How to Apply Blush: Breaking the “Rules” with Untraditional Colors

April 8, 2014 • Beauty


I’ve never quite understood the appeal of blush for the most part. It’s often used to “add a healthy glow” or “make you look alive,” but isn’t blushing usually from embarrassment? That’s how I’ve always thought of it. Then there are so many rules about applying it, like using the right color of muddy pink for your skin tone and applying just enough so it doesn’t look too dated or like a sunburn. I like to think of using blush similar to the way I can with eyes and lips. It feels a lot more approachable and fun. Blue eye-shadow isn’t unusual and can look amazing, but blue blush? It’s one of those things that looks amazing and you don’t even realize it until you try it.


Left to right: back cover of Grace Jones “Portfolio” | Lipps Inc. “Pucker Up” | Minako Yoshida “Minako”

The 1970s are like a goldmine of fabulous blush looks. I was mostly inspired by album covers, obviously there’s Grace Jones and her (already) killer cheekbones and blush. Then, the artist who created the cover for the Minako Yoshida album above, Pater Sato, and his artwork full of fantasy goddess looks. Blush in the ’70s had traditional red/pink tones and more unusual ones like blues and violets. For some album covers, the colors seem to be from post-processing or they’re actually illustrations or paintings, but they still make the blush look like they could be flattering and wearable. The application ranges from soft to dramatic and I noticed three general techniques: 1) Applying on the apple of the cheek, 2) Creating a stripe across the cheekbone, and 3) Working with the cheekbones (contouring, pretty much). It’s possible to pull it off with nearly any technique, but those were the methods I played with.


Jane Forth by Bill King for Harper’s Bazaar, 1971 and in Paul Morrissey’s Trash, 1970

Blush products in nontraditional colors exist, although they’re a little tough to find. Orange seems like the next step after traditional shades and more brands are starting to make it. The above photos of Jane Forth are a good example of a dramatic look vs a subtle look with orangey blush. Lavender and orchid shades have been popular lately and I’ve seen a few products in blush form, but many of them are still on the pink side. For really unusual colors, Make Up For Ever has an interesting selection including green and yellow blushes. Several independent cosmetic brands offer some as well, like Little Sparrow Cosmetics and Darling Girl Cosmetics. Eyeshadow, lipstick, or any other makeup can be used as blush, like Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics lip tar which you can make almost any color you want with.

I used to wear silver and metallic blue lipsticks when I was a toddler so I grew up without any fear of using certain makeup colors, but I know other people may be a little apprehensive to wear them. If you want to wear unusual colors, ease into it by working up to bolder shades or just go for it. You never know until you try it and you may actually be surprised. Green might be the perfect blush color you’ve never tried.


From left to right.

From left to right.

Look 1 | Illamasqua Libido cream blusher, MAC Embark eyeshadow, NARS Heat Wave lipstick, Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Androgyne lip tar

Screen shot 2014-04-07 at 8.23.47 PM

Look 2 | Make Up For Ever #9 powder blush, L’Oreal Glistening Garnet eyeshadow, L’Oreal Bottomless Java eyeshadow, Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Hoochie lip tar, Maybelline Vision in Violet lipgloss

Screen shot 2014-04-07 at 8.36.54 PM
Look 3 | Little Sparrow Cosmetics Bluebell Blush, MAC Embark eyeshadow, MAC Blue Orbit eyeshadow, NARS Volga lipstick

Tags: ,

Read more:
Chiharu Okunugi: From Nada to Prada
All About That Model LYF: January 2010

All Aboard.

Get The Style Con shipped to your inbox.