Blush is an essential part of every makeup look. It makes us look more awake and completes our face, but it can also have the opposite effect. From the wrong color to the wrong kind, one blush mistake can ruin an otherwise very pretty look. I asked several renowned makeup artists what mistakes they see their clients making with blush and their best tips on how to easily fix them.
You wear too much
There are so many makeup mistakes anyone can make, but perhaps the most flagrantly bad is wearing too much blush. Luckily, this problem is pretty easy to prevent. Celebrity makeup artist Mary Irwin told me good lighting, being honest with yourself, and clean tools are the key to preventing this problem. “Take a look at your makeup in natural light before you leave,” she said. “Does it look heavy? Take a clean brush and smooth it out. You can’t blend too much when it comes to blush.”
Murat Evin of The London School of Make-Up suggested the best way to prevent overdoing blush is to check your brush before applying. “Be sure to gently brush off any excess powder from your makeup tools. If you don’t, it’s going to affect the appearance of your blush and can leave your complexion looking a little rosier than expected. Remember that there is always a way to correct it.”
You choose the wrong color
With so many different blushes out there, choosing just one can feel impossible. But Irwin has a great tip that works every time. “The easiest way to figure out a natural flush is to look at the inside of your lip. Whatever that color is, will be the most natural blush color for you.”
If you are still unsure, makeup artist Geoffrey Rodriguez, who has worked with a list of celebrities including Gigi Hadid, Padma Lakshmi, and Gabby Reece, suggests looking in the pink family if you have light skin. “Pink blush happens to be the most universally flattering shade,” he said, but thinks darker skin tones should stay away from pink. “Olive and darker complexions work best with a more peach or orange tone blush. Either will be effective at creating a healthy, natural glow.”
However, makeup artist Hillary Kline sees her clients not choosing the wrong color so much as too bright a shade. “I love hot pink, but that doesn’t mean that I am going to apply it to the apples of my cheeks,” she said. “I always tell my clients to steer clear of any blush hues that are too hot of a pink or are too red. Instead, pick a blush that is a few shades warmer than your natural skin tone.”
You choose the wrong kind of blush
From traditional powders to liquids, gels, stains, sticks, and even creams, not every kind of blush works well for everyone. Kline said the best formula is contingent upon skin type. “If you have normal or oily skin, I recommend using a powder. If you have a dry complexion, try a cream blush.”
Alejandro Falcon, who is the Artistic Director for Osmosis Colour Mineral Cosmetics, thinks the easiest choice for most of us is to just go with a powder. “Powder blushes, if formulated well, can be easier to glide on the skin for the average consumer and are easier to diffuse, for a soft flushed look that everyone loves on the cheeks,” he explained, but if you are good at applying your makeup, he thinks you can still explore other options.
“With creams or gel blushes, you have to be precise and know where you’re going to apply them,” he told me. “Especially if you have dry skin because the formulas can adhere to the dryness and then become hard to move or shape and can cause the colors to streak or separate on the skin.”
You are using blush to contour incorrectly
None of the makeup artists I spoke with have the same exact approach when it comes to using blush to contour. Kline doesn’t think it’s a good idea. “Steer clear of using blush to contour,” she said. “Instead, use a bronzer.” Irwin, however, said bronzer is a no-go as well. “Don’t contour with blush or bronzer!” she advised. “They all serve a different purpose.” Regardless, both experts said that the best way to contour is to use products specifically created for that purpose.
Falcon, however, didn’t agree with either Irwin or Kline. He believes using blush is fine, as long as you choose the right shade. “You want to start by choosing a neutral tone blush that will be similar or close to your natural skin color,” he said. “This way the contouring will seem natural and defined on the skin. Apply the blush at the front of the ears and then move the color forward and under the cheekbone to define the cheek area.”
Evin really likes using blush to contour. “Blush is a great contouring tool. The art to completing a perfect contour is choosing the right blush color,” he said. “Always opt for a darker, bronzed blush.” He also explained the easiest way to do this. “Simply dust blush onto your cheekbones, jaw line, and contour area for a quick and easy look.”
You are using the wrong blush brush
One mistake many of us are guilty of is mixing up our powder and blush brushes, according to Evin. “Using the right blush brush is essential to achieving a flawless look,” he told me. “Mistaking a powder for a blush brush can make blush spread unevenly on your face, which is something you should always try to avoid.”
