Pro Makeup Artist Tips for Real Blushing Beauty
Michael Bondi, Director of Education and Lead Instructor at the Blush School of Makeup in San Francisco, has plenty to say about blush in theory and in practice.
Makeup artist maestro Michael Bondi could talk about blush until he’s blue in the face, “Personally, I like a lot of blush. I tell my students that if you’re not using blush, the face is not finished. From the most casual no-makeup makeup to full-on fashion maquillage application, blush brings the entire look together.
“The metaphor I use for my students for the ideal après foundation makeup combination is Neapolitan ice cream. The chocolate is your contour (and on some people the natural shadow of their cheekbone can handle this job on its own without product), which is about structure. The vanilla is your highlighter, also about structure. But the strawberry is your blush and that’s all about spirit. Blush renders the complexion into something special, wakes everything up, and leaves the skin looking youthful and healthy.”
Big blusher don’ts
Here are the biggest blush mistakes Bondi sees out on the street all too often:
・Not wearing any – “Skip blush and your looks are really missing out. Even if you don’t wear foundation, a pop of blush is a great way to bring some life to your face,” notes Bondi. “A quick mist of Mineral Air blush works like a breeze on bare skin because there are no problems with blending; it comes out sheer and stays on looking natural.”
・Contouring with blush – Unless you want to look like Alexis Carrington in Dynasty, you’re going to want to give this one a miss. Bondi minces no words here, ”Contouring with blush? With big old red stripes sweeping diagonally up into the hairline? The 80s just called; they want their cheekbones back.”
・Shimmering after a certain age – While blush is marvelously effective on mature skin that tends to get flatter and duller with age, anything frosty, shimmering or iridescent most definitely is not. Bondi says, “Particles in these formulas gather and cling to wrinkles and large pores, and in doing so end up accentuating the uneven texture to make the skin look even worse.”
・Not changing it up – Even the youngest makeup aficionados can get stuck in their blush color choices. Bondi advises, “Every so often, go out of your way to try different colors or formulas. Why? Because your face changes, your skin changes, your taste changes, your circumstances change and the weather changes. Why then would your blush not change? And let’s say your existing blush is still the winner. That’s good to know too.”
Best blusher do’s
・Stick with the apples – For most people, the apple of the cheek is the ideal placement for blush. Make a smile and the apples should pop right out. Apply in a slightly downward circular motion. If you have a particularly narrow or flat face, experiment with placing the blush towards the outer perimeter of your face.
・Utilize blush even if you have problem skin – Oftentimes, those with acne, rosacea or other inflammatory skin condition avoid using blush. Bondi understands, “Who can blame you? Here you’ve spent all this time covering or concealing redness in your complexion in one place only to have us tell you to apply some sort of redness in another. Unfortunately, that’s how the human eye and brain work. A red nose reads as a problem whereas a flushed cheek signals health and vitality. Once you’ve neutralized your problem spots, you’re entitled to enjoy a little blush like everyone else.”
・Build a blush wardrobe – Just as some women enjoy wearing a wide array of lipstick colors, you should consider owning more than one shade of blush.
・Find your favorite blush/lipstick pairings – There are a lot of variables here depending on your skin’s pigment, your eye color, your eye makeup color and what you’re wearing. But take the time to figure out a few lip/blush combos of what works best with what. “Generally,” Bondi notes, “I like a strong red lip with a light pink or rose blush. And to my eye, a neutral lip looks best playing off of a peachier blush.”
・Keep your distance – Bondi was a Mineral Air early adopter. “One of my favorite things about Mineral Air,” he notes, “Is that you can control the strength of the pigment depending on how closly you hold the AirMist device to your face. (Pay attention to the sweet spot though; you should never hold your it closer than one inch away for spot correcting or farther than 8 inches for a sheer wash of color.) So if you have fair skin, it’s daytime and you want just the sheerest hint of color, you’ll mist from 6 to 7 inches way. But if you have a deeper complexion, it’s evening and you want a more glamourous, pronounced look, you may even bring the device in as close as 2 to 3 inches. There’s a bit of a learning curve, true, but soon enough you’ll master it and muscle memory will take over.”
・Make mistakes – “Mistakes are how we learn,” concludes Michael Bondi, “Learning personal makeup application in general and blush in particular is no different. It may take multiple tries to figure out what works best for you. Whether you take in-person lessons, work with a friend or dive into YouTube tutorials, the more you try, the better the correction and the closer you are at getting really good. While professional makeup artists need to be adept at working on a wide variety of faces, you only need to be an expert in one . . . your own.”
“Contouring with blush? With big old red stripes sweeping diagonally up into the hairline? The 80s just called; they want their cheekbones back.”
Director of Education
and Lead Instructor
Blush School of Makeup