Blusher has a reputation for being difficult to apply but, once you know what you’re doing, it can make you look your best in seconds.
The right blusher for you
Powder blusher is easier to control and blend, which is why it’s the most popular choice of all. You’ll also find the widest choice of shades comes in powder form. It should be applied over foundation – and under face powder – not on bare skin; applying powder blush to clean, fresh skin gives you too bright a flash of colour. At the very least, you should wear a veil of translucent powder underneath. It will also stay put longest if ‘sandwiched’ between foundation and powder. Make-up artists always use powder blusher.
Cream blusher is good for dry or sun-damaged skin; it slides easily over the surface and won’t settle in wrinkles. To avoid a ‘clown’ effect, always put cream or liquid blusher into the palm of your hand first, then apply it to your cheek. It should be tapped on lightly with the finger and blended immediately. Alternatively, use one side of your foundation brush to apply cream blusher for a seamless effect.
Gel blusher offers the sheerest form of colour, and is great for giving a natural-looking glow to bare skin on outdoorsy weekends. Because gel blushers are transparent, they’re perfect for summer. Gel should always be applied over moisturiser (not foundation), which makes it glide on more smoothly and avoids a ‘polka-dot’ effect (the stain ‘takes’ very fast when it hits the skin). Do always remember to wash your hands immediately after applying them, as the pigments can stain fingers.
Bronzing powder can be substituted for blush in summer. It’s also great dusted around the hairline, on the nose and chin, as well as across the cheekbones, for giving you a truly healthy-looking tan.
And some tips…
- Mary Greenwell: ‘Blush is the one piece of make-up that you’ll never have to change. Stick with a blush that adds the right healthy glow and change the colour of eyes and lips.’
- It can help to blusher brush with white bristles, to help you tell if you’re overdoing the colour: if your brush suddenly looks too pink, your cheeks will, too.
Don’t go too bright or too dark. Aim for a natural, soft, healthy glow. Bobbi Brown says: ‘The right blusher for you is the same colour your cheeks are naturally when you’re really healthy.’
Fair-skinned women should look for beige, tawny and pink tones.
Olive/yellow-toned skins will find warm brown, almond and copper shades most flattering.
Dark-skinned women can use plum, fuchsia, auburn and deep bronze shades.
Redheads look best in orange, apricot, peach and coral shades. These also look good on anyone with a tan.
The contour controversy
Should you shape your face using darker powder to disguise chubby cheeks or double chins? Opinions vary. Bobbi Brown thinks it’s better to play up your good points rather than try to cover up your flaws. But Maggie Hunt, who every year teaches hundreds of women how to make the most of their looks, does believe in contouring: ‘I use a face shaper – a matte brown one – to help minimise double chins, chubby cheeks and high and narrow foreheads. Choose a shade of powder that’s just a darker version of your own skin tone and brush it onto the heavy areas. If your forehead is too high, put a soft brown powder around the hairline.’
Blusher tips from the pros
- ‘Invest in a proper blusher brush,’ advises Bobbi Brown. ‘The teeny ones you find in compacts just aren’t up to the job, and will give visible brush strokes.’
- Don’t use blusher to give yourself instant cheekbones. The most flattering way to apply it is on the ‘apples’ of the cheeks. Locate yours by drawing an imaginary line down from your pupil to the centre of your cheek. Then lightly stroke outwards, towards the top of the ear, covering the entire cheekbone area in soft, sweeping strokes.
- Experiment with sweeping blusher onto the cleavage and along the hairline, too. It adds warmth to powder and foundation, making the whole look more realistic and healthy-looking.
- Carol Shaw advises applying blush when you’re smiling: ‘Add a little blush in that ball of your cheek and bring it back a little towards the bone.’
- ‘You want to look like the noon sun has hit you on – not under – your cheekbones,’ believes Mary Greenwell.
- Like many make-up artists, Maggie Hunt likes to ‘double-blush’, first applying one layer of blush, then powder, then blushing again: ‘It helps the colour stay put.’
- Certainly in summer, older women should avoid powder blusher, which can look dusty. Instead, try rubbing some lipstick into your cheeks, which gives a much more natural result. (We love cream blusher for this, too.)
- Remember: over-blushing can always be corrected by blending in a little powder.