A Brown Girl’s Guide to Wearing Blush, According to a Makeup Artist

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Last Updated
Jun 1, 2022

Whether your goal is to look freshly sunkissed or obtain the flushed cheeks of a blooming bride, blush is your ticket to elevating your makeup and adding depth to your complexion. However, a longstanding misconception is that blush on dark skin violates some unspoken makeup rule. This could not be further from the truth.

"Traditionally, blush was created to mimic the natural flush that happens in very fair skin tones," shares celebrity makeup artist Courtney Kareem. "People assume all blush should be a pale pink or bright red and you just start to naturally avoid the things that were not initially intended for deep skin tones." Fortunately, the tides are changing and Kareem notes that a lot of brands are expanding to accommodate all skin tones rather than a select few. 

If you're blessed with melanin-rich skin, understanding the type, method, and shade is key to successfully incorporating blush into your routine. Kareem guides us through all the blush basics and shares the tips and tricks needed to bring warmth to your complexion. From mineral to liquid and everything in between, we have your guide to picking the perfect blush for dark skin tones.

What to Look for When Selecting a Blush

Kareem says undertones are a great starting point for selecting the perfect blush, and even the deepest of complexions have undertones. "Any skin tone can have warm, neutral, olive, or cool undertones," she says, acknowledging that sometimes they can be harder to decipher. "It's hard to tell in skin tones that are very deep sometimes." So how do you go about figuring out your skin's undertone? "A general rule of thumb is that if gold jewelry looks best on you, you most likely have a warm undertone. If silver jewelry makes your complexion pop, you most likely have a cool undertone. If you can pull off both, congratulations, your undertone may be neutral and you have the widest array of choices as far as color palettes go."

Undertones are not the end all be all for shade selection, but there are a trusted few shades Kareem favors. "I like to use copper, chocolate, orange, and burgundy-toned blushes for deeper skin tones. A lot of people don't realize that there are brown blushes."

How to Decide on the Best Type of Blush

Shade is not the only variable in the world of blushes. Actual product consistency can vary. From liquid to mineral and even cream, there are a lot of forms in which a blush can come. According to Kareem, deciding on a blush type comes down to the look you are trying to achieve. "I love cream blush. It can be subtle while giving a fresh finish, but creams can also get tricky if you're not used to building and blending different textures," she adds.

The Best Way to Apply Blush

As far as application goes, the type of brush or sponge you use depends on the kind of blush you use. "I love applying my own blush with a sponge because I gravitate toward deep pink and copper highlighting blushes. The sponge application allows you to build the color while keeping the coverage natural." For blushes with a matte finish, she prefers to use a brush. "I like to apply matte blushes with a soft angled brush." For cream blushes, she opts for soft synthetic brushes. "I apply cream and liquid blushes with a dual fiber blending brush," she adds.

Shades to Avoid

While Kareem doesn't like to steer anyone away from experimenting with color, there are a few shades to be mindful of. "I tend to avoid pale hues or extremely bright colors because those are harder to blend with a deeper skin tone." But most important to Kareem? Having fun. "Makeup is a form of self-expression for many people, so if you love it, try it."

Shop the Best Blushes for Dark Skin

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