Exaggerated Blush Is Trending For The Holidays & It's Surprisingly Effortless
Makeup trends ebb and flow, but I'd say 2022 was the year of exaggerated blush. Buzzy tutorials like "sunburn blush" and "under-eye blush" practically commanded the TikTok space, both of which involve placing product in more "daring" areas like the forehead and directly underneath the pupils. "Chin blush" even made a splash during New York Fashion Week, as models sauntered down the Christian Cowan Spring Summer 2023 runway with blooming jawlines.
All of these micro-trends have one thing in common: Rather than playing up a natural flush, beauty fans are using blush to make a statement. It's a welcome addition to the holiday glam circuit, especially for those who rely on a classic red lip year after year.
How blush makes an effortless statement.
There are myriad ways to apply blush depending on the look you want to achieve: to create lift, add fullness and volume, contour your cheekbones…you get the point. But these days, people are focusing less on sculpting their face shape and more on applying a burst of color to their skin. It's less structured—and way more fun.
And because of the product's buildable nature, there's plenty of room to experiment: "Unlike something more precision-based like graphic eyeliner, taking a fluffy brush and swirling blush over your nose or temples is freeing," says Donni Davy, head Euphoria makeup artist and co-founder of Half Magic. Makeup artists have told us time and again that makeup has no rules, and it seems like folks are finally starting to agree.
For the record, I've always been a blush-first kind of gal. It's, hands down, my desert-island makeup product, but even I have caught myself venturing into new territories. While tapping my favorite creamy formula over my cheekbones, I've recently felt inspired to sweep it all the way up my temples and across my lids in an obvious, exaggerated way. I want people to know I'm making a statement with my blush, similar to that of a bold lip or crisp cat-eye.
"It's always been that eye makeup gave you the most room to play, but now with blush in the mix, I'm so excited to see all these new looks and trends come about," adds celebrity makeup artist Kirin Bhatty, ambassador for CATRICE Cosmetics. I do suspect the new "cold girl makeup" trend has something to do with this shift, which involves using only blush to mimic a chilly, frostbitten beat. Again, rather than adding fullness or lift, the blush simply ignites the complexion, and it's placed everywhere the wind would kiss.
We're also seeing a welcome shift toward makeup that feels more undone; you might think sweeping a hot pink hue across your temples would be, well, the complete opposite of understated, but it's actually more in line with the trend than you think.
You see, the move toward exaggerated blush is surprisingly low-lift: Rather than blending and blending and blending to achieve a pristine "no-makeup" makeup look, you can strobe your cheekbones (and temples and lips and lids) without worrying it won't appear "natural." Isn't that the epitome of effortlessness?
And people aren't just experimenting with placement; they're pushing the norms of typical shades, too. Rosy pinks, deep berries, and soft corals make way for bright violets, true reds, and sunny yellows. Snag a cream or liquid formula, and it becomes the true definition of fingerpainting.
How to wear exaggerated blush.
Here's the thing about exaggerated blush: There isn't really one way to play. (Makeup has no rules! That's the whole point!)
If you're looking for some guidance, feel free to start by choosing your go-to shade and concentrate some color on the apples of your cheeks, then diffuse up toward the under-eyes. Tap some color across your lips as well for "a gorgeous, plumping, and soft-focus blurred effect," says makeup artist Alexandra Compton, product development manager at Credo. Then add some extra pigment to wherever feels right at that moment—on your chin, lids, forehead, etc.
You could also grab multiple shades of blush for more of an ombre finish: "Start with the lightest [shade] toward the center of the face and work a mid-tone across the cheekbones toward the hairline," Compton explains. "Sometimes I'll take a third very bright saturated shade and add it to the highest point of my cheekbone and diffuse for a pop of color and glow."
In the photo below, I swirled Davy's lavender LIGHT TRAP across my cheekbones and all the way up to my temples and lids. I concentrated most of the color on the highest point of my cheekbones for a bit of highlight, then topped it with Neen's Pretty Shiny Cream Highlighter for even more shimmer.
I kept the lips and eyes otherwise neutral to really let the blush talk: just a few coats of Saie Mascara 101 and a swipe of iNNBEAUTY Project Glaze Lip Oil #8. The result appears bold yet somehow minimal. It's extremely low-lift (I'm talking, like, five seconds of work), yet I feel positively frosted.
At the end of the day, your glam is yours, and you should pile on as much color as you please. "Every time I see my mom, she makes a comment that I am wearing 'way too much blush,' but to me, there's no such thing as 'way too much blush,'" says Compton. "The way it can instantly light up and refresh the complexion is incredible." I'd say there's no better way to stand out among the sparkling holiday lights.
Half Magic LIGHT TRAP
about-face Cheek Freak Blush Balm
Rituel de Fille
Rituel de Fille Color Nectar Pigment Balm
Milk Makeup Bionic Liquid Blush
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.