We want to let you in on this blush secret
Written by Jess Beech
6 Jun 2023
There’s a common misconception that the most flattering shades of blush are pale pink and peach, but many makeup artists will tell you that we’ve got it all wrong.
Here’s the deal: the aim of the game with blush is to bring life and vibrancy to your skin by replicating the way it looks when you’re blushing. When we blush, the blood vessels in our skin dilate, bringing a swoosh of blood closer to the surface that results in a redder appearance on the cheeks. It’s worth noting here that we’re working towards blushing, rather than a hot, entirely-red-faced, bursting-with-embarrassment kind of flush. Think more the kind of healthy glow you exude after a brisk walk in the countryside rather than how you’d look after taking a tumble on a rush-hour train platform.
Now, we’ve personally never seen anyone come back from a romantic stroll with a baby pink or peachy tinge to their cheeks. A natural blush is always deeper, and more red in tone. Why? Because it’s fuelled by blood rushing to the upper levels of the skin. There’s evidence to show that deep red blushes were used as far back as the Egyptian and Roman times to create a healthy-looking complexion, and in portraiture too, with Titian’s red-cheeked, red-headed muses, and the iconic painting of Marie Antionette with a Rose by French artist Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun. Give it a Google, the pop of red against her pale skin will be the first thing you notice.
A natural blush is always deeper, and more red in tone.
Over time, and probably thanks to negative connotations around looking red in the face, this look has fallen out of fashion. So, If you’re stuck in a rut of shying away from striking, more natural shades in favour of pastel oranges and pale, powdery pinks, allow us to nudge you outside of your comfort zone with a dark, red or berry blush.
Why is it good to use deeper red and berry shades as blush?
Deeper red and berry shades for blush will provide the most natural, and healthiest-looking finish. Wearing foundation or tinted moisturiser is a great way to make your complexion look clearer and more uniform, but it also disguises the different tones in your skin. If you stopped here in your makeup routine, the finish would be quite mask-like. Blush is your opportunity to put the vibrancy back into your cheeks, and the best way to do this is with shades that replicate the way they look when you blush. A shade that matches, or amplifies, these natural hues in your skin will be the most flattering.
Where on the cheeks is best to apply a red-toned blush?
If you wanted to take your blush application quite seriously, then you could apply based on your face shape (rounded in the centre of the cheeks for square faces, swooping beneath the eyes for round faces or at the outer edges only for a diamond-shaped face) but with red-toned blush, it’s better to take a more traditional approach. Focus your application on the apples of your cheeks (the chubbiest part that comes forwards when you smile), blending outwards and slightly upwards towards the hairline. If you really wanted to amplify the youthfulness of this look, you could even dust a little blush across your nose too.
It’s quite easy to overdo dark, rich and bright red and berry shades, so our advice is to so slow at first. Using a fluffy makeup brush will disperse the pigment so it’s not too concentrated, and you can always build the intensity with more layers.
Which skin tones do these shades suit?
The beauty of this blush look is that it suits all skin tones, as it’s mimicking the universal experience of blood rushing towards the surface of your complexion when you blush. It’s just about making sure that the shade you choose is dark enough, or bright enough, to suit and be visible on your skin tone. The deeper your skin tone, the more pigment you will need in your blush. Whereas if you have very pale skin, then a little pop of colour will go a long way.
Which blush texture is best for this makeup technique?
Blush comes in a number of different textures, all of which have different benefits. Liquid blush can be the trickiest to master. Not do they have a frustrating tendency to trickle onto the carpet, but they’re also highly pigmented, which makes it easy to go overboard. Use sparingly, dotted onto place on your cheeks before blending with warm fingers or a brush, for a natural-looking stain.
Then there’s cream blush, which lends itself perfectly to a deep red or berry blush look. The texture of cream allows it to melt effortlessly into the skin for a finish so convincing that no one will be sure if it’s your radiant health or makeup that’s created it. Finally, there’s powder blush. As powders are matte, the finish will be slightly less convincing than a cream or liquid, but they do have the upper hand when it comes to longevity. If you’re in for a long day, or heading out for the evening, you can rely on a powder to stay put. If you wanted the best of both worlds, you could use a cream blush topped with a delicate dusting of powder blush in the same hue to lock it in place.