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How to Apply Blush Like a Pro Based on Your Face Shape

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The secret to achieving that warm, lit-from-within glow? The perfect blush. But as with pretty much all makeup products, there's no one-size-fits-all when it comes to this beauty essential. The best blush for you depends on your face shape, skin tone, and skin type—not to mention your own personal style. Because no matter what anyone tells you, using makeup is personal and getting creative is half the fun.

But before you dive into the latest trend or experiment with new blush colors, it's always important to understand the basics. We chatted with celebrity makeup artists Joseph Carrillo and Kendal Fedail to find out exactly how to apply blush like a pro. Continue reading to learn how to create warm, rosy cheeks in no time.


About the Experts:

Joseph Carrillo is a celebrity and editorial makeup artist. His work has been seen on Dianna Agron, Madelaine Petsch, and Alexa Chung.
Kendal Fedail is a celebrity and editorial makeup artist based in L.A. Her clients include Nicola Peltz, Hassie Harrison, Dove Cameron, and more.

How to apply blush step by step:

Step 1: Decide which type of formula will work best for your skin type.

Blush comes in a variety of different formula types including powder, cream, gels, and liquid. Determining which will work best for you, though, not only depends on the look you’re going for, but also on your skin type. “My favorite blush formulas are creams and liquids because they melt into the skin and blend nicely with other complexion products,” says Fedail.

Though cream and liquid blushes offer that seamless, skin-like look, oily skin types may not garner the same effect from the formulation. Using cream or liquid blush could run the risk of product separation or more oil production on the skin. Instead, powder formulas may be the move. For dry skin types, the opposite may be true: powder formulas may emphasize dryness, while cream and liquid formulas may help keep the complexion hydrated.

Step 2: Find the perfect shade for your skin tone.

Once you figure out what type of formula you want to use, you'll then need to find the perfect shade. If you’re hoping to achieve a more natural blush look, Carrillo says a good place to start may be to “Look and see what color you naturally ‘flush’ like in the gym or when you go for a run." Pay attention to this color and try to mimic it by finding a similar shade.

If you have fair skin, a cool pale pink is usually a great choice. For medium skin tones, you may want to try a neutral pink or peach blush. For olive skin, peach and rose tones tend to look stunning. And on medium to dark skin tones, warm reds, corals, and even hot pink shades look gorgeous.

To make sure that your shade looks extra natural on the skin, make sure the undertones in your chosen shade also match your skin's undertone (cool, warm, or neutral). If you're not sure which undertone shade you have, head here for our guide on how to know your undertones.

Step 3: Find the right tool.

Once you have your perfect blush formula and shade in hand, you'll need to make sure you have the right tools handy. Powder blush tends to look best when applied with a fluffy, angled blush brush like the MODA® BRUSH Neon Angle Contour/Blush Brush. If you're using a cream blush or liquid blush, try blending with your fingers or a makeup sponge like the ORIGINAL BEAUTYBLENDER Makeup Sponge to blend. If you’re all about the makeup brushes, they can work for cream and liquid formulas too. Just make sure you’re using synthetic bristles for a better blend, says Fedail.

Step 4: Load up the product.

Now that you have everything you need, it's time to apply. If you're using a powder blush, begin by lightly swirling the brush in the blush compact, then tap off any excess pigment before gently swiping it onto the skin. If you're using a liquid blush like the YC COLLECTION Liquid Blush lightly dab the product directly onto the skin. Remember, less is more—you never want to go straight in with a heavy hand. Start off by applying a small amount of product and then slowly build your way up to your desired amount. If you want a bolder blush look, add more layer by layer.

Step 5: Apply blush in a way that flatters your face shape.

The classic way to apply blush is to blend it onto the apples of your cheeks. (Not sure where this is? Smile into the mirror. See the front parts of your cheeks that pop up when you smile? That's them.) But now, with the latest TikTok trends, the consensus is that the higher the blush, the better and more snatched you’ll look. We’re going to go ahead and say it, though: This trend may not work for everyone. Your safest bet is to place your blush according to your face shape.

