These days, it’s a win if I have the motivation to apply a five-minute makeup routine. Between caring for my one-year-old daughter, tackling my 9-to-5 from home, and streaming my daily P.volve workouts, doing a full-face contour doesn’t seem necessary. Add on the fact that every time I leave the house, makeup melts under my mask, and, well, I’ve adapted the motto that less is definitely more than enough.
Still, I don’t want to let myself go. After a bleary-eyed postpartum period, I’m finally feeling more like my pre-preggo self. I want to look glowy and polished, no matter what my in-house activities are. I’ve found myself gravitating toward a specific makeup category: blush-highlighter hybrids. Or, for the purposes of this article and as coined by celebrity makeup artist, Jamie Greenberg: Blighlighter.
Greenberg, who works with celebrities such as Kaley Cuoco, Rashida Jones, and Jessica Alba, created three shades of Blighlighter under her brand, Jamie Makeup. “When I was thinking of names, I would ask people and many said [Blighlighter] was too hard to pronounce,” Greenberg shares. “But there was something about it that also made me laugh. I knew it was one of a kind.”
I personally love blush-highlighters because you can quickly apply them on your cheeks and boom!—your face instantly looks more awake, vibrant, and Zoom-ready. It’s an easy-breezy product that can be smeared on just so—in that effortlessly chic “French-girl” way. It takes care of creating both depth (blush) and lightness (highlighter) in a singular application. Keep reading to learn more about blush-highlighters, discover insider tips on how to apply them, and shop some of our favorites.
What is Blighlighter—i.e., blush that is also highlighter?
Greenberg spells out the definition of this product: “Blighlighter is a blush and highlighter hybrid. It’s different because you get both products in one swipe.” This two-for-one perk also makes it an affordable way to simplify your routine.
This accessibility was part of Greenberg’s inspiration. “I was so used to combining two, three, sometimes four products to get this finished look,” she says. “I started putting together the four products in little canisters to apply to my actresses! When you’re using a bunch of products it’s easy to mess up. Beginners won’t mess this up, and it will look like a pro [applied it].”
While Greenberg coined the term, Blighlighter, for her launch, there were certainly blush-highlighter hybrids before hers. In fact, for years, many makeup pros have used the iconic NARS Orgasm peachy-pink shade as a blush-highlighter on deeper skin tones. The function of blush-highlighters are essentially all the same, yet the formulations can vary. Expect to find iterations that are creams, balm sticks, and powders. Some are intensely pigmented, others sheer; and it can either be intensely-sparkly or offer a subtle strobe.
Why are blush-highlighters such a gamechanger?
According to Greenberg, cheeks are the “underdog of the face.” People often forget about them—instead focusing the always-trending contoured-bronzer look. And blushes often get a bad rap for being too pigmented. “The reason I created this was because many times blushes are overpowered with color,” she explains. “I wanted that category to be toned down a little. The same with highlighter—it is always [very bright] and many have big pieces of glitter that fall out. I wanted to blend the two together and pulverize the glitter.”
Fellow makeup artist-turned-entrepreneur Gucci Westman also features a creamy blush-highlighter in her luxe line, Westman Atelier. Westman’s Super Loaded Tinted Highlight in Peau de Pêche (peach) and Peau de Rosé (pink) both essentially act as blush-highlighters. “It does all the work for you—one swipe up your cheekbones gives you instant definition, radiance, and warmth,” Westman says. “Since these products are cream based, they’re soothing, moisturizing and leave behind a more natural luminosity to the skin.” (As a longtime fan of the peach shade, I can attest that it gives you a pearly glass-skin glow.)
Greenberg and Westman agree that a creamy formula can be the best option if you’re seeking hydration—something we can all use as temperatures dip. Creams also offer anti-aging benefits. “Because I’m a little older many blushes and highlighters are super dry in texture and accentuate my laugh lines,” shares Greenberg. “So it was important that the formula be super hydrating and look like your own skin.”
How do you apply blush-highlighters?
Traditionally, beauty mags preached applying blush on the apples of cheeks and highlighter on the places that reflect light (cheekbones, down the nose, etc). So you may be curious as to where blighlighter goes. Does it act more like blush or highlighter?
