Nothing against concealer or mascara, but blush might very well be our desert island makeup must. It’s one product and step in your routine that can make a major (and we mean major) difference. According to New York City-based makeup artist Taylor Fitzgerald blush can create so many finishes to the skin depending on where you place it. "Blush on the apples for a natural flush, or above the cheekbone for a lift, or applying it on the nose for a sun kissed finish," she adds.
That being said, not all blushes are created equal, and the last thing you want is a formula that’s going to end up streaking and smearing or a non-blendable version that leaves you with clown cheeks.
Fear not, the blushes below—a mix of silky powders, blendable creams, and more— are the best of the best.
Best Overall: Nars Blush in Orgasm X
Warm, beautiful color
Looks amazing on different skin tones
Some shades could be more pigmented
What do buyers say? 93% of 2,000+ Nordstrom reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.
"There are tons of great blushes to choose from, but this one from Nars is hands down the best choice since it flatters all skin tones and gives an amazing flush of color to the skin," says makeup artist Aleetha Clanton. "This blush looks good with or without foundation, and can be worn with daytime or evening makeup.”
Coverage Level: Buildable | Finish: Matte, shimmer, satin | Shades: 19 | Size: 0.2 oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Budget: Milani Baked Blush
Easy to blend
Luminous, pigmented finish
Sits well with foundation and under a mask
Accessible price point
Product has lots of fallout
Blendable formula? Check. Silky texture? Check. Range of flattering colors and affordable price? Check and check. The powder is baked on Italian terracotta tiles, making for an ultra-smooth feel, and each of the four shades is multi-dimensional, creating the perfect, natural-looking flush every time.
Coverage Level: Buildable | Finish: Shimmer | Shades: 8 | Size: 0.1 oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
What Our Testers Say
"I enjoyed my experience with Milani's Baked Blush, as it added a nice pop of color and luminous finish that sat well over my foundation all day long." — Celeste Polanco, Product Tester
Best Cream: Rituel de Fille Inner Glow Crème Pigment
Easy to apply
Warm, beautiful shades
A little expensive
The brand describes the texture of this product as “dewy matte,” which admittedly sounds oxymoronic—until you actually test it out for yourself. It leaves skin glowy, but not wet or shiny looking, and with a beautiful wash of color.
Speaking of, we’d be remiss not to mention the line-up of 11 shades, which include both standard pinks and peaches, along with a tangerine, deep plum, and surprisingly beautiful mauve. Also nice: It can be applied with your fingertips, sponge, or a brush.
Coverage Level: Buildable | Finish: Dewy matte | Shades: 9 | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Powder: Charlotte Tilbury Cheek To Chic Blush
Gives skin a glow
Goes on very light
Can be difficult to build up
The complete antithesis of any chalky powder blush you’ve ever come across, this one combines colored pigments with finely crushed pearls. The end result? Not only a silky smooth texture but a gorgeously radiant finish as well, further amped up by the subtle gold flecks in each shade.
Speaking of, there are eight available though you can’t go wrong with Pillow Talk or Pillow Talk Intense, two universally-flattering options that take their cue from the best-selling lipstick with the same name. Also nice: There are two corresponding colors in each compact, which can be used individually or swirled together.
Coverage Level: Buildable | Finish: Radiant | Shades: 9 | Size: 0.3 oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Liquid: Nars Cosmetics Liquid Blush
Blends into skin seamlessly
Gives skin a glow
Not ideal for acne-prone skin
It may be the powder variant of this blush that’s most well-known, but don’t miss out on this liquid take on the classic. Infused with monoi and tamanu oils, it’s beautifully blendable; warm a drop between your fingertips then dab into the apples of your cheek. It has that same beloved, universally-flattering peachy-apricot color, which can also be layered if you want to amp up the intensity.
