How to Apply Blush - Everything You Want to Know!

Blush can really add a lot to a look, but it can be easy to over-apply color and be unhappy with the end result. A lot of blush application is in the technique and adjusting that technique for different types of formulas, especially more pigmented formulas or shades that offer more contrast from your natural skin tone.

How heavy-handed you are will often dictate how natural or how intense the blush will appear on your skin. If you’ve always wanted to learn how to apply your blush easily, keep reading for these tried-and-true makeup tips!

Apply Blush in Layers

Build up coverage gradually, rather than applying more to blend out later.  Buildable coverage is not a bad thing; pigmentation is not everything!  By applying sheerer layers of product, it is easier to achieve diffused edges, even coverage, and avoid disturbing your complexion products because you had to blend too much!

How to Apply Blush
Sonia G Face Two Brush

What Tools to Apply Blush With

Use the right-sized tool for your cheeks!  Depending on the size of your features, a smaller or larger brush might better.  You’ll want to adjust the size to suit your cheek bones as well as the types of products you use.  If you use sheerer products, smaller and larger brushes work just fine, but if you use more pigmented products, you might find more precise brushes do a better job of placing without overdoing.

For more pigmented formulas, use a softer, feathery, less-dense brush.  My personal favorites are to opt for brushes marketed for highlighting (often tapered and are moderately dense) or a fan brush, which is more feathery and less dense.

For sheerer formulas, use a medium-sized, denser brush.  More typical blush brushes–wider brush head, some doming on the edge, more tightly packed with bristles–do best with sheer to medium pigmented formulations as they can pick up more product on the larger surface area and can also get more product off the surface of a stiffer formula.

Blush Brush Recommendations

  • Sonia G. Face Two ($48) — flatter edge, great for really buffing and diffusing blush onto the skin
  • Sonia G. Cheek Pro ($46) — traditional, moderate-dense brush, not too big or too small
  • Sonia G. Fan Pro ($32) — small, precise application with a less-dense brush
  • Chikuhodo Z-8 ($111) — luxuriously soft for feathery, diffused blush application; best with more pigmented products or those preferring sheerer coverage

How to Apply Blush
Kaja Beauty Hella Azalea & Poppy Champagne | Look Details

Where to Apply Blush

Apply to the apples of cheeks, just above or below, and diffuse toward the ears or temples.  Experiment with placement to find the right blush placement that suits your facial features and your style.  Some general guidance on face shapes and blush placements:

  • Heart-shaped faces do well with blush that starts closer to the ear and extends to just below the apples of the cheeks
  • Longer faces do well with blush pulled more upward, applied just below the apples of the cheeks
  • Squarer faces do well with blush applied just below the cheek bone to help add definition
  • Oval faces do well with blush applied on the cheekbones and/or just above

How to Blend Blush Like a Pro

Cheat the blending by using the leftover foundation on your brush/sponge to blend.  Most of us apply foundation prior to blush, which means that there’s some residual amount still on our brush or sponge (and if you use fingertips, then just go back and get a smidgen more), and this can be used to diffuse and soften the edges of more unblended blush.  It’s also really useful for when I’ve diffused and spread the color too far beyond where I want my blush to be, so I can make the area look skin-like again.

Use small, circular, buffing motions.  To really even out and blend out more intense blush, I like to use small, circular motions–buffing–which help to soften, even out, and then gently disperse blush slowly but surely.

Always use gentle pressure!  Not being heavy-handed has always been a tough lesson for me to learn and practice, but the gentler I am, the less mistakes I make.

How to Apply Blush
Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder

How to Fix Blush Mistakes

Total failure?  First, breathe; it’s okay, it’s makeup and it washes off. We all have off-days and better and worse application. Re-apply your foundation over top, whether by using a residual amount that’s leftover on a brush/sponge (like the first tip under how to blend above) or if it just feels like abort-mission-level mistake and you just need to get a blank canvas all over again.

Help! I’ve overapplied my blush!  See cheating the blending–a sheer layer of foundation will reduce the intensity quite a bit.  Similarly, you can also use a skin-hued loose or pressed powder blended on top, which will have the same effect.

My blush is too shimmery!  Apply translucent powder (I prefer loose), which will help to tamp down the shimmery finish of your cheek color.  You can also try using a matte blush of a similar hue, but this can often result in less-shimmery but more-intense coverage so it doesn’t always work as well!

Need a how-to for liquid blush? We have a dedicated guide for that, plus more how-tos for highlighting, bronzing, and contouring.

Need helping finding the right blush formula? Check out our top picks for blushes here.

Blushes We Recommend


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Genevieve Avatar

Thank you Christine for this info. When I started taking blush seriously, the first thing I did was to get myself a good blush brush (Real Techniques) and after that everything was much easier.
Secondly, I would suggest, would be to find your preferred shade in the finish you like – for me it is a coral/peach in a semi matte to matte finish.

Nikki Avatar

Here’s my best technique for blending blush to look natural: hold the brush’s bristles horizontally on the first pass and vertically on the second pass, then remove the brush and buff the blush on an upward diagonal with the edge of your pinkie finger, and finish by swirling the brush across the apple and up the cheekbone.

Jennifer Avatar

Great information and tips, Christine! I tend to be heavy handed so this was a great reminder that “less is more”–especially on my mature skin. I may splurge on one of the Sonia G brushes you suggested.

Also, I have been really enjoying your entire “how to” series. This series is breathing some fresh air into my makeup application process. Thank you!

Renee Avatar

Oh, the joy of blush. I have to admit that since my teen years I’ve always used too much. I can’t stop being heavy-handed; I don’t want to stop being heavy-handed. I love an intense glow even if it is clearly artificial. Am I awful? Please be blunt, anyone….and thank you!

We try to approve comments within 24 hours (and reply to them within 72 hours) but can sometimes get behind and appreciate your patience! 🙂 If you have general feedback, product review requests, off-topic questions, or need technical support, please contact us directly. Thank you for your patience!