Rouge is a double-edged beauty sword. On one hand, it’s the quickest way to brighten up the face. On the other, heavy application is the biggest beauty faux pas of them all. We’re here to help—think of this as Blush 101. Below, everything you need to know to achieve a beautiful, believable flush.
Rouge Rule #1: Know the where and how
For the most natural-looking application, perfect placement is key. According to Melissa Silver, a New York City-based makeup artist for Maybelline, where that is depends on what type of look you want—slightly flustered or chiseled cheeks. “For the flushed look, smile and apply on the apples of the cheeks and blend up and back to soften. For a more sculpted look, apply just under the cheekbones and blend up to avoid a striped effect.” Above all, stay above the nostrils. “Going below nose level can look jowly,” warns Silver. Whether or not you’re using the correct tool makes a major difference in your outcome as well. When it comes to brushes—there are so many choices. Natural or synthetic bristles; round or angled in shape? Collier Strong, Consulting Makeup Artist for L’Oreal, recommends the former of both. “My favorite brush to use is a rounded natural bristle brush that’s the same size as your cheek—any bigger will apply too much color. And they’re better for applying powders such as shadows and blushes because they blend the products easier.”
Rouge Rule #2: Pick your pretty poison
Available in several different formulations—powder, gel, cream, liquid stain, or mousse—choosing what type of blush to wear is equally important. “Powder is my go-to choice,” states Strong. “It lasts the longest and is the easiest to apply.” On the other hand, Silver thinks it’s fine to wear whichever type you want, but advises you take the texture and condition of your skin into consideration. “If you have large pores, stains, creams, and gels can sit in them and look unflattering,” she cautions. Strong brings up another valid point: Skin type. “Creams and gels can be fun to experiment with unless you have oily skin, then these formulas tend to disappear.” As for choosing the correct color, Silver believes it could all boil down to your complexion. “Light skin tones look great with soft rosy or peachy shades, and medium tones can wear anything from honey to coral red. Darker tones look great in more intense colors, like orange or hot pink.”
Rouge Rule #3: Never (ever) clown around
If you’re a beginner, or have a heavy hand, it’s probably best you proceed with caution. “It's always easier to add than to take away,” says Silver. However, if you’ve found yourself looking a bit like Bozo, removing the excess might not be as hard as you think. Instead of washing your face and starting over from scratch, Silver and Strong both suggest relying on powder. “Applying loose powder over the cheek will soften the color,” says Strong. “If it's a cream blush, gently blend it away with foundation on a sponge," adds Silver. One last thing—it’s easy to tell if you’ve gone overboard. “If your face looks out of balance, you’ve over-applied,” states Silver. Strong makes a stronger statement: “You’ve over-applied when you look like you’ve been hit with a hot frying pan. Stop once you see the color.”