It often seems like blush comes in myriad hues. The rainbow of shades that bombards the eye when shopping is only an illusion and should be disregarded when choosing the right blush. The real issue lies with your skin's natural undertones. Remember that blush is like an accessory to your makeup look, not a staple item. In the words of Coco Chanel, "before you leave the house, look in the mirror and remove one thing from your outfit." While she was referring to fashion accessories, the same goes for cosmetics. Blush is only meant to act as an enhancement of your natural skin tone; it should not to match your eyeshadow or lipstick like you would match a handbag to your shoes. With that in mind, time to get into the nitty gritty.

Choosing Blush

Remember that when you shop you need to choose a color based on the criteria below and NOT whether or not the blush color looks pretty on the shelf. That will do nothing for YOUR look. ! # It should be obvious whether your skin is fair, medium or dark. This is the first step in picking blush color. # Then try to determine what your undertones are, whether they be pink, yellow, olive or blue (dark skin). # Next, figure out how to best complement your hair color.

Blush Shade

One rule goes for everyone when choosing blush; the darker your skin, the deeper the hue can be. This is usually easy to work around since you can often hold up a blush next to your skin and see if it looks too light or dark. You wouldn't wear a deep brick red crimson if you are fair, just like you wouldn't wear a pale dusty rose if you have dark skin. When faced with two blush choices, one lighter and the other darker, always choose the darker color. It's easier to blend in the shade than try and build a color that will never show up. Also remember that as night falls, you can wear deeper blush shades than you would during the day.

Understanding Undertones

Blush should be the right shade and have the right undertones. The "right" undertones are the ones that are the same "temperature" as your skin. Either you have warm undertones or you have cool ones. Blushes work the same way. Here are some examples of cool and warm colors. * Cool Tones: Silver, gray, navy or cobalt blue, periwinkle, purple, pink purple and forest green are some. * Warm Tones: Gold, cocoa, olive green, sage, peach, terracotta, burnt orange and yellow are some. You can tell which tones you have simply by standing in front of a mirror with something yellow/gold and something gray/silver. If you hold the gray up to your skin and it makes you look warm and alive, yet the yellow makes you look pale, ashen, even deathly, it's highly likely that you have cool tones. If gray makes you look bad, yet the yellow makes your skin glow, you probably have warm tones. How does this translate to blush colors? Here are some typical colors you'll see when shopping for blush and their corresponding undertones. * Cool Blush: Plum, mauve, burgundy, wine, dusty rose and berry. * Warm Blush: Coral, bronze, mocha, beige, copper, tawny and toast. If that's too confusing, another method to try is simply to consider the combination of your skin, hair and eye color. Pale skin with light to dark hair works well with roses and plums while medium and tan skin with medium to dark hair looks great with bronzers and neutral earth shades such as peach or terracotta. For those with light to medium dark skin and reddish hair, peaches and apricots are best. Finally, those with ivory skin and light hair, coral and pale rose work well.

Blush Types

* '''Powder Blush''': The basic blush for every type of skin. It goes on easy, sheer and light, which makes it perfect for blending and layering. * '''Cream Blush''': Good for those with dry skin as they usually contain oils that moisturize the skin. These oils also help the blush stay on. Beware though that a little goes a long way. Use a dab for a base and blend it with a sheer powder over top. * '''Cheek Stain''': This is another water based blush that is very similar to gel blush. Be careful about building color.

Start Shopping

How much should you spend on blush? It all depends on how much you actually use. * '''Rarely''' Don't spend a lot on blush if anything at all. It's just another product in your cosmetic bag. * '''Occasionally''' You can probably get away with skimping on a cheaper drugstore brand. Any product costing less than $10 will suffice for that random moment when you need some color. * '''Regularly''' Invest in a top notch brand. The best blushes cost the most because they have more pigment, more intense color and a finer texture. What that means for you is that you can apply less product and get more color, fewer streaks and a smoother feel. If you can't spend $20 or more on a blush, consider using an inexpensive cream blush. They create rich color without streaking and they cost a fraction of the price. Below are some of the best brands for blush, ordered from cheap to steep.

Skin Shade and Application

* '''Light to Medium Skin''' ** Apply it on the apples of the cheeks to create a youthful appearance. ** You might look into getting a cheek illuminator/highlighter to give a soft shimmer without imparting too much color. ** Stick to a very light bronzer during summer unless you tan easily. * '''Medium to Dark Skin''' ** Dark skin is best enhanced with luscious, rich fruity colors with warm red bases, such as true rose, cherry, apple and berry. ** Apply blush just below the cheekbones to "sink" them and create contours. Choose a blush that is one half to two shades darker than your own skin. ** Another great option is to look for luminizers or highlighters that will make your cheeks pop rather than adding color. Bronzers are also a great option to give your skin a glow. When it comes to wearing blush properly, remember that the key to good application is ''blending'' Don't overdo it. Start light and build always blending. Once you have the correct color saturation, blend some more and make sure that you have no harsh "edges". It shouldn't look like you are wearing makeup. For great demonstrations and illustrations on how to apply blush properly, see the following Web sites that discuss application for your face shape, hair color and underetones.

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