The Perfect Blush Color For Your Complexion
Blush might have been outshined by bold lips and cat eyes the past few seasons, but that’s all changing thanks to new drugstore and prestige formulas (from creams to stains) and plenty of bright-cheek inspiration (Chanel’s F/W 13 couture show and the pages of J. Crew’s always-relevant catalogue, we're talking about you).
But how do you pick a shade that complements your complexion? We chatted with makeup artist Katey Denno—who works with Amanda Seyfried, Isla Fisher, Mindy Kaling, and more—for guidance. “Blush is all about making the rest of the face brighter and fresher,” Denno says. “The goal is to pick a shade that matches the color of your cheeks when you have a natural flush.” Copy your post-workout glow, or just click through our slideshow for Denno’s expert recommendations.
Once you get the right shade, picking a formula is easy: If you’re prone to breakouts, or have oily skin, go for a powder formula. A cream or stain is good for clear skin and darker complexions, but needs to be reapplied after a few hours. If you want a bold, colorful cheek, try layering a powder formula over a stain or cream—it’ll last the longest.
“If you’re extremely pale with red undertones (like Seyfried) you’ll want to choose a cool pink color,” Denno says. “Anything warm could make your skin look ruddy.” Denno’s top pick is Ilia’s Cream Blush ($34) in Tenderly. For a powder formula try CoverGirl’s Cheekers Blush ($4) in Classic Pink or Cargo’s Blush ($29) in Amalfi.
“If you have pale skin with dark eyes and hair, you’re going to want something lively on your cheeks,” Denno says. She suggests a peachy-pink shade like Nars’ Blush ($29) in Orgasm to flatter and brighten up your complexion. For a similar look try Milani’s Baked Powder Blush ($7) in Luminoso or NYX’s Powder Blush ($5) in Pinched.
Denno knows a thing or two about red hair—she created this look on Fisher and has red hair herself. Redheads can wear a range of pinks and peaches, she says. “But avoid anything coral!” Her selects are Alima Pure’s Luminous Blush ($20) in Freja or Tarte’s Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush ($26) in Glisten. Maybelline’s Dream Bounchy Blush ($7) in Coffee Cake will get you there, too!
If you have fair-to-medium skin and brown hair like Chung consider yourself very lucky, says Denno. “You can wear so many different tones!” she says. For a vibrant pink she suggests Tarte’s Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush ($26) in Amused, or for a rosy flush, try Dr. Hauschka’s Blush Compact ($30) in #3 Blushing Rose. We also like E.l.f.’s Studio Blush ($3) in Pink Passion and Revlon’s Powder Blush ($9) in Smoky Rose.
Purplish pinks and peachy-pink hues work best on golden blondes like Lively because of the undertones in their hair. Denno’s picks are Nars’ Blush ($29) in Outlaw or Flirt’s Peek-a-Blush ($14) in Urge. Or try Heidi Klum’s go-to, YSL’s Blush Radiance Blush ($45) in No. 03. Sonia Kashuk’s Beautifying Blush ($10) in Flamingo or Melon is a great drugstore option.
If your complexion is similar to Mendes’, start with a cream bronzer to define your cheeks, then top it with a peachy blush that has red undertones, Denno says. She suggests Ilia’s Illuminator ($34) in Sway followed by Kjaer Weis’ Cream Blush ($54) in Sun Touched. We also like Boots No7’s Blush Tint Stick ($10) in Clove under the brand’s Natural Blush Cream ($10) in Romantic or Stila’s Convertible Color ($25) in Camellia.
Liu’s beige undertones look best with a touch of pale pink, Denno says. Her pick is Laura Mercier’s Second Skin Cheek Color ($24) in Barely Pink for a powder version or Tarte’s Cheek Stain ($30) in Dollface for a creamy formula. Ulta’s Pressed Mineral Blush ($12) in Sweet Pea or Benefit’s Posie Tint ($30) will work, too.
Just like Chung, women with complexions like Kaling’s can wear a variety of colors. Denno suggests hot coral, warm reds with rich brown undertones, and purple hues. “Indian women need a lot of color, so I always start with a stain and then layer a powder on top,” Denno says. “Vapour Beauty’s Blush Stains ($34) in Crave or Enchant are great—and so is Tarte’s Blush ($26) in Flush.” We also like Mary Kay’s Cream Blush ($14) in Cranberry and Pixi’s Sheer Cheek Gel ($18) in Flushed.
If you share Madekwe’s golden coloring try a pinky-peach hue—like Orgasm—or a rose color. “Vapour Beauty’s Blush ($34) in Courtesan would give Ashley a perfect sun-kissed flush,” Denno says. We also like Maybelline’s Fit Me Blush ($5) in Deep Rose or E.l.f’s Studio Contouring Blush and Bronzing Duo ($3) in St. Lucia.
“A peachy-pink blush would look great on Kerry,” Denno says. “But she could also rock a hot pink.” Denno’s picks are Nars’ Blush ($29) in Outlaw or any option from Revolution Organics. “They have a few blush colors that are stain-y and would be beautiful.” Her top picks are the brand’s Freedom Glow Multi-Tasking Beauty Balm ($34) in either Sunkissed or Blushed—or try Wet ‘n Wild Icon Blusher ($3) in Berry Shimmer or NYX’s Rouge Cream Blush ($8) in Hot Pink.
“Darker complexions look best with a super-pigmented cream blush,” Denno says. “Tarte has some amazing cream blushes that would be perfect.” Denno likes the brand’s Airblush Maracuja Blush ($25) in Shimmering Poppy or Shimmering Pink. You can get a similar vibrant pink hue with E.l.f’s Studio Cream Blush ($6) in Seductress or Sephora’s Double Contouring Cream Blush ($16) in Poppy Pink.