If you thought there was just one way to apply blush, you’re not alone — but you should think again. You see, just like with lipstick or eyeliner, blush can be used to achieve different aesthetics depending on how and where it’s applied. For instance, let’s say you’re on vacation and are (of course) slathering on tons of SPF but still want to look sun-kissed. Said effect can easily be faked with blush, albeit you wouldn’t apply it the same way you would if you were going for the classic, apples-of-your-cheeks-only flush that most folks are familiar with. The same goes for other techniques, too. Any makeup artist will tell you that application is everything, and it’s for this reason that Allure tapped several pros to find out exactly how and where you should apply blush to get the specific results you’re after. Now, without further ado, read it from the experts themselves.
1. Natural: On the Apples
For most non-makeup professionals, this is the classic and most common method of applying blush. Its popularity stems from the fact that it gives an ultra-natural effect — like you just got back from a light jog — and it couldn’t be simpler to do.
“You can create a healthy, natural-looking glow by swirling a small dab of color onto the apples of the cheeks and buffing it out in circular motions,” says New York City-based makeup artist Elisa Flowers, who adds that this ubiquitous technique, both widens and brightens the face. Another helpful tip from Flowers is to place your formula two fingers away from your nose and two fingers away from the bottom of your eye. “This keeps it from looking unbalanced,” she explains.
Her favorite color to use for this traditional approach? A fresh, rosy-pink, like Benefit’s Benetint, which she says melds beautifully with the skin for the most seamless finish.
2. Dramatic: Draped
Rihanna rocked this ’70s-style blush at the 2017 Met Gala in case you need visual motivation to break out of your comfort zone. It’s one of those trends that’s seen its fair share of runways over the past two years, but draping actually looks really cool in real life, too — and doesn’t take nearly as long to execute as you may think.
“I call draping ‘side-eye blush,’ says makeup artist Ingeborg. “It can be done with a soft and fluffy, smaller-to-medium sized brush and simply involves applying it on the temple area, draping the color downward across the cheekbones so that it frames the face,” she explains. She favors Viseart’s ultra-pigmented blush palettes (especially Rose/Coral) for this approach.
Similarly, Flowers says you can sweep the blush from the top of the cheekbone to the hairline, wrapping it around the brow area in an arc shape. “This motion brings a beautiful brightness to the face,” she says.
3. Sun-Kissed: Allover Glow
As far as we’re concerned, a just-back-from-Barbados makeup look is never a bad idea. Just because we know you’d never slack on the sunscreen, doesn’t mean anyone else has to know your faux glow happens to be the courtesy of well-placed blush. According to the pros, this technique works best when applied on top of bronzer. It acts as a base layer that helps to diffuse the blush’s pigment so it doesn’t come off too harsh against the skin. Makeup artist Carissa Ferreri loves using Kjaer Weis’s Sun Touched or Milk Makeup’s Lip and Cheek in Coral for this.
“The trick is to create the right amount of dewy glow and apply just the slightest bit to the top of the nose on the bridge — think where your sunglasses would hit,” she explains. “And for more staying power sweep a powder blush on top of the cream.”