How to Use Blush Palettes Strategically Instead of Just Smashing the Colors Together

Let's talk cheek-centric looks because them cheeks deserve some love.
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Let's talk cheek-centric looks because them cheeks deserve some love.

I'm not a big eyeshadow-palette person. When other people are freaking out about Urban Decay dropping another keyboard of eyeshadows, I'm like, meh. However, I can totally understand the desire to have several different blush colors because honestly, a woman wants to blush a different shade every season or weekend or whatever. My cheeks, my choice. 

Cheek-styling is very underrated. Perhaps an occasion calls for pigtail French braids and literal rosy cheeks, and other occasions call for a pompadour and Bowie-esque sculptural cheekbone carvers. Life is complicated, you know? 

The cool thing about blush or face palettes is that sometimes they come in confusing albeit pretty compacts. I don't mess with those too much unless I can bash a brush into the whole thing and still emerge with a pretty overall-useable color. Ain't nobody got time to paint-by-numbers (by "nobody" I mean me) with teeny blush colors, though I do admire a pretty palette mold... before it inevitably gets brushed smooth by the sands of time and vanity. 

[READ: 3 Unnaturally Cool Makeup Looks You Can Do Using Only Natural Beauty Brands]

Anyway, here's a few ways I like to use blush palettes.

The Rosy Duo

Kat Von D Shade and Light Blush in Piaf + Poe. It's about as easy-peasy as contouring gets.

Kat Von D Shade and Light Blush in Piaf + Poe. It's about as easy-peasy as contouring gets.

You'll find a lot of powder-blush duos on the market. They're pretty easy to wrap your brain around. The darker shade can be used to more intensely build color while the lighter shade can highlight and brighten, or you can just use them separately; I won't judge you. 

See placement outlines — NOT cosmetic surgery cut lines.

See placement outlines — NOT cosmetic surgery cut lines.

I swept the darker shade right below my cheek-chubs (I think most people call the part that sticks out when you smile the "apple" of your cheeks), scooping it upwards in a Nike swoosh direction, and the lighter shade right on top of those chubs for a bit of "Oh, who, me?" flush. It's pretty natural but a step above lazy-girl. 

[READ: Blue Eye Makeup Is My JAM, and It Can Be Your Jam, Too]

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Vacation Vibes

Okay, Ellie Goulding — are you a bronzer or a blush? One would assume bronzer by the obviously favored proportions in this compact, but I also think it wants me to blush a little with this peachy slice down there. 

This compact is great for that vacation vibe of "I got possibly more sun than I should've but in a chic way not because I'm a lifeguard or something..." sort of.

It's not contour, it's tan-tour... which people keep saying is a thing.

It's not contour, it's tan-tour... which people keep saying is a thing.

This is pretty simple, too, but takes a bit of face knowledge with elementary contouring. I used the bronzer under my cheekbones, across my nose bridge (the "freckle zone" if I had freckles), and along my hairline to give me a faux-tan. Then I took a big, fluffy brush, swirled it into the bright peachy-pink part and dotted and blended it on my apple for a flush that suggests I'm blushing because I've just emerged from the cabana hot tub on this cruise ship, obviously.

Slight more Frenched than just sun-kissed... sun-Frenched.

Slight more Frenched than just sun-kissed... sun-Frenched.

CGI Fairy Skin

As you can see, this blusher has taken some abuse. I use it often because it's amazing and also James Kaliardos used it on the Rodarte's SS2016 show models, who all looked like gilded fairy goddesses. 

[READ: On Anti-Aging: Is Being Old Not Pretty or Something?]

But seriously, it has these micro-shimmer particles that make your skin look like CGI-flawless, especially when you use it wet (hence the "dual-intensity" moniker).

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I used the bronze shade on my cheek-chubs and under my cheekbones, swept upwards towards my temples. Then I dampened a small, fluffy brush, dragged it onto the highlighter a few times, and then dabbed all over my cheekbones, under my brow bone, down the bridge of my nose, and in my cupid's bow — all the usual haunts for a highlighter. Blend, blend, blend and there you go: instant CGI fairy goddess skin. 

You look radiantly dewy, but it's a powder, so you don't feel dewy — which some folks prefer.

That highlight tho

That highlight tho

The "Naked" Palette of Blushes

NARS might turn its nose up at the UD reference, but chill okay? It's a compliment.

NARS might turn its nose up at the UD reference, but chill okay? It's a compliment.

This is the NARSissist Cheek Studio Palette. It has four "exclusive" shades (numbered I to IV, top to bottom on the left), Paloma contour blushes, and the popular Laguna bronzer.

I'm going to get a little '80s here, so bear with me. 

Blushing from the school of Pat Benetar.

Blushing from the school of Pat Benetar.

Using the rosy-coral shade III, I went HAM from my cheek-chubs to my temples — yes, all the way up and on there. The shimmery shade next to it, II, was dabbed directly onto the roundest part of my cheek when I smile for a bit of brightness and shimmer. This is kind of the flushed look of coming in from the cold but without the runny red nose. 

It's also the "one cocktail in" flush.

It's also the "one cocktail in" flush.

All you really need are a couple of good face brushes — a medium-domed fluffy one and a smaller stippling one for more concentrated color. I like a small fluffer for highlighter, too. 

And that is how you make a face! Four faces, actually! But you know, faces are different, so you've got to get to know your own face structure to figure out what to put on there.

  • Is anyone else pretty "meh" about complex eyeshadow palettes like me? 
  • Does anyone else put blush on their temples? Personally, I'm all about bringing it back. Best paired with slam-dancing, preferably.