My blush journey has spanned many years – I have a ‘high colour’ complexion so the majority of cheek colours register as clowny, sunburnt or muddy on my skintone. Only recently have I developed an eye for blushers that are flattering and once I assembled my favourites, four themes emerged: biscuity/bronze shades, quasi-highlight formulas, dusty tones and pastel hues.
Whether you are naturally flushed or simply struggle to find a flattering blush (rhymes, ha!), hopefully you can find some insight within this post 🙂
Biscuit & Bronze Shades
If you favour bronzer but would like to further explore blush, a biscuity or bronzey blush will likely sit within your comfort zone; the biscuit shades tend to sit well against pale, cool skintones while the richer bronze shades are flattering on medium plus, warm toned complexions.
You can absolutely pair the aforementioned blush with a regular bronzer, I find it helps to unify the different tones on the face.
FYI: Heavy swatches on an NC15 arm.
NARS – Luster // A brightened, warm blush with a coppery sheen. Rather sheer and well suited to medium and deep skintones.
MAC – Warm Soul // In the pan, Warm Soul looks deceivingly rose-toned but in swatches, it’s a medium peach with golden shimmer. Flattering on a variety of depths.
Aerin – Multi Color for Lips & Cheeks in 01 Natural // Deeper than the other blushers pictured, this Aerin cream is equal parts brown (or rather, bronze) and rose. It can operate as a cream blush or applied in a bronzer placement (which will saturate the skin somewhat, due to the rose undertone).
Sigma – Mellow* // A medium, warm biscuit shade with a slight pink lean.
Rouge Bunny Rouge – Starina // Much softer than it looks in pan, Starina can be described as a pale biscuit-y peach with a subtle gold sheen. Only visible on fair to fair-medium complexions.
MAC – Personal Style // Cooler biscuit tone, slight peachy undercurrent. I believe this was limited edition, it is somewhat similar to MAC Strada (also discontinued gah).
Lemme clarify, the quasi-highlight formula is typically a sheer blush infused with a decent dose of luminosity, so… the-blush-for-highlight-addicts? Obvs you gotta love a bit of shimmer for this to work but the quasi-highlight tends to be my favourite formula; a translucent wash of colour that is easy to blend and never overpowering (even with a beginner’s hand or when built heavily).
Sheer is often considered a bad word but when it comes to blush, I say sheer = foolproof.
Milani – Luminoso // An all-time favourite, a pale but vibrant orangey peach with warm golden shimmer. Do note than Luminoso can pull more orange than peach on very pale skintones.
Hourglass – Ambient Lighting Blush Palette // The least shimmery of the three brands. Outstanding formula: sheer but buildable, luminous but kind to pores and stupid simple to apply. I would recommend the Hourglass Ambient blushers to anyone who prefers a barely there flush. Shades: Luminous Flush, Incandescent Electra, Mood Exposure.
Chanel – Espiegle // A pale warm pink infused with both warm and cool opalescence. Some might consider the Chanel blushers to be too sheer or too shimmery but I adore them.
Muted Dusty Tones
If clown cheeks are a concern, dusty or muted blushers might float your boat. Either tinged with a grey or a brown, dusty shades provide less vibrancy and are ideal if you prefer a subdued palette. NB: Muted shades can lean muddy on certain skintones, in which case you may better suit the next category.
Charlotte Tilbury – First Love* // The inner portion of the
nipple blush is a dusty rose while the outer ring is a warmer peach, together I’d describe it as a medium peach with a muted quality. The formula is a satin, not matte yet not excessively shimmery. Another blush that is hard to overdo – ideal for the blush noob.
Colourpop – Between the Sheets // A matte, warm pink with a dusty undertone. Colourpop’s Super Shock Cheek formula is a powder/cream hybrid that I apply in the same way I would a powder blush. The binder makes for a very long-lasting blush.
Milani – Romantic Rose // A matte, pinky-rose and the best example of a ‘dusty’ shade. Also that pan is so pretteh I can’t even.
Pastel hues generally contain some level of white pigment, which I’ve found to be flattering on reddened complexions; the white pigment provides some opacity to soften a natural flush so the colour applies true to pan (reworded this sentence twenty times, I give up). My most ‘complexion brightening’ blushers lie within this category but worth noting that they tend to register best on the pale, pastels can throw ashy on deeper skintones.
