lindsay lohan wearing awful blush make upOne of the best beauty makeup tricks we have is also the one we can mess up the easiest. We’ve all seen a heavy-handed blush application, or perhaps a blush that just didn’t quite look right on the skin tone, or even the lack of blush at all (even though we just went through a season where blush wasn’t that important, I beg to differ!). It’s not as easy as just throw some color on a big brush and slap it on your cheeks; like everything else, there is a technique and a few things to keep in mind for the ideal application of your best blush. Let’s discuss this important tool in your make up bag.

First, to choose the right blush – really any kind of makeup, you need to understand your skin tone. Not what you want your skin tone to be, like I did for years, but what your skin tone actually is. We aren’t talking about color, but tone – what colors are underneath and cast by your skin. I learned the difference between cool and dark from the amazing Chad Hayduk, Co-Founder of Three Custom Color Specialists. Read all about my lesson and see the video here on You Tube.  At any rate, he has a few tips to help you determine once and for all which skin tone you rock.

You probably have cool tones if you:

  • have a pinkish cast to your skin, especially in cold weather
  • you have more blue veins than green veins in your inner wrist
  • you burn easily in the sun
  • you have a bluish cast to your skin

You probably have warm tones if you:

  • have a greenish cast to your skin, especially in cold weather
  • you have more green veins than blue veins in your inner wrist
  • you tan easily in the sun
  • you have a chocolate tone to your skin

(for more information and some great pictures, visit Three Custom’s infographic)

All of that too complicated? Chad suggests that you lightly pinch your cheeks and see what color you naturally flush and match accordingly. And some shades really do work on all skin tones because they are so neutral. Chad suggests looking for a cheek stain that will allow your own natural skin color to shine through. Mathew Nigara, NYC New York Color makeup artist, suggests that a peachy toned blush with golden highlights, such as NYC New York Color Blushable Creme stick in South Street Seashell. Hardcore beauty junkies will note that NARS Orgasm blush also fits that bill as well as makeup artist Susan Posnick’s COLORME blush in Cameila.

Mathew also suggests to pay attention to the depth of the color when making your decision. Says Mathew,

a woman with darker skin will not want a blush that is soft in color or muted.  She will need to find a blush that is very vivid in order for it to tread on her complexion. The opposite is true for a woman with very fair skin. She WILL need a soft blush so that it won’t overpower the face.   A good general rule would be to match the intensity of blush color to the depth of color of the skin.  For fair color skin, the color should be softer and for deeper color skin, the blush should be more rich and/or electric.

In other words, the darker your skin color, the more interesting your color choices! Very fair people will find that many colors will be too much, or just too overwhelming.

Next, your blush application should depend on the shape of your face. While all face shapes look good with color on the apples of the cheeks, Susan Posnick has some great pointers on some basic application techniques for three different face shapes:

  • Narrow faces: apply the blush straight across on the cheek. Pretend to draw a line downward from the pupil of the eye and apply the blush from that point onto the apple of the cheek straight back to the ear.
  • Round faces: apply the blush or bronzer in a triangle shape with the narrow part of the triangle on the apple of the cheek and the wide part extending from the top of the ear to just below the bottom of the ear.
  • Square faces: apply the blush or bronzer in more of a ‘comma’ shape from the apple of the cheek working up to outside of the eye area onto the temples.  A little bronzer along the sides of the jawline will also soften this face shape.

Where does bronzer fit into all of this? The best use of bronzer is for contouring the face, especially in the hollow of the cheeks. Says Mathew, “applying bronzer underneath the cheekbone and under the chin if needed, to conceal a bit of aging is great. She should apply it before the foundation for the most natural results.” Susan suggests that “bronzer can be your ‘best friend’ when it comes to adding warmth to the skin and creating the illusion of a different face shape.”

Highlighting or luminizing is also an important step, especially on the very top of your cheekbones, above your blush color. Benefit’s Watt’s Up, Estee Lauder’s Illuminator, and Femme Couture’s Baked Highlighter (available at Sally Beauty) are three that are in heavy rotation here.

A few blushes to play with that I can highly recommend are here in this nifty slideshow. Tarte’s new Amazonian Clay 12 Hour Blush is simply amazing, and has a full line to choose from including both matte and shimmer shades. Manna Kadar Cosmetics is a new line that has two beautiful formulas, matte and pearlized, that blend beautifully. Perfekt’s Cheek Perfector is a perfect neutral that allows your skin to show through, and Sue Devitt’s new Gel to Powder Blush is simply amazing, and works great as a bronzer for lighter skin shades. Drugstore fanatics should try Maybelline’s new Dream Bouncy Blush, a high tech formula that applies wonderfully, and natural cosmetic devotees should try Josie Maran’s Argan Color Stick, made with organic argan oil.

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