Makeup artist Mary Phillips shares her tips and tricks for perfecting the rosy cheek.
Written By Erica lopez
It was worn by women and men in ancient Egypt (how better to make those kohl-lined eyes pop?) embraced by 16th-century Venetian aristocrats with a flair for the flamboyant, coveted by Madame de Pompadour in 18th-century France (her preferred shade of deep pink was eventually named for her) and banned by Queen Victoria who considered it to be a vulgar faux-pas. At once synonymous with sensuality and elegance, blush continues to be regarded as an instant booster for the complexion—and an aphrodisiac to the suitors who behold it.
For the best that the celebrated cheek tint has to offer, The Violet Files consulted Mary Phillips, the artist who enhances the glow of the notoriously radiant Jennifer Lopez. And while the ideal way to achieve the perfect flush factor is via an unexpected compliment from a not-so-secret admirer, Phillips’s advice yields similar (if not even more alluring) results.
We’ve come a long way from the toxic mercury sulfide-based formulas of the 16th century, and the powder-only monopoly of grandma’s time. Between stains, creams, and gels, choosing a formula can be in and of itself confusing, not to mention the panorama of colors. Below, Phillips offers a quick rundown.
These formulas are generally made from a mixture of oils and waxes, and tend to look the most real to me. I especially love to use them in dryer climates on older skin types—the cream formula doesn’t settle into fine lines on mature skin the way a powder would.

How to Apply: The warmth of your finger will help to really melt the pigment into your skin, however, for those who prefer to keep their hands clean, look to a Beauty Blender, a small blush or stippling brush to transfer a soft wash of color to the cheeks.  
Stains are often water-based, oil-free, and alcohol-free, making them appropriate for all skin types. A stain actually acts as a temporary dye to saturate your skin with color. For this reason, it tends to last the longest and is designed to be waterproof.

How to Apply: The trick to working with a stain is speed. Apply with a brush (you can’t go wrong with the Utowa Cheek Brush) and then blend it out using your fingers.
Liquid + Gel
Liquid blush has the consistency of water, while the gel is thicker and not as runny. Both liquid and gel blushes are highly pigmented, and a little bit of color goes a long way. Instead of depositing color on top of the skin, liquid and gel blush stain the skin and give the appearance of a natural flush.

How to Apply: One of the best things about using a gel blush is the color payoff–a little goes a long way. I apply this type of blush in the same way as a stain blush: using a brush first and then blending with my fingers. If the blush comes in bullet form, apply directly from the packaging with no brush or fingers, blending as you go for a more concentrated dispense of color. If too much blush is used, the only way to correct the color is to wash it off and start over.  
Made from a talc, corn, arrowroot, or rice powder base, powder blushes are ideal for oily skin types and as a sealant for other creamy formulas and to create a multidimensional cheek. As for texture, creams, liquids, and gels will give you the most natural finish while loose powder blushes are more build able and offer more coverage.

How to Apply:
Use angular brushes for defined blending or a domed brush to give you that perfect color pop. When in doubt, setting spray is a great tool for powdered blushes, in case you’ve applied too much and it appears dusty. Give your face a spritz or two after applying your makeup to help it last all day.
Peach can be especially flattering for complexions with yellow undertones; baby pink (like the inside of your lip) works best for those with pink undertones.
Apricot with a tinge of orange looks subtle and especially becoming on medium skin tones. (It also happens to be one of Phillips’s favorite shades to put on J. Lo.)
Seek out pearly finishes in orange, peach, and bronze shades. These colors will really pop off the skin, and make it look radiant.
Deep terracotta, purples, brick colors, and super poppy colors (oranges, reds, and very vivid bubble gum pinks), as well as golds and bronzes look incredible on this skin set. Stay away from anything ‘light’ or icy as it can deflate the skin, and create an grayish color.
Hitting the right spot
Placement is key—you want to mimic the shade and the location of your natural flush. Go on a run and then take a selfie—the shade and location of your natural flush will pop right up. A common mistake that women make is poor blush placement: too high (think: temple grazing c-shapes), too low (under the cheekbones), and sometimes too close to the nose or eyes. Generally, avoid parts of the face that wouldn’t get flushed naturally. 
Placement for every shape
LONG: In general, women with longer faces should apply blush on the apples of the cheeks and blend upwards, taking care not to cut into the temples.

OVAL: For oval faces, applying to the apples of the cheeks will be just right.

ROUND: To slim a round face, hold the brush at a 45-degree angle and apply outwards and upwards along your cheekbones.

SQUARE: For square faces, make a little rectangle by brushing in a linear motion back and forth. Square faces have very pointy cheekbones, so be careful to apply the blush gently and not to overdo the look—too much pigment will appear too harsh. 

MATURE: An instant trick to lift older cheeks is to swirl blush ever-so-slightly higher than the apples of the cheeks. Avoid long strokes from ear to mouth, which drag the face down and only emphasize gauntness.
1. Use the same wet formula (gel, cream, or stain) to use on both your lips and cheeks for a flushed, model-off-duty look.
2. Employ shimmer blush with caution. Choose your degree of sparkle, based on occasion and time of day. Most sparkly blushes are better suited for an evening red carpet than they are for the 9 a.m. board meeting.
3. Apply color to the areas of your face that flush naturally—a look in the mirror or selfie post-cardio can help guide the way.
1. Overly flashy shades, like flamingo pink, which can wind up looking dated. Choose hues that emulate your natural flush instead.
2. Powder blushes on mature skin—they settle into fine lines and creases.
3. Applying rouge too low or too high on the face, or too close to the nose. 


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