Illamasqua – Katie // Matte pastel pink, cooler than the other pastels mentioned. Strong white base here, definitely one for the paler people (NC/NW20 and paler).
Benefit – Hervana* // Satin, warm pink. Benefit boxed blushers are very sheer so great for the heavy handed.
Makeup Geek – Smitten* // Matte, pastel apricot. To distinguish apricot from peach, Smitten doesn’t have any pink lean whatsoever so perfect for those who’d prefer not to intensify a naturally pink cheek.
Arbonnne – Ballet* // Matte, pale peach. Moderate payoff.
…for those who struggle with blush.
Finding the right tools is game changing, I often reach for a SUQQU Cheek or a Chikuhodo Z4, neither disrupt my foundation and both allow colour to be built very gradually.
If, like me, you have very flushed cheeks, you can either: strategically place foundation to retain some of your natural flush OR conceal the flush (partially or entirely) and get blush happy. I go both routes, depending on the day.
High colour or flushed complexions might prefer non-pink blushers. For the longest time I collected pink shades (your perfect blush is the tone you naturally flush blah blah) but in actuality, I already exhibit plenty of red and pink. I don’t need more of that. Turns out, soft peaches are far more flattering on my cheeks as they give my natural flush a slightly different nuance (without necessarily adding intensity).
Experiment with blush placement, apple of the cheek appears to be the widely accepted rule of thumb and if that works for you, awesome. More often than not, I will wrap blush around the cheekbone or place it along the cheekbone – well away from my Rudolph nose to avoid a sunburnt appearance.
If you have any addition tips or product recommendations, leave them in the comments below for everyone! Also, post suggestions are always welcome – having a bit of a creative block here 😉
* Denotes products sent for consideration. I only feature products I love 🙂
Leave your comment (85 comments)
I really like the ones you chose! I have fair skin with quite a bit of natural redness around my nose and lower cheeks and I totally get the struggle. I personally prefer NARS Madly over Luster because it goes more tan than coppery or golden, but stays in the earthy bronzer-blush range. I also really like Benefit Sugarbomb and Bobbi Brown Pale Pink. Thanks to this, I need to try Illamasqua Katie now!
Illamasqua Katie is stunning, if you’re very pale 🙂 I’m probably a touch too deep for it right now.
A color that is worth swatching is Laura Mercier Spiced Cider.
Thanks beb! Will take a look 😉
Love the the entire review. Perfection. Love MUTED DUSTY and TONES PASTEL HUES. Both are beautiful. Love Charlotte Tilbury – First Love. It really compliments my complexion.
Yay, great to hear! x
Love that Aerin color for deeper complexions and the Hourglass palette is on my wish list 🙂
The Hourglass palette is gorgeous if you like a sheer formulation! x
❤️ This post. I’ve never placed blush on the apple of my cheeks – always as you say either around or along the cheekbone depending on the blush, and I’m glad I’m not the only one! For pastels I love Nars Sex Appeal, although I have a feeling you have to be very pale to wear it without it turning ashy. I also love Nars Silent Nude as a pale girl quasi-bronze blush (sadly limited edition!)
I own NARS Sex Appeal, and I would agree; it’s better for those of us who are super pale. The upside is it’s virtually impossible to overdo it.
It’s so funny, even at my palest I couldn’t get Sex Appeal to show up on me but I know many love it!
The post I have been waiting for. ??? I am very pale, and also have a lot of red. I used to do a lot of things that you mentioned (trying pink blush because that is the color I flush, right?) and have found some of the same solutions to work (peachy and bronzy shades work best, please blush along with the cheekbones and not on the apples ). I really appreciate some of your blush suggestions. I have found that taking a very dark, purples blush and using it in a placement that is slightly higher than a contour (ever so slightly below the cheekbone) EXTREMELY lightly works really well. The Balm Pinstripe is a good one for this. Houndstooth can also work, although it is a bit later.
What do you think about using the Guerlain Four Seasons bronzer in 00 Nude as a blush? Do you think that will work? I am maybe NW15.
Thank you again for this wonderful post!
You could concentrate your brush on the pink quadrant in the Nude 00, I do that sometimes and it works beautifully 🙂 Verrrryy soft pink.