Evin also shared some quick tips to make sure you choose the right brush every time. “Remember to consider the texture of your blush brush. It can have a huge effect on the smooth application of your blush. Opt for a soft bristle brush for lightweight application, which can be found from natural and synthetic bristles. This will ensure your blush is evenly spread. More importantly, you are not left with a patchy looking complexion.” He also suggests paying careful attention to your brush when using blush for the purpose of contouring. “Many people make the mistake of using a rounded brush when contouring with blush. However, as a rule you should always opt for an angled blush brush, to achieve a striking cheekbone line and showcase the different angles of your face.”
Makeup artist Shara Strand of the Pierre Hotel in New York suggests a different kind of brush all together. “My all-time favorite brush for applying blush is actually a fan brush! It allows you to really blend, and gives you control to add more and more color as you wish.”
You are paying more attention to trends than what actually looks good
We’ve all made this mistake with fashion or makeup. It can be hard to understand why something that looks good on everyone else doesn’t look good on you. When it comes to trendy looks, Rodriguez always thinks less is more. “Simple or basic blush has been completely overshadowed by the current obsession with contouring and heavy bronzers,” he told me. “Frankly, nothing looks more vibrant and youthful than a healthy pink glow on the cheeks, especially in natural daylight.”
So how do you really know what will look the best on you? Kline suggests taking a long, hard look at your face in the mirror to figure that out. “You’re not realizing that your face shape matters,” she said. “Blush can help balance your facial features. If you have a square or heart-shaped face, put the blush on the apples of your cheeks. If you have an oval face, I recommend putting the blush the tops of the cheekbones. If you have a round face, put the blush on the side of the cheeks rather than the apples.”
You are applying blush at the wrong time
Putting your underwear over your pants looks silly. Similar rules can apply to makeup, according to Irwin who told me, “Don’t layer tons of product in the wrong order! Creams give a beautiful flush but under powders, not over. Same with liquid highlighters. Don’t put anything liquid or cream over powders.”
Evin’s philosophy is that good blush comes to those who wait. “A mistake people often make with blush is applying it straight after foundation. It’s only natural to start the next step of your makeup, but applying blush too soon can confuse your judgment on the coloring of our skin,” he explained. “It’s best to let your foundation set. Only when it has settled nicely into your skin, should you begin dusting blush onto the apples of your cheeks.”
You are blending it poorly
Poorly blending is another huge blunder. Kline thinks this happens when people don’t give themselves enough time. “If you are in a rush, you might forget to put on blush,” she said. “But, you also run the risk of having your makeup look oversaturated, if you’re in a hurry. Blush should be well-blended.”
Evin often sees this problem with people who use cream formulas. “People tend to apply cream blush with their fingers and gradually work it into the apple of their cheeks. There is nothing wrong with this application, as cream blush is a lot lighter than heavier powder blushes. However, it’s crucial you proceed to blend your blush with a brush. Otherwise, cream blush can appear smeared onto the skin and quite frankly, looks unfinished.”
He could not emphasize the importance of blending enough. “Blush should always be blended to even out the different tones of color you are adding to your skins natural pigment. Blending is the key to a flawless look when applying blush.”
You are applying it the wrong way
Every makeup artist I spoke to could not emphasize enough that for blush to look as natural as possible, it needs to high up on your face. Rodriquez explained, “As a basic rule of thumb, always apply blush to the apples of the cheek in a circular motion and then blend following the natural cheekbone toward the hairline and finish by gently sweeping toward the nose. This creates a healthy, vibrant, natural looking glow that works on everyone.”
Kline said it’s important to keep your blush away from your nose. “Blush can be too close to the nose. Honestly, putting blush too close to the nose can actually accentuate redness. Keep the product higher up on the bridge instead of super close to the nostrils.”
You get stuck in a makeup rut
If you’ve had the same look for years, your blush can become blah. If that is the case, Strand said it’s time to experiment with something new. “When getting stuck in a makeup rut, changing up blush can really spice things up!” she said. “I would suggest if you tend to stay with only peach tone blushes, see if a bronzy tone might look different and nice. If you are a pink blush person, try it even brighter pink or maybe a peachy pink.”
Anthony Pazos, who is a hair stylist and makeup artist, thinks mixing it up is a matter of getting inspired. “A great way to re-inspire yourself after a blush rut is to look at the current makeup trends in fashion magazines like Vogue, W, and Allure,” he told me. “These publications are the go-to for the most up to date makeup trends right off the runway. Plus it shows you a visual that you might not have originally tried on your own.”
Are you blushing right now at how many mistakes you’ve made with blush? If you can’t remember all of these tips, next time you do your makeup just remember to be in the best natural lighting possible, really look at your face and ask yourself if your makeup looks as good as it possibly can, and don’t forget the key to a flawless finish is to blend as much as possible.
Even more important than your blush is how you feel about yourself. Confidence, but especially with your blush application skills, will always make you look and feel your best.