It may be a surprise to learn that blush, a makeup item long associated with 1980s-style glamour, is poised to make a major comeback. While lipstick or contour can’t be seen under our masks, and wearing lots of eye makeup feels like too much of a dedicated effort, blush is becoming the hero bit of makeup that can add an instant pop of color to the face.
Blush sales and searches appear to be increasing at a time when other makeup categories are not. According to new research from the data provider Semrush, blush is the third-most searched beauty product in the United States, and the data science team at Pattern, an e-commerce partner, has reported a rise in demand for blush.
Adding face color is fun, after all. “Too much time inside, without the inspiration of others and the opportunity to decorate our faces, makes it all the more fun when we can,” said Caroline Barnes, a makeup artist. She recently did a high-impact blush look around the eyes of the actress Nicola Coughlan, who stars in the Shondaland period romp “Bridgerton.”
Here, then, are some new ways to wear blush — how to choose the right color, how to apply it, and more — in the age of wearing a mask.
Brighten Your Complexion
When used strategically, blush can infuse warmth into any complexion, a much-needed boost when you’ve been indoors for months. “You can add instant brightness by adding touches of corals and pinks,” Ms. Barnes said.
To warm up a complexion, she suggests applying it in a soft circular shape over the apples of your cheeks.
“If a complexion doesn’t have enough life, there are so many ways to wear it,” said Katie Jane Hughes, a makeup artist who works with Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. One of Ms. Hughes’s favorite techniques is to go for a “super-blushy look,” making it the focus of your entire makeup look.
With mask wearing, blush has moved up, above the mask line, closer to the eyes and on the tops of cheekbones. “The old way that I used to do it has become new again,” said the makeup artist Sandy Linter, who wrote the book “Disco Beauty” and did makeup for Diana Ross, Jerry Hall and Jackie O. “It’s high up on the cheekbone, and then it swings into like a C shape into the temples. Make sure you blend it, so it doesn’t look that obvious.”
Ms. Barnes has also been using maximum blush and taking inspiration from the ’70s and ’80s, extending color over the eye socket and sweeping it up toward the temples. “You can use the same shade over your entire lid or wash the blush over your usual eye shadow, either way works,” she said.
Ms. Hughes has been taking an equally retro approach, sweeping blush over the eyes and brow instead of doing a complicated eye makeup look. “I think of it like a soft little accent in an ’80s kind of way, all the way up into the eye and the brow,” she said.
Opt for Monochromatic Themes
Another modern touch for those who aren’t blush averse: Choose your blush and coordinate the rest of your makeup look to it. “Pick whatever your color is, and make the blush and everything else match,” said Ms. Hughes, who recently experimented with a bright pink style. “Then just do loads of lashes. It’s so chic and simple but impactful because it’s harmonious.”
Mix and Match Your Colors
The great thing about blush is that choosing the right color isn’t hard, and the new style of blush favors the bold. Chiao Li Hsu, another makeup artist, said that there are no rules when it comes to color, and she works with neon yellows or vivid reds when applying blush over the apples of the cheeks and up into the eye sockets.
“You can use any color,” Ms. Hsu said. She is also a fan of using draping techniques, taking deeper pinks and reds under the eyes and over the cheeks.
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“It’s fun to play with several shades and textures of pink to make a monochromatic look more exciting and to add a bit of depth,” she said.
Other makeup artists like to mix multiple colors to get a custom look. “Enhance your bone structure by using a tone a couple of shades darker than your skin tone, mixed with a nude hue,” Ms. Barnes said.
Choose a Texture, and a Tool
Today’s blushes come in many textures — cream, powder, liquid. When wearing a mask, a liquid tint that dries down is the most transfer-proof option. But you can also use blush to change the texture of your complexion overall.
“Cream is great for dry skin,” Ms. Barnes said. “And powder for oily skin as a rule, but it’s personal preference. Natural makeup works well with creams, but with powder you can be more direct on where you place it, and it tends to last longer.”
Ms. Linter prefers to play with multiple textures. “You can wear both textures at once and layer,” she said. But the tool is just as important as the texture you choose. Opt for a sponge when using creams; fingers work fine with liquids; and use a brush for powders.
“Brushes are very, very important,” she said. “Some big, soft brushes are very ineffective. They don’t do anything. For blush, you need to have a pretty full-sized brush, but it needs to be a little on the firm side so that when you hit your skin, it controls the powder and keeps it so you can spread it correctly in the right place.”
Blend, but Not Too Much
Blending is the key to making blush modern, but not so much that you overdo it and lose the color.
“If I’m watching people put makeup on and they’re not fans of blush, I can always tell because they’ll apply it and then ferociously rub it in,” Ms. Hughes said. “What ends up happening is they rub it off as they’re blending it in. Just pick up a tiny bit, apply it slowly. You shouldn’t see the payoff immediately. You should see it gradually.”
At the end of the day, however, Ms. Hughes cautions that there are really no strict rules with blush. “If you like an actual cheek moment, do it,” she said. “If you like a high-up-into-the-temples moment, you should do that. Experiment to see what you like.”
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