Thank you for this post! I have perpetual flushed cheeks and have found blush makes my cheeks so blotchy and muddy that I don’t even bother
Hopefully you picked up a few tips/recommendations from this post! I don’t think blush is a must for everyone, don’t feel as though you SHOULD wear it 🙂
I’m glad I found your site. I have pale olive skin and also rosey cheeks. Finding products can be so annoying. And it is just nice knowing that you relate to all this! I didn’t even know pale olive skin was a thing! I just knew I couldn’t get a foundation match and thought the makeup artist that said I had olive skin was a bit nuts because I thought I was too pale to be olive! But yeah I also struggle to find blushes and bronzers and in all honesty prefer not to wear either so do cheer a bit when you don’t put much on in your tutorials!
Pale AND olive is totally a thing! My aunty is much paler than me and much greener 🙂
Oh hallelujah. I’ve followed your blogg and YouTube channel a couple of months now. You’ve quickly become my favorite source of makeup inspiration and knowledge and I find you just so goddam trustworthy and transparent. This blogg post was instantly marked a favorite and made me find a quiet place so that I could really savor it. Please may you continue blogging and youtubing forever and ever. Thank you for you existence and for your online presence. ???❤(I read blogs via a RSS reader and VERY rarely comment (yup, I’m one of those) so I thought I’d share all my love at one go. No need to be scared ?)
So pleased you like my work 🙂 This comment makes me so happy!
I do the same thing with my placement, wrapping the blush a bit and trying not to get too close to my nose. I find it looks more chic as well, well tk me anyway haha.
I never wore blush for the longest time because i hated the thought of adding more pink to my face but i think I’ve gotten the hang of it now, tending to also prefer the sheerer, luminous formulas.
I think if you find the right shade and formulation, blush can be handy even on flushed skintones 🙂 I find it makes my cheekbones look more prominent… always a good thing 😉
Dear, you took gorgeous pictures! Love this post! Kisses
Thanks Bianca! I had fun photographing for this post 🙂
I adore all of your picks Karima! I’m currently using either Max Factor’s Nude Mauve, Milani Luminoso, or MAC Warm Soul. x
Ahhh Milani Luminoso has a place in my heart 🙂
Love this idea for a post! I have found that like anything with makeup, blush has been a long and sometimes arduous journey of trial and error. A lot of my preferences are similar to yours – for that reason, I find I can’t wear many pink blushes, no matter how irresistible I find them in the pan. Your post reminded me of how long I’ve intended to buy Illamasqua Katie! Another blush that’s great for those who aren’t big on blush is Illamasqua Zygomatic, though it’s a cream formula. It has a hint of taupe in it which I find really unique and subtly sculpting, while still warming up the complexion.
Ooh Zygomatic sounds up my alley! Thanks for the recommendation 🙂 xx
Fantastic post! I have the same issues. I get really red on my nose and cheeks so I really don’t need any help there. I like to use highlight-blushes on my cheekbones just to pull attention away from my already flushed areas! Great photos by the way, really love this!
Placement is so important! Had fun taking these photos, by the way 😉 xx
This post is so good. I have a very similar skin tone to your with all the redness, sensitivity, and Rudolph nose included. My cheeks are so red that more than once people have made fun of me for not knowing how to apply makeup, when Im actually not wearing any 🙁 that’s how red my cheeks are! I’ll try all your tips, my darling. Thank you so much <3
HAHA I feel you! People often ask me what blush I’m wearing and all I can say is “MY OWN!”
I’d say your best bet is to conceal the redness you don’t want but retain a bit on the cheek, rock your own flush 😉
I hate blush. But I will wear Chanel’s Rose Petale.
That’s a pretty one 🙂
Loved this post Karima! I struggle finding blushes that suit me so I always go for bronzers. The only two that work for me are MAC’s Melba and Tartes’s Exposed and I think they are great. I will def. try a few of your suggestions! xo
Tarte Exposed is awesome, pairs especially well with a bold lip 🙂
There’s a trend going on in my peers to strategically applies blush to look like, i just have been running or sunburnt or running along the beach and get sunburnt. As in peach or red blush on the side of the nose almost touching the nose, (sometimes over!)
It kinda work for me on weekends without eye make up, but not for work
I think it’s a lovely placement for sallow complexions but I already look sunburnt so it doesn’t register quite as well on me lol 😉
Thank you, Karima! I always appreciate your thoughtful–and useful!–posts. I’ve been having a hard time with blush shades for my pale/easily reddened skin lately and wasn’t sure what to try next. But now I do: Hourglass it is! I’ve been eyeing it for awhile and you’ve pushed me over the edge.
