This Japanese Blush Technique Will Give You Sculpted Cheeks

It may involve your ears.

Jennie Kim with pink blush

Jennie Kim

From sunburnt blush to draping, blush is very much having a moment right now—especially on TikTok. Now, the latest blush crush craze gaining steam on our For You pages is a Japanese blush technique that promises a healthy flush and sculpting effect. So, what makes the Japanese makeup trick special? It uses unconventional placement (which involves your ears) to create a flushed look. “Blush is placed abundantly under the eyes, onto the upper cheeks, and across the bridge of the nose,” explains Dani Kimiko Vincent, founder of Kimiko, and celebrity makeup and brow artist. “Recently, we’ve also seen blush dabbed onto earlobes to further emphasize the effect. The complexion is otherwise kept fresh with minimal coverage that still neutralizes other redness in the face.”

Intrigued by the promise of a radiant glow? Read on to learn more about the "Igari" blush technique and tips how to try it yourself from expert makeup artists.

The Origins of the Japanese Blush Technique

In case its name didn’t give it away, the look originates from Asia and has been predominantly seen in Japan and Korea. “The trend was founded by, and is often referred to as, Igari Shinobu,” Martin says. “This makeup artist is said to have revolutionized Japanese makeup by not focusing the entirety of the look on the eye, rather focusing on complexion.”

However, the concept of the Japanese blush technique isn’t really new. “Centuries-old traditional geisha makeup features reds and pinks around the eye area,” Vincent says. “It also draws on the modern ‘kawaii’ look of anime girls that features strong pink ovals on cheeks, below the eyes.”

Why It’s Everywhere

It's not hard to see the appeal: This technique looks good on everyone, which is probably why it's dominated red carpets lately. “Blush is best at lifting and plumping when it’s used on the high points of the face," says celebrity makeup artist Hannah Martin. "Carrying this product a bit further out and eventually adding a touch on the lobe of your ears makes it look more like a natural flush too, as the traditional ‘W’ shape can be seen as harsh.”

“This particular trend is youthful and has anime-like qualities (think Sailor Moon), as well as ethereal qualities that make it playful and appealing,” Vincent adds. “At the same time, it creates the healthy flush one might achieve from exercise, from excitement, inebriation, or even that of endearing embarrassment," she explains. "This look can work for anyone who wants to have some fun with color. If you have mature skin with deep lines around your eyes, I recommend using a powder formula, as cream blush can settle into lines and detract from the look.”

The makeup artist also has a few tips for anyone prone to redness in their face or rosacea. “Be sure to first neutralize redness throughout the T-zone and lower cheeks,” Vincent advises. “This will maximize the effect of your strategic blush placement and avoid a full-face flushed appearance.”

How To Do the Japanese Blush Technique

For this blush technique, Martin says to look for blush products that have light to deep pink tones rather than anything that is too peachy or brown.

If you’re not sure where to begin, start with the color of your naturally flushed cheeks and choose a blush in that tone or lighter. “It’s the color of your cheeks after taking a jog on a brisk day—this will be the shade that will look most natural and is guaranteed to flatter you,” Vincent says. “From there, you can branch out and experiment with more pink or peach tones.” 

Step 1: Start by prepping the skin and acing your base. “As is understood in Japanese culture, a great skincare routine will create a canvas that requires minimal coverage,” Vincent says. “Think ‘mochi skin,’ which is dewy, plump, and flawless looking. To recreate this blush look, first, neutralize redness throughout the rest of your face while keeping foundation and concealer application light.” 

Step 2: Choosing the right blush brush is crucial. “Once you’re happy with your base, I’d take a small blusher brush, such as the one from my brush collection with Ciaté London, the Hannah Martin x Ciaté London Brush Collection ($199),” Martin says. “This is because the brush is small and ensures you can focus your product only on where you want to place it.”

Step 3: Begin applying blush on the top section of your cheekbones and work your way to the center of the face, keeping placement high and below the eye. “The key is to apply lightly and build color gradually for an ethereal finish that looks like a true flush from within,” Vincent says. “KIMIKO’s Lifting Puff Blush in Sweet Lychee ($38) is a soft and approachable shade for trying out this Japanese Blush technique. While there’s room to play with placement, keep blush high and sweep it over the bridge of your nose. For next-level enthusiasm, apply a little blush over earlobes and blend well to create an extension of the flushed look.”

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