According to Greenberg, blush-highlighter hybrids are meant for the cheeks and the “high” places on the face. She recommends dabbing on your cheek and blending it towards the hairline. “You can also throw it on the lips. Over the nose as if the sun hit you there, and around the temples,” she adds. “I’ve even used the lighter shades on my eyelids.”
Westman agrees that the cheekbones are the best spot for this product. “With a blush-highlighter hybrid, I like to apply it up the entire cheekbone,” Westman says. “When highlighter is infused with color, like in these hybrids, they have this amazing lifting effect to the skin. You’re getting a balance of warmth and radiance all-in-one sweep.”
The bottom line: apply it anywhere you’d want a glowy tint, making it a true hybrid between a sculpting and brightening product.
You can also blend different shades for an extra-sculpted look. “I like to layer the colors,” says Greenberg. “I’ll start with The Nude One and bring it into the carve of my cheek for a little contour vibe. And place The Cherry One or The Pink One on top of the cheek for more flush. They all wake you up even if you don’t wear any other makeup.”
When choosing an application method, match it to the formula. As with other powders, a fluffy brush often works best. Creams and balms can be applied with a dense brush or your fingertips. Greenberg also likes to use blending sponges.
When it comes to choosing between a brush and your fingers, Westman has advice. “With your fingers, you can apply the product to more precise areas of your face, like the very tops of your cheekbones, the inner corners of your eyes, and over the middle of your eyelids,” she explains. “You can also amplify the color more with your fingers since the product isn’t being distributed across a brush.”
That said, don’t bail on your brushes just yet. They have a purpose. “Brushes always lend a refinement and polish to the skin,” Westman explains. “The right brush will also hug your cheekbone and envelop it with the product making application easy and flawless.”
What’s the best blush-highlighter for your skintone?
Once you determine your undertone, couple it with your skintone to inform your blush-highlighter shade choice. Westman weighs in on what to look for when picking a blush-highlighter hue.
Fair complexions: “If you have fair to light skin, go for a pearly highlighter or a soft pinky-peach shade,” she says. “I would avoid any pink shades that are too warm as they can amplify any redness in the skin.”
Medium complexions: “If you have medium or olive skin choose a cool pink for a gorgeous contrast,” Westman notes. “If you want to amplify the warmness in your skin, go for a bronzy highlighter.”
Deep complexions: “If you have deep skin, go for really rich golds,” she advises. “With deep skin, it’s super pretty to layer a warm rose over top a rich gold highlighter shade to create a bronzy, rosy flush.”
Shop the best blush highlighters:
Greenberg’s buildable (vegan!) formula is more blush, less highlighter—in that it’s not so sparkly. Rather, expect a sophisticated wash of glow-enhancing color. It’s available in three (self-explanatory) universal shades: The Nude One, The Pink One, and The Red One. You can also dab it on your lips for a monochromatic look.
This clean cream (no silicones, parabens, or talc) creates a smooth glass-skin like sheen. Thanks to hyaluronic acid spheres and organic jojoba oil, it also offers hydrating benefits. Try the new Peau De Rosé for a flattering rose-gold look.
Swirl your brush in any corner of this square to pick up a medley of peach or rose shades (depending on the palette) that are meant to blend flawlessly together. By separating the colors in this way, it also allows you to scale up or down on the shimmer.
While it’s technically called a highlighter, the Pinkgasm and Peachgasm shades definitely fall in the blush-highlighter space. The glossy gel both offers pigment and shine. Since the formula is a bit more liquidy, we recommend using a brush or sponge to blend it in.
Those looking for dewier cheeks and cheekbones will find it in this luxe skin balm. The moisturizing multi-use stick leaves a refined, barely there gleam. Rely on it for days when you “just can’t” to instantly luminize skin.
NARS Orgasm Blush is arguably one of the most recognizable shades on the market. While the powder is often a go-to, the iconic color is available in cream stick iteration, too. Either version suffices as a blush-highlighter hybrid, so pick the formula that works best for your skin type.
If you’re a more advanced makeup guru, this quad of blushes and highlighters is fun to dip your brush into. (That said, it’s still a fantastic palette for makeup newbies.) You can layer and cocktail the colors to create a sculpted look. We also love these soft, lustrous shades on the eyelids.