I’d love more ideas for enhancing/caring for high color complexions and thinner, pale skin. You know, vein-y and often flushed.
Hourglass blushers are amazing, I’m sure you will be thrilled! I recently uploaded my skincare routine, which is well suited to thin skin:
You might find it helpful 🙂
I love your blog posts!
Thanks Carolyn! xx
I wear blusher but don’t really get it at all. Do you just find THE ONE and stick with it or do you change up the colour of your blush depending on eye look. How do you know what colour blush goes with what type of eye look?
Love what you do Karima. Always look forward to your blogs and videos
Maybe some people find the one and stick to it but I think most makeup addicts switch it up 🙂 As an easy rule of thumb, if the eye look is warm, go for a warm blush. If the eye look is cool, opt for a cooler blush.
This whole post is visually stunning! I’m not much of a blush person either, so it was very helpful. I love the look of those pale angelic pink blushes but I doubt I’ll ever find one that won’t register as ashy on my NC30 skin.
An eyeshadow palette smackdown would be awesome! Or even just a matte eyeshadow smackdown.
yes, a matte eyeshadow smackdown would be fantastic!!
+1 on the matte eyeshadow/ matte palette smackdown!
Matte eyeshadow smackdown coming soon 😉 x
Visually delightful post, Karima!! I also love MAC blushbaby for no-blush blush. Even I, a cretinous applicator of blush, can use this and just look… Healthy, ya know? I’m also a huge fan of NARS lustre. Sheer deliciously well-looking complexion FTW. I have no desire to look like Marie Antoinette!
I down own Blushbaby! I’ll put it on the wishlist 😉 x
Another awesome post. So articulate and your knowledge and experience is impressive and super helpful. Don’t ever stop!! Xx
So glad you enjoyed it 😉 x
Hi beautiful Karima!
My name is Nadia, and I’m from Indonesia. I have always been a fan of your videos. They’re always informative, educative, and you always look gorgeous in each and every one of them! Same thing goes for this blog! The way you articulate your thoughts is also another thing that keeps me coming back to your youtube channel and blog. I hope you can grow more audience because Shameless Fripperies deserves all the attention in the world, because you are THAT good!
Love ya and best of luck!
Aw, thanks for your kind words Nadia! I really appreciate it <3 x
Hi Karima I was wondering if you could do your best of 2015 before Christmas? That way I know what makeup to get for Christmas:)
The likelihood is that I’ll have my 2015 favourites uploaded after Christmas, sorry! It’s a busy season for me. xx
I used to always struggle with blush until I started using a stippling blush to apply it – IMPOSSIBLE to overdo it!
Stippling brushes are also awesome! xx
Oh what gorgeous blush groupings! Rouge Bunny Rouge’s Starina is calling my name 🙂
It’s sooo pretty 🙂 x
You! I’m a new reader, and I’ve just spent a good part of my evening reading the old posts. So glad to find your blog, it’s lovely to look at (as are you) and eloquently written. Oh, and these look like blushes I can try. I’ve pale asian skin and my favourite blushes are of a terracota or dusty rose colour!
Welcome to the Sham Frip! So pleased you’re enjoying the blog 🙂
Thank you so much for this post! Charlotte’s boob(haha) and the Hourglass blushes are calling my name. Time to add more to my growing Christmas wish list! xx
My pleasure, Lana! x
I have been a lurker but today i just cant to not asking you this question;) You mentioned about biscuit shade and i remember you used this term to describe Guerlain 4 season bronzer in Nude 00. So, would you catagorize Guerlain in biscuit blush shade? And my skin is cool toned neutral Guerlain baby glow in Light (perfect match) Chanel B20 (a tad yellow for me), meteorites Clair. Do you think the biscuit shade would work for me or more muted dusty rose? Thanks.
The bronze quadrants in the Guerlain 00 Nude are biscuity, yes 🙂 Whether you prefer biscuit or dusty roses is actually down to preference, give both a try and see how you go!