“We all have different-sized faces and shapes, so blush can be a tricky one,” admits Carrillo. Here are a few adjustments you may want to make depending on your face shape:

  • Oval Face: Try applying blush over your cheekbones, just above the bone, to help raise your cheeks and create a lifted effect.
Close-up of Kendal Fedail applying PURLISSE BEAUTY Blush Glow BB Cheek Color in Vivid Coral on her cheekbonesClose-up of Kendal Fedail rocking a blushed natural makeup look
  • Round Face: To add more definition to a round face shape, try applying blush just below the apples of the cheeks, along your cheekbones, blending it upward toward your ears and hairline.
Close-up of Kendal Fedail applying PURLISSE BEAUTY Blush Glow BB Cheek Color in Vivid Coral under her cheekbonesClose-up of Kendal Fedail rocking a blushed natural makeup look
  • Square Face: A pop of color on the apples of your cheeks will make the face look fuller and naturally flushed—perfect for square-shaped faces. “If your face is more angular, you might find that applying on the apples of your cheeks adds more volume to your cheek area,” says Fedail.
Close-up of Kendal Fedail applying PURLISSE BEAUTY Blush Glow BB Cheek Color in Vivid Coral on the tops of her cheeks and across her noseClose-up of Kendal Fedail rocking a blushed natural makeup look
  • Heart-Shaped Face: To lightly soften the features of a heart-shaped face, try applying blush in a "C" shape, going from the top of your cheeks to above the end of your eyebrows (where you might be used to applying highlighter).
Close-up of Kendal Fedail applying PURLISSE BEAUTY Blush Glow BB Cheek Color in Vivid Coral on the apple of her cheeksClose-up of Kendal Fedail rocking a blushed natural makeup look

Step 6: Blend it out.

When using a powder blush, your first instinct may be to apply it by dragging your brush back and forth across the cheeks, but it’s best to lightly dab your brush on the skin instead to avoid moving around any product (like foundation) underneath. Dabbing onto the skin will also allow you to have more control over placement and pigment intensity.

Step 7: Build more color (if you want to).

Once you’ve applied and blended, step into some natural light to see how it all looks. Maybe you’ve created the perfect natural-looking flush, or maybe you were hoping for more of a pop of color. If you want to go bolder, go ahead and add another layer, repeating this process until you have your desired makeup look. Remember, makeup is about YOU and your creativity.

How to Apply Blush Like a Pro:

Now that you know how to apply blush, here are a few insider makeup tips you can use to make sure it looks its best.

1. Remember, blush after bronzer.

When you apply blush is just as important as how you apply it. After prepping your skin with a makeup primer, apply any complexion products you want, including foundation and concealer. Then, apply your bronzer. Carrillo often likes to apply blush after bronzer so “the blush doesn’t overpower the face.”

2. Stick with a color family for a harmonious makeup look.

To ensure that your blush shade ties in nicely with the rest of your overall beauty look, follow Fedail's golden rule: “If I’m using cooler shades on the eyes and lips, then I’ll use a cooler-toned blush like a pale pink or lilac,” says Fedail. “If I’m using warm colors on my eyes and lips, then I’ll either use a blush that’s more peachy or coral.”

3. Add a personal flair with finishes.

What about shimmery or matte shades? “Finishes really come down to personal preference and what you like best on your skin,” says Fedail. If you tend to opt for dewy finish foundations, you might try a blush with a soft shimmer or sheen. If you prefer matte foundation a matte blush may be more to your liking.

4. Full-coverage foundation and blush are BFFs.

“When you apply foundation, it most likely will cancel out the natural flush that most of us have around our cheek area,” says Fedail. Adding blush to your makeup routine is the fastest way to bring back that color and warmth to your skin.