Coverage Level: Buildable | Finish: Shimmer | Shades: 3 | Size: 0.5 oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Matte: Nudestix Nudies Matte Blush & Bronze
Buffing brush included
Range of pretty shades
Can be used on eyes and lips
Could be longer lasting
Prefer to steer clear of shimmer? Opt for this stick, a go-to for Byrdie Senior Editor Lindsey Metrus. The rosy bronze hue gives you the best of the blush and bronzer worlds combined, though in a totally matte finish. Bonus points for the included buffing brush housed on the other end.
Coverage Level: Buildable | Finish: Matte, shimmer | Shades: 12 | Size: 0.3 oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Stick: Fenty Beauty Match Stix Shimmer Skinstick
Range of vibrant, shimmery shades
Can be used to highlight
Made to suit many skin tones
Can go on a little streaky
We’ve sung the praises of stick formulations time and time again, and this is one of our favorites. Available in 15 shades, there’s something for every skin tone, not to mention that there are options that can be used as a highlighter and/or a blush. (Plus, the packaging is magnetized so if you buy more than one you can easily keep them together.) The formula is lightweight and creamy, though dries down to a powdery finish.
Coverage Level: Buildable | Finish: Shimmer | Shades: 15 | Size: 0.3 oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Fair Skin Tones: Glossier Cloud Paint
Melts into skin
Great everyday shades
Takes some finessing to apply
Finding the right blush can often prove tricky for those with paler skin; go too bright and you can easily look clownish, definitely not the intended effect. Enter the beauty of both this formula and specific shade. A gel-cream hybrid, it’s just pigmented enough, yet still so sheer that you really can’t overdo it. (And perhaps best of all it’s meant to be dabbed on with your fingertips.) As far as color goes, the cool, pale pink is especially flattering on lighter complexions and never comes across as too bubble gum-like.
Coverage Level: Buildable | Finish: Satin | Shades: 8 | Size: 0.3 oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Deep Skin Tones: MAC Cosmetics Powder Blush
Inclusive shade range
May irritate very sensitive skin
For darker complexions, more “traditional” blush colors such as pink or peach just won’t cut it. Happily, this classic comes in over 42 different colors, including options like a punchy fuchsia, bright rose-red, and deep raisin that are stunning on dark skin. No matter which shade you choose, you still get a beautifully silky finish from the non-powdery powder; credit the addition of nourishing vitamin E in the formula.
Coverage Level: Buildable | Finish: Matte | Shades: 9 | Size: 0.2 oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Drugstore: Maybelline New York Cheek Heat Gel Cream Blush
Can be difficult to blend
We’d been hard-pressed to find a legitimately good gel or cream blush from a drugstore brand…until this one came across. TBH, it’s a pretty good dupe for the Glossier Cloud Paint we mentioned earlier and rings in at a very affordable price. The oil-free, water-based formula feels delightful and weightless on the skin, has a dewy finish, and comes in an array of six shades with options for all skin tones.
Coverage Level: Buildable | Finish: Satin | Shades: 6 | Size: 0.3 oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Sheer: Rare Beauty Soft Pinch Liquid Blush
Goes on sheer and smooth
Matte and radiant finishes available
May cling to dry patches
As Byrdie Senior Editor Holly Rhue so eloquently put it this is, “a blush for people afraid of blush.” A standout from Selena Gomez’s new line, the liquid formula is pretty much foolproof, it’s that sheer, though has such a nice finish that it’s sure to convert even powder blush devotees. It comes in four shades, all of which are available in both matte and radiant finishes, another nice touch.
Coverage Level: Buildable | Finish: Matte, radiant | Shades: 11 | Size: 0.3 oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Multi-Purpose Color: Tower 28 Beauty BeachPlease Lip + Cheek Cream Blush
Goes on sheer and smooth
Packaging could be improved
Byrdie Social Media Editor Star Donaldson hearts this do-it-all, which looks equally gorgeous dabbed on lips, cheeks, or lid. The squeaky clean formula is also super hydrating, and it comes in three gorgeous shades. The color payoff definitely veers more toward the sheer end of the spectrum, though can be layered for those who want a bit more pop.
