Devi Beauty: Getting Cheeky

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Welcome to day three of Devi-Beauty 101! Today we focus on the apples of our faces--our cheeks.

Ah blush! Think about the times your cheeks get flushed naturally. At a perfect cabin in Tahoe. When you and your husband are in the middle of a magical night. When you are excited about a new adventure. Blushing is your body's way of showing freshness, vitality, health, joy, love. Why wouldn't we want to fake these things--especially after a few sleepless nights (aka life with kids)?

Many products compete to give us that "girlish glow." For me, the various formulas of blush are more complicated than any other makeup. How am I supposed to know if I want a powder versus a gel versus a cream versus a "stain"? With mascara it's like, what do you want, long lashes or longer ones? That I can handle. When asked whether I want a "bronze coral cream" or a "coral bronze powder" I used to run-- blushing (not in a good way)-- for the hills. But not any more. Here it is, ladies, blush simplified:


No lie, powder blush looks good on EVERYONE. And--shocking I know--the pinkest of pinks that you would imagine only flatter Malibu Barbie are actually almost universally amazing in creating a natural flush. Unlike with eyeshadows or lipsticks, the pink blush that works on your pasty white bff will often work on you too. Case in point? The oft-cited cult-favorite NARS blush in orgasm. After reading about it for the millionth time I had to give it a try, and off to Sephora I went. It's actually as good as "they" all say. It is a peachy pink, with a little bit of shimmer and--I wanted to be the skeptic, I really did--it is pretty universally flattering. I went with my dark Devi buddy and it looked as good on her as it did on me as it did on the paler than White-Out Sephora salesclerk. It's the Switzerland of blushes and, especially if you are a blush virgin, you gotta give Orgasm a try. NARS Blush in Outlaw is also really beautiful on Devi skin.

The absolute key to making powder blush work is the right brush. A large, full brush, plus a compact of powder blush, plus about 2 seconds: Wham, you're done. Sephora's in-house-label makes a great blush brush--the shape is perfect for hitting just the right planes of your face.

To apply: Swipe the brush back and forth once; then apply the powder onto the apples of the cheeks. If you don't know where these elusive "apples" are, smile really big into the mirror and apply onto the parts of your cheeks that are the most protruding. Blending is important to banish harsh lines and splotches, so keep burnishing the color until you can't see any noticeable brush strokes. It is usually best to keep brushing in only one direction to prevent streakiness. If after you have tried buffing the color into your skin, you feel too blush-y, take the same brush and swipe some of your regular face powder on over the blush to neutralize. (Make sure to wash your brushes every week ladies. Baby wipes do a helluva job.)


Cream blush is a little tricker to apply than powder blush, but ends up looking more natural (go figure). It gives you a more dew-y look (think J-Lo), and less of a matte, finished look (think MAC advertisements). If you have particularly oily skin you might want to stick to the powder blush as there is some evidence that cream blush lead to more break-outs, but unless your skin is extreme, this probably isn't a factor.

You are supposed to use a brush to apply cream blush, but I use my fingers. I apply a little bit of the blush to my pointer finger and start swirling away on my cheeks (in circular motions), kind of like fingerpaint, until I get the desired color. The reason this is more difficult than the powder brush is that it often seems like you are "going out of the lines" more with a cream brush and the color can be inconsistent from one area of your cheek to the next. But if you keep buffing the area with your finger, you will get a consistent, soft, and beautifully glistening affect. My current favorite cream blushes: Lancome Color Design in Chic Cassis and NARS in Turkish Red (warning: a little goes a long way).


Bronzers, too, are pretty on everyone, but sometimes it takes many, many layers for bronzer to even show up on Devi skin. Think about it: These products are marketed, by and large, to pale women who are trying to fake a "suntanned" look. Um--not so much for us. The real question, then, is when we would choose bronzer over blush. If you want a subtle accentuation of your cheekbones without a "flushed" effect, then bronzer is a good bet. But you have to be particularly careful with which bronzers you choose. The wrong formula makes us look like a Miama Beach fashion victim. Look for formulas that are a bit "golden" and not overly matte. Great options include: NARS in Laguna (yes yes, I know, I am a NARS girl), and Guerlain Terracotta Bronzing Powder in #4.

To properly bronze, use a brush to apply the product on the apples of your cheeks, and also on your temples, as well as a little on the forehead, nose and chin. Basically, you are hitting all the places on your face that natural sun would hit. My secret trick: After you have finished gilding yourself, go back and apply a little pinky coral color (like the NARS orgasm blush) to the apples of your cheek. The reason to do this is because bronzer alone can often look a bit muddy, especially on darker skin, so the addition of the brighter color ontop clarifies the mudiness and gives your bronzer more of a glow.

