I have real and true memories of being a little kid in neighborhood daycare (the one wholesale babysitter in town, Mary-Anne, who would take on like, seven kids at her house after school until our parents came and picked us up) where we kids would play with the makeup belonging to our babysitter’s high school daughters, usually with circus-like results.
It was the early 90s, so naturally there was heavy use of fuchsia blush in long aggressive streaks and frosty blue eyeshadow all the way up to the brows. I mean, we were eight years old, painting each other’s faces—boys and girls alike. Since then, I’ve always associated blush with those Siouxsie Sioux tiger streaks.
Because of this, I use to be a no-blush gal for the longest time. When I dabbled in cheapie drugstore blush compacts, using the little brush that came with them, it always came out kind of chalky-looking and yes, streaky.
Nowadays, I can wield a grown-up blush brush like I know what I’m doing. But due to my day-to-day indecision between shimmery vs. non-shimmery blushes, and owning one blush brush, I am far too lazy to deal with my shimmer-ambivalent desires (or cleaning said brush).
Really cool thing that cream blush exists then, right? Crème, cream, war paint, face rouge--call it what you will--if I can finger-paint it on my face, I am into it. My mom taught me that you can use lipstick as blush, which, when I was 13 or 14, seemed like a such a clever beauty hack that no one but my brilliant mom could’ve thought of. I mean, not that my mom isn’t clever, but that was not exactly a uniquely groundbreaking discovery; mostly it was born of frugality and a loyal preference for Lancôme rouge à lèvres.
Nothing against powder blush, it gets the job done-- the job being making your face look less dead/more embarrassed/coy? I know Alle is team PB all the way and would punt all the cream blush out the moon door if she could (please don't), but I've got to second with Victoria here and expound the virtues of cream blush.
You’re probably thinking of what appears to be tinted lip-balm in a pot when you think of cream blush, and you’re not wrong? But cream blush comes in a bunch of different forms that work for any lifestyle from always-late to artfully dedicated. There is a cream blush that not only works for you, but optimizes your face game. And we all know that face game is almost as important as time management, yes? (Probably isn’t, but still doesn’t hurt.)
Your classic cream blush in a compact is the most popular bet. Pretty simple. You dab your fingers in there, rub fingers on cheek region of face, and voila-- color on your face! You can use a light touch on the apples of your cheeks to look like you just got finished working out, or you can smudge it up your cheekbones to Moulin Rouge proportions. It is up to you! Allow me to show you some of my choice picks.
The Compact Creams
Tarte’s Airblush is a maracuja oil-infused cream blush. I know, pretty confusing, the whole “air blush” term. I’m pretty sure they’re referring to how it feels like air (i.e., nothing) on your face.
I’ve always admired Tarte, but never really seized an opportunity to mess with them until the word “maracuja” preceded blush. I’m a big fan of maracuja oil--I use it on my face daily and it feels good and my skin is a fat happy puppy whenever I put it on (that’s how I anthropomorphize my skin reacting to being slathered and pat down with maracuja oil).
Like pretty much all blushes universally, a color like this one named “Shimmering Poppy” looks way too Crayola-cray in the compact. Blushes are fundamentally sheer and buildable in their nature though, so unless you really glob it on, it will look like a drastically watered-down version of what you see in the container.
I think that’s the reason a lot of people are scared of blush, and I don’t blame them. It’s like a circus clown volunteering to deliver a eulogy--appears totally inappropriate, unless it’s a sad clown, and then it does the trick. Probably as inappropriate as that analogy.
So yeah, Tarte’s Airblush does feel rather cloud-like on your face. It has a subtle dose of shimmer--nothing crazy, but reflects the light rather prettily. This is a good pick if you’re going for dewy innocent princess face.
Revlon recently introduced cream blush in a couple colors. These creams are true creams; it’s as though they melted down their best satin and matte lipsticks into a pot and re-marketed them for your cheeks. None of them are shimmery (phew!) and they just offer a punch of color. I like bright warm colors for my skin tone, so Coral Reef is my jam. The color is anything but wimpy, but mercifully, blends well. If you think you’ve put on too much, just keep blending with your finger and it’ll tone down right quick.
The Stick Creams
However, if you’re feeling adventurous and why wouldn’t you--I mean, we’re talking about cream blush here, for Christ’s sake--my favorite formula of the stuff is NARS The Multiple. You’ve got your pick of shimmery highlighting blushes or deep creamy colors. I’ve been collecting NARS ever since I’ve come into what little disposable income YOLO will allow. But seriously, all NARS products deliver the color and quality that you pay for, so it’s not a question for me.
The Multiple in 413 BLKR (which I believe is a limited edition color, however G-Spot is a very close match) is a deep wine hue and delivers anything from “Oh my vapors!” to “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?”
You just swipe it on, all willy-nilly, and then blend with your fingers. Simple as that! Deeper colors like this, I’d place below your cheekbones for definition, whereas brighter colors you can apply on the apples of your cheeks and blend outward.
The Pillowy Creams
Important note if you don't want to drop $39 on nice blush in a chic round deodorant-y-like tube, Maybelline Dream Bouncy Blush has a similar texture to NARS, actually--it has a powdery-smooth finish and vibrant color that builds really well. All of them, however, have a slight shimmer. It feels a bit like poking and prodding your chocolate mousse cake, swirling your finger around the compact, which is as fun as applying cream blush gets.
The Creamy Creams
I was pretty hyped about discovering Josie Maran Argan Infinity Lip and Cheek Creamy Oil at Sephora recently. Not only is it a cream blush with the texture of good face goop, but you can also use it as a lip balm! Y’all know how I feel about multi-use makeup (very pro-them).
Josie Maran’s thing is argan oil, so it’s pretty much in all of her products. This has a Vaseline-like consistency and impressively saturated color. Seriously, a little goes a LONG way. You can just squirt a bit on your finger, rub it on the apples of your cheeks, and spread/blend outward toward your cheekbones.
Everlasting Honey is a lovely, universally flattering muted pink that also makes your lips look like you’ve been biting them in a sexy bubblegum-chewing schoolgirl fervor, and it brings a dewy pink tone to your cheeks.
I also am a fan of the Boundless Berry color, which reminds me of Benefit’s Benetint without the confusing nail polish bottle applicator. This berry runs DEEP so you really have to blend it well. It looks great on your lips, too.
See, cream blush is really not that different from powder blush in terms of what kinds of looks you can achieve--it's just the execution that takes some finagling (always apply after moisturizer and foundation and not on top of any powder product).
Personally, I think cream blushes are easier to use and feel more in control using my own mittens to apply the stuff, but it’s all preference. I do think you get a bit more mileage from cream blushes since you use less to begin with and it doesn’t get stuck living in the poof of a brush if it doesn’t make it to your face in transit. So yeah, there are reasons.
What I love best about them, though, is that I generally prefer to keep my rouge on the dewy side to fool people into thinking I work out rather than just eat tacos and seaweed snacks all day, as has been my diet regimen as of late.
My cheek area tends to be on the thirsty side, too, so rubbing more balms on it doesn’t hurt. Plus cream blushes look all glam nature girl, with the flush of natural beauty and kind of like you got startled out of a sexy daydream. How rude!
Cream blush! What's your favorite kind? Are your cheeks thirsty?