First Blush

Blush scares me. A pretty pink glow always seems to work well for my caucasian friends, but whenever I’ve tried to apply cheek stain to myself or had it applied by a makeup artist, I didn’t like how it over-accented my round “Grell” cheeks. (It’s definitely a family trait.) I see blush as a dangerous cosmetic. It’s way too easy to overdo.

When you do, everyone laughs at you because you look like you were shot with Homer Simpson’s makeup gun.

I knew a woman who put on blush – excuse me, rouge – much like Lil Kim has here. Like she’s daubing on war paint. To quote an old Trinidadian saying my mother uses often, she looks like a JuJu warrior.

(The expression is typically used for a woman who has left the house looking unkempt or crazy, in terms of hairstyle or makeup. Trust me, you know a JuJu warrior when you see one).

Despite my fear, recently I’ve been hankering to give my cheekbones a bit more color. Iman’s book, The Beauty of Color, gives specific advice to black women who want to give blush a try. She says: “Women with skin of color come in a zillion shades, but here’s one constant: Any blush with a bit of gold shimmer looks fabulous on you. It instantly brightens your face, and makes you look like you’ve just returned from Ibiza.”

For dark women, she recommends adding “a deep flush to your skin with shimmery cinnamons, bronzes, or even true Crayola orange. Believe it or not, it’s so beautiful – when applied to the apples of the cheeks, it gives a gorgeous flush.”

I don’t know about any Crayola orange, Iman. Sorry.

The colors she advises for very dark women sound delicious: “deep berries, velvety crimsons, and gold-infused plums.” The book says that oil-free, water-based stains work best on oily skin, so I’m either planning to buy one of those, or a cream blush for “working a steamy, dewy, Rita Moreno-in-West-Side-Story moment.” That sounds right up my alley.
I first read about Tarte Cheek Stain on Beauty Addict back in 2005, and I’ve been planning to try it out the next time I’m wandering wisftully around Sephora.

Love, love the colors of the Stila Gel Cheek Color. And the price is getting closer to my range.

But I’m most likely going to head to the CVS down the street and get the L’Oreal HIP High Intensity Pigments Blendable Blushing Creme. I already have their Brilliant Shine Lip Gloss and I love the richness of the color. It works great over my regular slick gloss. (Yes, I layer lip glosses. Don’t you?)

What kind of blush do you use?

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  1. I don’t wear blush either. Like you, I’m always afraid I’m going to end up looking scary. I may just head on over to drugstore as well and get some of that L’Oreal blush. Of course, after I put it on and go out, I’ll probably feel like everyone is staring at me, heh. I actually have some orange eyeshadow from MAC (the color is Rule), and it’s not so bad on my dark skin, really.

  2. I’ve never worn blush, as a matter of fact, I don’t wear makeup at all except for the occasional mascara and eye brightener. I think I will check out the Loreal HIP line (the colors look so deep and rich)but I really want to try the Stila products but they’re out of my price range!

  3. I am not a daily blusher, I just accent my eyes, minus eyeliner. However, I do own Clinique’s “Sweet Cheeks” blush. I actually use it as a “highlighter for my eyelids. But when I have a special occassion or I look kinda washed out, its soft enough, with a couple upward strokes, to complete a clean look.

  4. i really adore a pop of blush, you know a color that seems to work universally is apricot. it kinda is a more subtle color of Nars Orgasm.

  5. Loving the blog, girl! Sooo many of US are either afraid to experiment with makeup or we simply overdo it!

    I, too, was afraid of blush until a MAC artist used “Gingerly” on me! It looks pink, but it goes on bronzy. It’s sooo pretty! Now, I use it everyday!

  6. 70ssoulchild says:

    It too use a Mac blush creme that looks like the Loreal creme blush. I just started using blush last year much for the sames reasons you state. I was afraid of having too much on or looking like Lil Kim. But those MAC makeup artists work wonders! Go ahead and jumping into the blush/rouge pool, everyone.

  7. Las Vegas Spark says:

    The pic of Homer with the makeup gun is hilarious. Unfortunately, I see many a women here in Vegas with the same get up!!! I used to be afraid of blush but learned when I took my esthetician course how to apply makeup. It’s easy and gives warmth and contouring to the face. I experimented carefully at first, putting it on lightly and then a powder bronzer over so i didnt overdo it. It works!!!

  8. I rarely wear blush, but whenever I do I always follow it up with a swipe of bronzer or shimmer powder. It creates a more natural-looking flush.

    And I’m loving Homer’s gun, btw LOL

  9. I love your blog i usually lurk but i had to post something for this topic. I love blush, and think that it should be a staple in every women’s make-up kit particularly those who wear some type of base ( powder & or foundation). It creates some contrast instead of a mono-tone look. I think alot of women go over board and think that they have to actually see the blush on their cheeks, when in fact your only supposed to see the barest hint of color,and keep it as natural looking as possible. I use eye liner, Mascara & blush everyday, my current favorite right now is Estee Lauder’s nectar.

  10. Hey girl,

    I was told the same thing Iman’s book said – go for an orange shade. I didn’t believe it until I tried Nars blush in Taj Mahal and MAC blush in Raisin. The secret is to use a really light hand for application and buff it into the apples of your cheeks.

