Blush vs. Bronzer
Three experts answer your burning blush and bronzer questions and share their top tips.
Blush or bronzer? Both are beauty essentials, and both are key to adding a flush of color to any complexion. But while they might seemingly serve the same purpose, you may just be using them all wrong. To break down the differences and the dos and don'ts, we consulted three professional makeup artists for their advice on all things blush and bronzer.
We started with the basics: what are the key differences between these two makeup staples, when should we be using one over the other, and why? "Typically, you apply blush to the apples or along the cheekbones and bronzer on the high points of the face such as the forehead, nose, chin, and jaw," says Jason Hoffman, Head of Global Artistry at Rose Inc. "Blush is meant to mimic blood flow to the skin, and bronzer gives the illusion of a tan, so one is a result of internal function, and one is an environmental response."
Sounds simple, right? But with so many shades, formulas, and techniques to test and try, it can be overwhelming to choose not only the right products for your skin but also for the look you want to achieve.
Read on for our complete primer on all things blush and bronzer.
How To Choose The Correct Shade Of Blush And Bronzer
“The secret to finding the right blush or bronzer is to choose based on your skin tone, not the color of the product itself," says Hoffman. “Fair skin tends to look better in neutral and cool tones, so look for a neutral or tan bronzer and a pink or soft cool peach blush. Medium skin can opt for a warmer peach or coral blush and a warm golden bronzer. Deep skin on the other hand can easily wear berry and brick, or vivid coral blushes and a bronzer with a red undertone–either warm or cool.” Another easy hack? “I like looking at the person’s lip color when gently bitten and choosing a blush that has the same undertones or matches that color,” says makeup artist Sarah Uslan, whose signature style is about giving her clients the most natural-looking glow.
When it comes to bronzer, the most common misstep is being too heavy-handed, which can make your face look dirty rather than sunkissed, especially if your bronzer is too warm or red. "Using bronzer as blush can often look muddy," says Hoffman. "If you are using bronzer to contour, try to find a very neutral shade so it looks like a natural contour instead of something too colorful." Similarly, a good blush should add a healthy flush to the cheeks and not look clownish, and as hyper-pigmented formulas can often look extreme on fair skin, Hoffman suggests starting with a sheer or cream formula which is easier to build. "If you apply too much, simply buff with a sponge."
How To Use A Cream Vs A Powder Formula
When choosing the perfect blush and bronzer, the formula can also make all the difference in achieving a natural look. Cream blush and bronzer formulas provide a dewy, natural finish that is perfect for those with dry or mature skin and have the added benefit of skin health-boosting ingredients such as Squalane, Vitamin E, and Peptides. Powder blush and bronzer meanwhile offer a matte finish that is perfect for oily or combination skin types, and more pigmented formulas. But that's not to say you can't use both, says Hoffman. "I almost always use a cream because it melts into the skin. If I want more dimension, I'll layer powder blush or bronzer on top of the cream. My pro tip is to play with different finishes. For example, if I start with a cream blush with no shimmer, I'll layer a powder blush with a touch of shimmer. This gives dimension to the skin by creating layers of textures."
Makeup artist Sarah DiGisco, aka Disco, also recommends mixing and matching depending on both your skin type and the look you are hoping to achieve. “If you are dry, I would stick to the creams, and if you are oily, I would stick to powders,” she says. “If you are all about the glam, then I would say both. Start with your creams and then layer powder on top to give the ultimate dimension but keep in mind that a little goes a long way.”
How To Apply Blush and Bronzer
As with all makeup, the key to achieving a flawless look often comes down to the application technique. "One of the most common mistakes I see is people using the same brush for both their bronzer and their blush," Uslan says. "It muddies up the blush and defeats the purpose of it." Uslan also stresses the importance of expanding makeup off of the face in order to blend it seamlessly into the neck and décolleté. "The area people tend to forget is under the chin and neck, which is really important to connect the tones in the face and chest together."
When applying bronzer, Disco’s top tip is to imagine you are lying on the beach and visualize which parts of the face naturally catch the sun. "The forehead, top of the cheekbones, bridge of the nose, and chin are where I like to focus my bronzer placement," she says. "Regarding blush placement, it depends on the look you are going for. For a fresh everyday look, stick to the apples of the cheek and a little blush on the temples. This will create the illusion that the blush is your natural flush because it appears in other parts of your complexion." Another easy trick, says Uslan, is to smile and begin the application at the "meatiest" part of the cheek.
Can You Use Blush And Bronzer Together?
The short answer is yes–but, again, there are some dos and don'ts. “I always mix blush and bronzer together because they achieve different things in different areas of your complexion,” says Disco. “If you were actually out in the sun and getting a tan you would likely be hot, so your skin would naturally flush. Adding blush and bronzer together may seem like you are wearing more makeup, but in the end, it looks like less because it's mimicking the skin's natural reaction to the sun.”
Hoffman is also a fan of mixing and layering these two products. “Layering blush and bronzer is straightforward: apply the bronzer where the sun hits the face and body and apply blush where you naturally flush, this will mimic nature and give subtle dimension and definition,” he explains. “If you want more definition, add a bit of contour with bronzer, then apply blush and bronzer as usual. If, after applying blush, you still feel pale or washed out, apply bronzer to warm up the complexion.”
Ultimately, says Uslan, the goal when reaching for either of these products should be to present textured skin as flawless as those lucky enough to have great skin without any makeup. “My rule of thumb is bronzer goes first to bring out the natural contours in the face and warmth of the skin, and blush is that added pop to bring even more life to the skin.”
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