My first experience applying make-up as a young girl still makes me blush. Literally. In the chaos preceding a ballet recital, I applied blush myself rather than waiting for one of the busy parents to do it. My proud excitement at the accomplishment was soon smashed when another girl’s mother compared my pink face to that of a monkey’s rear end.

Applying blush is a basic but important cosmetic technique. It can mean the difference between looking sickly pale and radiating that healthy glow that makes you look good even if you don’t feel good. Another critical benefit of blush is that it can change the appearance of too much or too little volume in the cheeks, making cheek-bones look higher and the cheeks themselves more or less hollow, depending on the desired end result.

Choosing the right color for you depends on the shade of your skin. If you have fair skin with cool undertones, you may want to use a light pink blush. If you have warm tones and olive colored skin, I prefer an orange-based blush. If you are unsure of what color to use, pick a color that matches your face after a strenuous work out.

Blush Area 1

To apply blush evenly, I recommend using a round tipped full brush or angled cheek brush. Pick up some blush color with your brush and shake off any excess powder. This is where you often see professional make up artists tapping a table with their brushes. Shaking off this excess will allow you to apply blush more evenly.

Find the “apple” of your cheeks by smiling. Start from the top of where your ears are located and in a straight, slanting motion, brush down to the middle of your cheeks.

Blush diaghramTip: Do not pass the inner corner of your eye or your nose.

However, if parts of your face are a little more sunken, you can extend your brush strokes to that area. This will help highlight that area and give a plumper appearance.

Apply just one or two strokes for day outings, but more at night. If you feel as though you have applied too much, use your compact pad and press it gently against your cheeks a few times. You can also use translucent powder. This will soften the color and give it a more natural look. If you still need more color after blush application, use bronzer and run the brush across the top of your forehead before dabbing the tip of your nose and chin. This provides a warm, sun kissed appearance. To avoid creating streaks, keep your strokes light.

Powder blush is great for oily or combination skin, and cream blush is good for dry skin. For more mature skin, try using cream blush. It blends better than powder. If you are using cream, dab tiny dots on the apple of your cheeks and up your cheek bones. Blend it all together in a circular motion up to your hairline.

These are just general tips in applying blush. As you get more familiar with its application, try playing around with different techniques to find the right one for you. As with all cosmetics, the goal is to look natural! In future entries, Dr. Chow will discuss cosmetic options for the cheeks, including skin treatments, various fillers and the liquid facelift technique to enhance cheek bones, fill cheeks that are too hollow, and treat darkly pigmented skin.


Annie Lee is an aesthetic consultant at the Chow Center for Facial Plastic Surgery. Her blog entries appear weekly on Monday mornings and focus on treatments you can do at home. She has no financial relationships with any of the products or companies mentioned in this article.