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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
"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.”
Best Budget: Milani Baked Blush
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.
Best Cream: Rituel de Fille Inner Glow Crème Pigment
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.
Best Powder: Charlotte Tilbury Cheek To Chic Blush
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.
Best Liquid: NARS Cosmetics Liquid Blush
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.
Best Matte: Nudestix Nudies Matte Blush & Bronze
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.
Best Stick: Fenty Beauty Match Stix Shimmer Skinstick
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.
Best for Fair Skin Tones: Glossier Cloud Paint
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.
Best for Deep Skin Tones: MAC Cosmetics Powder Blush
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.
Best Drugstore: Maybelline New York Cheek Heat Gel Cream Blush
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.
Best Sheer: Rare Beauty Soft Pinch Liquid Blush
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.
Best Multi-Purpose Color: Tower 28 Beauty BeachPlease Luminous Tinted Balm
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.
Best Natural: Kjaer Weiss Cream Blush
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.