There are two types of blush out there: powder and cream. "Powder blushes is the traditional version because it's more subtle and easier to diffuse over skin," says makeup artist Troy Surratt. Verel adds that powder is also faster and easier to apply for a novice, "because you can always continue to blend and feather the product into place." We love Maybelline Fit Me Blush, $5.50.
But if you find your blush is enhancing uneven skin texture issues or exaggerating the size of your pores, you may want to consider a cream formula. They sink into skin instead of sitting right on top like a powder. Cream and gel blushes are usually more pigmented, so there's a little bit more of a learning curve, Surratt says -- but it's worth it. "They oftentimes can give dryer skin a bit of luster and radiance," Surratt says. Try Revlon PhotoReady Cream Blush, $12.99.
The array of colors of blush at the beauty counter can have some women feeling like a kid in the candy store -- and leave others a bit confused. But finding a shade that works best on your skin tone shouldn't be hard. A good rule of thumb: "The darker your skin tone, the deeper the pigment," Verel says.
Translation: lighter baby pinks look great on fair, cool complexions; warm, peachy shades flatter medium and olive skin tones; and richer rosy or red hues look like a natural flush on dark skin. But how do you know if you have warm or cool undertones? "If you have blue or green eyes, your undertones probably skew to the cooler side," Surratt says. "Brown or hazel eyes usually means you have a warmer complexion."
After you've put on your base makeup, Surratt says blush should be the very next thing you do. "It balances your face instantly, so you can assess what other makeup you might need afterwards to look fresh and awake," he says. You should apply a powder blush with a brush -- but toss the one that comes in the compact. "They're never designed to properly distribute the pigment," Verel says. Instead, look for a blush brush with synthetic bristles that are very fine and compact in a dome shape.
"It's the best investment you can make, because a quality brush will transform a drugstore powder into a luxury product," she says. Try Bobbi Brown Blush Brush, $52. Swirl the brush on the powder, tap off any excess, and dust it onto the fattest part of your cheeks, sweeping it up your cheekbones, creating the shape of a teardrop. Never use your hands -- the oils on your fingers can change the shade of the powder, Verel says.
When you should use your fingers is when applying cream blush. "Dab a dot onto the apples of your cheeks, then buff in circular motions in the same shape as you would powder," Surratt says. Just make sure you're completely happy with one cheek before moving on to the other -- creams set very fast, so there's less time to perfect the finish before it becomes completely budge-proof. And the golden rule with both formulas: always start with a little, and build up the color.