How to Never Buy the Wrong Shade of Blush Again

Updated 04/08/19

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 prestigious formulas alike, 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.”

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 so it’ll last the longest.

Take a look at Denno’s recommendations for nearly every skin tone below.

Blush for pale skin
Getty Images

Fair With Red Undertones

“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 for fair skin tones like Seyfried’s is Ilia Cream Blush in Tenderly ($34).

Ilia Multi-Stick in Tenderly $34
Blush for fair skin
Getty/Gregg DeGuire

Fair With Dark Features

“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. We also love the below from Hourglass, which is a little more saturated in color than Orgasm if you’re seeking a tad more oomph. (But thanks to its flattering intermix of gold, it delivers the same shimmery sun-kissed glow.)

Hourlgass Ambient Lighting Blush in Radiant Magenta $38
Blush for redheads
Getty/Jim Spellman

Fair to Medium With Red Hair

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).

Alima Pure Luminous Shimmer Blush in Freja $24
Blush for light-medium skin
Getty/Ian Gavan

Fair to Medium With Brown Hair

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 rosy flush, try Dr. Hauschka Blush Compact in Blushing Rose ($33). Or, if you’re looking to multitask and are partial to a dewy, fairy-kissed finish, this duo from Kosås is sheer brilliance.

Kosås Color & Light Palette in 8th Muse $43
Blush for fair skin tones
Getty/Charles Eshelman

Medium With Golden Tones

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). Or try Heidi Klum’s go-to, YSL Blush Volupté Heart of Light Powder Blush in No. 03 ($48). E.l.f. Blush in Blushing Rose ($3) is a great affordable option.

Yves Saint Laurent Blush Volupté Heart of Light Powder Blush $48
Blush for olive skin
Getty/Jamie McCarthy


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).

Kjaer Weis Cream Blush Compact in Sun Touched $56
Blush for yellow skin tones
Getty/Desiree Navaro

Beige Undertones

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). Then, to kick it up a notch in the luminosity department (if you feel so inclined), try topping off your application with the brand’s Face Illuminator in Devotion ($44). Trust us—it will make you look like an ethereal angel.

Laura Mercier Second Skin Cheek Color in Lotus Pink $26
Blush for medium-dark skin tones
Steve Granitz/Getty Images

Dark With Warm Undertones

Just like Chung, women with complexions like Mindy 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).”

Vapour Beauty Aura Multi Use Stain Blush in Crave $36
Blush for medium skin tones
Getty/Robin Marchant

Golden With Peachy Undertones

If you share Chrissy Teigen’s golden coloring, try a pinkish peach hue—like Orgasm—or a rose color. Another option is this covetable peachy pick from La Prairie. (Managing editor Lindsey Metrus and I both swear by the creamy formula for a believable and flattering result—it’s supremely easy to blend.)

La Prairie Cellular Radiance Cream Blush in Peach Glow $70
Blush for chocolate skin tones
Getty Images/Cindy Ord

Dark With Golden Undertones

“A peachy-pink blush would look great on Kerry,” Denno says, “but she could also rock a hot pink.” Denno’s pick is Nars Blush in Outlaw ($30). Or, if you’re a cream versus powder person, Westman Atelier’s new stick in Poppet is gold in a tube. Plus, it’s filled to the gills with an entire host of skin-improving fares like BerryFlux Vita and jojoba oils.

Westman Atelier Baby Cheeks Blush Stick in Poppet $50
Blush for dark skin
Getty/Bauer Griffin

Deep With Neutral Undertones

“Darker complexions look best with a super-pigmented cream blush,” Denno says. Currently, we’re having a major moment with any of the hues from RMS, but the brand’s Lip2Cheek in Beloved is out of this world.

RMS Beauty Lip2cheek in Beloved $36

Shop even more of Team Byrdie's favorite blushes:

MAC Powder Blush in Raizin $24

“I have warm, reddish-orange undertones, and this blush from MAC is one of my favorites at the moment,” assistant editor Maya Allen tells me.

Nars Blush in Exhibit A $30

Another favorite from Maya? This gorgeous hue from Nars. “Mr. Nars created this blush for Naomi Campbell, and it’s extra flattering on dark skin tones,” she says.

Glossier Cloud Paint in Dusk $18

“My undertones are neutral and a little on the sandy side,” wellness editor Victoria Hoff tells me. “Therefore, I’m lucky and can wear pretty much anything. I do, however, love Glossier Cloud Paint in Dusk ($18). It has a very pretty, very ’70s kind of vibe.”

Clinique Cheek Pop in Pink Pop $24

“Not only is this blush cute as can be with its compact, flower-shaped palette, but it also delivers the perfect amount of color, so you’re not overly flushed or wondering if you even applied any in the first place,” clarifies managing editor Lindsey Metrus. “I have very fair skin and love the shade Pink Pop, a soft rosy pink that matches my natural pink undertones.”

Nars Blush in Orgasm $30

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. The shade is the go-to blush hue for both our features editor Amanda Montell and senior editor Hallie Gould. (Although Hallie actually prefers it in stick form!)

This story was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated. Next up: The 8 Blushes That Match Our Post-Workout Blushes Exactly.

Related Stories