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Everything You Need to Know About Blush

Including how to pick the right formula and add this beauty essential into your makeup routine.

If you wear a full face of makeup every day, there’s a good chance that you wear blush regularly. According to Vera Moore, the owner and CEO of Vera Moore Cosmetics, this product is a staple in many a beauty routine, no matter your complexion. “Simply put, blush wakes up the face,” she shares. “If you like a soft, natural look, just a little blush can give you that barely there, subtle look—whether it’s a touch of peach or plum, depending on your skin tone.”

Getty / Dougal Waters

Jonet Williamson, a professional makeup artist and beauty influencer, adds that blush is arguably one of the best makeup products available to tie a look together, as “it balances the strength and depth of the eye while enhancing and complementing the lips.” As for blush’s other benefits? KJ Miller and Amanda E. Johnson, the founders and CEO and COO, respectively, of Mented Cosmetics, say that blush brings a subtle glow back into the skin after applying other makeup products. “A lot of times, foundation can cover all the dimension that is naturally on our faces, so blush works to bring back that natural flush that we all have,” they note. Ahead, our experts detail how to find the right blush for you—and how to best apply it depending on your face shape.

Choose the right shade.

When selecting the perfect shade of blush, Moore says to first consider your skin tone andundertone. “Skin tones are what you see outright—your complexion. Undertones are what we don’t see—your hidden color or your underlying color,” she explains. To discover your undertone, she says to look on the inside of your wrist in natural light. From there, you will see green and yellow or blue and purple veins. If you have a blue tint, then you have a cool undertone, but if your veins appear green, you are warm. Can’t tell? You fall somewhere in the middle and are considered neutral.

Miller and Johnson add that your skin’s undertone will help you find the right blush color—something they considered when creating their Make You Blush Collection ($22, mentedcosmetics.com). “If you have a cool undertone, you want to go for cool blushes like our Pinky Promise or Berried Away blush. If you have a warm undertone, you want to go for more warm blushes like our Peach for the Stars blush,” they share. “Lastly, if you have a neutral undertone (a mix of warm and cool), you could go for Clay Too Much.” Regardless, they emphasize that makeup is what you make it—and you can choose the shade that speaks to you.

Pick the best formula.

As for formulation? Williamson says you have a few options: You can choose between cream, liquid, or powder based on your preference and the occasion. “I prefer to use cream or liquid blushes simply because it settles better into the skin and tends to last a bit longer,” she says, also noting that these formulas oftentimes have a buttery finish, creating a more natural look. “Powder blush, on the other hand, sits on top of the skin and will be the first thing to wear off—especially during hot summer days.”

It is also important to find a product that has a finish you like and that speaks to your skintype, whether it’s oily, dry, or combination. “If you have oily skin and prefer a matte finish you can still use liquid blush—just look for one that dries down to a powder finish and is oil-free,” Williamson adds. “If you have dry skin, liquid or cream blush may be your best bet, but there are some powder blushes that come infused with primers—like Buxom Cosmetics Wanderlust Primer-Infused Blush ($23, sephora.com)—allowing for a smoother finish. Just be sure to finish off with a hydrating setting spray. My favorite is Lilah B. Aglow Face Mist ($48, dermstore.com).”

Understand when to apply it.

While everyone’s makeup routine looks different, Moore says that one of the best times to work in blush is after you apply a base to your skin—she always turns to Vera Moore Cream Foundation ($30, veramoore.com) for this step. Miller and Johnson add that many people also brush on blush after using bronzer. “Bronzer usually is applied under your cheekbone and blush is applied on top of the cheekbone, or on top of the bronzer,” they explain.

Consider your face shape.

Miller and Johnson note that the best way to apply blush depends on your face shape. “If you have a round face, you will not want to apply blush to the center of your face. It would only make your face look rounder,” the beauty founders say. “The most common way to apply blush is to smile and apply it to the apples of your cheeks and blend using a fluffy brush that is not too dense.” Your brush should easily spread the product, but you should put it on little by little, until you’re happy with the result. You can tell if you’ve gone too far if your face has a harsh red, pink, or orange tone, or if it looks as if the blush is sitting on top of your skin. If this is the case, Moore says to simply buff off any excess with a clean brush until the look becomes softer.

And if you opt for a cream or liquid blush like Williamson does, she recommends using a beauty blender or a stippling brush during the application process: “The density of these applicators allows for great color payoff and ease diffusing into the skin for a natural flushed look.” She adds that you should still apply these types of blush starting about two finger spaces from the side of your nose (at the apples of your cheeks)—and if you also go for contour, your blush should “hug” it.

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