Tricks of the Trade: Blusher basics

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Hi Kelly. Can you tell me how to apply blush? I tried it before but I ended up looking like a clown. Is there a proper way to do it? -Pia Y. 

One of my earliest (and fondest) childhood memories involves makeup. I think I was four or five years old at the time, and my sister was eight or nine. We had discovered my mother’s makeup kit hidden in the back of her closet and it was as if we had found gold. We excitedly went through her loose face powder, blue eyeshadow, pink blush and red lipstick and wore everything all at once. After our little makeup session, we had managed to apply every product in that bag on our faces, my parents’ bed and the floor. It must’ve been a nightmare for my parents to come home to this mess but I have to say, it was worth all the trouble.

It was the most amazing introduction to makeup, and let me tell you, it was not the last time we raided my mom’s makeup stash. It was also the first time I fell in love with blush, and to this day I never leave home without it as it has become my go-to product when I want to look good without applying a full face of makeup.

What I love about blush is that it lends a healthy dose of color to the skin and immediately gives a finished look. I can go out with just a sweep of blush on my cheeks and already I look polished and made up. Plus, there are just so many amazing options to choose from—from lip and cheek tint, cream blush and powder blush to every shade, color and finish imaginable. We have so many choices, it is impossible not to find one that works for you.

Admittedly, I have made more than a few blushing blunders over the years. I, too, have left the house looking like a clown one too many times and didn’t realize it until I got home that evening. The good thing about making mistakes is that we learn from them, and improve by asking tips and advise from experts. I did exactly that and sought the help of makeup artists I worked with back when I was still modeling full-time. I hope these tips work for you, and you get to love blush as much as I do. Here are the fundamentals of applying blush:

Blushing basics. As much as possible, blush shouldn’t be applied too close to the eyes. Leaving a two-finger width space between your eye and the start of your blush is ideal–it should sit on and below the cheekbone. What I like to do is smile when I apply blush, so that I hit the apples of my cheeks, and then I use a darker, more taupe shade to contour and bring out my cheekbones. If you are using cream blush, dot it beginning at the apple of your cheeks, and gently blend up the cheekbone toward the hairline.

Try different blushers. The most common type is powder–this gives a drier, more matte look, but you can also explore creams and tints if you want a more hydrated look. I like wearing cheek tints when I want to be bare-faced (no foundation), as they are lightweight and super easy to apply. They lend a wash of color with a natural glow–when I’m having a good skin day, this is my best bet. For oily skin types, or those with blemishes, it is best to stick to powder blush as this can easily be worn on top of foundation. You can set your blush by applying a light dusting of translucent powder–this works for powder, creams and tints!

Blush brush. A good rounded blush brush is essential for perfect application. Forget the tiny applicators that come with your blusher. These do not apply the product evenly, and give you a blotchy, messy look. Concentrate on the apples of the cheeks and blend out with your brush. This works for all kinds of blushers, so don’t be afraid to use it on your powder or cream blush. When applying, think about where you really blush after working out and mimic it.

Consider the color. Most of us forget that our blush should complement our lip color. So, more or less, the shade of the blush should be in the same shade: brown/bronze, peach/orange, coral/red, pink/fuchsia, or plum/berry. There are, however, some shades of blush with equal parts of brown, orange, red, pink and plum that work well with most lip colors. The best advise I got when choosing  the best shade of blusher: try it on before you buy. I usually spend quite a bit of time at the makeup counters to not only to check out the newest products but to see which shades work for me. More tips to remember when choosing a blusher: colors that are brighter, such as a rose or peach, are great accents to highlight cheekbones, while darker (browner) tones will make cheekbones recede. Also, using a soft shimmer over your blush will give an added lift to the cheekbone. And colors that contain a little bit of everything–red, pink, brown and orange–will go with a variety of skin colors.

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