As warm spring days arrive, and TikTok highlights the face-transforming powers of a hint of rouge, there’s a lot of renewed intrigue around how to apply blush. When it comes to making it look like it’s your own natural, rosy glow, it must appear as if you “just left SoulCycle,” insists makeup artist Sir John, the man behind Beyoncé’s equal parts luminous and bulletproof makeup. From creating a supercharged canvas to choosing an easy, melts-right-in formula, here, Sir John and other in-demand pros share their secrets for how to apply blush and achieve a flush-from-within finish.
Create a Dewy Canvas
When it comes to getting HD camera-ready, all experts agree that smooth, hydrated skin is essential. Massaging in a moisturizer or a hydrating primer is a non-negotiable first step if mattifying is a priority. For “maximum hydration,” makeup artist Naoko Scintu recommends beginning with a sheet mask as another option. But Sir John likes to take things a step further by pressing another layer of moisturizer onto the face after foundation, so the blush really vanishes into the skin. “The best time to apply blush is when the skin is still wet,” he explains. “The extra layer of hydration makes it softer.”
Choose a Smooth, Shade-Matched Formula
“Use blush shades that are no more than two to three shades darker than your natural [flushed] tone; otherwise, you will find it difficult to blend,” says Scintu. For more dimension, she likes to use a darker hue on the inner cheeks, then graduate outward with a lighter complementary option. In terms of color, fair and cool complexions should look to more muted shades, like baby pink or peachy pink, while deeper, warmer complexions can go brighter.
So long as the skin was prepped to be smooth and supple, when it comes to texture, a cream, like Rare Beauty’s Melting Cream, or liquid stain blush, such as Benefit’s Benetint Cheek & Lip Stain, tends to be best for a second-skin look. “They give the most natural, non-cosmetic effect, adding an awoken quality to the skin,” says makeup artist Romy Soleimani, who counts Tracee Ellis Ross and Cara Delevingne as clients. However, for Beyoncé’s “Teflon face,” Sir John always adds a veil of powder for additional color payoff and staying power.
Blend, and Blend Some More
“I like to start in with cream blush on my fingers so you can really feel your cheeks, with an added bonus of creating a natural flush through circulation,” explains Soleimani, adding that she’ll use a small fluffy brush, like Westman Atelier’s Baby Blender brush, to blend the edges in a circular motion.
After application, she suggests concealing the area around the sides of the nose to further diffuse discoloration. “It will help make you look like you’re naturally blushing, as opposed to blush sitting on top of your skin,” she says. For a “sunburn blush” effect, you can also add a light wash of blush on the bridge of the nose. “It gives an effortless summer feeling as if you were laying out for a few hours and then quickly got changed for dinner,” says Nina Park, the makeup artist behind Hailey Bieber’s signature sun-flushed glow.
In the interest of capitalizing on a glassy complexion, Sir John uses a plush sponge blender, like L’Oréal’s Infallible Blend Artist Foundation Blender, before administering whisper-light strokes that “kiss” the skin with a brush for the powder, working it from the apples of the cheeks outward, then toward the temples and down to the center of the chest for all-over warmth.
Finish With Luster
Because cream highlighter takes blush to the next level, when Soleimani uses RMS Beauty Living Luminizer on the high planes of the face, she also infuses it with a skin-care emollient, like Weleda Skin Food, for extra glow. Scintu blends a dewy elixir, like Glow Recipe’s Watermelon Glow Dew Drops on the cheekbones and down the bridge of the nose for a light-catching strobe. For a fresh, final layer that sets everything into place,
Sir John mists on Caudalie’s Beauty Elixir, a cocktail of toning rose extract, rejuvenating rosemary oil, and hydrating orange flower water. “You want the skin to be as supple as possible,” he says. “It adds more luster.”