How to Apply Liquid Blush for Luminous Skin

2020 is likely to be a year where we continue to see more offerings in liquid and cream forms as we gravitate away from matte finishes and continue embracing more natural and luminous finishes. Liquid blush can be a tricky beast to master, but if you use our tips on how to apply liquid blush, you will have a much easier time of it! 

Liquid blush is worth the effort, because once you learn how to apply liquid blush, it becomes easy enough to apply on days when you have only a few minutes to get ready–but that pop of color and natural finish can create a beautiful, natural look that wears all day.

How to Apply Liquid Blush

How to Apply Liquid Blush Naturally

Always build up in layers for gradual color intensity.  I like to lay down an initial layer of color and diffuse it across my cheeks so I can get a good idea of the placement.  If I want greater intensity (say on the apples of my cheeks), I’ll go back and gently dab on a little more product right there without spreading it as far out so I can keep the intensity there but not everywhere.

Use lighter-weight, more luminous base products.  Your liquid and cream blushes will play best with more emollient base and complexion products, so starting on very powdered, very matte skin is a more advanced maneuver.  For anyone just learning how to apply liquid blush, I recommend starting over just-moisturized or just-primed skin or over a tinted moisturizer/sheer, liquid or cream foundation.  This will ensure that there will be more minimal disruption to base products and avoid potential to cake.

How to Apply Liquid Blush - beautyblenders

How to Blend Liquid Blush

Use a dampened sponge to soften edges.  Dampen a a clean sponge (like a beautyblender) and gently dab and roll along the edge to help getting a more diffused edge.

Use the remnants of your foundation brush/sponge to tamp down the intensity of the color if it is bolder than desired.  I like to take whatever tool I used to apply my foundation and what’s left on the tool (usually a brush but a sponge works well, too) and dab gently over the area(s) that are too intense.  This always mutes the color to a degree and often brings it to the desired intensity for me so I don’t have to worry about blending furiously and risk disturbing my base too much!

Use a pore-filling or smoothing primer even if you aren’t wearing foundation.  This is particularly useful for someone who feels they have more noticeable pores, as it can help minimize the appearance of liquid blush settling into the skin and looking dotted or patchy.

Work quickly–work on one side at a time.  A lot of liquid formulations set or dry down so they start more liquid than they end up, so it’s important to work on one side at a time and making those adjustments before a product sets too much. With some formulations, once it sets, the product can be quite locked in place and become difficult to blend out and fiddle with.

Best Tools for Applying Liquid Blush

Fingertips are efficient, fast, and free!  My favorite tool to apply liquid and cream blush are my fingertips.  I use the flat side of my fingertip to initially apply color to the apples of my cheeks (see my post on how to apply blush for tips on blush placement).  I use the edge of the same fingertip to gently spread the color outward (usually more upward) to diffuse and soften the edge to create a seamless blend.

Or use a feathery, synthetic brush if you’re not keen on fingertips, try synthetic stippling brushes–they’ll often have fibers of different lengths–that work well for applying and blending our liquid and cream-based products.  Synthetic brushes work well with cream and liquid products because they don’t absorb product like natural-hair brushes would.  They are also tougher, more robust, and faster to clean (because they are far less temperamental!).

Need a how-to for powder blush? We have a guide for that, plus guides to highlighting, bronzing, and contouring.

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

Liquid & Cream Blushes We Recommend


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Deborah S. Avatar

Again, another great post. I picked up the Fenty Match Stix in Bordeau Blitz? Can’t remember if that is the exact name or not. I have used it twice now and I like how it looks but my application is perfect. I am not sure if it is the product, the tools or my face but something in the application isn’t quite right. I have applied it with my fingers and with an Elf Medium Stippling brush. The formula feels pretty stiff straight from the bullet. I have tried warming it on the back of my hand but that didn’t seem to help. Like I said, it doesn’t look bad but just isn’t quite right. It seems to sit on the top of my skin and not really meld into it, if that makes sense. For me, with liquid blushes, it is all about the application and it is different for most liquid products.

CeeBee Avatar

Great tips, thank you!

I recently bought 2 liquid blushers (lip gloss type packaging with a big doe foot applicator) after being loyal to powder for years and then experimenting with cream bases.
I’m actually wearing one of the liquid ones today (for the first time ever!) and it didn’t give me too much trouble, but I definitely need to hunt out my elf stippling brush, because it seems to have gone walkies… I also have the Nabla makeup sponge which I don’t LOVE for foundation but I didn’t yet think to try it for blush!


Christine Avatar

Sponges are kind of underrated for cream/liquid application, though I’d say they’re better for more pigmented liquid/cream – kind of where you want to extra help (aka sponge absorption) to avoid overdoing it… or to kind of push and press into place with minimal movement after an initial laydown!

CeeBee Avatar

Well, I tried it with a sponge and it was OK – I can see it would work really well for very vivid or pigmented liquid blushers but the ones I’ve got are very subtle shades and I used HEAPS of product (since most if it absorbed into the sponge, even though it was damp) so I think with these particular ones, I’ll just stick with my fingers. You’re right about it not messing with your base though! I’m super flawless today, it just took more work than I thought to get there (and that’s not a bad thing either!) 😉 🙂

Nicole D Avatar

As someone with dehydrated/dry skin, I love the liquid blushes. My current favorite is the Inglot AMC Liquid Blush (93). Personally, I’m looking for a more natural effect, therefore I apply a small amount of the liquid blush on the back of my hand, then I take it with a brush, press the brush first against my hand (it removes the excess), and the I apply the blush on my cheeks.

Nicole D Avatar

This method works best in my case, and it allows me to avoid applying too much and then trying to correct, especially that I apply my makeup early in the morning (around 6:00 am) and I don’t have much time 🙂

Karen Johnston Avatar

I use all three methods to apply that you mentioned. I think I get the best results with a stippling brush. One detail that I did not see here is that I will spread a small amount on the back of my hand in a circle big enough so that when I dip my brush in it all the tips of the bristles are evenly covered. If it is a bright or highly pigmented formula I then swipe the brush on a clean part of my hand to remove any excess product. I find that if my bristles are all coated the same then the blush applies much easier and I don’t end up with blotches. I also enjoy using a beauty blender but sometimes I feel like I do not have the control and I end up with product in places I was not intending.

Janey Avatar

I apply mine with a fingertip on the inner cheek and use a circular motion to blend to spread upward and outward. Then I use the Bobbi Brown Color Corrector over the blush to make my blush look more under the skin than over it! It also looks dewy this way 🙂

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