products you may already have on your skin, whereas powder blush tends to sit on top (and will sometimes “stick” in spots if you don’t set your foundation with powder first).
- Cream blushes expire after about 12 months, whereas powder blushes last 18 to 24 months.
Advantages of Blush
There are so many advantages to wearing blush. Here are a few:
- Brightens up your skin when you’re feeling tired and need to look awake
- Adds a healthy, youthful glow
- Can bring out your eye color
- Can tie your whole makeup look together
- Can sculpt and/or “bronze” the face
- Some blush products can be used on the lips and/or eyelids for an easy monochromatic look
Disadvantages of Blush
There aren’t too many disadvantages to wearing blush, but here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Poor placement (for example, putting it too low on your cheeks) can age you
- The wrong color can throw your whole makeup look off
- Some blush doesn’t last on the skin and may streak or fade unevenly throughout the day
The Best Blushes for 2021
There are so many amazing, pigmented blushes in every finish on the market right now. Here are some of my favorites:
NARS blushes (regular and the 3-in-1 product, The Multiple) are some of the best and because the regular powder blushes are usually so pigmented, most of them will last a couple of years (there are some colors you probably won’t use up before they expire).
Within the regular (powder) blush line, you’ll find over 20 colors in a variety of finishes. The 3-in-1 (cream) shades are more limited—to 10 shades—and tend to be sheerer and perfect for more natural looks.
- Highly pigmented powders
- Multi-use creams
- Amazing variety of colors and finishes
- NARS Orgasm is one of the most universally flattering blush shades on the market
- Not as easily accessible as some brands
Tarte’s Amazonian Clay Blush has reputation for lasting all day. It comes in 10 colors that are a mix of muted neutrals and brights.
- Lasts and lasts
- Decent lineup of shades
Works with all skin types
- Not a lot of bold shades
Rare Beauty Soft Pinch Liquid Blush
This liquid blush collection is fairly new and doesn’t offer the outstanding color range other brands do. However, it’s still remarkable in other ways.
- The color payoff is amazing—a little goes a long way
- There’s something for everyone despite the limited color options
- Can be applied with fingers
- Limited shades
- Can be overwhelming in pigment if you’re not careful
- Not a huge difference in finish between the radiant and matte once it’s dry
If you’re looking for a drugstore option that rivals the more expensive brands, Milani’s Baked Blushes has got you covered.
- Easy to get (drugstores and Ulta)
- Gives skin a natural, joyful-looking glow
- Limited color selection, where most shades fall into a narrow peach or pink (or peachy-pink) range
Stila Convertible Color
Here’s another cream blush winner. At the time of this writing, there are only six shades, but they encompass enough of a range to have something for most skin tones.
- Something for everyone
- Can be applied with fingers
- Doubles as a lipstick
- Not overpowering color
- Nothing especially bold; all shades will give you a nice, natural flush but are unlikely to be the standout point of your makeup look
Blush Application Tips and Tricks
So you have the best blush, but what now?
Choosing Your Brush
Unless you bought a cream or liquid blush with the intention of only using your fingers to apply it, you’ll need a brush. Here are some tips on finding the right one:
- Look for a fluffy, domed brush with dense (but not too dense) bristles, like the Real Techniques Blush Brush.
- Make sure the bristles are soft, not scratchy, or you may find that the product doesn’t apply evenly or your foundation is disturbed when you apply the blush on top (scratchy bristles are also especially annoying if you have dry, flaky skin because it can make the issue more obvious).
- Stippling brushes are great for cream blush—the bristles are soft, you can tap the product onto your skin, then blend it out.
Apply Blush According to Your Face Shape
Blush is more than just color you slap on the apples of your cheeks and call it good. Be sure to apply according to your face shape. On Instagram, jashanmal_bahrain shares a diagram that can help you get started:
Fix Too-Bright Blush
It’s easier to put more blush on than take it off, but sometimes even the most careful of us aren’t prepared for the intensity of some blushes and end up with too much. Apply a light layer of your foundation on top to tone it down. You won’t have to redo all your makeup.
Using More Than One Blush
If you decide on a blush palette or just have a variety of blushes in your collection to choose from, you can use the lightest shade to highlight, the medium one on your cheekbones, and a darker one just below that. Blend all the shades together.
Keep in mind that for a lot of facial contouring, you’ll want a cool-toned matte shade (usually in a brownish shade to mimic the look of shadows).
Question: Which brand blush is best?
Answer: NARS has a wide range of colors—from neutral, everyday shades to bold, bright ones—that are highly pigmented and work on most skin tones. Milani is one of the best drugstore brands.
Question: Is cream blush better than powder?
Answer: Cream blush and powder blush both have their strengths and weaknesses. There’s no one-size-fits-all “best” formula. If your skin is dry, you prefer applying the product with your fingers, and/or you want the most youthful look possible, cream blush will usually be best. Normal and combination skin types can handle cream and powder blushes equally well. In some cases, those with very dry skin may find that powder blushes are actually best for them because it doesn’t crack and separate the way some cream blushes can.
Question: What is the best natural-looking blush?
Answer: That will depend on your skin tone. Look for one that matches your undertones and has a satin finish or soft sheen. Depth and exact shade will depend on your skin tone. Next time you go for a brisk walk or work out, snap a selfie to see what shade your cheeks turn when you’re active. Find a similar blush shade and use a light hand to apply it.
Question: How do you apply blush properly?
Answer: Using a soft, fluffy brush with a dome shape, lightly tap into the blush shade and apply it to the apples of your cheeks, across your cheekbones, and lightly over the tip of your nose. If you’re using a cream blush, tap the product onto those areas of your face with a brush or fingertips, then blend.
Question: Does blush look good on everyone?
Answer: A healthy glow looks good on anyone. A blush in the right shade with the most flattering finish and placement for an individual’s features will always look good.
Question: Which blush lasts the longest?
Answer: Tarte’s Amazonian Clay Blush lasts all day and comes in several shades, from neutral to bold. It’s a powder that works well with most skin types and doesn’t tend to slide off as the day goes on.
Question: Should I use liquid or powder blush?
Answer: Unless your skin is especially dry or oily, it’ll be up to personal preference. Oily skin tends to do best with powders and dry skin does best with liquid (or cream), but don’t let that stop you from experimenting.
Question: Who makes the best cream blush?
Answer: Stila Convertible Color and Makeup by Mario Soft Pop Blush Stick are some of the best.
It’s not just about discovering the best blush. You’ll get to make decisions. There’s more than one right answer to the “best blush” for each person, which will open you up to opportunities to express your creativity.
Start with your best everyday blush and then experiment with different colors and finishes from there.