How to Choose & Apply Blush

To my mind, nothing finishes off a make-up look quite like a sweep of blush.  Blush gives a lovely softness to the face, as well as providing subtle (or not-so-subtle, depending on the look that you’re going for) colour to the cheeks.  When applied properly, blush can truly transform the dimensions of the face; with a few strategically-places sweeps, you can soften harsh angles, or create contours where there aren’t any.  I’ll do a separate post later on the topic of contouring; for the moment we’ll concentrate on the different types of blush, choosing colours and basic application techniques.


1. MAC Powder BlushPowder:  The traditional powder compact is still the most popular blush formula on the market.  Powder-blush is suitable for all skin types, lasts longer than any other formula, and it comes in the widest range of colours.  Apply powder blush over your foundation and face-powder.  Illustration: MAC Powder Blush

 Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge2. Cream:  Cream blushes are gaining tremendous popularity, thanks to the natural flush of cover that they offer.  Their light, moist consistency makes them ideal for dry and mature skin types; however, those with oily or combination skin might find that cream blushes disappear from their faces in no time.  Apply over foundation and under face-powder.  Illustration: Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge.

  3. Georgio Armani Face FabricGel:  A first cousin of cream blushes, gel blushes are gaining in popularity.  Like cream blushes, they give a natural, dewy glow to the skin.  Most gel blushes are oil-free, which means that they are suitable for those with oily skin.  Apply over foundation and under face-powder.  Illustration: Georgio Armani Face Fabric.

 Maybelline Dream Mousse4. Mousse:  Mousse blushes are another derivative of the cream blush.  They have a softly whipped consistency which glides onto the skin, giving a lovely natural glow.  Again, these are most suitable for those with drier skins.  Apply over foundation and under face-powder.  Illustration: Maybelline Dream Mousse.

5. Benefit BenetintLiquid:  The leader of the pack when it comes to liquid blushes is Benefit’s Benetint.  Similar in colour and consistency to Ribena, it gives a fantastic pop of colour to the skin.  It’s suitable for all skin types; however, I find that it fades quite fast so it may require top-ups during the day.   Apply over foundation and under face-powder.  Illustration: Benefit Benetint.

6. Nars MultipleCrayon:  Similar in consistency to a stick foundation, crayon blushes are ideal for your handbag as they also double up as lipsticks.  These are generally suitable for all skin types.  Apply over foundation and under face-powder.  Illustration: Nars Multiple.



Where to Place It: The general rule of thumb is that you place blush on the ‘apples’ of your cheeks.  (The apples of your cheeks are the chubby parts that pop up when you smile).   I like to extend the blush gently up along the cheekbone too for subtle definition.  Don’t bring the colour too close to your nose or you will look like you have been in a sauna.  Avoid this ‘sauna’ look as follows: draw an imaginary line from the pupil of your eye down to your cheek and blend outwards from this point.   Also on the subject of ‘what not to do’, don’t bring the colour above your cheekbones or too far down your cheeks.

Aunt SallyUsing Powder Blush:  Dip the brush into your powder compact.  Tap the excess off the brush (you want the bare minimum of colour on the brush or else you will achieve the dreaded ‘Aunt Sally’ look, pictured right).  Then blend the colour onto the apples of your cheeks, before finally sweeping the colour up the cheekbones.  Repeat as necessary until you have achieved your desired colour.  If the colour is too strong, simply apply a sweep of translucent powder over the cheeks, which will tone down the colour.

Using Cream/Gel/Mousse/Liquid Blush:  Instead of using a brush, use your fingertips. Dab 2-3 dots on the apples of your cheeks and cheekbones, and blend gently and evenly.  Reapply as necessary.  Remember to ‘seal’ the colour with some translucent powder or else it will disappear quickly.


Discover Your Best Colour:  The quickest and easiest way to determine what blush tone suits you best is to pinch your cheeks, which will cause your cheeks to flush.  Whatever colour your cheeks flush naturally will always suit you best!

Warm Toned Skin:  If your skin has yellow undertones or is sallow in colour, or if you have freckles or tan easily, then your skin is warm in tone.  Choose shades of blush that have warmth to complement your skin-tone e.g. honey, coral, peach, apricot, peachy-pink, hot pink, warm red, bronze and brown.  Irish celebrities with warm-toned skin include: Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh, Sheana Keane, Gráinne Seoige and Leigh Arnold.

Warm Skin - Blathnaid Ni Chofaigh & Sheana Keane

Warm Skin - Leigh ArnoldWarm Skin - Grainne Seoige

 Cool Toned Skin:  Cool skin is recognized by blue or pink undertones.  Many Irish people have cool-toned skin, which is often pale and doesn’t tan very easily.  Choose shades of blush that are cooler in colour e.g. pastel pink, rose, plum, crimson, wine, blue-red and terracotta.  Irish celebrities with cool-toned skin include:Amy Huberman, Gemma Hayes and Aoibinn Ní Shuilleabháin.

Cool Skin - Amy Huberman

Cool Skin - Aoibhinn Ni ShuileabhainCool Skin - Gemma Hayes

Note that your skin-tone can change.  Causes include: aging, environmental conditions, medications, fake tanning products etc.



  • Buy a Good Brush: Invest in a high-quality blush brush, with soft, natural fibres. Wash the brush regularly with a brush cleanser.
  • Apply Sparingly:  Blush is easy to put on but not so easy to tone down.  Build up your colour gradually.
  • Blend Thoroughly:  Ensure that you blend thoroughly so that you’re not left with harsh lines.
  • Coordinate Colour:  Ensure that your choice of blush colour complements the rest of your make-up look.
  • Intensity:  Generally, the darker the skin-tone, the bolder the colour can be.  Likewise, the lighter the skin-tone, the softer the colour choice should be.
  • Ask for Help:  Many stores nowadays have trained make-up artists on hand to help you choose the right colours and textures.


One Response to “How to Choose & Apply Blush”

  1. Hello, just stopped by doing some research for my Georgio Armani website. Lots of information out there. Not what I was looking for, but good site. Take care.

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