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What is Blush?

By Alison Faria
Updated May 21, 2024
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Blush, or rouge, is a type of makeup often applied to the cheek area of the face with a makeup brush in order to even out skin tone or to add more color. It is commonly found as a powder, but can also come in other forms, such as creams or liquids. Sometimes, blush is also used to make the face look wider or longer.

Like many other forms of makeup, blush is considered likely to have originated in area of Ancient Egypt. There are passages in the Old Testament that mention various kinds of makeup being worn. Although blush is mostly just applied to the cheekbones, ancient people often applied it to their lips as well. Men sometimes also wore blush in this way.

This cosmetic was considered immoral to wear during the Victorian era. Pale skin was generally considered to be a fashionable indicator of status. Women who did want some color would instead typically pinch their cheekbones. Such a method is usually not recommended for modern women, because it can sometimes lead to blemish breakouts or broken capillaries.

In its earliest forms, blush was made out of things like mulberries, beet juice, or strawberries. In the 18th century, more dangerous substances, such as mercury and lead, were used—a trend that stopped around the 1920s. In modern times, liquid and cream blushes are typically made out of unique dyes and cold cream. The powdered form is generally made out of a talcum powder that has been dyed a shade of pink or red with rosewater, carmine, or safflower.

Some women choose to wear blush all the time, especially if they have fair skin. Others prefer to wear it only for a special occasion. Theater directors often require actors to apply it because stage lights can make the skin look more pale than it really is.

Those who want to wear it in order to make their face appear wider should begin by looking directly into a mirror and applying a dark shade of it from the middle of the eye over to the temple. A lighter color can be applied in the top part of the cheekbones.

If a narrower face effect is wanted, a dark shade of the makeup is typically applied near the hairline and outer edges of the face, stopping at eye level. The look can be completed by placing a lighter color above and below the darker color. In addition to the cheek and eye areas, the blush can also sometimes be dusted on the forehead, nose, and chin.

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Discussion Comments

By sneakers41 — On Nov 17, 2010

Cupcake15-I love sheer blush like that. I use the Maybelline blush called Dream Mousse. It is a cream based blush that lasts even during a work out.

It does not feel heavy and a little goes a long way. It also received a Reader’s Choice award in 2007.

After trying cream based blush cosmetics, I will never go back to regular powder.

I also know that Loreal has a lot of great sheer blush shades. My favorite shade is color of hope.

By cupcake15 — On Nov 17, 2010

Cheek blush really makes your face look bright and cheerful. I love the Duwop blush that has a formulation of a liquid that turns to a soft powder.

It does feel light and you can intensify the color by applying powdered cheek blush on top of it. I got it at Sephora.

The nice thing about gel blush like this is that this type of shimmer blush lasts a long time and does not fade or discolor. Also the application goes on evenly.

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