Blush 101: How to Get the Perfect, Natural Flush

Over the years, we've realised that learning how to apply blusher is tough. While some might happily paint it on without a further thought (and can do it rather adeptly), others might find themselves looking a little like they're about to do a skit in a circus. And what with the boom in contouring, the humble blusher has been pushed aside for a more sculpted look. But there's one good reason you should be wearing blusher, and it's not because Kylie Jenner has just launched a set of rouges. Blusher is what gives your skin a glow, even when you're feeling a little worse for wear. It can immediately brighten a complexion and make anyone think you're feeling good when you're not. 

Of course, there are many pitfalls when it comes to wearing blusher. One of them is that the old-school way of striping your cheeks is totally out. Instead, the more pared-back way of getting glowing skin is in. During fashion week, we spotted many pretty looks that made blush look totally new. From Marchesa's subtle glow to Chanel's models with pink dusting around the eyes, these were the new ways to wear blush. But before you start experimenting, we've got five rules you should always stick to when applying the stuff. Ahead, celebrity makeup artist Tobi Henney shares a step-by-step guide to applying blush, from product picks to application tips (plus, the most common blush mistakes).

Meet the Expert

Tobi Henney is a makeup artist based in New York City. Her client roster includes the likes of Ashley Graham, Barbara Palvin, Charlotte Lawrence, and more. She previously served as L'Oréal Paris Makeup Director for Australia.

From This Video

Step One: Apply All of Your Other Makeup First

"I like to apply all of my makeup first, including my lip, and then I like to add blush at the end," says Henney. "Because I feel like you can really gauge how much blush you need once the rest of your makeup is done."

Step Two: Choose Your Shade

Determine whether you're going for a peachy sheen, a pop of pink, or a sophisticated blue-red. Makeup artist Katey Denno, who works with Amanda Seyfried, Isla Fisher, Mindy Kaling and more, says that when finding the right shade of blush for your skin tone, "the goal is to pick a shade that matches the colour of your cheeks when you have a natural flush." So how do you pick correctly? If you're really pale, you want a cool pink; olive complexions want an apricot shade; and for darker skin, a super-pigmented blusher is the way forward.

Henney notes that you shouldn't be afraid to mix blush shades. "Sometimes I even mix a matte and metallic blush together just so it gets a little hint of sparkle," she says.

nars orgasm blush
Nars Orgasm Blush $30.00

Step Three: Apply to Apples of the Cheeks in Circular Motions

Henney starts by swirling a fluffy complexion brush into her shade of choice, sweeping the excess product off onto her hand. "To start, what I like to do is smile so I can see the apples of my cheeks," says Henney. First, apply using outward, seeping motions (rather than sawing back and forth when the brush. Then switch to circular motions to blend.

"I found out of all the products you apply that blush is something you really need to build," she says. "In photos, sometimes you can't see blush as easily as you would a bronzer or an eyeshadow, so you need to really work that in."

la prairie brush
La Prairie Loose Powder Brush $130.00

Step Four: Blend the Edges With a Fresh, Clean Makeup Brush

"If you feel like the color isn't quite blended well, my little tip is to get a little makeup brush with no product on it and go around the edges," says Henney. "It helps blend it in to look absolutely seamless."

Common Blush Mistakes

  1. Choosing the wrong colour for your skin tone: Recall from step two that, as a general rule of thumb, the shade of blush you choose should match what you're cheeks look like when they flush naturally.
  2. Using the wrong formula for your skin type: Much like when you're trying to decide on the right formula of foundation, there are many different types of blusher that will suit different types of skin. From the classic powder to creams, as well as sheer tints, there are many different kinds of rouge out there. So which one is right for you? For oily skin, So which one is right for you? For oily skin, makeup artist Sonia Kashuk recommends first using a cream blush and then following up "with a light dusting of powder blush in a corresponding colour to set the product in place and add longevity to wear." However, if you have dryer skin, just a subtle dab of cream blush will do, or even a tint, will give you the dewy glow you're after. Also, if you're layering your blusher over your foundation you'll want it to blend with ease; creams and liquids works best together, whereas powder foundation can be layered with a powder blush.
  3. Putting too much on: Yes, we know this is obvious, but you should always use less than you need. If in doubt, take half off what you want to apply. You can always build it up, but it's much harder to take it off. 
  4. Not blending: Blusher is meant to mimic where you would naturally blush, so when you don't blend you end up with a stripey-looking face. The solution? Decent makeup brushes, of course. Read through our guide to the seven makeup brushes every woman should own for help on deciding which one is right for you.

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