Blush is one of my favorite beauty products, partially because it’s so easy to apply (and you can use your fingers if you dare), and partially because with just a few swipes of color, you can awaken an otherwise tired and dull face (similar to what mascara is for eyes). But the way most women use blush is like finger painting in the dark: Wrong colors, wrong technique, wrong positioning. I, too, was curious to right these wrongs thus leading me to celebrity makeup artist to Cindy Crawford, Olivia Wilde, and Demi Moore, and fellow blogger, Robin Black, for a crash course in all things blushing.
Beauty Banter: What is the difference between cool vs. warm skin tones?
Robin Black: I don’t really subscribe to picking colors based on whether the undertone of your skin is cool or warm toned. There are so many
variations… for example, skin with an olive undertone can be cool on a fair complexion but warm on a darker one. And as for extremely pale
skin with a pink undertone, I would never want to emphasize that pink by using colors to bring it out. Redheads with freckles often have a
cool toned, fair base but their freckles are a warm golden color. Matching their base tone will turn their freckles grey! Instead, I pick colors that will enhance each feature and the person’s overall coloring (taking into account the color of their eyes, hair, lips, etc).
BB: How do u know if you are light, fair, medium, tan, olive or dark? Is there a simple test one can take themselves?
RB: One way to determine the undertone of your skin is to look in a mirror while holding a piece of white paper next to your face. If you skin looks yellow, gold or red in comparision to the white paper, then you have a warm skin tone. If your skin looks pink or bluish, then you have a cool tone. If your skin has a slight greenish tone, you are probably olive.
As far as determining the shade of your skin (fair, medium, tan or deep), one of the easiest ways is to simply compare your coloring to that of others. For example, if your skin is within a few shades of Rooney Mara’s, then you are most likely fair. If your skin is similar in shade to Jessica Biel, you are probably medium. Eva Mendes is a gorgeous example of a tan complexion and the lovely Kerry Washinton has a deeper shade.
BB: Does the color blush you choose change the way your face looks – ex: thinner, fatter, rounder? Or is the secret in the way you choose to apply your blush that can alter your face shape?
RB: The cheek color you choose will not change the way your face looks (thinner, wider, rounder, etc) but the way you apply it can. For example; a bright pop of color on the apples of the cheeks will bring attention to the center of the face and create the illusion of a wider face – this can add visual balance on narrow or longer faces. Color applied to the outer cheekbones and blended back toward the hairline will create the illusion of higher, more defined cheekbones.
However, the thing that will change the shape of your face most effectively is to contour. I generally think of contour as a must and cheek color as the pretty accessory to add on top.
BB: What is the best way to apply brush?
RB: This depends on what look you are going for. Applying a pop of color directly on the apples of the cheeks gives a natural, flushed look.
Sweeping the color more liberally across the upper cheekbones and towards the hairline is a more dramatic look for night… but make sure to blend or you will wind up looking like you are on your way to an 80’s party!
BB: Any expert tips on application?
RB: Apply your cheek color and then do your eyes or hair or get dressed. Check the color after 10 minutes to make sure it hasn’t faded. Most
cheek color settles into the skin and gets a bit lighter.
BB: What is your application preference for powder versus cream blush?
RB: Powder blush should always be applied with a brush. Cream can be applied with a foundation brush or clean fingers! Some artists prefer
to use a fluff brush to apply cream color and it does do a great job blending but it’s a nightmare trying to clean the brush later.
BB: Can you wear any blush shade during any season or are specific colors reserved for certain seasons? Coral for summer, berry for fall, etc.
RB: It is more important to wear a shade that flatters your coloring than follow seasonal trends. However, many people find their complexion changes with the seasons or that their wardrobe colors shift. Generally, the warmer colors like coral, peach and bronze are more flattering against Summer’s glowing skin and lighter clothes. Spring is a great time to brighten up pale or sallow skin with a pop of bright color like a rosy shade of pink. Winter’s darker palette goes well with saturated shades like berry and plum. And of course, Fall is always a great time to experiment with rich colors like true reds!
Robin Black’s Blush Picks:
[ Favorites – Powder ]
Tom Ford Flush – The perfect warm pink, almost a deep peach. This color looks great on fair to tan skin tones.
Tom Ford Wicked – An intense orange color that really pops against medium to tan skin.
NARS Mata Hari – Neutral pink, ideal for blonds with light eyes and all fair skin.
NARS Taos – A deeper shade (but with less shimmer) than their infamous Orgasm, this color works on a huge range of all skin tones and creates a beautiful warm glow.
NARS Exhibit A – This is the ultimate orange red. Bright and not for the shy, it packs a serious punch with lots of pigment. Amazing on dark skin and when mixed with translucent powder, very pretty on medium to light skin.
Another interesting powder blush is the Rosy Glow by Dior; it changes tone in reaction to your skin. It is mainly meant for fair to medium skin tones although I have a client who has olive skin and it’s surprisingly pretty on her. It is not the color you see in the pan.
[ Favorites – Cream ]
Hourglass Illume Cream to Powder Bronzer Duo in Sunset – Gorgeous bronzer and blush duo that create the ideal healthy look to the cheeks. Great for fair to tan skin.
Hourglass Aura Sheer Cheek Stain – All three of the colors are great but my personal favorite is Flush. I like to use it on bare skin and it doubles as a lip stain.
NARS The Multiple in Malibu – A pink with a tan undertone, this color looks good on fair to tan skin tones.
NARS The Multiple Bronzer in Rapa Nui – Technically its a bronzer but for dark complexions, it adds a warm glow.
*top image courtesy of Robin Black’s blog, Beauty is Boring.