Blush might have been outshone by bold lips and cat eyes over the past few seasons, but that’s all changing thanks to new drugstore and prestige formulas, from creams to stains, and plenty of bright-cheek inspiration from both the runways and editorial shoots. But how do you pick the best blush color for your complexion? We chatted with makeup artist Katey Denno—who works with Amanda Seyfried, Isla Fisher, Mindy Kaling, and more—for guidance.
“Blush is all about making the rest of the face brighter and fresher,” Denno says. “The goal is to pick a shade that matches the color of your cheeks when you have a natural flush.” Copy your post-workout glow, or just click through our gallery for Denno’s expert recommendations.
Once you determine the best blush color for your complexion, picking a formula is easy: If you’re prone to breakouts or have oily skin, go for a powder formula. A cream or stain is good for clear skin and darker complexions but needs to be reapplied after a few hours. If you want a bold, colorful cheek, try layering a powder formula over a stain or cream—it’ll last the longest.
Take a look at Denno’s recommendations for nearly every skin tone below.
“If you’re extremely pale with red undertones (like Seyfried), you’ll want to choose a cool pink color,” Denno says. “Anything warm could make your skin look ruddy.” Denno’s top pick is Ilia Cream Blush in Tenderly ($34) as the best blush for fair skin like Seyfried's.
“If you have pale skin with dark eyes and hair, you’re going to want something lively on your cheeks,” Denno says. She suggests a peachy-pink shade like Nars Blush in Orgasm ($30) as the best blush for fair skin and dark hair to flatter and brighten your complexion.
Denno knows a thing or two about red hair—she created this look on Fisher and has red hair herself. Redheads can wear a range of pinks and peaches, “but avoid anything coral!” she warns. Her selections are Alima Pure Luminous Blush in Freja ($24) or Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush in Glisten ($29).
If you have fair to medium skin and brown hair like Chung’s, consider yourself very lucky, says Denno. “You can wear so many different tones!” she says. For a for a rosy flush, try Dr. Hauschka Blush Compact in Blushing Rose ($33).
Purplish pinks and peachy-pink hues work best on golden blondes like Lively because of the undertones in their hair. Denno’s pick is Nars Blush in Outlaw ($30).
If your complexion is similar to Mendes’s, the best blush for olive skin requires not one but two formulas. Start with a cream bronzer to define your cheeks, and then top it with a peachy blush with red undertones, Denno says. She suggests Ilia Illuminator in Sway ($34) followed by Kjaer Weis Cream Blush in Sun Touched ($56).
Liu’s beige undertones look best with a touch of pale pink, Denno says. Her pick is Laura Mercier Second Skin Cheek Color in Lotus Pink ($26).
Just like Chung, women with complexions like Kaling’s can wear a variety of colors. Denno's suggestions for the best blush for dark skin include hot coral, warm reds with rich brown undertones, and purple hues. “Indian women need a lot of color, so I always start with a stain and then layer a powder on top,” Denno says. “Vapour Beauty Blush Stains in Crave or Enchant ($36) are great—and so is Tarte Blush in Flush ($29).”
If you share Chrissy Teigen’s golden coloring, try a pinkish peach hue—like Orgasm—or a rose color. Vapour Beauty Blush in Courtesan ($36) would give [a complexion like Chrissy’s] a perfect sun-kissed flush,” Denno says.
“A peachy-pink blush would look great on Kerry,” Denno says. “But she could also rock a hot pink.” Denno’s picks is Nars Blush in Outlaw ($30).
“Darker complexions look best with a super-pigmented cream blush,” Denno says. “Tarte has some amazing cream blushes that would be perfect.” Denno likes the brand’s Airblush Maracuja Blush in Shimmering Poppy or Shimmering Pink ($19).
You can’t go wrong with Nars’s cult-favorite Orgasm blush. It’s got a subtle touch of shimmer without looking sparkly—think fresh and glowing.
Bring out your inner flow with this subtle but impactful blush infused with light-reflecting fragments for striking dimension and lit-from-within color.
Amino acids condition skin cells while aloe extract soothes the skin in this antioxidant-infused formula that leaves you with a naturally flushed glow.
This budget buy will give you the most beautiful pop of color—just a light swirl of the blush brush is all you need.
A natural blush that also has great color payoff and a dewy consistency? Sign us up.
This orange-and-pink blush may look startling in its packaging, but just a light dusting will give you a natural-looking flush.
Especially in this crazy summer heat, it helps to have a blush that won’t sweat right off. This waterproof blush will do just that and then some, staying put through even the most humid of days.
Talk about huge color payoff. This blush is soft, matte, and radiant—a little goes a long way.
Achieve lasting color with this eight-hour formula that guarantees to take you from day to night.
This story was originally published on August 22, 2016, and has been updated.