Blush is used to highlight and accentuate your cheeks, whereas bronzers are used to add a healthy sun-kissed glow to the entire face that makes you look younger. The two can be worn together, with bronzer always applied before blush.
Types of Blush
Blush comes in four different textures.
Powder blush is the most popular format because it works well with all skin types, particularly those which are a little on the oily side. It's also the easiest to control and use - simply dust a small amount onto your cheeks with a soft brush and build slowly until you have the right level of colour.
Creme blush is colour pigment set in a creme base which provides a fresh, dewy finish for a bright, natural glow. It works well on dry skin because it slides easily over the surface, but avoid it if your skin is oily or you have large pores as creme blush will accentuate them. Apply it before powder so that it blends more easily. Use your fingers or a sponge to smooth it into the skin.
Gel blush is colour pigment in a silicon base which provides a sheer, translucent glow. It's long lasting and very natural looking. Again, use your fingers or a sponge and apply it before powder.
Liquid blush is a "stain" which is applied like gel blush, but because of it's staining quality it must be blended quite quickly. It is waterproof and will last all day. Apply and blend with sponge or fingers.
Blushes can also be matte or shimmer. Anyone with mature skin or facial scars should avoid shimmer finishes as they tend to draw attention to fine lines.
Blush General Application Rules
Never use blush to contour or shape the face - that's the job of foundation and powder. The purpose of blush is to add colour and life to the skin.
Colour should be applied directly onto your cheekbones. Here's how to find them:
- Place your index finger in the centre of the apple of your cheek.
- Place your thumb at the top of the ear where it connects to your head.
- Bring your thumb towards your index finger and the bone you feel is your cheekbone.
For powder blush, start by your ear and sweep the colour forward and then back again to blend. This will make the area near the ear the most intense and give your face more dimension.
Applying blush over bronzer can give your cheeks a wonderful glow. However, make sure the blush is sheer or the end result will look quite unnatural.
For creme, liquid or gel blush, dot a little onto the apples of your cheeks and blend back towards the ears. These formats work better than powder if you don't wear foundation as the moisture in them blends more easily into the natural moisture in your skin. To increase their staying power, add a light dusting of powder after application and then apply powder blush over top.
For any blush, try to match the texture of your foundation - creme blush on creme foundation, powder blush on powder foundation, etc.
Blush Application Tips
- Be careful not to use too much blush in the winter to compensate for lack of a tan. Bronzer will provide a more natural effect.
- To determine which colour of blush is right for you, try a short burst of energetic exercise and match your blush colour to your cheeks' natural flush. Your objective is to find a colour that natural and neutral but still brightens. Regardless of skin tone, the best blush for you is one that looks soft and natural, and adds just the right amount of healthy glow without being overdone.
- For ivory and beige skin tones, choose a blush with soft pink undertones. However, if your skin is mature, switch to something a little more peachy to warm and enhance your cheeks.
- For olive skin tones, use blush with warm undertones that have more of an intensity to them so that they show up on the skin - tawny cinnamon or sunny copper.
- For ebony or bronze skin tones, shades of apricot or paprika will give your skin a warm, natural glow. For more drama, try something with brick red or red-brown undertones.
- Don't compensate for a shade that's too dark by only applying a small amount of colour, as it won't last throughout the day.
- Match the intensity of the blush to the rest of your face. For example, if your lipstick is bold and strong, then lighten up on the blush. On the other hand, if you're wearing a more muted shade, then up the colour intensity of your cheeks.
- If you have oily skin, use powder blush. Apply it over a powder foundation or a translucent powder to avoid it going on blotchy.
- Apply your colour lightly and slowly build to the degree of colour you want. If you over apply, try toning it down with a bit of foundation powder.
- Keep separate brushes for bronzer and blush because it keeps the colours purer.
- Lipstick can act as a blush. (But never use blush as a lipstick.)
Types of Bronzers
Face bronzers come in both creme and powder forms. You can also purchase overall body bronzer sprays or liquids that are either temporary (like regular makeup) or permanent (i.e. sunless tanning solutions). In this section I will be talking about face bronzer products only.
Powder bronzer is the most popular format, because like blush it works well on all skin types and is the easiest to apply and control. It can be found in pressed or loose format.
Creme bronzers can be purchased in stick or compact formats. It works well on dry skin, but women with oily skin are better off using the powder version.
Bronzer General Application Rules
As with everything else, start lightly and slowly increase the amount of product on your face in thin layers until you have the coverage and colour you're looking for. With bronzers, a little goes a long way and so you don't want to use too much or parts of your face will look unnaturally dark compared to the rest of you.
Remember, you're going for a natural sun kissed glow, so it shouldn't be obvious that you've put bronzer on your face. This means highlighting all the areas on your face where the sun normally shines (forehead, cheeks, nose and chin) and blending well. If you go too heavy or fail to blend properly it will be obvious to other people that you've put bronzer on your face and you don't want them thinking you're a little too contrived and/or that you're trying too hard.
To accentuate your bone structure, you can apply lightly along the outer edges of your face and onto your cheekbones, which will give your face the illusion of being thinner. You can also lightly sculpt the nose and chin. However, DON'T OVERDO IT! A little bit of product will make your face look a little bit thinner, but a lot of product won't make your face look a lot thinner. It will, however, make you look like a clown.
If you've not used bronzer before but would like to try it, start with a powder format and apply it with a powder brush. Creme bronzers are a little trickier as placement and blending need to be quite precise in order for it to look natural. Creme bronzers can be applied with either your fingers or a sponge.
Bronzer Application Tips
- If you're light skinned and bronzer powders and cremes look too bold on you, pressed powder may be an alternative as it has a lower pigment level and blends well.
- When applying bronzer to the cheeks, start at the back of the cheekbone and sweep forward and then back in the opposite direction to blend.
- Sweeping bronzer up around the temples and eye sockets can really make your eyes pop, particularly if they're green or blue.
- Because your skin colour changes with the season, you may need a lighter bronzer colour in the winter.
- For best results, choose a shade that's no more than two shades darker than your regular skin.
- Peach or pink bronzers look nice on fair skin. Copper shades work on olive skin and darker shades work on darker skin. Avoid orange shades, which can look unnatural.
- If your bronzer by itself appears somewhat dull, apply blush to the apples of your cheeks.