How To Apply Blush Like a Pro: Expert Tips & Tricks

There’s a lot of blushes to choose from: pressed powders, creams, liquids, serum-infused, glint, satin, matte, colour-changing, you name it. The good news: There’s a texture and type to suit every Canadians’ tastes and preferences. The okay-ish news: It’s a lot to choose from. (Check out our list of the best drugstore blushes in Canada.) But before we explain how to apply, let’s take a quick masterclass on blush.

No, dumb questions: What is blush?

Blush is a rosy-hued cosmetic used to make skin appear naturally flushed – if applied properly. If you wear a full face of foundation, concealer and powder, it can make skin look washed out and flat. And even if you don’t, blush adds a bit of life to the face. Blush comes in a few of colours (think: red, pink, peach, purple) but a ton of shades.

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How to choose the right blush for you

Makeup is meant to be fun, and so is finding the blush shade (or shades) that will work for your skin tone, says Benefit’s spokesperson and licensed esthetitian Shannon Calvert.

“I always encourage people to have fun and play with blush, it can look so different in the packaging than it does on the skin, so choose a colour that’s calling your name and swatch away,” she says. “Typically, fair complexion will suit light rosy hues and pastels, while deeper complexions radiate with vibrant shades, such as coral or purple.”

Many makeup artists suggest choosing a blush hue that’s similar to the natural flush of your cheeks but slightly brighter. Then your blush will pop without looking overdone, regardless if you’re wanting a subtle or a bold colour.

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How to apply blush

To blend blush into your cheeks (and have it stay put all day), start with just-washed-and-moisturized skin. Overly dry or oily skin won’t hold onto makeup as well. Next, prep your skin with a makeup primer. If you have sensitive skin or don’t want to add another step to your skincare routine, a foundation or a tinted moisturizer may work as a base for you. Try it and see.

Next, get ready to apply your blush. You have a few options: a hair or synthetic blush brush, a sponge or your fingers. That really depends on the type of blush. Powder blush should always be applied with a brush so it can be blended into the skin. With cream and liquid blushes, dabbing a beauty sponge is prettiest, but you can also use your fingers. For any type of blush, finish off using a tissue or makeup pad to soften the pigment.

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Where to apply blush

Calvert says face shape can play a role in blush application. She recommends looking at the structure of your cheekbones.

”I think the best blush placement is on the high points of the face,” she says. “My trick is to blend with an upward motion toward the hairline to create a ‘lifted’ effect. I think this blush application is flattering on all face shapes.”

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How much blush should you use

This is not a go-big, go-home effort. Calvert tells me, “Start with a small amount of product, so you can build the intensity. I love it when my blush pops, so I apply it to the high points of my cheek and add a slight dusting on the bridge of the nose for a sun-kissed glow.” This lifts cheekbones and adds extra colour to the parts of your face that flush.

Regardless of your face shape, blend, blend, blend. You don’t want harsh lines. So diffuse the colour. Use a buffing motion by using small circular motions with your brush, sponge or fingers, softening any blush lines and edges.

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Which blush should you use: Powder vs. cream vs. liquids

I got you. Here are the differences between each type of blush, and why you might want to make room in your makeup bag for all three. 

Powder blush

Powder blush is always dry, but it comes in different packaging and textures, including loose powder in a pot and baked in a compact. Loose powder offers a light pigment and is pretty easy to blend, while baked blush has more intense colour.

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Cream blush

A cream blush is the middleground between powder and liquid blush. You’ll find it typically comes in a pot or stick, depending on how moveable and viscous the formula is. Cream blushes tend to blend more seamlessly into the skin than powder because of ingredients similar to moisturizers and skin creams.

Liquid blush

Some see liquid blush as messier to apply than powder and cream ones because of the fluid texture. Some liquid blushes have serum ingredients, and those tend to be sheer in colour. So, ask the beauty counter staff about the opacity and colour before you buy.

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What is the best blush finish?

Do you want a matte finish or shimmery highlight? Matte works to add a bit of colour, while shimmer blush adds an extra bit of glimmer to the cheeks, working a bit like a highlighter or illuminator. Ask at the beauty counter how the shine is achieved. Is it actual glitter? Or is it mica? Mica is a mineral used in blushes and highlighter that hint a metallic look. Opt for lab-mica over mined mica.

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Now that you know how to apply blush

Plus, at the end of the day, blush is just blush, says Calvert. Mess it up, blend it out. Don’t love it? Wash it off and start over. And, don’t forget to smile when you’re looking in the mirror – it’ll show you where to apply the blush.