Build Your Blush
Bright red lipstick has always had the power to dress up your face instantly. But if you want to be a tad more subtle than a fire truck, blush has got to be your go-to girl at the dresser. Intrepid reader, I experienced this firsthand when I moved cities at the height of the gloomy season. I wanted something to help my face look awake for 9 am classes and M.A.C came to my rescue with Prism – an enlivening pale peach powder blush. One of my other favourites is Clinique’s Blushing Blush in Iced Lotus – a dusty pink that somehow brings to mind the ethereal glow found in old lithographs of Hindu goddesses. I found that others were using the same trick when I walked into a friend’s bathroom to find more pots of blush than shower products. When a make-up artist friend introduced me to NARS, I instantly fell in love with Orgasm, the most iconic of their shades, a flattering shimmery peach name-checked by every porcelain beauty worth looking at. But on darker skin, it’s a little difficult to spot, translating as a golden sheen on your cheekbones, so I was advised to go with Torrid, a deeper peach pick that became my default brightener for the longest time.
With the advent of bronzer, a whole wave of Indian women abandoned their rouge for the tan-boosting staple. We’ve been stuck in the rut for a while now, and in the meantime, blush has gone from accent product to the star of the face. All you need to perk up your face is a radiant flush and cosmetics giants are giving you what you want, with every formula under the sun. Meeting with a professional from the world of beauty the other day, I was admonished for not having any make-up on – I protested, even naming the shade of blush for her, but then I looked around and noticed that everyone else in the room was quite literally in the pink of health. I returned home absolutely resolute that I was going to change up my game plan and walk away from my bright lipstick comfort zone.
The first formula I auditioned was the crèmes, which are the best they’ve ever been – I’ve found earlier versions to dry too fast, with a streaky finish, despite frantic blending and stretching. Not so the newest crèmes – some, like the ones from M.A.C, go on almost liquid, melting into the face with the most dewy finish. Others, like the cream formula Chanel introduced last year, are meant to be stroked on with the fingertips, softly building colour in an organic way. Both are great for summer, staying put through the most strenuous days.
Liquid formulas have been around for a while but they are the trickiest to apply. Gels are a little more flexible and from Tarte to Josie Maran, brands are blowing us out of the water with the perfect colour for steamy summers. Estée Lauder Pure Color Cello Shots stand out with their packaging – a tiny pump bottle in the same shade as the blush, with a gilded top, marrying the classic aesthetic of the brand to the modern drama of the product. Perfect for applying over the BB and CC creams that are so ideal for when you don’t want powder to clog up your pores, the light gel goes on sheer, to create a stunning glow with a pop of vibrant colour as your skin catches the light. Smashbox O-Glow is another unique gel – clear when it comes out of the tube, it reacts with your skin to create the shade that you would blush naturally.
Powder blushes have altered dramatically – multi-shade bricks and pearls are still lovely, but the ombré blush is perfect for creating a multi-dimensional wash of colour that flatters to the extreme. Go for pearly sheen, not glitter, when you’re picking a shimmery blush. Application has changed too – earlier, you’d dip a brush in, swipe across your cheekbone and blend with circular movements. The most popular way to add a flush now is with feather-light side-to-side strokes, building lightly on the apples of the cheeks and tapering away towards the temples. The idea is to concentrate colour on where your skin would flush naturally, after a bout of exertion, creating a youthful and healthy look.
Build cheekbones by brushing blush on the bottom edge of the apples of your cheeks and blending upwards. Just because you’re highlighting your cheeks doesn’t mean you forget your lipstick at home – a pop of blush on a bare face is quite out of place. Mix up textures by using a matte lipstick with glossy cheeks, so as to not overwhelm the look. Build your blush palette now for a fun and flirty summer.