No-breakout makeup: liquid blush

The best liquid blush for nailing a no makeup look

Stephanie Papanikolas Avatar

Stephanie Papanikolas
Apr 21, 2020 · 4 min read

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We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

When they’re at their finest, liquid blushes are the key to an effortless no makeup makeup look. They’re also versatile: blend a little with your fingers for a quick go-to look, or build it up for luminous, full-coverage glam. If you’re searching for that perfect natural blush, here are my top 5, based on their ingredients.

Benefit Cosmetics Benetint Cheek & Lip Stain

This true cheek stain is a cult classic for its sultry rose hue, famously designed for an exotic dancer in the 1970s. One dab of this sheer, lightweight formula is enough to bring a natural-looking flush to your cheeks, and it doubles as a lip stain for classic cohesion.

At a glance

  • Sheer, buildable coverage

  • Doe foot applicator

  • Luminous finish

  • $18 via Benefit Cosmetics

FLOWER Beauty Blush Bomb Color Drops

A liquid blush that melts into the skin — just blend with your fingers (which is how brand-owner Drew Barrymore applies it in her adorable tutorial). The super long-lasting formula has a dewy finish for a sun-kissed glow that looks best for dry skin. Plus, it’s already racking up accolades, including a Glamour Beauty Award.

At a glance

Instagram photo of Drew Barrymore

Pixi Beauty Sheer Cheek Gel

A gel blush with a sheer finish for a naturally rosy look. This is a beginner-friendly product — the slightly thicker consistency makes it easier to apply than its more liquidy counterparts. If you’re looking for the best blush for acne-prone skin, this one has soothing aloe to help protect your skin.

At a glance

Inglot AMC Liquid Face Blush

This semi-matte blush gets a little sparkle from the minerals in its formula. This blush works best with more full coverage looks because of its super high pigmentation — sheer it out with a damp beauty blender for a more natural look.

At a glance

Milani Cheek Kiss Blush

One of the best drugstore liquid blush products, this one is great for a minimal makeup look. It has a matte finish with a long-lasting formula that helps skin look glowy and bright. For a little dash of luxury, it’s infused with pomegranate, rose extract, and watermelon.

At a glance

  • Sheer, buildable coverage

  • Matte finish

  • Best value with the most product per ounce

  • $9.99 via Ulta

Woman smiling with pink background (photo from benefit cosmetics)

Image via Benefit Cosmetics

How to apply liquid blush

Liquid blush is appealing because it seems easy to apply, but there’s also a little technique to it.

Step 1: pick your placement. Blush should go on the apples of your cheeks — the highest, fleshiest part of your face that becomes most prominent when you smile. This will be different for different people — knowing your face shape can help!

Step 2: make a dotted line. Make 3 tiny dabs of product that follow the contour of your cheekbone. Because most liquid blush is highly pigmented, it’s easier to blend if you use a small amount spread over an area, rather than going in all at once.

Step 3: blend. If you’re wearing minimal makeup, blending with your fingers can be easy enough. Otherwise, an angled blush brush can help spread the product without moving your foundation. Whatever method you use, start in the innermost corner of your blush and blend outward, toward your ears.

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Liquid blush ingredients

If you’ve been burned in the past by bad liquid blushes that broke you out — I feel you. The blushes I chose are unlikely to cause breakouts because they’re free of comedogenic (pore-clogging) ingredients. They’re also free of common skin irritants, so they’re good options if you’ve got sensitive skin. Based on my research, these are the top two ingredients I’d avoid when it comes to liquid blush:

Red #30, a.k.a. Red 30 lake or CI 73360. This is a synthetic pigment that can clog pores, leading to breakouts, and it’s in a lot of blushes and lipsticks.

Talc, though not pore-clogging or irritating, can cause makeup to separate. If your makeup doesn’t last throughout the day, isn’t blending with your other makeup, or makes your pores look bigger, it might be from talc in your blush or foundation.

Keep in mind that, the higher an ingredient is on the list, the higher its concentration in the product (and, for what it’s worth, synthetic pigments are usually one of the last ingredients). It’s possible to have products with supposedly “bad” ingredients that work just fine for you. At the end of the day, makeup is totally subjective, and everyone’s skin is unique.

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Stephanie Papanikolas Avatar

Stephanie Papanikolas

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