Blush is the one thing we constantly debate wearing this time of year. When the heat has gifted us with a rosy but uncomfortably sweaty tint, we have a hard time believing that additional color will hide whatever the weather just slapped across our face. Of course, we have face mists, lightweight moisturizers, and other cooling products to take care of the perspiration and redness part, but what about evening out or at least complementing our skin’s natural hue?
As with most products, making the most of your blush truly lies in the type of formula you choose, how it’s applied, and whether it’s the best option, given your skin type and the impending heat. That’s a lot to take in and consider, so we asked Ashlee Glazer, celebrity makeup artist and Laura Geller global artistic director, to break it all down for us.
Powder vs. Cream
The first obvious difference between powder and cream blushes is the texture. Whereas the former is lighter and softer to the touch, creams are generally heavier, thicker, and easier to build upon. And because their formulas are so different, deciding what works best for you depends partly on your skin’s most prominent traits (or “skin type”).
Glazer says that for those with normal/combination skin (i.e., skin that experiences the occasional breakout or seasonal excess oil), it doesn’t matter whether you wear cream or powder.
However, “if you have acne, textured, or super oily skin, use powder formulas, so the shine from the cream doesn’t pick up more texture, and the oil in your skin won’t mix with the cream, making you greasy. Use a powder blush with an illuminating finish for that soft glow,” she says.
If you want to avoid looking too muddy or cakey, try layering both textures. But be sure to add a sheer layer of translucent powder to the skin beforehand, so your coverage has lasting power. As for drier skin, a liquid blush is best since it provides the same soft texture as a heavier cream, while still feeling lightweight.
According to Glazer, the “two-finger rule” applies to both powders and creams. “Place two fingers on the side of the nose, and begin the application against your pointer finger,” she says. This will keep you from going overboard and placing blush all over the face, instead of the places where color or highlight is needed.
From there, the process changes, depending on your formula. It’s best to apply powder blushes with a small, soft, dome-shaped brush, swiping away from the face in soft wisps, as opposed to a harsh back and forth. For creams, you can ditch the tools and use your fingers (throw a stippling brush into the mix, if you’ve got anxiety about germs).
“After your foundation and concealer is on, dab a bit of cream either with your fingers or a small stippling brush. Work in small baby circles from the same starting place as the powder,” she says.
From the starting point—your pointer finger—swipe the powder or cream in a direction that best suits your face shape:
Oval: “You want to add width, so keep blush within range of the tops of your ears, and dust on the chin and hairline to contour.”
Round: ” Brush in an upward angle to and from the temples. This will chisel your features instead of looking too full in the face.”
Square: “High cheekbones to soften the angles of your face, hairline, and slightly under the nose.”
Heart: “Apply to apples of cheeks. This will balance out your bone structure, and hairline—leave out the chin.”
Blush for the Season
So, you know the difference between powders and creams, as well as how to apply each one according to your face shape, but is one better suited for the summer season? According to Glazer, there is no clear winner because both carry an equal set of pros and cons.
“Cream could be too heavy in real humid weather, but it’s super hydrating and gives a glow. Powder is great in the summertime, but can look heavy in the sun.”
But don’t take this too literally; like all makeup, finding what works for you will require a test run or two, so you can really live in a product and decide whether it’s both weatherproof and flattering to your face. Also, remember that blush makes for a great multitasker when you want to save time and money. Just be sure that whatever brand you’re using is safe enough to use beyond the cheeks.
“Laura and I love using blush as an eyeshadow!,” says Glazer, whose go-to is the Laura Geller Blush-n-Brighten. “Because the baked formulas are paraben- and mineral-oil-free, they are safe for the eye area. This saves you time and gives a supermodel glow all over.”
Also, remember that pinks and peaches aren’t one-color-fits-all. Once you’ve determined the best blush color according to your skin’s undertones, peruse some of the top-selling cream and powder options ahead.