Blush Is the Hidden Gem in Your Makeup Bag

The word “contouring” has developed quite the reputation — it began as medieval stage makeup, but it’s best known today after years of the so-called “Kardashian Effect” (chiseled cheeks, defined noses, and pointy chins). At its most basic definition, “contouring is an umbrella term for shading and highlighting,” Los Angeles-based makeup artist Jamie Greenberg tells Allure

Still, doing an entire contoured look daily may be too severe for some people’s style preference — or it could just take too long. Luckily, contouring doesn’t require a number of palettes to sculpt facial features and brighten skin — all you need is blush

“It looks more modern and brings life to the face,” says Holly Gowers, a New York City-based makeup artist. Gowers tells Allure that she considers blush to be one of her favorite products in any makeup kit. Cheery shades of coral, rosy pink, and punchy watermelon-red are a fresher take on intense contouring products, and they do the same job with strategic placement. 

Meet the experts:

  • Jamie Greenberg, a makeup artist based in Los Angeles.
  • Jillian Dempsey, a makeup artist and owner of her eponymous beauty line based in Los Angeles.
  • Holly Gowers, a makeup artist based in New York City.
  • Nydia Figueroa, owner of Faces By Nydia Makeup Studio in Cedar Grove, New Jersey.
  • Nick Lujan, director of artistry and education at Kevyn Aucoin Beauty based in New York City.
  • Delina Medhin, a makeup artist based in New York City.

Use a Powder Blush

Though you can use any formula of blush you favor, including cream, stick, or liquid, the pros prefer a powder. “A powder can be used in a more natural or dramatic way without much effort,” Nydia Figueroa, a makeup artist and the owner of Faces By Nydia Makeup Studio in Cedar Grove, New Jersey. “It also stays put when applied so you won’t have to worry about it losing its shape as the day goes on.” She recommends the PÜR Cosmetics Skin Perfecting Powder Blushing Act. The E.L.F. Powder Blush Palette is also a solid affordable option.

Pür Minerals Blushing Act Skin Perfecting Powder

Powder Blush Palette

Apply the Blush Just Underneath Your Cheekbones

“[Blush] is a great way to lift cheekbones,” says Figueroa.To do this, Los Angeles-based makeup artist Jillian Dempsey recommends starting by sucking in your cheeks to create a fish-face, which helps you locate your cheekbones. “Then using a finger or contour brush, apply blush using quick, light strokes from the ear area to mid-cheek just under the cheekbones and keep blending until you see definition,” adds Dempsey.

Makeup artist Nick Lujan, who is also the director of artistry and education at Kevyn Aucoin Beauty, says that the blush should be “blended along the underside of the cheekbone and fades upward.” Once you see the definition along your cheekbones, Dempsey suggests swooping a bit of blush over the rounds of your cheeks in a half-moon shape. “Think of it like a stretched-out horizontal ‘V’ shape,” she says. “Start by [your] ears, and blend!”