The Ultimate Guide to Wearing (and Applying!) Blush

Photo: Getty Images/gustavofrazao
I love using blush, and I wear it every single day, but I will admit that I have no idea what I'm doing when I apply it. Whenever I swipe some on, I feel like a child playing in her mother's makeup bag. It's pretty much a guessing game as I dab a cream variety on my cheekbones, blend, and hope for the best. Well, you guys: No longer. I asked some makeup pros for their very best application tips so that my blush application is no longer a guessing game, and I can get it right every time.

"To me, blush is the most essential beauty product to wear," raves Molly R. Stern, celebrity makeup artist, who says it's her absolute favorite cosmetics product. "It enhances the complexion and gives the skin a youthful glow."  Here, I give you the full guide to nailing blush in one fell swoop (er, swipe).

Find the right blush color

While browsing makeup shelves, the number of different blush colors out there can be dizzying. From almost-neon brights to muted pinks and browns, you've got a lot to choose from—and there are smart tactics for finding the right one for your skin tone. "I tend to look at undertones of the skin first, and then choose a color that will either complement the tones or counteract anything that you're steering away from," says celebrity makeup artist Neil Scibelli. "For example, if I see someone already has a natural flush, or has some redness in the cheeks naturally, I won't go for a blush that has red undertones—I'll most likely use a peachy, coral color to try and warm it up."

Another option is to just go with a more luminous bronzer if you've already got pink cheeks. "For medium to tan skin tones, I tend to choose berry-toned blushes or even a warm bronzer on the cheeks," he says. "Deeper skin tones can wear really beautiful pops of orangey-reds and corals on the cheeks, as well as more natural colors like deeper berry tones and plums." Really, he says it all comes down to the rest of your makeup look and your mood.

Stern's philosophy, on the other hand, is to just go bright—always. "As far as selecting a color goes, I say bright—as long as your foundation is matched right [to your skin tone], any color blush that makes you feel alive is the right choice for you," she says. What's more, while muted shades might seem tame in the pan, they can sometimes contain pigments that dull-down the complexion. So certainly, it's nerve-wracking to choose a vibrant shade, however, these hues tend to deliver a richer wash of color that's nowhere near as neon as it is on shelf (a little goes a long way).

Apply it to the right spot

I've always thought that you should apply blush on the apples of your cheeks—the bounciest part of the cheeks when you smile, and that's actually pretty spot on, according to the pros. "In general, I'd suggest starting at the apples of the cheeks, because that's where we normally flush naturally," says Scibelli. "I usually have clients smile, and I apply blush to the apples of the cheeks and work outwards. If you're looking for a more lifted look, you can bring the blush outwards and sheered out upwards towards the temples." Stern agrees, saying the apples of the cheeks are key, along with "anywhere else you would naturally blush."

Grab a tool to help you

Personally, I always apply blush with my fingers just because it's the quickest and easiest method, but it matters which formula you're using. Scibelli prefers applying cream blush with fingertips or grabbing a sponge to sheer it outwards. "I’d suggest applying it with your ring finger because it warms the product up and helps to bind it to your skin," he says, adding that using a makeup sponge can help blend the product into skin. Stern adds that it all boils down to your personal preference, however powder blush is best applied with a brush. "If you're using a brush, use a soft, fluffy blush brush—then dust and blend," she says.

Choose the right texture

Both textures of blush—creams and powders—can add flush to your complexion, so what you choose depends on the look you're going for.  "I personally have only been using cream blushes lately because they really give a believable glow to the skin," says Scibelli. "Creams also have more of a skin-like finish. But if you're on the oily side, that's when I would use a powder blush." Stern actually likes to use both. "I'm a big fan of a bright pop of cream blush and then a softer tone of powder over the top," she says. "I like a layered cheek—cream first makes the blushing look like it's coming from the inside versus sitting on the surface. Then, I blend and smooth it with a dust of powder blush to add a nice touch."

Before getting to the apples of your cheeks, here's everything you need to know about makeup primers. And then here's how to apply bronzer

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