5. Layer for longer wear.

Need your blush to last all day and night? Layering is key. “For maximum wear, I recommend first applying a cream blush then setting it with a powder blush on top,” says Fedail. Think of this technique like a setting powder but for your blush. This will lock in the pigments and finish, and your blush will look just as good at 11 p.m. as it did at 8 a.m. when you first put it on.

6. Fake a post-vacay glow.

For a more sun-kissed look, try applying blush across the bridge of the nose and on the innermost part of your cheeks. This is where the sun would naturally hit you, so it’ll give you a sun-kissed effect without the damaging UV rays.

The 5 Best Blush Formulas:

Looking for a blush formula that can become your new go-to? Here are 5 of the best blushes for a gorgeous, healthy glow

1. Best for Beginners: GLOSSIER Cloud Paint

GLOSSIER Cloud Paint

Courtesy of GLOSSIER

Whether you're new to blush or you simply prefer a subtle wash of color, this matte liquid blush is super easy to apply. Simply dab a drop or two of color onto the cheeks and buff it out using a makeup sponge. Just a little bit of this formula provides a natural, blushed effect—perfect for that no makeup-makeup look. But if you want something more dramatic, it's super easy to layer this blush on for a more saturated effect.

2. Best Shimmery Powder Blush: NARS Blush

NARS Blush

Courtesy of NARS

There's a reason this is the top-selling blush in the country. NARS' powder blush offers a wide range of shades and finishes. To ensure an incredibly soft, blendable blush application, the powder is made up of superfine micronized pigments. While all the shades are stunning, the "Orgasm" shade is particularly iconic. It's a peachy pink with a golden shimmer that can work on every skin tone.

3. Best Cream Blush: ILIA Multi-Stick

ILIA Multi-Stick

Courtesy of ILIA

Looking for a blush that will help amplify a hydrated, dewy effect? Try this multitasking cream blush from the clean beauty brand ILIA. Made from a base of nourishing oils and butters (like sunflower seed oil, castor seed oil, cocoa butter, and shea butter), it's an ideal pick for dry skin types. As an added bonus, this stick is designed to also be used as a lip color, making harmonious makeup looks even easier.

4. Best Longwear Blush: TARTE Deluxe Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush

TARTE Deluxe Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush

Long day ahead? You're gonna want a blush formula that requires next to no touch-ups. Enter, this blush made from natural Amazonian clay. This not-so-secret ingredient is the key to longer, truer wear. It's also beneficial for every skin type: for oily skin, it can help to regulate oil production and for dry skin, it offers hydrating, moisture-locking benefits.

5. Best Drugstore Blush: PIXI BEAUTY Fresh Face Blush

PIXI BEAUTY Fresh Face Blush

Not all blush formulas have to cost a pretty penny. This affordable option is perfect for a rosy glow on a budget. Made with conditioning vitamin E, this light-diffusing blush adds a natural, soft touch of rogue to any look. It's super blendable, buildable, and 100% cruelty-free.

6. Best Natural-Looking Blush: DRUNK ELEPHANT O-Bloos™ Rosi Drops

DRUNK ELEPHANT O-Bloos™ Rosi Drops

If you’re looking to create that healthy, just-left-the-sun color on your cheeks, this lightweight liquid blush is it. The peachy-pink drops add a subtle, rosy flush and are formulated with omega fatty acids to keep the skin soft, soothed, and glowing.

Can’t get enough of blush? Take our Beauty Quiz now to get started with your own beauty subscription. Already a member? Refer your friends to earn points, which you can use toward products. Either way, don’t forget to check us out on Instagram and TikTok @IPSY.

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About the author
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Cortney Clift
Cortney is a New York-based freelance writer who has written about beauty and wellness for more than six years. She was previously the senior writer and special projects editor at Brit + Co where she covered a wide range of news and lifestyle topics.
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Article Last Updated March 31, 2023 12:00 AM