7 Tricks to Instantly Update Your Blush Game

Janell M. Hickman
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There’s no need to get embarrassed about wanting to score a subtle—or dramatic—flush for fall. That said, the idea of blush often drums up images of the ’80s in all the wrong ways. Blush shouldn’t get a bad rap just for its historical ties: it can make you look younger, brighter-eyed, and, well, healthier in just a few swipes. We tapped a few experts to give us some insight on how to get cheeky in 2015, sans that blush-inducing middle school crush.

Step aside, bronzer.
Sadly, the summer is coming to a close, which means we’re facing the depressing reality that our golden glows are on the brink of fading away. This is where blush comes in—it can pick up where your warm-weather bronzer left off. As Elizabeth Arden Global Makeup Artist Rebecca Restrepo says, blush is being used differently than it has in the past. Blush used to be something one applied with a heavy hand but now, Restrepo notes, “It’s just a subtle veil of color. Think the slightest touch of natural color for your tone of skin—like a kiss of natural shading on the face.”

Find the perfect shade—it’s easy.
As pretty as it looks in the pan, the hot pink blushes we always think we want are not necessarily your friend when you’re going for a low-key flush rather than a statement look. “There are no rules [for finding your exact match], but use your natural lip color as a guide,” explains Kate O’Brien, founder of Alima Pure. “Rub your lips together until they’re flushed, then simply match a blush to the tone that stands out.” It’s easy, so you have no excuse for opting for a shade that just doesn’t work for you. Fair warning!

MORE: The Best Blush for Different Skin Tones

Consider your placement.
The quickest way to look outdated is applying blush haphazardly rather than with a technique that works to flatter and enhance your bone structure. Celebrity makeup artist Lavonne Anthony recommends following the hollow groove beneath your cheekbone up from the apple of your cheek to the outer corner of the eye—basically, it’s a diagonal line. “Don’t apply further in than the iris of your eye or further out than the end of the eyebrow,” Anthony warns. Then, “with your blush brush, lightly tap off excess if you’re using powder, or do a light swipe on your hand if using cream. Place the brush on your cheek and move it in a figure-8 direction from the apple to the end of the brow, taking the color halfway up the cheek.”

Put the rest of your face on first.
If you have any confusion as to where to begin with your makeup, know that foundation goes first. Why? “Your skin must look even in tone so that you can place the brush accordingly,” Restrepo explains. “You don’t want any discoloration [to compete with your look] while trying to achieve healthy, radiant skin.

MORE: Blush That Actually Withstands a Pool Party

Not all blush brushes are created equal.
Rather than reaching for whatever you have on hand, O’Brien says that it’s crucial to use a brush that’s intended for blush application. “The bristles,” she says, “are generally longer and less dense than a foundation or powder brush. Plus, the bristles are soft enough to gently add a pop of color just where it’s needed.”

Yes, you really need blush.
“Blush is necessary because it helps accentuate and balance the face when wearing makeup,” Anthony explains. “It completes the look.” As for which formula you should choose, he says, “To look youthful and flushed, try a cream blush, as they tend to melt and blend beautifully.” Anthony also recommends avoiding red or brick-colored shades, which can make you look aged or dated. (That’s how the ’80s happened.)

Reverse over application.
“If you have applied too much blush an easy way to soften is to use a sponge and lightly pat off the blush,” explains Restrepo. “Also, if you use a brush for concealer or foundation, use whatever is remaining on the brush (do not add additional concealer or foundation to brush) to just lightly go over the blush area to soften the tone. If you happen to use setting powder you can use a light touch on top of the excess blush to soften even more.”