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  • Apply nightly for happy, healthy skin

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The best liquid blush for acne-prone skin, according to dermatology providers

Enhance your natural glow without contributing to breakouts.

Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Feb 9, 2024 • 10 min read
Medically reviewed by Melissa Hunter, NP-C
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Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Feb 9, 2024 • 10 min read
Medically reviewed by Melissa Hunter, NP-C
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.

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There’s no one-size-fits-all in skincare. What works for one person may not necessarily have the same results for someone else. But it’s only natural to want the best! Luckily our team of licensed dermatology providers are regularly reviewing and assessing products on the market and are happy to offer a few recommendations! So here, you’ll find the products that hold up to our standards.

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 our picks, based on their ingredients.

Benefit Cosmetics Benetint Cheek & Lip Stain

This true cheek stain is a cult classic for its sultry rose hue. 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

  • $24 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 founder Drew Barrymore applies). The long-lasting formula has a dewy finish for a sun-kissed glow. Plus, it’s racked up accolades, including a Glamour Beauty Award.

At a glance

Pixi Beauty Sheer Cheek Gel

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

At a glance

Inglot AMC Liquid Face Blush

This semi-matte blush gets a little sparkle thanks to the minerals in its formula. This blush works best with more full coverage looks because of its high pigmentation—belnd it out with a damp sponge for a more natural look.

At a glance

  • Matte finish with shimmer

  • Full coverage

  • Pump bottle packaging

  • $21 via Inglot

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. 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

  • $10.99 via Ulta

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. Whichever method you use, start in the innermost corner of your blush and blend outward, toward your ears.

Liquid blush ingredients

If you’ve been burned in the past by bad liquid blushes that broke you out—we feel you. The blushes we 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 our research, these are the top two ingredients we’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.

Selecting and using makeup wisely for acne-prone skin

Yes, you can confidently wear makeup even with acne-prone skin, but it's crucial to choose your products wisely. Some cosmetics, unfortunately, can trigger acne, known as acne cosmetica.¹ This type of acne is characterized by numerous tiny bumps, often on your cheeks, chin, or forehead, and sometimes whiteheads that slightly protrude from the skin. Lipstick or lip balm might be the culprit for breakouts around your lips.²

Acne cosmetica can take days to months to manifest, making linking it to specific makeup products challenging.³ This delay often leads to a frustrating cycle where you might treat acne only to cover it with the very makeup causing it. However, there’s hope. Dermatologists suggest that those with acne-prone skin can still use makeup without exacerbating their condition. The key is choosing the right products and maintaining a suitable skincare routine.⁴

Firstly, be vigilant about the makeup you use. Stop using any makeup that seems to be causing breakouts. Look for products labeled as “oil-free,” “won't clog pores,” or “non-comedogenic.” These are less likely to cause acne.⁵ When it comes to skincare, wash your face twice daily with a mild cleanser, especially after sweating, and always remove makeup before bed using an oil-free makeup remover. Avoid scrubbing your skin harshly.⁶

In terms of acne treatment, consider over-the-counter options containing benzoyl peroxidesalicylic acid, or adapalene. These ingredients can help combat acne, but remember, it may take 4-8 weeks to see improvement.⁷

If you’re struggling to identify the cause of your acne or if it persists, consulting a dermatologist is a wise step. They can help determine if it's solely acne cosmetica or something else, and guide you toward clearer skin.

The key takeaways

  • Liquid blushes are recommended for achieving an effortless, no-makeup look. Their versatility allows for a subtle touch and a more glamorous, full-coverage effect.

  • You should select blushes based on their ingredients, especially if you have acne-prone skin. Focus on non-comedogenic and gentle products, avoiding harsh chemicals or irritants.

  • Our recommendations for non-comedogenic blushes include Benefit Cosmetics Benetint Cheek & Lip Stain and FLOWER Beauty Blush Bomb Color Drops

  • Tips on how to apply liquid blush effectively include choosing the right placement on your cheeks, using small amounts, and blending outward towards the ears.

  • It’s important to avoid certain ingredients in blushes, such as specific dyes and talc, which can be problematic for acne-prone skin.

  • Curology offers a personalized approach to skincare led by dermatologists. If you’re looking for a tailored skincare routine that addresses your unique skin concerns, try our skin quiz today!

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FAQs

What makes a blush suitable for acne-prone skin?

Blushes suitable for acne-prone skin are typically non-comedogenic, meaning they won’t clog pores. They often contain ingredients that are gentle on sensitive skin and are not greasy, as greasy cosmetics can trigger breakouts.⁸ When choosing blush for acne-prone skin, look for products labeled as non-comedogenic, non-allergenic, and contain active ingredients against acne.⁹

Can liquid blush cause breakouts?

