We're here to encourage and champion your power, to choose, wear, and experiment with every type of beauty product (regardless of formula, color, etc.) your heart desires. Old school beauty rules are no longer relevant—at least in our opinion—and just because outdated commandments pre-historically assigned certain shades to certain skin tones and undertones (especially where makeup is concerned) doesn't mean jack squat in 2020. The one rule we do faithfully abide by? There are no rules.
That being said, we'd be remiss not to acknowledge certain colors look exceptionally amazing on certain skin colors and undertones. And, while you're certainly not required to wear or stick to said shades, they're an easy (and beautiful!) way to enhance what you already love about your skin and they can make your features pop all the more magically.
Blush, in particular, is one of the trickiest makeup products to shop for as certain shades can veer unnatural and cartoonish while others may look too pale or ashy—especially if you have a deeper skin tone.
To lend a helping hand, I asked three celebrity makeup artists who regularly work with some of our favorite members of the A-list to share their all-time favorite blushes for dark skin. No product is ever one-size-fits-all, but according to the experts, these 12 blushes are practically goof-proof when it comes to making dark skin pop. Intrigued? Keep scrolling—our expert panel of makeup artists are also sharing their best application tips, shopping tips, and the blush mistakes to avoid, just below.
Deja Smith, Celebrity Makeup Artist
Celebrity clients: Laverne Cox, Kehinde Wiley, Angelica Ross, EJ Johnson, Joslyn Defreece, Alex Newell, and Jill Scott
"Orange blush was my first aha moment when I started doing makeup. MAC's powder blush in Bright Response is the perfect color for melanated people. It’s the color that gives brown skin folks a natural flush, so this bright coral is a winner."
Pro Tip: Embrace bright blush shades. When it comes to picking the best blush shades for dark skin tones, Smith recommends prioritizing bold, bright hues since deeper skin tones more easily absorb and/or neutralize the color.
"Nars blush in Exhibit A is a bold matte red that feels very on-trend. This is a two-for in my opinion since I use it as a blush and as an eye shadow to create a monochromatic beauty look."
Pro Tip: Don't assume a blush will look the same on your skin as it does in the packaging. Smith notes that this is one of the most common mistakes people make when shopping for blush. To ensure you pick the best hue, she suggests swatching the product on the back of your hand since it receives a similar amount of sun exposure and will likely have comparable coloring to your complexion.
"For everyone who prefers cream blush, I recommend Milk Makeup's Lip + Cheek in Quickie. This sheer berry-toned color is a quick fix to brighten your complexion. When you're on the move, swipe it across your cheeks and lips and then blend it out using your fingers for a fresh look."
"Fenty Beauty's Cheeks Out Freestyle Cream Blush in Summertime Wine is my new fave for my makeup travel bag because of the convenient packaging. The shimmering berry tone makes it a must for creating a discreet cheeky pop."
Pro Tip: Don't apply too much too soon. According to Smith, a heavy-handed swipe of blush can end up looking unnatural or dated, "like a French aristocrat at the palace of Versailles or a character from Pose presenting yourself to the judges." To create the most modern flush, concentrate on the apples of the cheeks without being too heavy-handed. (It's easier to add than subtract!)
Tasha Reiko Brown, Celebrity Makeup Artist
Celebrity clients: Yara Shahidi, Letitia Wright, Logan Browning, Alicia Keys, Lupita Nyong’o, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Michael B. Jordan
"Chanel's Joues Contraste Powder Blush in 320 Rouge Profond is a favorite because the texture is sublime. It’s a velvety, blendable, and buildable texture that effortlessly melts down into the skin."
Pro Tip: Pay attention to the color of your natural flush. As Reiko Brown points out, the most strategic way to select the best blush for your skin tone is to choose a color that your skin would naturally turn when you flush. "Look for shades that make your skin glow and look healthy—you want the color to enhance your skin tone, not to contrast with it." As a general rule, she prefers a lineup of blue-based pinks, pure oranges, and soft reds for clients with deeper skin tones.
"A big mistake is choosing a blush color that’s not authentic to your skin tone," she continues. "Your blush color should literally resemble the color you would flush in the sun or after a vigorous run. For instance, berry tones don’t work on all dark skin tones, and no one blush is interchangeable on all dark skin tones. Even if you have a similar shade of skin, your undertone may be different. Really assess your skin tone, and don’t choose blush colors just because the shade is beautiful."
"Maybelline's Cheek Heat Gel-Cream Blush in Berry Flame is a water-based gel blush that I love to pair with bare skin. It really bonds to skin and gives the most realistic finish, and the color works on a variety of skin tones. I apply bronzer along the cheekbone first, and then I put this just over the apple of the cheek for a 3-D effect that defines cheekbones and gives a natural-looking blush of color."
Pro Tip: Avoid blushes with pearl-based shimmer. According to Reiko Brown, these can read false and unnatural on dark skin tones. Instead, she suggests prioritizing blushes with gold or bronze shimmer.
"Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Colour Stick in No. 22 is my favorite go-to blush for a summer-inspired flush. It’s a sun-kissed orange shade that really compliments warm undertones. The texture is so elegant and adds a ‘healthy skin’ gleam without shimmer. I like to warm it up on my fingers, and then I'll pat it into place for precision."
Pro Tip: Your skin type will determine your optimal blush texture. Reiko Brown tells us skin with large pores should avoid cream blush formulas which will sit in pores and make them look bigger and more obvious. Additionally, she notes oily skin types will probably have better luck with powder blushes as well, whereas people with dry skin can benefit from the oils and extra hydration cream blushes provide. According to Brown, your skin texture plays just as an important of a role as your undertone.
Joanna Simkin, Celebrity Makeup Artist
Celebrity clients: Issa Rae, Marsai Martin, Storm Reid, Leona Lewis, Amber Rose, Aja Naomi King, and Kerry Washington
"Cargo's powder blush in Laguna is one of my all-time favorite blushes for deeper skin tones. It's my fail-safe, works-on-just-about-any-range-of brown-skin blush. It's soft enough to be used on the apples of cheeks for a warm glow."
Pro Tip: When in doubt, choose orange. "Brighter pops of blush may look intimidating in the pan, but they melt seamlessly into deeper skin tones," shares Simkin. "When in doubt, I always recommend orange shades of blush. Even traditionally 'cool' shades like pink and purple should have warm undertones in order to blend and look natural on dark skin."
"Danessa Myricks's Vision Flush in Sunset is a beautiful orange liquid blush. It has a rich, flattering pigment without being too dark. I love to tap two to three dots up along the cheekbones and blend with either my fingers or a fluffy brush up toward the temples for a lifting effect."
"Mented Blush in Berried Away. I love the warmth of this berry tone to help bring out the sculpted shape of the cheekbone. I like to layer it over contour and bronzer, towards the back of the cheekbone and up to the hairline for added warmth and a sculpted, naturally contoured look."
Pro Tip: Avoid overly cool blush tones. As Simkin explains, these types of shades often look ashy on dark skin. Additionally, hues that are too pale will also fall flat, which ultimately has the opposite effect we want from a blush.
"Don’t get scared of how shockingly bright pink this blush is. I love it lightly dusted all the way up the temples on the deepest skin tones. It creates the most ethereal, romantic glow."