Cream vs. Powder vs. Stain: Which Blush Should You Use for a Healthy Flush?

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Cream vs. Powder vs. Stain Blush – Which One Should You Use?

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It might not get as much praise as lipstick or mascara does, but blush is a staple makeup product that can instantly transform dull, lifeless skin into a complexion that's full of life. While applying a swipe of blush to the apples of the cheeks is simple, the difficulty lies in figuring out what type to use as there are a handful of options that each offer a unique finish.

So, should you wear a powder blush, a cream blush, or a cheek stain? Two celebrity makeup artists break down the differences between each product, along with when and how to use each one.

Cream Blush: Dewy Finish

A dewy cream blush is the pièce de résistance that will tie a glowy no-makeup makeup look together. "Cream blush is the perfect product for achieving a dewy flush," confirms celebrity makeup artist Jamie Greenberg. "Cream blushes tend to look more natural than powders and have great staying power."

Cream blush looks so realistic because of its texture. "The product offer skin-like texture, and can be translucent while still pigmented," says Emily Cheng, a bi-costal celebrity makeup artist.

How to Apply Cream Blush

The beauty of cream blush is that it's pretty effortless to apply, Greenberg says to use your fingertips and just smile. "I recommend applying cream blush with your fingers; no brushes are needed usually," the makeup artist says. "Always smile when applying because it helps exaggerate the apples of your cheeks so you know exactly where to apply."

However, depending on your base makeup (or personal preference), you can use a sponge or brush to apply it, too. "If you have fuller coverage foundation on underneath apply with a sponge and dab on to build color," Cheng suggests. "Otherwise, I like using a brush like real techniques setting brush to gently buff on and build color."

Powder Blush: Matte Finish

If you prefer a flush with a matte finish or a dramatic finish, reach for a powder blush. "Powder blush is a great option for anyone who prefers a matte finish," Greenberg shares. "Powder blushes are typically more heavily pigmented than creams as well." So if you want a full-coverage look, this is what she recommends.

Additionally, since powder blush is more pigmented, you can apply less product and/or build it up to the finish you desire. "For red carpets, I'll often opt for powder blush with a lot of pigment so I'm using only a minimal amount and can be sure I'm controlling where I want any dewiness/highlight to appear on the face," Cheng explains.

How to use powder blush

While powder blushes are extremely pigmented, they can go on patchy. Cheng recommends prepping the cheeks with a setting powder or blotting any excess so that the color goes on evenly.

As for how to actually apply the blush, Greenberg suggests using a brush and starting off with just a little bit of product. A tapered one will allow for more control. "A  little goes a long way with powder blush, so start subtle and build as desired," the makeup artist says.

Cheek Stain: Long-Lasting Color

Want to add a flush of color to your cheeks without needing to touch it up mid day? A cheek stain is your solution. "Cheek stains do exactly what you'd guess, they temporarily stain the skin," Greenberg says. "The formulas tend to be longer lasting than powders and creams and they're very natural-looking."

A stain also offers a natural finish. "The look with a stain is more of a flush of color that appears to radiate from within," Cheng says.

Just be sure you like the color before applying, as stains are made to last.

How to apply a cheek stain

A cheek stain may not be be the best choice for beginners as they do dry down quickly. " Start off with a small amount and make sure you take your time blending," Greenberg suggests. "The last thing you want is for the color to look too intense when you're done applying."

Cheng recommends applying the stain in a downwards motion for a realistic effect. "I apply it slightly downward to mimic the area one would naturally get color when blushing," she says.

How to choose between a powder blush, a cream blush, and a cheek stain

Figuring out whether to use a powder blush, a cream blush, or a cheek stain comes down to personal preference and your desired look.

"Powder is usually the best option for those who prefer a full coverage base and want more control of product placement and a matte finish, cream blush is an easier option if you're often applying makeup on the go as you can easily do so with your fingers, and a stain is great for all-day wear, and/or activities where you might be sweating or swimming etc.," Cheng says.

" I tend to switch it up depending on how much coverage I want and how heavy I want the look to be," Greenberg adds. "It's fun to experiment though, so try all three to help figure out which you prefer."

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