Three things you need to to know before embarking on a blush journey…
I love makeup. I love how you can play with it to change your look depending on your mood, how it has the ability to transform a face, how some use it as a source of power and inspiration, how others use its absence as a source of power and inspiration.
Hi, I’m Allie, and I’m a makeup addict. But amidst all this love and my (very) vast collection of cosmetics, there’s one thing that stands out as my favorite among favorites. Maybe it’s personal, but there isn’t any other thing in my cosmetics arsenal that I feel transforms a face more than blush. When I’m short on time and only have a few seconds, it’s blush I reach for. Yes, over mascara, over concealer, over lip stain. (Maybe I’ll grab a hair tie, too, if things are really dire, but you get the picture.) But blush—if applied correctly and in the right shade—can wake up a face, brighten the skin, and make you look like you’re ready to face the day (even if you’re not).
Curious what the deal with my obsession is? There are three things you need to to know before embarking on this blush journey.
Blush comes in three main formulas: powder, cream and liquid.
Chances are you’re familiar with powder as it’s the most traditional and probably what you think of when you think of blush: swirling a flushy brush in a pot of pink powder, then sweeping it across your cheeks. It’s also the easiest to apply since it’s dry and you can fully control the amount of product you pick up on the brush. The downside to powder blush is that since it’s dry, it sits on top of the skin, meaning its staying powder isn’t always great.
Next we have cream blush. Much like its name suggests, this stuff has a creamy, balm-like consistency with a base that’s typically a blend of oils. These babies are fairly hydrating, which can be nice during colder temperatures when your skin is starved for moisture, and they’re also super-buildable. What does this mean? You can layer the heck out of ‘em depending on what intensity you’re looking for in the color. Since you apply it with your fingers (no need for a brush!), you can control how much you pick up on your finger pads, exactly where it goes on your face and how much you blend it. Another plus to cream is that the heat of your fingers and face melt the product just enough so that it sinks into your skin in a very natural-looking way, and stays put for hours.
Finally, we’ve got liquid blush which has a reputation as being harder to use than the other two due to the fact that you have to work quickly. Once you get the product onto your face, you only have a few seconds to work it into the skin before it dries, so this formula is probably best for oilier skin. The upside of liquid blush? Since it’s so thin, it offers the sheerest, most subtle color—if you can apply it correctly.
Now let’s talk color. Ultimately, the shade of blush you choose is up to you. Want to swipe blue blush over your cheeks? Your call. But for the sake of using blush as a way to brighten up your face and give you a healthy flush, we’re going to stick with traditional colors here: pink, plum, and peach.
Pink: The point of pink blush is to mimic the rosiness that naturally forms in your cheeks when blood rushes to the area, like after a light jog or when you see your crush. To find your perfect shade, gently pinch your cheeks. The color that appears after a second is your skin’s natural blush tone, so look for a blush that’s a similar color.
If you’re very fair, a pale pink shade that’s almost the same tone as the inside of your lips is a great option, like RMS Beauty’s Lip2Cheek in Demure, a soft pink rose. Medium skin tones should look for a medium-pink blush (duh) aka raspberry. Try the Aura Multi Use Stain Blush in Scandal from Vapour Organic Beauty. Olive skin looks best with a rose pink, like the Aura Multi Use Classic Blush in Courtesan from Vapour Organic. Darker skin tones should opt for a bold, bright pink shade that will hold up to the dark canvas, like Vapour Organic Beauty’s Multi-Use Palette in Flame.
Plum: These gorgeous colors blend seamlessly with the right skin tones and offer a beautifully natural flush. Plum can also work for fair skin if applied with a very light touch, but make sure you’re using a sheer, buildable formula that’s about two shades darker than your lips.
The Aura Multi Use Stain Blush in Lure is a gorgeous, buildable plum berry shade. Rituel de Fille’s Inner Glow Cream Blush in Desire is a fun play on a plum blush for those with fairer skin—this mauve color is more forgiving. And RMS’ Lip2Cheek in Diabolique is a tried-and-true burgundy plum.
