Blush can work magic, giving you that post-gym flush that lights up your face and makes you look healthy and happy. We've got a few pointers to share.
Photo: Claire Benoist
Applied right, blush is invisible. But its effect is definitely not—a pretty, vibrant warmth that naturally illuminates your whole face. (Here's how to score a glowy, blush-like highlight in seconds.) "You shouldn't see the edges of the color, just the freshness of your skin," celebrity makeup artist Jeanine Lobell says. Of course, if you’ve ever applied blush, you know this is easier said than done. As with most things, the devil is in the details—in this case, finding the right color and texture, then applying it just so to look lit from within. This pro-endorsed plan will help you brighten up. (Once you've mastered blush, learn how to apply bronzer for a natural glow.)
1. Choose your hue.
Believe it or not, even professionals can feel overcome by this one. "There are a million shades out there so it can be overwhelming," says Toby Fleischman, a celebrity makeup artist in L.A. Her take: Most women can benefit from owning three shades–a pink, a peach, and a bronze–since our skin does not stay the same color year-round. For your pink, choose something that matches the color your face gets when you exercise (or the inside of your lower lip). For your peach, go for light coral if you're fair and something closer to orange if you're olive-toned or darker. Most bronze shades flatter all complexions, but stay away from anything ashy, especially if your skin is dark. The only legit place to test blushes is your cheek, says Trish McEvoy, creator of the eponymous line. “The skin on your hand or other parts of your body may be a totally different shade than your face.” Trial and error are your best bet, but remember, blush can easily be layered for more intensity or topped with translucent powder to appear less vivid.
2. Find your favorite texture.
There are three to choose from: powder, cream, and liquid. Despite what you might have learned, you don't need to stick to creams or liquids if your skin is dry, nor do you need to default to powder if it's oily. All formulas these days come in matte and dewy finishes; however, texture is important when it comes to layering. You can (and should) sweep a powder color over a cream one to ensure long-lasting wear, but you can't apply them in the other order or one product will remove the other. And if you prefer more of a wash of color, go for the tint or liquid blush. "These formulas provide a more transparent and natural finish," McEvoy says.
3. Apply it like a pro.
Blush can bring your complexion to life and even tweak your face shape the way a contour powder can but in a much more organic way. The placement of any blush is generally the same: You want to start at the apple and sweep or blend down and outward toward your jawline. To find your apple, just smile—it will pop up immediately. McEvoy says it is about one thumb width from your nose. Bring color to the outer edge of your eyebrow and no farther. (Follow these tips to apply the rest of your products like a makeup artist.)
The one exception: If you’re trying to slim a round face or soften a square one, apply color along the bottom edge of your cheekbone. Fingers and synthetic makeup wedges work best with tints and liquids, but it’s better to apply powders and creams with a brush. Fleischman recommends using one with a head that’s similar in size to your apple.