Coverage Level: Buildable | Finish: Radiant | Shades: 6 | Size: 0.2 oz | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Natural: Kjaer Weiss Cream Blush
Melts into skin
Rich, pigmented shades
Could be longer lasting
A 2020 Byrdie Eco Beauty Award-winner, you can feel confident this is a squeaky clean product. It’s also a choice pick for Byrdie Editorial Director Faith Xue, who raves about both the creamy consistency and array of flattering shades. It melts pretty much instantly, sinking into the skin for a truly fresh-faced flush. Plus, there are 11 shades available, an impressive number for a blush.
Coverage Level: Buildable | Finish: Shimmer, satin | Shades: 11 | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
What to Look For in Blushes
Blush isn’t usually the type of makeup product we keep in our purse for touch-ups, because it’s supposed to last throughout the day. If you tend to be out from the afternoon through the evening or if you work outside the home, you’ll want to choose a blush that offers long-lasting wear. Choosing other long-lasting makeup products, such as foundation and lipstick, will help you have confidence in your look without having to glance frequently in the mirror to make sure nothing has changed since earlier.
Buildability is when a product works well to add more to it. While one could assume that every makeup item is buildable, that isn’t always the case—some are more of a “one and done” application type, where if you need to go back and add more, it might not be even. Choosing a blush that has good buildability means that in the areas where you need a bit more, you’ll be able to seamlessly apply a bit extra. Typically the apples of our cheeks have the strongest application, and for the areas under and behind our temples, significantly less will be needed.
How much pigment a blush has denotes whether or not it lands on your face looking similar to how it does in the packaging. The more pigment a product has, the less you’ll need to use, which is a money saver in the long run. This is helpful to keep in mind when looking at the price of a product. Some makeup products, such as highly pigmented eyeshadows, contain so much pigment that you shouldn’t need more than a single swipe. If you’re able to test a product in advance of purchasing it, the act of dabbing your finger and swiping the blush onto your other hand will tell you easily how pigmented, or not, the blush is.
What color blush makes you look younger?
Using makeup to give you more youthfulness is about both the colors you choose and how you apply them. For blush, former Byrdie Editorial Director Faith Xue suggests using one that is “fruit colored,” such as the color of watermelon, peaches, or strawberries. She says to apply it “directly onto the front apples of your cheeks instead of blending upward and outward, which is usually the technique used in America.” She also suggests using a cushion for application, rather than a brush.
Is there a rosy blush that looks good on everyone?
Because skin can differ so much in terms of both tone and undertone, there isn’t necessarily a rosy blush that looks good on every single person. A good rule of thumb is that pink tends to look good on most people because it mimics the body’s natural blushing. And surprisingly, magenta blush tends to look excellent on most people despite being such a vibrant color. That’s because it can be light and bright enough for people with fair skin, but has enough bluish undertones to still be prominent on people with darker skin tone. Magenta is the safest-bet blush color for anyone.
Should your lipstick match your blush?
The makeup you use doesn’t all need to be the same color. That said, it should coordinate well, and you should not opt for a blush that clashes with your lipstick. Opt for colors that match your skin tone. Your skin undertone should be considered for both your blush and your lipstick. Skin undertones may be neutral, warm, or cool, and certain colors should be featured and avoided for each type of undertone. If you’re unsure how to know your undertone, and therefore unsure of which colors of blush and lipstick to choose, check out this guide.
Can you use red lipstick as a blush?
Yes, you can use red lipstick as blush—but it might not be the best choice, especially if you have sensitive or acne-prone skin. Because lipstick is typically made with heavy, and often greasy, ingredients, using red lipstick as a blush could quickly clog your pores. Even if you aren’t acne-prone, it could clog your pores enough to lead to acne. Additionally, since lipstick was designed to stay well on your lips, the skin of which is different than your cheeks, you might find that lipstick used as blush either doesn’t hold up well or is a challenge to remove.