Shopping the drugstore beauty aisle isn’t easy. Whether it’s foundation, lipstick, or blush, an expert’s opinion can make the difference between scoring a new must-have or a drawer full of subpar products. We put celebrity makeup artist Vanessa Scali in front of a table of over 50 drugstore blushes (and a pack of face wipes) and challenged her with finding the best. Which formulas would she use on her own clients like Christina Hendricks, Ashley Greene, and Anna Kendrick? After weeding through blushes that are too-sparkly, streaky, or not-pigmented enough, she found seven formulas that compete with department store brands that are four times the price.
Flower Beauty Win Some, Rouge Some Crème Blush ($8) in Elegant Azalea, Peach Blossom, and Pure Petunia
“I immediately love this formula!” Scali says when trying Flower Beauty’s cream blushes. “You can build the intensity of the color easily and it has a nice powdery finish.” Her favorite shades from the bunch are Elegant Azalea, Peach Blossom, and Pure Petunia.
Physicians Formula Mineral Wear Airbrushing Blush SPF 30 ($12) in Rose
“This is a really beautiful, natural-looking hue,” Scali says about Physicians Formula’s mineral blush in Rose. “It imparts very little shimmer and has a lot of color, which is great.”
Revlon Photoready Cream Blush ($13) in Pinched
“People shy away from bright colors, but they last longer than muted tones and look fresher on the skin,” Scali says. The trick to applying a bright hue? Use sparingly and blend well. “This formula is incredibly creamy and very wearable,” she says about Revlon’s Photoready Cream Blush in Pinched.
CoverGirl Cheekers Blush ($4) in Rock ‘n Rose, Classic Pink, and Pretty Peach
After finding dozens of powder formulas too chalky, Scali fell for CoverGirl’s Cheekers Blush, calling the formula foolproof. “It’s not too shiny and these colors are very pretty,” she says. Her shades of choice are Classic Pink, Rock ‘n Roses, and Pretty Peach, all of which suit a variety of skintones.
E.l.f. HD Blush ($3) in Headliner
“This formula would look beautiful on dry or older skin,” Scali says of E.l.f’s dewy formula. It’s very pigmented and slippery, so make sure to build the color slowly. “It’s more like a luminizer and a blush,” she says.
L’Oreal Paris Visible Lift Blush ($12) in Coral Lift, Peach Gold Lift, and Pink Lift
If you like your blush shimmery (a la Nars Orgasm) try L’Oreal’s Visible Lift Blush. “These colors are beautiful,” Scali says about Coral Lift, Peach Gold Lift, and Pink Lift. She suggests you keep the color to the apples of your cheeks, since they deliver fine glittery particles that can travel.
Sonia Kashuk Crème Blush ($10) in Petal and Rosey
“I’m a sucker for cream blush,” Scali says after trying Sonia Kashuk’s formula. “If you’re going for a pigment like thi,s you’re best off applying it with a duo fiber brush or your fingers.” She uses M.A.C.’s 188 Small Face Brush ($35) and favors the shades Petal and Rosey.