Don’t Be Afraid of Bright Blush


In November at a Chanel Beauty event, we watched, jaws dropped, as makeup artist Kate Lee dusted neon pink blush onto a model's cheeks for the most delicate, wind-tickled flush. How? Whaa? We strained our eyes, trying to understand how such a brash color could have such an understated effect. We usually avoid bright blush out of fear of looking like we're en route to Clown CollegeBut Kate (and Nars Exhibit A-wearing New Girl writer Camilla Blackett) got us wondering if we'd been looking at the colors all wrong. Then the Nars Guy Bourdin collection arrived at the Gloffice. And then we saw American Hustle. And then we thought, "Dammit, where’s the glamour in being subtle?" So we reached out to Nars' Director of Global Artistry, James Boehmer, to teach us how to cause a quiet riot with intensely-hued blush.

First things first, why go bright?: “Bright blush instantly makes your skin look healthier—it mimics blood circulation! A brighter blush can create so many different effects: sun-kissed, flushed, wind-burnt... and it has a tendency to immediately change your mood and make you feel more awake, the way that bright lipstick can."

Sleight of Hand (and Brush): "Bright blush can absolutely look subtle; it's all in the application. In general, if you're using a softer, loose-hair brush—like the Yachiyo Kabuki Brush—strong, highly pigmented colors will appear more transparent and sheer on the skin. And, if you want to soften the look of a matte blush, you can also apply a highlighter with a bit of a pearl finish under or over the blush."

Match the Texture: "For powder blushes, it's important that the skin texture is also powdered and matte. This will ensure that the blush goes on smoothly, without skipping, dragging, or applying too much pigment. If you are afraid to really go for it with a bright color, try using a cream blush instead. François Nars created The Multiple to create a transparent wash of color on the cheeks as well as the lips and eyes. It's basically foolproof! You can apply a cream blush with your finger for extra control, and they work on top of any finish—on bare skin or on foundation and powder."

AutoCorrect: "Translucent powder hides a multitude of sins. One of the first things I learned from working with François Nars is to apply a bit more blush than you think you should—especially for a photograph. And if you've actually applied too much powder blush, you can soften it with loose translucent powder and a large, fluffy powder brush. If you've gone overboard with a cream blush, keep blending and dabbing with your finger. And if you've really gone too far, you can always wash it off and start over!"

[1-2] Riley photographed in Nars Exhibit A Blush by Emily Weiss in New York on December 12, 2013; [3] Photo by Mathea Millman.

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • Chantel

    I love to wear bright blush!

  • Maddy

    I agree that although too much blush does not translate well in real life, it DOES look great in photos. I was in Florence with a little bit of an 'over-blush' situation and walked around cringing ! But i saw photos and thought 'hey I look great!!!'

    If only there was a blush that specifically looks amazing in photos without being too much in real life. a HD blush!

  • Ana Leote
  • Marlenne

    My favorite bright blush is Pink Swoon from MAC. Applied with one of their duofibre brushes it gives just the most natural flush of color on my skin!

  • Nichole

    She looks stunning! I love blush!

    <3 Nichole | Cantik

  • Andrea

    I'm a big fan of natural looking make-up and I think blush is the key to successful looking and beautiful natural makeup. i also use Nars Orgasm blush and it is absolutely FABULOUS!

    Andrea Fer, Not Quite Grown Up Guide

  • ThoughtsofGlam

    I have such a pale face and look very yellow and sickly without blush. Because I use it almost everyday I've learned which ones work best and are most natural. I found I favor powered blushes over cream ones because it can blend so well but cream ones tend to have more harsh lines on your face.

  • yassira

    Great tips. Blush is a must. On tan, darker skin also the best ashiness buster

  • Janine

    I love bright blush. I just got Kat von D's "Por Vida" and I love it! The brights don't make you look like a doll. Love them! But! I've been in search of long-discontinued "Turbulent" from Chanel. Any ideas? I'm hoping they release it again.

  • Barbara

    The blushes in the last picture look so beautiful and vibrant. Please share the names with us ITG! :)

  • Catherine Dream

    Oh wow, I'm terrified of the Demented Clown look!
    Would love to rock this bright blush though...

  • 1Alouette

    Bright blush + deeper skin = a match made in heaven. Let no black women of colour be fooled by the tunnel vision/fallacy that is the beauty industry (which puts and promotes everything on one skin tone). Bright blush and lipstick, as is the case with clothing, looks amazing on brown skin because it is brightening and awesome as hell. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post.

    • Vanessa

      yes yes sometimes i wish i had darker skin because you ladies look AMAZINGGG in all colors

  • BT

    The only thing is every time I see any beauty related bright blush article/editorial it's featured on a woman of color (and looks gorgeous!) Sadly, I'm super fair and think I'd look like a creepy porcelain doll or someone with bad rosacea trying to pull this off...


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