How To Wear Super-Bright Blush Without Looking Like An Embarrassed, Sunburned Clown

Even the palest among us can pull off bold cream and powder blush colors without getting recruited by Ringling Bros.
Publish date:
May 14, 2013
blushes, cream blushes, How-To, illamasqua, sleek makeup

For some strange reason, I’m totally drawn to really bright blushes. However, when I’m looking up swatches online, most of them are on women of color who say they’ve finally found blushes that show up on their skin.

Well, firstly, yay! I’m happy that retailers are starting to make colors that work for darker skin tones; but secondly, if this blush shows up on dark skin, imagine what it looks like on super-pale me...


So, today, I’m going to guide you through putting on that practically-neon cheek color in both cream and powder formulas.


I’m going to use Illamasqua Cream Blusher in Brazen as an example, because holy moly, look at that sucker! (It's the red one in that photo.)

I have two of these cream blushes, and they are beautiful and really long-wearing, so I love them, but this color needs a couple of tricks to steer me away from clown territory.

For intensely colored cream blushes, you want to use a synthetic bristle brush, because natural hairs are porous and can soak up some of the oil or water within the product, leaving it dry and impossible to blend.

Lots of people will recommend a stippling brush to use with pigmented products, but I actually like the Real Techniques contouring brush, which is a small rounded densely packed brush that can actually distribute product really heavily if you want it too. However, I like to just lightly tap it in the cream blush and put two dots on my cheeks.

With no product on your brush, blend blend blend. I like this brush over a stippling one because of how quickly you can get the product to sink into your skin, almost like a stain.

I love to wear this blush when I’ve got a blue-red lipstick on, because even though it registers on the cheeks as a flushed pink, they are in the same color family and it looks really natural--well, as natural as red lips can be. I feel they are part of my soul.

Side note: As a frequent (pretty much daily) wearer of blindingly bright lipsticks, a tip I learned recently is to reevaluate your blush once you’ve put your lipstick on. Often, the lipstick can wash you out and you might want to put a bit more on!


On the powder blush front, my key is to have two brushes on hand.

With the first one, it’s important that you like it, because that’s what you’ll do to initially put the blush on your face-area. Choose something not too dense, like the Real Techniques Blush Brush, which is honestly the softest thing you might ever touch in your life. Seriously, guys it’s like Bambi’s butt.

So lightly put some on, then use another brush you have lying around that is relatively clean (I’m not even going to pretend I have 100% clean brushes hanging around) and dust it around the edges of the blush to tone it down.

For my powder example, I’m using Sleek MakeUP’s Pixie Pink, and while its true-neon, cool-toned fuchsia looks like it might look unnatural, it is actually super-brightening and fresh faced.

With a bold blush color, I personally don’t like it on the apples of my cheeks, so I put it a bit higher up on my cheekbones. If you’re trying to steer away from clown territory, having circular blush right in the centre of your cheeks isn’t the best idea.

Plus, blush put onto the apples of your cheeks can look great when you are doing that creepy fake smile in the mirror, but as soon as you relax your face the blush drops down and can end up a whole lot closer to your mouth than you thought. So, blush on the cheekbone!

If despite all this, you still end feeling like you should be perched on a comically undersized bike, you can erase little mistakes by grabbing the brush you did your foundation with and lightly using whatever is left on the brush to soften the color.

So basically, go out and buy some makeup on a whim, on thinking you once saw someone with a really great rug in that shade of pink, on absolutely anything apart from what you think is flattering!

And then figure it out when you get home.