Peach: Since peach and apricot tones are most similar to non-flushed skin, this color family is best used to sculpt cheekbones and add just a subtle wash of color. Basically, peach blush is universally flattering and almost impossible to mess up (just make sure you opt for a sheer, buildable formula). On medium skin tones, apricot blush offers a fresh, warm effect, and it even works on fair skin if contouring is what you’re after.
A sheer take on peachy-coral, the Lip2Cheek in Smile offers a subtle, not-too-orange color. For a classic peaches-and-cream look with a bit of shimmer, Vapour Organic’s Aura Multi Use Classic Blush in Charm is your best bet. For a bit more oomph, opt for a burnished coral shade like the Aura Multi Use Stain Blush in Crave.
Other than color, the most important thing to remember about blush is that where and how you apply it should depend on your face shape. “You mean my face isn’t just face-shaped?!” you may wonder, and the answer is a resounding yes.
To get a better understanding of what I’m talking about, think back to your kindergarten geometry lessons. While everyone’s face is a unique, beautiful thing, there are six common “shapes” faces come in: round, square/rectangle, oval/oblong, diamond, heart/inverted triangle and triangle. Here’s how to figure out what shape your gorgeous face is:
Round: Your cheekbones are about as wide as your face is long, and your jaw is soft (aka not very pronounced or sharp).
Square/rectangle: The width of your temples and jaw are about the same, and your face is roughly as wide as it is long. Rectangular faces are similar, except that they’re a bit longer than they are wide.
Oval/oblong: Your face is longer than the width of your cheekbones, and your forehead is a tiny bit wider than your jawline, which is rounded. Oblong faces are similar, but are almost twice as long as they are wide.
Diamond: Your face is longer than it is wide, and your cheekbones are fairly prominent. Similar to a diamond, your hairline is narrow and your chin is pointed.
Heart/inverted triangle: The widest part of your face is your forehead, and your chin is pointed. Imagine a face with a widow’s peak: cheeks are a bit wider than the hairline and then drops into a pointed chin. Inverted triangle faces have the same features, but no widow’s peak.
Triangle: The opposite of the heart, triangle-shaped faces’ widest part is the jaw, with narrower cheekbones and narrowest forehead/hairline.
So why does your face shape matter when it comes to blush? Well, depending on the spot and angle of the blush, you can create some pretty astounding illusions. Think your face is too wide? Narrow it with a pop of color. Want to define your cheekbones? Blush can help if applied properly.
Round: For a subtle slimming effect, use blush as a contour. Suck in your cheeks to find your cheekbones, then swipe the color up and out along the cheekbones. Avoid isolating the color to the apples of your cheeks—it’s too many circles.
Square/rectangle: To soften the angles of a square face, apply the color in a circular motion to the apples of your cheeks. For rectangular faces, break up the length of your face by adding a horizontal wash of color from your apples to your ears. (To find the apple, smile. The most prominent part of your smiling cheek—usually a straight line down from your pupil—is the apple.)
Oval/oblong: Widen your face a bit and define your cheekbones by concentrating the color on the top of your cheekbones, then blending up and back toward the ears.
Diamond: Draw attention to the bottom half of your face by applying blush along the top of your cheekbones to highlight them, then blending out toward your ears.
Heart/inverted triangle: To balance your strong jawline and bring attention to your cheekbones, use blush along the bottom of those cheekbones, then out and up toward your temples, almost like a contour.
Triangle: For a triangular face, blush can go a long way to making the top half of your face appear wider. Starting from the apple, blend the color up your cheekbone to your temple, then carry a light sweep of the color up your temple and over your eyebrow toward the center of your forehead.
Ok, beauties, now go forth and blush!
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Read more from Allie White.
lead image by Emily Sellers