How to Apply Blush

May 27th, 2009

… and contour and highlight your cheekbones to supermodel proportions!

For the ultimate in chiseled cheekbones, follow these three steps:

1) Contour: shade the underside of the cheekbone.

2) Color: apply blush to the apple of the cheek and on the cheekbone.

3) Highlight: illuminate the area above the cheekbone.

No blusher

Without blush the face can look flat and lack dimension.

Not blessed with prominent bone structure? The three-step technique outlined above, which is based on the principles of light and shade, will allow you to define your facial contours and alter your perceived face shape. Basically, light shades are applied to features you want to highlight, maximize or bring forward, and dark shades are applied to those you wish to play down, minimize or push back. These principles not only apply to the cheekbones, they can be used all over the face. For example, if you want to make your eyes pop, create depth by using a dark shadow along the crease of the eyelid; and for a fuller-looking pout, add a lighter shade of lipstick or gloss to the middle of the bottom lip.

Where to start.

After applying foundation, concealer, eye and brow makeup, and loose powder, familiarize yourself with your facial structure. Using your fingertips, press over, under and along your cheekbones to determine the areas you will need to contour, color and highlight.

1) Contour (with the darkest shade).

Contour the cheeks

Step 1: Contour.

The aim of contouring is to define the “hollow of the cheek” (underside of the cheekbone). Select a matte, natural brown blush or bronzing powder that is two or three shades darker than your skin tone. Take a small amount of the powder on an angled blush brush and tap off any excess on the back of your hand. Begin near the ear and follow the natural curve of your cheek until you reach the point which lines up with the outer corner of your eye. Build the color gradually and blend well using a series of upward and downward strokes.

Catwalk talk Contouring is a fantastic way to add drama and definition. For photoshoots and runway shows, makeup artists can afford to be heavy-handed with bronzers and blush because the strong lights pare it down, leaving the features sharp and face sculpted.

2) Cheek color (Little Miss In-Between).

Blush on the apples of the cheeks

Step 2a: Color on the apples of the cheeks.

Blush on the cheekbone

Step 2b: Color on the cheekbones.

To emphasize the apple of the cheek and cheekbone, add a flush of powder blush! Select a color that complements your skin tone and matches the contour shade you used. Peach and beige browns look great on blondes, while pink and plum tones work well on brunettes and redheads. Using a soft, round blush brush, apply blush to the apple of the cheek (this is the part of the cheek that protrudes most when you smile) and on the cheekbone right up to the temple. Blend the color in an up-and-down motion over the cheekbone to achieve seamless integration with the underlying contour shade (no obvious lines please, girls!)

Makeup artist tip: To add a touch of radiance to the cheeks, choose a powder blush with a hint of shimmer. For a dewy effect, use a cream or stick formulation and blend well. Fingertips are a useful blending tool: their warmth helps to melt the color onto the skin. Creamy-textured blush should be reserved for those with dry skin because it often makes oily skin too shiny. For a bolder finish, liquid tints and cheek stains are another option, but blend quickly because they tend to dry fast.

Want fast yet effective?

Only have time for a quick flick? Just do steps 1 and/or 2.  Use step 1 alone to top up a tan, or step 2a by itself for a flirty flush. Feeling cheeky? Combine steps 1 and 2 for a strong and structured party look.

3) Highlight (with the lightest shade).

Highlight above the cheekbone

Step 3: Highlight.

To make your facial structure more pronounced, apply a light-reflecting powder, cream or fluid to the top of the cheekbone (just under the outer eye socket). Choose an iridescent highlighter with white or silver pigments for ethereal luminosity, or one with gold undertones for subtle warmth. Don’t want sparkle or shimmer? Use a matte highlighting powder.

Confused about color? Some cosmetic companies produce palettes for the cheeks, which makes the color selection process relatively painless. The duos generally contain a contouring shade plus a cheek color, while the trios also include a highlighter.

FAQ: Should I apply powder before my blush? When I use a powder-textured blush, bronzer or highlighter, I usually prep the skin with a layer of loose powder first. However, when I use creams and liquids, I don’t powder the cheek area beforehand.

Now, swipe on some lipstick and strike a pose. Work it!

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10 Responses to “How to Apply Blush”

  1. Crystal says:

    Great post, lots of good tips :) – two questions:
    1. Best blush brush recommendation?
    2. Blush for more mature ladies – best way to take attention away from sagging cheeks?

  2. Little Miss Makeup says:

    Crystal :)

    At the moment, my favorite blush brush is M•A•C 134 Large Powder Brush. I used this to apply the blush in the Pink Lady look ( M•A•C have a great range of brushes for blush application, so check them out and find one that meets your specific needs.

    To draw attention away from sagging cheeks, smile and work a powder or cream blush, in soft pink or fresh peach, onto the apples. This will have an uplifting effect.

    Hope this is helpful! x

  3. Judith says:

    I hope commenting on older posts isn’t frowned upon (I arrived here via Google). I just wanted to thank the author for the great guide. My mother was very much au naturale, so I never really learned the proper way to apply blush. It is either way too subtle to even notice a difference, or I end up looking like a harlot. Now I’m rockin’ it pretty well.
    .-= Judith´s last blog ..How to Get Rid of Blackheads- Easy as 1-2-3 =-.

  4. Little Miss Makeup says:

    I’m pleased you found the post helpful, Judith. Keep rockin’ it :)!

  5. Yucel says:

    I love this post… I have been struggling… in photo retouching, how to enhance cheeks… (as we can apply makeup effects to these areas of photos…). Will try your three simple areas… should work great.

    As a glamour photographer, and a man, I love makeup … cause it makes you prettier… and improves your confidence… which makes you even prettier… And makes my life and job really that much more fabulous.

    I interview artists and study makeup in this line of endeavor. includes several makeup how to videos and interviews of photographic makeup stylists sharing their secrets…

    Enjoy and thanks!

  6. Little Miss Makeup says:

    Thanks, Yucel. Happy to help. Let me know how the retouching goes!

    LMM x

  7. I cannot wait to try these. Thanks.

  8. Little Miss Makeup says:

    My pleasure, Nicolas!

    LMM x

  9. Jiji says:

    Very helpful. Thanx!

  10. Little Miss Makeup says:

    You’re welcome, Jiji!

    LMM x

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