There’s no question about it, blush is nothing short of a makeup staple. The right shade can help bring warmth to your skin and give you a youthful, rosy flush. But it also has another use you might not be familiar with; blush can be used to contour your face. Though contour blush, as it’s called, first made waves in the 1980s, it’s recently been revived thanks to social media influencers on TikTok. And we’re here for it.
But don’t bust out the blush just yet: Contouring with rosy shades isn’t quite the same as contouring with contour makeup. The practice, also known as “blush draping,” involves following a specific (but easy!) technique. Here, we’ll give you the scoop on where to apply blush to contour your cheekbones, nose, and forehead and point you in the direction of our favorite products to use for a summery, sunkissed glow. Read on for the complete NYX Professional Makeup guide to blush contouring.
Can You Use Blush For Contouring?
The purpose of contouring is to sculpt your features (usually, your cheekbones, but you can contour anywhere you want to add definition or depth). This is typically done with contour makeup that’s two to four shades deeper than your skin tone, but you can do it with blush, too. Whereas contour makeup creates the illusion of shadows, draping blush focuses on adding color to make your bone structure pop. The technique can slim the appearance of your face, visually elongate your features, and make your cheekbones appear higher and sharper.
In its original iteration back in the ‘80s, blush contouring was bold and often over-the-top. Now, it’s a bit more toned down; the goal is bright, not brash. You can use liquid, cream, or powder blush for contour—the formula (and color) you choose will play a role in how intense the end look will be. Brighter, more pigmented shades will create a more obvious blush contour effect (great for special events). Subtler tones can help give your face dimension while still being wearable for every day. Deeper blush shades, meanwhile, can be used to emphasize the hollows of your cheekbones for a super-defined, high-drama look.
How To Contour With Blush
If you’re interested in trying blush contouring, you’ve come to the right place. Here, we’ll break down how to apply contour blush (specifically, where to put your blush) for a stunningly sculpted look.
First, Choose a Formula
Before you get to work, you have a decision to make: which type of blush to use. Various types of blush can be used for your contour, but different formulas have different effects and finishes, so you’ll want to pick one that suits both your skin type and preferred vibe.
If you’re a newbie to blush contouring, we recommend starting with our Wonder Stick Blush—it’s made specifically for sculpting your face with color. The creamy blush stick is dual-ended, with a lighter shade on one side for adding color and a deeper shade on the other for creating depth and dimension. It’s available in three color-coordinated shade pairings and the blendable formula with hyaluronic acid melts onto the skin beautifully for an effortless flush.
For a natural look, try a liquid or cream blush, such as Sweet Cheeks Soft Cheek Tint. The vegan formula comes in six diverse shades and offers buildable color for a naturally-flushed look. Plus, the doe-foot applicator makes this creamy blush super easy to apply: Just dot it onto your cheeks and blend with a sponge, brush, or your fingers for a flush of color. Or, achieve a luminous look with Bare With Me Luminous Cheek Serum, which comes in three sheer but buildable shades that leave the skin looking moisturized with a dewy finish.
Finally, if you want a matte finish, try a powder blush, like the matte version of our classic Sweet Cheeks Creamy Powder Blush. The velvety pressed-powder formula delivers a flush of gorgeous color with a natural-looking matte finish. The best-selling formula is vegan and cruelty-free, and it’s available in a variety of shades, from classic pinks and nudes to vibrant hues of gold and purple (perfect for rocking a rainbow contour).
Apply Contour Blush High On The Cheekbones
While traditional contour is supposed to go directly under your cheekbones, blush contour should go near the top of your cheekbones—almost where you’d put highlighter. This helps draw attention to your cheekbones, making them appear higher and sharper. Start by applying your chosen blush starting at the center of your cheekbones, about midway between your ears and your nose, avoiding the apples of your cheeks. Then, buff the blush upward and outward (toward your temples) for a lifted effect.
Like with standard contour, blush contouring doesn’t have to be limited to your cheeks. You can also apply a bit of blush to the tip of your nose (where the sun would naturally hit it after spending a day on the beach) and along your hairline for a sunkissed effect. If you’re applying blush to these areas, start with the smallest amount and build until you achieve your desired effect. The end result should look sunkissed, not sunburned.
Pro Tip: For an extra-sculpted finish, sweep a darker blush onto the hollows of your cheeks for extra dimension.
Use a Small Brush To Blend
Blending is crucial when contouring with blush. It helps make this trend wearable rather than cartoonish. If you’re using a powder blush, we recommend reaching for a fluffy brush, such as our Tapered Powder Brush, to buff out the edges of your color for a softer finish. This super-soft synthetic fiber brush is smaller than your typical blush brush, which gives you more control over your blending. Plus, you can use it with pressed and loose powders, making it a makeup bag staple (if we do say so ourselves).
For cream or liquid blushes, we recommend blending with a makeup sponge, brush, or your fingers—choose whichever method works best for you.
Apply Bronzer For Added Definition
If you want to really make your look pop, you can add a bit of bronzer at your temples and beneath your cheekbones for more dimension and definition. Just sweep a small amount of bronzer onto the hollows of your cheeks and blend to create the illusion of sharper cheekbones. Once you’re all done with your makeup, don’t forget to set with a long-lasting setting spray to keep your look intact all day.Next: How To Contour Like an Absolute Pro