Liquid blush can cause breakouts if it contains ingredients that clog pores or irritate the skin. However, many liquid blushes are formulated with acne-prone skin in mind, using lighter, non-oily formulas that blend easily without blocking pores. Always check the ingredient list for potentially problematic components, and opt for products that are specifically designed to be gentle and non-irritating.

How do I apply liquid blush to acne-prone skin without causing irritation?

To apply liquid blush without causing irritation, start with a clean, moisturized face. Use only a small amount of blush, as liquid formulas are often highly pigmented. Apply it to the apples of your cheeks with clean fingers or a soft brush, blending it outwards towards the temples. Avoid rubbing or dragging the skin too hard, and choose tools that are gentle and clean to prevent further irritation. If your skin is particularly sensitive, consider using anti-bacterial brushes or disposable applicators.

Are there specific ingredients in blushes I should avoid for acne-prone skin?

When choosing blushes for acne-prone skin, it’s important to be mindful of certain ingredients that could clog your pores. Ingredients like isopropyl myristate, cocoa butter, and similar compounds are known to be comedogenic, meaning they can clog pores and potentially lead to breakouts.¹⁰ Additionally, lanolin derivatives (like acetylated lanolin) can also pose a risk for acne-prone individuals despite their moisturizing properties.¹¹

It’s best to opt for products labeled as non-comedogenic and free from these specific ingredients to minimize the risk of aggravating acne-prone skin.¹² To learn more about what ingredients can clog your pores, check out our detailed list of pore-clogging ingredients to avoid.

Can I use powder blush if I have acne-prone skin, or should I stick to liquid?

You can use powder blush if you have acne-prone skin, but choose one that is non-comedogenic and free of irritants like fragrances and oils. Those with oily skin often prefer powder blushes, which can help absorb excess oil. However, liquid blushes are known for their natural, dewy finish and can be easier to blend, creating a more seamless look. The choice between powder and liquid depends on your skin type and the finish you prefer, but always prioritize products formulated for sensitive, acne-prone skin.

What is the difference between cream blush and liquid blush?

Liquid blush and cream blush differ primarily in texture and finish. Liquid blush is lighter and offers a more fluid consistency, ideal for achieving a natural flush. It’s particularly suitable for oily, acne-prone skin due to its non-comedogenic nature. Cream blush, with its creamier formulas, provides a richer, more moisturizing effect, lending itself well to dry or mature skin and often leaving a dewy finish. Both types aim to enhance the natural blush of the skin, with liquid variants sometimes offering a matte finish for those preferring less shine. Their choice hinges on your skin type and desired makeup routine.

• • •

P.S. We did the homework so you don’t have to:

  1. American Academy of Dermatology Association. I Have Acne! Is it Okay to Wear Makeup? (n.d.).

  2. American Academy of Dermatology Association. I Have Acne! Is it Okay to Wear Makeup? Ibid.

  3. American Academy of Dermatology Association. I Have Acne! Is it Okay to Wear Makeup? Ibid.

  4. American Academy of Dermatology Association. I Have Acne! Is it Okay to Wear Makeup? Ibid.

  5. American Academy of Dermatology Association. I Have Acne! Is it Okay to Wear Makeup? Ibid.

  6. American Academy of Dermatology Association. I Have Acne! Is it Okay to Wear Makeup? Ibid.

  7. American Academy of Dermatology Association. I Have Acne! Is it Okay to Wear Makeup? Ibid.

  8. Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG). Skin care for acne-prone skin (2019, September 26).

  9. Monfrecola, G., et al. Tolerability and camouflaging effect of corrective makeup for acne: results of a clinical study of a novel face compact cream. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. (2016, October 11).

  10. Waranuch, N., et al. Safety assessment on comedogenicity of dermatological products containing d-alpha tocopheryl acetate in Asian subjects: A double-blind randomized controlled trial. Contemp Clin Trials Commun. (2021, August 19).

  11. Waranuch, N., et. al. Safety assessment on comedogenicity of dermatological products containing d-alpha tocopheryl acetate in Asian subjects: A double-blind randomized controlled trial. Contemp Clin Trials Commun. Ibid.

  12. Waranuch, N., et. al. Safety assessment on comedogenicity of dermatological products containing d-alpha tocopheryl acetate in Asian subjects: A double-blind randomized controlled trial. Contemp Clin Trials Commun. Ibid.

Melissa Hunter is a board certified family nurse practitioner at Curology. She received her MSN from George Washington University in Washington, DC.

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**Cancel anytime. Subject to consultation. Results may vary.

• • •
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
Curology Team Avatar

Curology Team

Melissa Hunter

Melissa Hunter, NP-C

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