Over the past year, I’ve found myself wearing less makeup. It could be the influence of working in an office where most of my colleagues come to work makeup-free; or that I’ve become acutely aware that this is probably the best my skin is ever going to look, so I might as well make the most of it; or the quite obvious realization that the less time it takes me to get ready in the morning, the more time I can spend in bed—but whatever the reason, I’ve been on a delightful journey toward requiring less to feel “done.”
But as much as I’ve been enjoying my minimalist-ish makeup routine, there have been days where I’ve craved a little something extra. I imagine this is the same feeling that Lipstick People get when they’re not wearing any, only to swipe some on and feel reinvigorated in an instant. I am not a lipstick wearer, but I’m happy to report that my own solution came to me a few months ago, when a friend I thought never wore makeup pledged her love for blush. Suddenly a montage of her rosy cheeks ran through my mind and blush, I realized, is exactly what I’d been looking for.
Since then, I’ve been using blush as my own personal cherry-on-top whenever my mascara+brows+concealer combination isn’t feeling quite special enough. On days I’m feeling exhausted or especially ugh, an almost unnoticeable tap of blush to the tops of my cheeks is enough to make me feel temporality revived. On Saturday nights, where I might have once reached for an eye shadow palette, I’m happy to go for a coral cream blush instead—creating a certified makeup look with a single product and my fingertips. Blush is makeup minimalism at its finest and—dare I say—prettiest.
Of course, blush never really went anywhere but, for a lot of people, it still hasn’t shaken its grandma reputation, or at the very least, it doesn’t come across as a product you can have very much fun with. But there’s more to blush than barely-there Cloudpaint, I assure you. Below are three looks, brought to life by makeup artist Mollie Gloss, that prove blush is the only product that can take you from fresh-out-of-the-shower flush, to sun-kissed, to beauty-editorial chic without a even a swipe of bronzer or touch of glitter.
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For anyone who thought blush was just for cheeks.
“Start by centering your blush on the apples of your cheeks, then extend the color up under your eyes and lightly across your nose,” says Mollie. Using a liquid blush like Armani Neo Nude A-Blush #53 allows you to carefully layer the color, making it hard to accidentally go overboard. Choosing a liquid formula over a powder also helps maintain a natural glassy skin look, while lasting just as long on the skin as powder, so your pink cheeks stick around way past sundown.
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For anyone who wants to hop off the highlighter local train and jump onto the blush express.
“Starting on the outside corner of your eye; blend up, out, and down using a fluffy brush like the Sigma Beauty F03 High Cheekbone Highlighter brush,” says Mollie. “Start with a light layer of blush and gradually build, keeping your application light and even, until you’ve reached your desired shade. Make sure you check your makeup from a mirror that’s at least an arm’s length away, so you can check the symmetry between the two sides and make sure your color application looks even.” If you have a deep skin tone like Halimotu, Mollie suggests looking for intensely pigmented blush, like Sunnie’s Face Airblush in Disco. Bright red, orange, and berry tones will stay true to color when applied on deep skin without ever looking ashy.
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For anyone who wishes they could keep their natural post-stairs, post-embarrassing story, post-bath flush—without actually having to do any of the above.
This blush look sits below the cheekbones giving you that truly flustered-in-a-cute-but-not-sweaty-way look. Start by tapping a cream blush like Milk Makeup Lip + Cheek stick in Perk on to the apples of your cheeks with your fingers or a kabuki brush—this dabbing application method keeps the color looking bright. From there, continue to lightly dab the product below the apples in an upside-down triangle shape, basically applying the product anywhere your cheeks feel soft and fleshy. “If you want a more pulled-together flushed look, you can also add some of the product to the center of your lips,” says Mollie.
If you need any more convincing that blush—and blush alone—is the best makeup look, I’m afraid I just don’t know what to tell you. I genuinely haven’t believed in the power of a single product this much since teen-me first swiped on mascara, so I’m expecting this new love affair to be just as, if not more, memorable.
Do you have more blush application tips? Product recommendations? Makeup suggestions? I’m all cheeks—see you in the comments.
Photographer: Sabrina Santiago
Stylist: Harling Ross
Art Direction: Tiffany Wilkinson
Market: Elizabeth Tamkin
Makeup: Mollie Gloss
Hair: Rachel Leidig
Models: Keturah at Muse NYC, Layla at Fenton Models, Halimotu at Official Models NY.