How To Apply Blush Like A Pro: 9 Tricks For Lift, Face Shapes & More
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen, covering beauty and wellness. 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.
There are, no joke, dozens of ways to apply blush. That's what I love most about the product, aside from its ability to manifest joy. The same pot of pigment can evolve your look in a snap, depending on where you blend: a dab underneath concealer for a natural rosy flush, a sweep across your nose for a kiss of faux sun... You get the point.
We've sourced a number of these tutorials from makeup artists themselves, and for your convenience, we've rounded them up into one bundle of blush tips. Behold, our master guide to applying blush like a pro:
First, choose your blush.
Your product of choice can certainly affect how you apply it. Before browsing our favorite blushes (we adore them all), keep these criteria in mind.
When it comes to applying blush, texture is everything. Cream blushes (peek our recommendations, here) can fuse to your skin and blend nicely with other cream or liquid makeup products—pressed powder blushes, on the other hand, must be applied on top of creams to avoid any pilling.
In terms of shade, you can really wear whatever blush you fancy. Not to mention, bold and bright pops of color are universally flattering—think look-at-me fuchsia or cherry red. But if you're looking for your most natural flush, you might want to match your undertones. Take our quick quiz to find yours, then find your shade match below:
- Warm undertones pair well with peachy, bronzed, coral hues. We adore Tower28's Happy Hour and PYT Beauty's Hot Flush Blush.
- Those with cool undertones might want to choose pinks, plums, russets, and reds, as a too-orange hue can appear splotchy. Try this shade from Milk Makeup or tarte's SEA Breezy Cream Blush.
- Neutral undertones can get away with practically any hue. "It's just a matter of finding the right depth of color," says celebrity makeup artist Mary Irwin. "A sheer formula compared to an ultra-pigmented one will give a totally different effect, even if they're the same color."
- Olive undertones work best with peach, rose, mauve, or berry shades, which complement the green tone without appearing too gray. We love this berry shade from Kjaer Weis and Tata Harper's Peachy Cream Blush for a sheer moment.
Of course, this list only includes a snippet of shades to choose from. Check out our full guide to finding the right blush here.
Try a natural flush.
For the most natural-looking flush (like the boost of oxygen and nutrients to your skin cells after a brisk jog), Irwin recommends pre-blending the blush and gently pressing it into your skin to transfer a light wash of color.
"I take a tiny dab of cream blush and instead of putting it on with my fingers, I put it onto my palms—just on the meaty part under the thumb joint," she explains. Then "it's just a quick press into the skin to make it look like a perfect natural flush." Like you're stamping the color onto the cheeks and pulling away with the perfect, diffused rouge. Find the full tutorial here.
Another way to master that "lit from within" glow is to sandwich your blush. Celebrity makeup artist Katie Jane Hughes shares a quick tutorial over TikTok (and we break it down further here): After applying a cream blush on your cheekbones, "Dot some foundation on the areas where you want the saturation and coverage to be the most," Hughes notes in her video. "Sweep the product over the entire surface of the face, sandwiching the blush between the foundation and your natural skin." You should still be able to notice a peek of blush through the base, just like a natural flush.
Sculpt your face shape.
As a general rule: Applying blush inward toward the apples creates a soft fullness, while blending outward toward the temples creates lift and definition. We do have a full tutorial for each face shape, but here's the gist:
- Round: Because round faces have no sharp angles, you can add some definition and shape to your features with a sharper blush application. "Place your blush directly above your cheekbone, and blend to create the illusion of sculpted cheekbones," suggests makeup artist Alexandra Compton, product development manager at Credo.
- Square: You can soften up angular features by applying blush on the apples of your cheeks, directly under the eyes. "You will draw attention toward the center of your face," says Compton, and round the cheeks a bit.
- Diamond: Diamond faces already have high, high cheekbones—accentuate them further by sweeping blush in a "C" shape from the temples inward.
- Heart: Heart-shaped faces—with their narrower jaw and wider forehead—can fare well with what Compton calls the blush "halo effect." Concentrate the pigment on the apples of your cheeks to focus the attention center, then diffuse the blush upward toward the temples to complement those naturally high cheekbones.
- Oval: Oval face shapes tend to have no sharp angles, yet they have slightly curved outer edges. That said, adding or softening angles isn't totally necessary—but you can always sculpt the face if you choose by placing your blush on the highest point of your cheekbones.
- Rectangular: Concentrate the blush on the apples of the cheeks to bring in some fullness. You may also want to apply blush in a straight line from the pupils outward. Rectangular faces tend to be longer than they are wide, and a straight-across application can shorten the face a bit.
Make it sun-kissed.
To sport a post-vacation glow, blend your blush up to your temples and into your hairline after warming your cheeks—this adds color to the regions the sun would naturally hit. Brush a bit of pigment across the bridge of the nose (maybe add a faux freckle or two, while you're at it), and there you go: a beachy, sun-kissed visage.
Try a monochromatic look.
Choosing one color story for your entire beat can help you nail minimalist makeup. For example: If you diffuse a cream blush on your cheekbones, use that same color across your lids and dab it onto your lips. You can even go bold with a vibrant color (fuchsia, red, purple, etc.) while still keeping the look minimal.
Many apply blush on the apples of their cheeks—but makeup artists have reservations. See, it typically works like a charm when you're young, your cheeks plump and supple, but those apples drop as you age—so if you swirl a blush on those spots, it can pull the cheek down and create the illusion of sagging.
Rather, Compton recommends focusing the product "directly underneath the pupil of your eye" before blending up. "This will create a lifted effect," she says. Imagine a C-shape from the temples inward. Check out a step-by-step guide here.
Don't smile while applying.
Contrary to popular belief, Compton says you shouldn't smile when applying your blush. Smiling lifts the apples of your cheeks and helps them form into plump, perky rounds—but those apples sink back to their resting place as soon as you relax, making your blush placement fall lower as a result.
She recommends applying your blush with a relaxed face; that way, you'll know exactly where to plant it to achieve a lifted, rosy glow.
Diffuse extra pigment.
We've all been there: You have too much fun with your new pot of rouge, and you apply way too much pigment. Think vibrant, '80s-inspired blush (which is making a comeback, don't get me wrong), when you wanted more of a soft glow.
To diffuse the product, Irwin has a few tricks up her sleeve. "The easiest way to fix over-application is to take a clean brush with nothing on it and then blend out," she previously told mbg. You can also bounce a clean, damp beauty blender to pull out the excess pigment or apply some concealer over the areas you want more sheer. Choose your own adventure.
There are endless ways you can apply blush—way more than this list of nine. Makeup artists do have tried-and-true tricks to nail the look you want, whether you're hoping to sculpt your cheekbones or add some fullness. Test out a few of these tutorials to find your go-to, everyday application—and have some fun switching things up.
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.