Blushing can be even more complicated--you can use blush to narrow your face, fake higher cheekbones, solve world hunger (maybe one day). But simplicity is often best and, busy mommas, take heed: Most people will tell you that you should apply blush or bronzer over foundation to complete your total look...but I am here to let you know that a few swipes of blush and a bit of whatever Carmex substitute you have found (do tell!) will make even the most just-woke-up face more put together than most in the preschool drop-off line. Just another way to make those other moms jealous!

Your turn Devis! Any favorite blushes, bronzers, or other cheeky products to share?

Next Up: How to Set the Stage--The Best Foundations for Devi Skin.
Anu said...

My favorites are Nars Sin powder blush and...believe it or not... Wet n' Wild bronzer in the darker shade. I'm pretty sure they can charge $1.99 for it because they don't spend marketing dollars giving it clever names like "sin" and "orgasm".

Meena said...

Another great one! I'm hooked!

My favorite: Tarte cheek stain. A monkey could apply it. And it works on your lips too!

Serena said...

2 comments: (1) Washing brushes--I am ashamed to admit I never do this! I have a foundation brush and a blush brush that I use often. How exactly do I wash them? Yikes.

(2) Can someone tell me how you get that sort of "luminated" effect over blush? The woman in the photo posted here in the cream blush section has it--where it looks like she is glowing on the upper edges of her blush? I have asked so many make up artists and they end up making me look like a streaky mess. Help Devis!

Jasmine said...

This is SO great! I can't even tell you how helpful it is to have so many tips, completley suited to Indians, in one place. Question: Would you consider putting up photos of yourself wearing the makeup? It would be amazing to see how you apply it on yourself. Also, at this point, you seem like Superwoman, making secret books with one hand while typing emails to your kids with the other, with a perfectly made up eye, so hopefully you are actually a hag and that will make me feel better about myself. I'm joking I'm joking! I love the blog and find myself rather addicted. Would like to learn more about you guys and think your other readers would too??

Anu: Just reading "wet n wild" transported me back to elementary school and peg-legs, thanks for the morning time machine!!

shanti said...

My pick, unfortunately, is now discontinued and I scour eBay in search of extra product. It is "bashful blush" by iman. Any tips on how to find discontined makeup? Pretty depressing that pretty much the only mainstream line for people of color went out of business huh?

Anonymous said...

I've never worn blush and I'm wondering if I really need another step on my a.m. prep but I an a junkie and now have to give this nars orgasm a shot!

parutron said...

i use the bare essentials "warmth" everyday now. used to use fresh bronzer in "mirabella gold. on special occasions, i'm a fan of the bobbi brown shimmer brick in beige.

Vera said...

"Parutron," I've been wanting to try bare essentials, is it as good as everyone says? Something gives me pause about it, I can't really put my finger on it?

Anonymous said...

Do you have any video tutorials on how to apply cream blush? I know that is the look I am going for but it's so much easier to learn by watching!

Shona said...

My idea is for all makeup, not just blush, but I have done this successfully with some friends and it's actually a great time, and a great excuse to get together: Host a "make up swap". That lipstick that doesn't look so great on you may look amazing on your friend. And somebody showing you how to apply liquid liner is always more informative than reading steps, right? You can get rid of the stuff you aren't using and get new stuff, without spending more money!

Anya said...

Shanti, I loved Iman makeup! I think you can still get it online no??

My best blush trick is to also put a little bit of blush on the tip of your nose and on your forehead. Something about doing this makes the whole look less severe.

Devis, thanks so much for these posts! So fun to have so much beauty education in one place!

Sheetal said...

Almay Smart Shade Blush--the one color supposedly morphs depending on your skintone. Drugstore chic if I've ever seen it. It's really great...and tides me over when I can't justify the NARS!

Anonymous said...

This is wonderful! Can you give us a break-down on the proper order for all this stuff, it baffles me. Concealer before foundation? Eyeliner before eyeshadow?? Help!

Kiten said...

You should wash your brushes. Basically, you can soak them in very hot water with a bit of regular face soap in the water (fill your wash basin) and gently wash through. Then allow the brush to air dry completely before using.

I don't use blush at all -- it always looks tacky to me. I recently tried a "warmth" foundation from a mineral foundation company (, and I really liked it.

I tend to get acne, so I have to be super careful with the products I use.

Nali said...

Agreed. Nars blush in orgasm is an absolute must.

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