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Back to Basics: How to Apply Blush

Today as part of our back to basics series, we have a guest writer covering how to apply blush. If you enjoy this, you might also like our previous makeup tip posts on How to Apply Eye Shadow and How to Apply Foundation.

The technique for properly applying blush, fully highlighting or creating the illusion of high cheek bones without drawing too much attention to the color itself, has become one of the most coveted pieces of beauty advice in recent years. The trend has moved away from the one-size-fits-all method of applying a quick flush of posy pink, while contouring has taken center stage. Learning how to apply blush, however, doesn’t have to be intimidating. Just a bit of planning and finesse, along with a little practice, will bring your technique up to par in no time.

Step 1: Prepare the Surface. After cleansing with a product designed for your skin type, dry thoroughly by gently patting the skin with a clean cloth instead of wiping it in order to retain natural moisture. Next apply a toner and moisturizer to smooth the skin and shrink pores to ensure that blush applies evenly. If you’re short on time you might consider using a 3-in-1 product for this step, like Arcona’s Cranberry Toner.

arcona cranberry toner
Arcona Cranberry Toner

Step 2: Select Between Powder or Cream. Dry skin usually does best with cream, while other skin types can generally handle powder quite well. However, there are powders available now that are non-irritating for those with acne or dry skin problems. For a powder that is all-natural but also has a creamy texture, try Bare Escentuals Bare Minerals blush.

bare minerals blush
Bare Escentuals Blush

Step 3: Choose Your Color. Blush colors can be categorized by their appropriateness for skin tone, making the selection process much simpler. In general, fair skin tones look best with shades of pink, medium tones with peach or brown, and dark tones with reds and berries. However, that still leaves quite a range of options for each category, so be willing to experiment until you find a few that work best for you. Also, remember that your best colors will likely change with the seasons, so update your shade as your complexion warms with the weather.

Step 4: Select the Proper Tools. If you have chosen a cream blush, try never to apply with the fingertips if possible. Rubbing cream in with the fingers can lead to blemishes and can be rough on delicate facial skin, so use a disposable sponge applicator instead. For powders, use a contoured brush designed specifically for blush rather than a powder brush to get a more natural angled effect. You might try Urban Decay’s Good Kharma Blush Brush.  Or, see our previous article on the Best Makeup Brushes.

Urban decay blush brush
Urban Decay Good Karma Brush

Step 5: Apply Blush. In Step 4 we discussed getting an angled effect from your blush, which simply means that the face appears slimmer, younger, and more defined due to the visual effect of highlighting the upper cheekbones instead of the fuller section near the nose. Fortunately, a contoured brush does much of this work for you. For creams, an angled sponge does the same. However, in either case the application is important as well. Color should be stronger near the cheekbones, a bit less pronounced beneath, and should continue toward the hairline without reaching it, stopping just outside the eyes. Apply a single layer of blush at a time, adding and blending slowly until the desired color intensity is reached.

While more advanced techniques for applying blush are available, these steps outline the basic foundation to creating a modern look.

Shop for the products mentioned here at Sephora.

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