Blush basics

Blush. Blusher. Rouge. Call it what you like! (Although calling it rouge makes you seem way older than you probably are, unless you’re a granny, then keep on rockin’ the rouge grandma!)

The purpose of cosmetic blush is to recreate a natural blush. What happens when we blush? The blood vessels that lie directly under the skin dilate, allowing a greater amount of blood to flow to the skin, which creates a change in the colour of your cheeks. It creates the illusion of health, freshness and youth. Blush shouldn’t alter your skin tone, it should add vitality and warmth to your complexion. Blush also shouldn’t be the first thing that draws attention to your face, it should be a slight wash of colour that brings a healthy glow to the face. Less is more. Blush is the drummer in the band, working in the background to make everyone else look like rockstars!

There is a misconception that “black girls don’t blush”. EVERYBODY BLUSHES! The pigment in darker skin tones may mask the colour change but if you touch the skin on your cheeks when you’re embarrassed, you’ll notice it becomes warmer, just like everybody else’s does. Don’t be scared to wear blush because of that silly myth. If you have cheeks you can wear blush!

Types of blush

Powder blush is the most traditional type and a popular choice. It is suitable for all skin types, especially oily skin. The powder is either pressed into a compact, or it is loose. Apply over foundation or powdered skin – if the skin is bare, the colour will stick to any oil patches and make it difficult to blend. Use a blush brush, load the brush with colour, tap off the excess powder, then work the blush between the apple of the cheeks to the hairline. Be sure to blend and soften the edges, working the brush in circular movements.


Cream blush is similar in texture to lipstick, it works really well on dry skin as it leaves a dewy finish. Apply to unpowdered skin for easier blending. Use your fingers to apply the blush, start at the apples of the cheek and blend upward and outward.  Use a clean finger to pick up any excess colour.


Gel blush gives the sheerest form of colour, and is great for creating a natural glow on bare skin. Not ideal for dry skin, it dries quickly which makes it harder to blend on dry skin. Works best on smooth skin. Best applied to moisturised or bare skin. Use a finger to apply, then blend with a clean finger to pick up any excess. Apply on the apples of the cheek and blend outwards to avoid too much colour intensity at the hairline. Blend quickly and wash fingers immediately to avoid staining.

Stain/tint blush is similar to gel blush but it dries quicker and is difficult to remove. It generally is waterproof and smudgeproof which is great if you are looking for a long lasting product. Apply and use fingers to blend. Work very quickly to blend it otherwise it can look streaky. Less is more. Only suitable for smooth skin, do not use on dry skin. Wash fingers immediately to avoid staining.

Choosing a colour

A common concern when it comes to choosing a blush colour is “I don’t want to look like a clown!” Say no to clownface, say no to dollface! However, don’t be afraid of bright colours, they may look too vibrant and intimidating in the packaging but they can actually look soft and natural on your face depending on how pigmented they are. Cheaper brands tends to use less pigment so they tend to be ‘safer’ colours even though they may seem too wild at first glance. Natural shades sometimes have a lot of grey pigment in them which can dull the skin. Be bold, be daring, choose bright! If you do start looking like a clown simply wipe it off and start again, makeup is very low risk.

Here is a guide to blush shades that work well with different skin tones:

  • Light skin – pale peach, coral, pale pink, pastel shades
  • Medium skin – peach, bronze, light to medium pink, mauve
  • Dark skin – deep bronze, orange, red, fuchsia, plum, burgundy
  • Olive or yellow skin – pinky-rose, orangey-peach, rose, bronze


Matte or shimmer?

Matte blush is great for giving dimension to the face, this is not the same as contouring. Contouring is used to shape your face, blush is used to add colour. Contouring products are specifically designed to create the illusion of a shadow, to make cheekbones appear more chiseled. If you use blush to contour, the effect can be that your face looks dragged down, making you look older and saggier than you really are. Keep blush on the fleshy parts of your cheek, and contouring products in the hollow under your cheekbones.

Matte blush gives a polished look, while shimmer blush gives a beautiful glow. The downside of shimmer blush is that it can look unnatural in daylight, it can make the skin appear oily, it can highlight large pores, and it can make dark skins look ashen. But don’t let me scare you! Shimmer blush can be really beautiful when applied correctly.


Acne and blush

A few tips to try if you have acne or acne scarring:

  • Red or pink blush could draw more attention to acne, opt for peachy tones or a matte bronzer
  • Set your foundation and concealer with a lot of powder before applying blush to help even out the texture
  • Use a patting or stippling motion to apply blush rather than a rubbing or swiping motion that could displace foundation/concealer
  • Avoid using highlighter or shimmer blush on affected areas, rather use them on unaffected areas such as the top of cheekbones to attract attention away. Shimmer can highlight texture and make acne and scarring more visible. Matte blush can be more forgiving
  • If you find powder blush makes your skin look drier, try a cream blush instead

The blush rule

Blend! Blend! Blend! When you think you have blended enough, go back for one last blend. Your blush should not create harsh stripes down your cheeks, blend until the edges have been softened so that there is no visible start or finish. Blend! Blend! Blend!



Everyone’s skin is different, what works for some people doesn’t work for others. Makeup is very low risk, play around until you find what works for you. Be brave, rock the rouge!



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