    P.S. Love the site

  11. Oh Kim, Kim, Kim. Hopefully she will come into her own and find a way to enhance her natural beauty. I was never a fan of blush b/c I have always seen women who look like clowns, but the past couple of years rouge (my mama’s words) has improved greatly.

  12. I never used to wear blush until I found that it really brightened up my face and allowed me to wear less make-up everywhere else. My favorite right now is Bobbi Brown’s pot rouge in Pink Truffle. It’s a more brown based pink and you can use it on your lips, too for a more earthy pink, instead of a bubble gum look. I LOVE the fact that it is multi-purpose. I also use MAC’s Ambering Rose which is a traditional powder blush that gives me a warmer glow and is great with a bronzer. Gotta mix up your blush colors with the rest of your make-up looks!

  13. Bella I NEVER would wear blush until I let a lady at the MAC counter talk me into trying MAC’s Fever blush. Oh man, I’m addicted and I wear it everyday. It gives me an illuminous look. A little bit goes a long way because it’s highly pigmented. Give it a try.

  14. I’m a makeup nut so this is just my kind of question. I believe everyone needs a little makeup. I find that a lot of african american women do not believe they need makeup but we ALL do. I’m not talking about over doing it by all means but a little mascara, lip gloss, concelear and blush can go a long way. I to use to not wear blush and then one day I thought I would give it a try. My favorite brands of blush are Stila (i know some of you want to try her products but you don’t like the price)let me just tell you, it’s so worth the money. It’s a good quality products and they last really, really, really long. It will definitely be worth your money. You should also try her lipgloss. you will fall in love with it! Okay, back to the topic at hand lol. I also like MAC, NARS, CARGO and Chanel’s blush.

    FYI-I know some of these products are a little expensive but they are worth it. I will let you in on a little secret. Try buying them off of EBAY. I’ve purchased 75% of my products on EBAY. Ladies…don’t worry the majority of the products on EBAY are new, factory sealed. You just have to pay attention to what you are buying. But try it out and see if you don’t love the products! I know i do!

  15. I also love mac’s blushes. I would give them a try. The trick is to always dap on just a little and use a good blush brush. Then you can add on more if necessary.

  16. Bare Essenctuals has a nice line of blushes….you can use then all over your face…meaning eyeshadow, cheeks, liner or whatever….they have fabulous colors…Mac does too….love MAC…lightweight addicted!!!

  17. And here i thought i was the only black woman afraid of blush.My mothers best friend uses her cherry red lipstick as blush,she always looks as if she fresh from the circus. i think this is a why i don’t even buy blush.Do you have any idea what it’s like to wake up and the first thing you see is bobo the clown.FRIGHTENING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. I don’t like when my girlfriend used cosmetics to make herself blush. It’s better to say something sweet, and to make her blush by doing that.

  19. Ok, this is gonna sound funny. First off I too am a make-up queen! But I’ve been venturing more to the blush arena lately. I buy cosmetics in every price range from .99 cents to well, umm lets just say it caused many of hubby fights with the over spending. Any whoo, the absolute blush that I am feeling at the moment is. …Drum rolls please…Wet N Wild hot pink! It looks bright but gives a real pretty pink effect or you can add more for a brighter cheek. And to top it off, its only $1.99


  1. […] Regular readers might remember — I was afraid of blush for a long time. Seeing too many women wearing way too much of the rosy-cheek stuff scared me off. But blush really does make a difference, and for women who shy away from the stuff, it’s the quickest way to get someone like me to notice and comment — hey, are you wearing makeup? Blush once daunted me because of it’s easy-to-overdo nature, but with Boots no7 Blush Tint Cream Blush, there’s no way you can come out looking like a clown. I’ve got the darkest shade, Rosebud, and I love it. It’s a chunky, chubby crayon that easily swipes sheer color onto your cheeks. Blend with your fingers and it looks barely-there beautiful. It’s gotta be the simplest blush out there right now, and it’s $9.99 at Target! […]

  2. […] “Do something with that head of yours.” “Can you even pass a comb through that?” “Your hair looks like Buckwheat/ Sideshow Bob/ a Brillo pad/ a ju ju warrior.” I see it as an institutionalized chain of self-loathing. But according to this utterly amazing Miami Herald article about the culture of hair and blackness in the Dominican Republic, generations of women see it as self-love. […]

  3. […] So harsh! Of course I can see the flaws – don’t get me started on the unblended streaks of blush, y’all know how I feel. But I think the slightly-gray paleness of her face (which really becomes apparent when you look at her neck and shoulders) can be attributed to too much mineral makeup. There but for the grace of God, go I. […]

  4. […] upon a time, not long ago – I was afraid of blush. Back in 2006, I blogged about that fear, describing blush as “a dangerous cosmetic…way too easy to […]

  5. […] upon a time, not long ago – I was afraid of blush. Back in 2006, I blogged about that fear, describing blush as “a dangerous cosmetic…way too easy to […]

  6. […] used to be scared of blush. I loved when makeup artists used it on me, but whenever I tried to use it on myself I would freak […]

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