Applying blush at first can be tricky, but it’s all about being patient and using the right tools. You want to make sure you’re using the right blush brush — preferably, you want a brush that’s dense enough to pick up color but still fluffy enough to deposit it softly. You may also want a buffing brush on standby for any mistakes!
Step 1. Finish prepping the skin and let all products sink in/dry. Whether you’re just wearing moisturizer, tinted moisturizer, or foundation, you want all these products to be applied before you to get to blush. (Though, you can always switch it up and wear an intense blusher before foundation–but after moisturizer–and then lightly apply foundation on top!)
Step 2. Taking a slightly fluffy, dense brush, gently tap it into your blush compact. I usually do three or four taps and then a sweep.
Step 3. SMILE LIKE YOU JUST WON A BAJILLION DOLLARS! The easiest way to find the apples of your cheeks is to smile really big–you’ll see them pop out at you as compared to when your face is relaxed.
Step 4. Gently tap the blush brush onto the apples of your cheek, starting from the roundest portion and tapping lightly upwards and towards your temple.
Step 5. Do a sweep–like a Nike “swoosh”–from the apple to the temple to diffuse and blend the color together.
Step 6. If it’s not intense enough, rinse and repeat. If it’s too bright, you can either lightly sweep upwards with your blush brush or use a buffing brush to buff some of the color out. You can also layer translucent or colored loose powder on top to help soften the color (and this will also help to set your makeup).
For everyday usage, consider dense, domed brushes with some fluff to it. A fluffier brush will allow you to blend and deposit color more evenly and softly without going too heavy, but the density will still allow you to pack on color should you choose to. The dome shape works nicely to give cheeks color without being too concentrated on the apples, so it can blend outward and look natural. I recommend Bobbi Brown Blush Brush ($50), Eco Tools Blush Brush ($9), MAC 116 Blush Brush ($32), and NARS Blush Brush ($46).
129 Powder/Blush Brush ($34.00) is your best bet for general blush application. Seriously, I’m constantly reaching for this brush whenever I go to apply colored blush. If you can only afford one face brush, this is the one I recommend getting first, because it can apply blush, highlighters, and do a little bit of buffing in a pinch. It’s thick, dense, and deliciously soft on the skin. (And don’t be fooled by the 129 in the brush sets–it is not at all the same in regards to quality.)
138 Tapered Face Brush ($52.00) is a domed-shaped brush, much more tapered than many powder brushes. It’s excellent for both highlighting, shaping, and contouring the face–whatever tickles your fancy!
165 Tapered Cheek/Highlight Brush ($34.00) is like a thinner, smaller version of the 138, and it’s $18 less–so if you’re on a tight budget, you might think about picking up this one instead. I love, love, LOVE this one for highlighting. The tapered end really makes placement of highlighting powders ridiculously easy.
168 Large Angled Contour Brush ($32.00) is THE brush to have handy if you ever want to sculpt and shape your face. The angled, slightly-fluffy-and-not-overly-dense brush is perfect for making cheekbones pop, jawlines thin instantaneously, and polish the face.
182 Buffer Brush ($45.00) is an essential face brush to have. I love it so much that I have two, because it is so phenomenal and perfect for a variety of jobs. Ultimately, buffer brushes are designed to finish your face, whether it’s blending contouring and blushing colors together, applying loose powder, or just blending all your face products together. You can buff out harsh blushes by moving this brush in small circles, so you can wear Frankly Scarlet blush without fear. I love it to apply foundation personally, as it gives a polished, streak-free result. Worth every single penny.
187 Duo Fibre Brush ($42.00) is a must-have brush if you love mineralize skinfinishes. Yes, it is indeed a fabulous brush for applying those delicious baked goodies MAC puts out from time to time. The way the brush is designed uses a blend of goat and synthetic fibers and it allows for softer, lighter application of product. It’s also known as a stippling brush (for those trying to find a dupe), and it works well with highlighting (if you don’t need so much precision).
188 Small Duo Fibre Face Brush ($34.00) is a smaller version of the 187 Duo Fibre Brush, and it works in similar ways. However, I do find that this brush is not a substitute for the 187, but more like a complement. This brush works best with creamy products, like MAC blushcremes and cream colour bases. In the summer, I love wearing blushcremes layered with a powder blush for more long-wearing color in the hotter months!
195 Concealer Brush ($22.00) recently debuted, and it is superior to the 194 Concealer Brush. It’s a thin, firm bristled brush that holds its shape and easily applies concealing products, but it is also great for dabbing liquid foundations onto the skin (to then be smoothed and spread out using a face brush like the 182, 187, or 190). I find using a concealer brush to apply liquids onto the face helps waste less product than directly applying liquid to a fluffier face brush or sponge.
Honorable Mentions: 109 (great if you do a lot of contouring), 134 (great for loose powder)