Get the perfect flush with these easy-to-apply creams, sticks and powders.
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This is part of our weekly series Test Drive, where our team of beauty experts demystify products and tools, and explore new techniques IRL.

If you’re looking to freshen up your face for your next Zoom meeting, the answer might be as simple as swiping on a little bit of blush. According to celebrity makeup artist Juliette Perreux, that’s because blush makes your skin look flushed and awake. “Blush instantly brightens your face and gives the appearance of health and happiness,” Perreux says. I’ll be the first to admit that I sometimes question if I’m applying blush correctly. My biggest concern is not looking like a clown, but I also want to add enough color to get that perfect flush. Here are five quick tips I learned for how to choose the right blush and how to properly apply it.

best blush
Credit: Courtesy of Samantha Driscoll

Pick Your Format

There are many different forms of blush available: creams, liquids, powders, sticks, you name it. Choosing between every option seems overwhelming, but you can simplify your choice based on the type of foundation you wear and the finish you want. If you want more of a dewy look, try using a cream or liquid blush. For more of a matte look, reach for a powder, Young says. “If you are breaking out and need a more matte full coverage foundation, a powder blush is easiest as it won’t disturb the foundation underneath and will maintain the coverage,” Perreux says. Cream blush gives you a nice sheen and tends to be the easiest to apply since you can blend them out with your fingers. If you want a little bit more staying power, try using a liquid or stain. Both are good options if you wear a face mask regularly because they won’t rub off.

Apply On the Apple of Your Cheek

The first trick to apply blush correctly is to always smile when applying for proper placement, says celebrity makeup artist, Tai Young. “Start at the apple of the cheek and drag the brush to your hairline slightly above your ear in an angled motion.” To avoid blush appearing too heavy in any one place, make sure that the color is evenly distributed. “I love to apply my blush almost in the same area as highlighter, from the apple of the cheek and upward into the cheekbone. It gives a really youthful, lifted look,” Perreux says.

Use the Right Tools

Having the proper tools will make applying and blending your blush a lot easier. If you’re using a brush, Young recommends using a rounded brush with an angled tip. I love this e.l.f. Angled Blush Brush — it’s soft enough to use with powder blushes but still firm enough to use with creams and liquids. You can also use your fingers or a sponge: whatever works for you. I like to use my fingers so I can use any excess product on my lips for an extra pop of color.

Find the Right Shade

Always look for shades that are closest to your natural undertone, Young says. “Think of yourself naturally blushing or the color you see after someone pinches your cheeks — that’s the color you want to find,” she adds. For darker skin tones, she recommends rose mauve or cinnamon blush shades.

Prevent Mask Transfer

To prevent blush and the rest of your makeup from rubbing onto the inside of your mask, Young recommends using less product. Wearing less makeup means less chance for makeup transfer. After applying your makeup, wait at least 5-10 minutes. “Then, press your face with a paper towel all over to set and push the makeup into your skin,” Young says. After that, you can put on your mask and go.

With these application tips in mind, I tested out a range of creams, powders, and liquids to find the ones that were easiest to apply and had buildable coverage. I found that liquid and cream blushes were easiest to dab onto my bare skin whenever I needed a little color refresher first thing in the morning. Read on for my picks!

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elf blush compact
Credit: Courtesy of e.l.f.

1 Best Powder Blush

These primer-infused blushes stay in place all day long. Sometimes with powders, by the end of the day, most of my product has worn off. But, the primer in this formula locks in the powder, and my blush looks perfect from morning till night. Since the blush already has shimmer, I usually skip adding extra highlighter.

Buy It: e.l.f. Primer-Infused Shimmer Blush ($6, e.l.f.)

Glossier cream blush tube
Credit: Courtesy of Glossier

2 Best Cream Blush

I use this blush every morning before my 10 a.m. Zoom meeting for work. I love how easy it is to just dab onto my cheeks, and blend out with my fingers. For a monochromatic makeup look, Perreux recommends applying the same shade of blush throughout your whole face. After I do my cheeks, I like to tap any leftover product onto my eyelids and lips. It’s the easiest look to create with just one product, and I love how fast my morning routine has become!

Buy It: Glossier Cloud Paint ($18, Glossier)

balm blush, pink
Credit: Courtesy of Trinny London

3 Best Balm Blush

I'm a big fan of how small and compact these blush pots are! They’re perfect for stashing in your bag or purse on your way out the door. Since the formula contains light-reflecting pigments, this blush doubles as my highlighter, and it can be used as a shimmery gloss over lip balm or bare lips. I use my fingers to apply and blend this blush out—a little bit goes a long way! 

Buy It: Trinny London Sheer Shimmer/Lip to Cheek ($30, Trinny London)

blush and lip stick
Credit: Courtesy of Nudestix

4 Best Stick Blush

This pencil is also super convenient for taking on-the-go (it even comes with its own sharpener). The soft, cream formula makes this blush super easy to apply and blend, but it gives a matte finish to cheeks and lips once it sets. The best part? It comes in 12 shades, so you’re sure to find one that complements your skin tone!

Buy It: Nudestix Intense Matte Lip + Cheek Pencil ($26, Nudestix)

liquid blush
Credit: Courtesy of Physicians Formula

5 Best Liquid Blush

“Liquid blush looks extremely natural when dry,” Perreux says. Whenever I feel like my skin needs a quick refresh, I like to use this blush infused with Organic Superfruits, aloe vera, and jojoba oil that nourish and revive my cheeks. It leaves my skin feeling smooth, and I like the dewy finish. Because it’s a liquid, it’s easy to blend out with a brush or my fingers. 

Buy It: Physicians Formula Organic Wear Dewy Blush Elixir ($13.50, Physicians Formula)


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