Beauty Makeup Study: Rouge, Blush or Blusher

Beauty Makeup: Rouge, Blush or Blusher

By Photographer & Makeup Artist Renee Keith

Blush is a cosmetic that can be used to redden cheeks, contour the face, amplify facial features, and provide a more youthful, attractive, healthy appearance. Scientists at Scotland’s University of St. Andrews Perception Lab have shown that a rosy complexion can denote healthiness (oxygen rich blood) and higher sex hormones, while green and pale indicates illness *1. Also, when applying beauty makeup, foundation is usually used to even out skin tones, and blush can be used to bring some color back into the face.

IMO, Putting on blush correctly isn’t just about grabbing some nice pink/red color and throwing it on the apple of your cheek (I wish it were that easy, and that might even work for some people)… There is an art to it. My personal goals with this study: I would like to know when to use what colors, and why, as well as different ways to put it on to flatter the model’s facial features. For creative looks, I would like to get down the porcelain doll look and exaggerated stage makeup.

Gypsy - Makeup and Photography by Renee Keith
Gypsy – Makeup and Photography by Renee Keith 2013

Makeup for photography is usually put on a lot heavier than normal because it doesn’t show up as much on camera…. especially blush. But don’t worry, even if it doesn’t show up too much,  a digital photographer will have the option to darken it in post processing. Most photographers don’t know makeup too well, so it is important that you get everything in the right spot.

There are several different types of blush to choose from including powder, creme, gel tint blush and shimmers. Powder is okay to use with all skin types, but works best with oily skin. Creme is rich in oils, so it is best for dry skin.  Gel is usually water based, and best to use for anyone with acne or pimples. It is fast drying and not recommended for dry skin. Tint Blush also drys fast, so you must spread it and blend it quickly. It should be applied over foundation, doesn’t really need touch up and works with all skin types. Matt finishes are generally recommended for women over 40.

Here is a quick YouTube video from Lucky Magazine briefly showing powder, creme and gel: *2

correct blush color example
correct blush color example

Once you decide what type to go with, next comes what colors to use. Here are some simple guidelines: If your skin is really light, pinks (and sometimes peaches) look best. If your have warmer toned skin, corals, and roses  will help compliment your golden undertones. Bright and bold look best for darker skinned women. Ive read online, that a good way to find your blush color is to pinch your cheeks, and wait a few minutes. Another way is to match it yo your natural lip color. Of course, rules are just guidelines and ultimately, a talented trained eye will be what makes or breaks you. So far, when playing around with blush, Ive definitely noticed that color choice is a huge deal and if you want to be good at flattering women with makeup, small details are big ones.

The image to the right is  a great example of the wrong color vs the right color for her face. The left cheek looks unnatural with too warm of tones. The right cheek looks more natural matching skin tones and her lips.

Next, I will be going over different ways to put blush on.

Where is the apple of your cheek? *3  Click here to watch a Bobbie Brown Video on 

As I learn to put blush on, I am starting to wonder if I mostly use it to contour. The image to the left shows blush on the lower part of her cheek bone. Whereas the  link above shows to put blush on the round part of your cheek (easily found when you smile).  I don’t think I am doing it wrong really, just different… and I like it, but maybe I need to start using a different color for contouring rather than blush colors? I plan to figure this all out as I study how to put blush on.

Please stay tuned for updates.

Last updated: Dec 22nd 2013

Works Cited

1. University of St Andrews. “Red In The Face”.,31975,en.php. 01, April 2009. 12/22/2013.

2.Lucky Magazine. “The Best Way to Wear Blush” 06, April 2013.  12/22/2013.

3. “Color in Your Cheeks” 08, June 2008. 12/22/2013.


  1. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as gel blush. I like the no-brush-needed part. Sounds travel-friendly.

    I would love to see more picture examples. 🙂

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