Cheek-to-Chic: Blush Basics for Achieving a Natural Glow

Nabbed in a bare-faced lie, a distressed blush marks the hilt of humiliation. But cosmetics experts say that's just the natural, red-in-the-face shade you should try to mimic when you make up your cheeks. Want to see the shade without the chagrin? A light workout will give you the healthy, flushed look that your makeup should mirror.

Here's the how-to for blushing beautifully, from two renowned experts:

  • One type that fits all. Powder blushes are perfect for any skin type, for their ease of application and ability to blend, says Paula Begoun, self-characterized "cosmetics cop" and author of The Beauty Bible. Begoun is less whole-hearted about the other blush types — liquids, gels, creams, cream-to-powders and sticks — which, she says, tend to streak on all but the most flawless of skin types.
  • Figure out which color will compliment, not clash. Go for the tried-and-true colors, not the trendy hues, Begoun recommends. And remember, neutral equals natural. One color's "foolproof," according to makeup maven Begoun. That color is a gently golden, tannish-type brown. And for darker skin tones, go with a deeper golden brown. Be sure, too, to choose a common color family for your lipstick and your blush — and carefully avoid colors that could clash. (See Bobbi Brown's Palette Picks.)
  • Apply your blush with the right kind of brush. In her book Bobbi Brown Beauty Evolution, cosmetics authority Brown puts it bluntly: "The first thing you should do when you bring home a new blush is to throw away that little brush that came with it." They're skinny and leave a stripe, Brown warns. Instead, go with a soft, fluffy brush that spreads the makeup over your skin.
  • Target your blush to all the right places. Keep blush to your cheekbones — across the full cheek — and away from your eyes, Begoun directs. Start behind the laugh line, brushing downward and back toward the center of your ear. Then soften blunt edges with a makeup sponge.
  • To take your blush from everyday to elegant. To dress up your healthy glow for evening, add a blush that is a little on the brighter side, recommends Bobbi Brown, and wear it higher on your cheekbone.

Whether healthy or hot is the look you want, doing blush right is so easy it's embarrassing — whether you're a beginner blusher or cosmetics connoisseur, you can expertly avoid the streaked, striped cheeks that are anything but chic.

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