Hi Karima! Good luck on your exams – we’ll just keep commenting so you know we missed you 🙂
I wanted to share with you that our complexion and skin type are so similar that I’ve put myself on a strict no-buy-without-Karima’s-recommendation and it’s been incredibly successful (hello, KGD Aqua 213, GA Lasting Silk 4.5, Milani Luminoso, RBR Eye Kohl, Pixi Endless Silky, and CT Eyes to Mesmerize….GOODBYE MONEY!).
Only because you asked for suggestions…I love a grungy eye (am lazy)…is there such a thing as a daytime-appropriate grunge? Would change my life if you said yes and showed us how. Also, I would love to hear your thoughts or advice on trying things (colors, techniques, whatever) outside a comfort zone – like, does everyone think a red lip looks shocking on them if they’re not used to wearing one? (No? Just me? Oh.)
The exams went well, thanks so much 🙂 I’m thrilled my recommendations have proven successful, woohoo!
I typically associate grunge with warm browns or mustard-y eyeshadows, here is one look that I would categorise as light grunge or daytime grunge:
The more blown out and hazy the lower lash line, the better 🙂
Karima, you’re the greatest! Not only do I have a gorgeous look to recreate but I obvs will also *need* a Tom Ford quad to do it! xoxo
Karima .. I love your First Impression, Smackdown, Tutorial … everything. I hope you make bronzer smackdown coz I’m a bronzer crazy. As I’m a Asian, i have this light skin with yellow undertone. I like yellowish skin but not light color …. I want my skin to be a little bit dark and sun-kissed …. so maybe you can give some ideas for which bronzer products and brands are really great and which are not… Love you so much. Looking forward for new tutorials
Bronzer smackdown is a great idea! Will add it to the schedule, thank you 🙂 x
check out your flatlay! well done, madame.
Hehe so glad you noticed <3 I tried! xx
I love bobbi brown brightening brick in peach. Would love to hear what you think of hourglass bronzer and would love to see a liquid highlight smack down! Great post as always!
I own an Hourglass bronzer and LOVE IT! You can see it in action here:
Hi Karima! I’m diverging from beauty here, but I’m hoping you will have some fashion advice for me. I’m a fellow green person with almost exactly the same skin tone (MAC NC 15/20 with olive undertones). I recently realized that I own exactly two colours in my winter wardrobe – black and burgundy. I was wondering if you had any advice about colours that flatter pale green-y people. It seems like so many colours just wash me out, so I end up sticking with the same boring tones. Any advice on colours that would flatter? Thanks!
Not sure I’m the best person to ask here because my wardrobe is primarily black! Judging from your comment, I think you might like deep jewel tones (deep purples, deep reds, almost-but-not-quite-black-shades).
I’d love to hear an update, if you experiment further!
I really appreciate how you categorize the blushes, super helpful! I bought the Milani luminoso and it’s magic, thanks for the recommendation, Karima! I love Tarte amazonian-clay blushes, they’re matte but they’re so beautiful and pigmented! xx
Glad you found it helpful, Sophia! x
Your posts are always on point (I follow your blog since the beginning and it’s my major makeup inspiration).
I would ask you to be so kind to give me an advise in order to achieve the kind of makeup look Rooney Mara wore at the Pan premiere. In particular I can’t completely get the exact shade her makeup artist (Kate Lee) used as a blush to mach eyeshadow. To my it has also been used chanel le blanc or something similar to enhance skin luminosity (my skin color/tone is almost identical to your) tanks so much and many <3
Looks like a mix of two blushers, a softer peach (perhaps NARS Gina) with a brighter coral around the cheekbone (NARS Gilda, maybe).
A bit late to the party but, THANK YOU FOR SAYING THIS.
“Your perfect blush is the tone you naturally flush blah blah”. This is so true. I am also “high color” and couldn’t for the life of me figure out why pinky blush didn’t suit me. It suits everyone else, right? Bah! Thank you for some great tips here, will definitely check some of them out!
Glad you found it helpful! xx
lovely Karima. We suffer from the same red-flushed cheeks issue. I am very pale yellow and I naturally flush RED with majuscules. But when I apply my foundation my redness turn into a very light peachy (peaches and cream perhaps?) hue and I actually love it. I was wondering if you can suggest some to me.
Do you mean peachy blush suggestions? I recommend Makeup Geek Smitten, with a very light hand.
Yes, oops my English is a mess!
Thank you Karima. I’ll try it with a veeeery light hand