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Flushed cheeks are finally trendier than contouring — how to get the look

Bye bye sculpted cheekbones and piles of concealer and highlighter — fall beauty is all about natural, flushed cheeks that will make you look as if you spent a day on the slopes.

For a few years now, we’ve been inundated with vlogs and step-by-step tutorials on how to slather our faces with various dark and light creams in an effort to shrink our noses, conceal shadows and bring cheekbones to light. The art of Kim Kardashian contouring is a good thing to keep in your mental beauty bag, but stash it away for now: one of fall’s biggest makeup trends requires far fewer tools and skills (hallelujah).

At shows as diverse as J. Crew and Kate Spade, models sported fresh, apple-cheeked faces. Recreating the look is easy — as long as you follow a few rules and pick the right blush for your skin tone.

J Crew fashion week makeup trend
Image: Randy Brooke/WireImage/Getty Images

“Know your skin,” says Justin St. Clair, celebrity makeup artist and creative and brand director for Bella Reina Cosmetics. “If you are normal to dry or even combination chances are your cheeks are the driest part of your face. In this case I recommend using a cream or liquid blusher. If your skin is oily and/or makeup doesn’t seem to last on you, I recommend a powder or stain blusher.”

More: 12 Fall hair trends on Instagram to know and love

Choosing a color

“Choosing a color is fairly subjective so I say choose the blush color you are most attracted to as that color is almost always right for you,” St. Clair says. However, if you want some extra guidance, this is how St. Clair recommends choosing based on skin tone:

  • Very Light to Light (Kate Winslet, Dita Von Teese): Go for pale cooler pinks or reds. Shy away from anything too warm.
  • Light Medium (Lucy Liu, Angelina Jolie): Go for mid tone pinks, reds or corals.
  • Medium (Jennifer Lopez, Penelope Cruz): Go for mid tone reds, corals and warmer pinks.
  • Medium Dark (Zoe Saldana, Kerry Washington): Mid to deeper reds, corals and warm pinks.
  • Dark (Naomi Campbell, Angela Bassett): I go for deep reds, pinks and corals.
  • Very Dark (Lupita Nyong’o): Go for the deepest, cooler reds and pinks to a solid, true red.

“A good rule of thumb is mirror or work from the tones found in your lips,” St. Clair says.

More: Makeup artist turns her eyelids into works of art


“I personally like this look applied just past the front of the apple of the cheek,” St. Clair says. “To find this placement look into a mirror and smile. The part of the cheek that projects most forward when you smile should be beside your nose. Apply the blush just past this forward spot, where your cheeks start moving back when smiling. Blend up along the cheekbone (but not as far as the ear/hairline, use the temples as a guide), a touch towards the nose and down into the ‘hollow’ of the cheek (the space between the corner of the mouth and middle of the ear). The area of application should be round or apple-like with diffused edges.”

Fall blush makeup trend
Image: Randy Brooke/WireImage/Getty Images

If using a powder blush: “For powder use a medium-sized, soft and full-headed blush brush and buff on in circular motions for intense yet evenly diffused color,” St. Clair says. “If you apply too much color remove gently with a soft tissue using the same motion.”

Cream blush: “For cream, use a mixed fiber round brush or your fingers, blend up and then around,” St. Clair says. “You can pat or ‘stipple’ to perfect the blend the edges otherwise use swift longer strokes to avoid blotchiness. Be sure that cheeks are free of excess moisturizer etc. and that foundation is properly applied to prevent a blotchy application.”

Stain or liquid blush: “For a stain or liquid do the same as you would cream,” St. Clair says. “With stains you must work quickly and have a bit of moisturizer/foundation on hand to soften and perfect it. Apply powder after, not before, cream, liquid or stain blushers.”

More: The best colored eyeliner for your eye color

“This look can be bold, or soft and demure, it’s all about how intense you go,” St. Clair says. “Have fun, explore another you, and always blend well.”

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