I've never been the type to get excited over a blush, and in comparison to the rest of my collection, my blush lineup is decidedly minimal. A fully rouged look clashes with my naturally fair skin, and I've long since lived in fear of committing [in my opinion] the ultimate cardinal makeup sin - over the top blusher. However, I'm equally well aware that a pale complexion [more so than any other] requires a subtle injection of colour and warmth in order to prevent a wan, sallow look. For this reason, blush remains as much a daily inclusion within my makeup routine as mascara and foundation, and I've fast come to learn what works and what doesn't. My requirements for a successful addition to my blush collection call for a light wash of colour that serves to subtly warm, sculpt, and enliven my skintone without looking clown-like. Effortlessly natural and wearable, a barely-there blush dials down the bigger/brighter/bolder associations of rouge and negates the need for precision placement and copious blending. 


This edit would be a one-stop piece starring solely NARS Blush in Douceur if it wasn't for the fact that said blush was discontinued [to much outrage] last year. This product was the one to prove that 'less is more' blushers were more than just a figment of my ever hopeful imagination, and when I first wore it I swore I'd never glance at another blush again [and indeed I didn't for a good two years]. The delicate brown-toned pink presented the perfect middle-ground between blush and contour - soft and dusky, the perfect enhancement to a pale complexion. Another sadly discontinued favourite, TOPSHOP Cheek Jelly in Museum is ideal for a lazy beauty look, when all that's required is a mere hint of glossy natural colour. Despite appearing alarmingly dark and pigmented, the gel texture means this applies to a sheer and translucent finish, ensuring ample play time to blend and smooth to a desired effect before the product dries. Far from being the warm, wine colour it initially appears to be, the hue softens with application to a super flattering warm-toned pink.

These days just about every product - from foundation through to eyeshadow - can be purchased in stick form. Success varies according to product type, but the concept lends itself exceptionally well to cheek colour. A personal favourite is the CHARLOTTE TILBURY Beach Stick in Formentera*. Formulated to glide onto the skin for seamless application, the rich pigment delivers sheer, long-lasting colour that enhances my skin with a radiant hint of warmth. Perfect for a fresh faced look, the subtle sheen and warm pigment serve to brighten the eyes, and the soft, creamy texture is a delight to apply. Wear it as a sheer veil of colour as I do, or blend it just beneath the cheekbones for a subtle contouring effect. A second cheek colour in stick form that I adore is the SUQQU Colour Foundation Sculpting Stick in Natural Pink*. The quiet colour and weightless texture add just a hint of sheen and pigment, sculpting the cheek with a natural, healthy looking colour that instantly enlivens the complexion. The perfect hue for occasions when just the palest hint of colour is all that's needed. Above all, I love this product for being fantastically low maintenance and completely effortless to apply - it's wholly impossible to overdo it with this one.

In a similar vein to the above, CLARINS Multi-Blush in Rosewood* is another blush that lends itself well to the makeup novice or to anyone wary of sporting overly rosy cheeks. Natural ingredients like jojoba and sunflower waxes make this easy to apply and blend across the cheeks., and the muted shade is ideal for pairing with a bright statement lipstick, when you want to be sure your blush is low-key, believable, and non-distracting. The cream texture offers a quick, simple way to achieve naturally flushed-looking cheeks, resulting in a translucent, velvety soft finish. 

Another product that appears alarmingly bold and bright in the bottle, PERRICONE MD No Blush Blush* translates into a beautifully natural, soft pink upon application; the perfect choice for non-foundation wearers as it blends beautifully with bare skin. The unique liquid formula delivers colour with a fresh, radiant finish, resulting in a sheer stain that is a spot-on dupe for naturally flushed cheeks. For those who do prefer a bolder look, the colour is easily buildable from sheer to intense and no matter how much is applied, the weightless texture enhances the cheeks without feeling at all sticky or mask like.

For those who prefer a traditional powder blush, the LAURA MERCIER Second Skin Cheek Colour in Rose Bloom places a fresh, modern spin upon a classic, failsafe formula, delivering a soft pink flush to the cheeks in a shade that is flattering to all skintones. The weightless, silky sheer texture applies evenly and blends beautifully for a really pretty, natural flush, and the formula contains light-reflecting particles, which keep the finish from leaning matte or cakey, but instead impart a fresh, healthy glow. Similarly, MAC Powder Blush in Fleur Power is a fresh pink that really serves to bring a pale skintone to life. A light application of this high-intensity hue lends a natural looking flush that retains its colour flawlessly throughout the day.

A word must also be given to brushes, for having the right tool makes all the difference in application, finish, and effect. Certain blush brushes lend themselves best to a high impact look, and will pack on the pigment no matter how lightly product is applied. I find a natural look is best performed with the LAURA MERCIER Cheek Colour Brush. The loose, soft bristles deposit and blend product perfectly, and the gently rounded shape allows for both a pop of colour to the apple of the cheek as well as a sculpted contour effect.

What are your favourite 'barely-there' blushes?


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