Thursday, September 22, 2011

Red Blush


After reading lots of blog posts and online reviews about Chanel's limited edition Joues Contraste Rouge blush, I started to wonder why more blushes are not red. Red makes sense, at least for me. I don't blush peach or coral or brown or beige.

I know that those of you with different undertones blush different colors, and maybe you are the majority because I continually struggle to find a realistic color when I shop for blush. Most are too pigmented or too warm for my pink-porcelain (NW15) skin. Part of the challenge is I am naturally rosy, so adding pink or red on top might seem redundant unless I create a tabula rasa with foundation, concealer, or powder. Still, there are times when I want a hint of color on my pale face, and I have often wished it were an easier task to find the right color, short of slapping myself silly to bring out the heat.

Rather than consider blush colors that appeal to me (I am drawn to pinks and roses), I have been thinking about what I actually look like after I have been outside in the cold winter air, or after I have exercised, or when I am steaming mad. I flush red. Rosy red with fuchsia undertones, but red red red.

On any given, non-cold or unstressful day (e.g, cool, calm, and collected), I can see hints of pink under my skin, so historically, I have purchased bright, clear pink with red undertones, like Bobbi Brown Pale Pink or Chanel Pink Explosion.

And yet when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror wearing these hot pinks, I am occasionally reminded of a blowsy, trying-too-hard dame, a la Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. I think I look artificial, Kewpie-doll like, a floozie.

So then I turn to the muted roses (which is what counter people usually recommend), hoping for something that won't compete with my high coloring, something like Bobbi Brown Desert Rose or Chanel Rose Dust.


But sometimes these colors look too muddy, too muted, and I appear washed out or tired or--worse--dirty. My coloring is fair and soft with muted eyes, but the coloring in my cheeks and lips is clear, which is why so many SAs make mistakes with me, often pronouncing me an "Autumn" in the 4-season color categories (so wrong).

It was perfect timing, really, when Chanel introduced a red blush and the reviews started pouring in. I was a little taken aback by its intensity, but I was also inexplicably drawn to it, and I began to seriously consider it for myself as being, perhaps, the most realistic color.

I have made plenty of expensive Chanel mistakes in the past, most of which ended up being too warm for my skin tone. Not wanting to buy another flop, I dipped my toe into the Red Sea by ordering what seemed to be an almost identical color: MAC Mineralize Blush in Love Thing, which is also a deeply-pigmented red blush with fine gold shimmer.

I nearly fainted when I pulled the compact out of its box, but I gave it a try. I used a duo fiber (skunk) brush and barely touched the synthetic tips to the blush surface. I then swirled the tips around the inside of the lid (to get the excess off) and then barely brushed the ends against my skin. Instant flush, and it looked good. Really good.

I was so encouraged, I read some more online reviews on Chanel Rouge and then ordered it for myself. Who could look at the images on Front Row Beauty and not want this blush?


For Rouge application, I alternate between using the Laura Merier or Jane Iredale fan brush, which even more softly diffuses the pigment across my cheeks.

I have been wearing either the Chanel or MAC every day for the last few weeks, and they continue to grow on me. Quite honestly, I need never look at another color. I have found the perfect match(es) for my own blush color.

Here's a picture of the Chanel blush next to the MAC. They are both very red and pigmented, and although they look similar at first glance, the MAC is slightly cooler, with plum undertones--which is actually a more perfect match for me.


Here are some skin swatches, first in natural light and then in direct sunlight. The shimmer is very subtle in both products and is slightly more apparent in sun.

Natural light
Direct sun
Bottom line: Instant love. The most natural blush I have ever owned, both of them.

What do you think of red blush? Is it for you?

(1) chanel.com
(2, 4) bobbibrown.com
(3) instyle.com
(5) mine
(6) maccosmetics.com 
(7-10) mine

33 comments:

  1. Thanks for the link darl! I can't agree with you more, red blush gives the most natural flush of color if it's applied sheer.
    Btw I just bought the ellis faas concealer based on your review, it's amazing!

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  2. Was desperate for the Chanel one but gave up trying to find it in the UK so I've just bought the bottom middle one here http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-EUYAeTzl6_4/TiD2Fjo-IMI/AAAAAAAAJpg/SLJsQ3mCSVY/s640/YSL+Blush+Radiance.jpg and love it...it's not the same and I still want the Chanel, but this one is beautiful!

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  3. Yes, they look odd but I think they look very natural on skin. Sleek in "scandalous" is a more pure red, but still looks very good. Love thing is beautiful indeed. This kind of "berry red" reminds me of some liquid cheek stains that look very very natural and beautiful.
    I'm very fair, and they look scary sometimes, but I found out they are the kind of product that instantly take away some years from your face. Nice!
    (and now I think I need this Chanel)

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  4. I never got the Chanel one, but maybe I should have!

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  5. "Quite honestly, I need never look at another color." REALLY? I have enough blushes to last for 3 lifetimes so I need no more but I think it will be hard to resist.

    I have a Shu red blush that I find difficult to wear but after reading this I'll bring it out and try it, ever so lightly.

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  6. Rei, I am so glad you liked the Ellis Faas concealer! I end up dotting it on my face and not needing to use foundation at all.

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  7. Charlie, that YSL blush is gorgeous. I bet it looks incredible on your skin.

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  8. Renata, I keep bumping into the most tantalizing reviews for Sleek products, but I have never seen Sleek sold in the US. I agree the berry red is very similar to liquid stains, like Benefit's Benetint. I never got the hang of the liquid stains because they sunk in too quickly and I'd make a mess of my face trying to rub it in. I have always preferred the ease of powder, but I'd certainly consider a cream blush--in fact, Laura Mercier has one called Blaze, and her cream blushes are great.

    The two in my review definitely look scary! In fact, I even thought about returning them, unused, because I couldn't imagine getting it to look natural, but it does. Tye trick is to really NOT sweep the brush over the color but to barely dab it and then swirl most of off. I'd love to see Lisa Eldridge to a video with Rouge.

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  9. Martha, this blush was made for skin like ours!

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  10. Marcia, I meant it. I have never been a huge blush fan, owning no more than one or two at a time almost my entire life, until recently. And now I have exactly nine (I just counted!), which is really 7 too many, since many are so similar.

    What I love about red blush is the fact that it's so skin appropriate, it requires no thought. I don't have to think about matching it to my lipstick or even my outfit. So, yeah, I could go back to owning one blush again.

    I love Shu blushes! I no longer own any because I want to be able to choose one in person, and we know that is no longer possible. Plus I now get charged an extra fee for "importing" it from Canada (eye roll). Do try again, and barely dip your brush. You'll think it's ridiculous, that no powder could possibly be picked up, but you'll be surprised.

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  11. Wow, this really gives me something to think about. I also am very fair, cool-toned. In order to wear any blush that doesn't make me look like a clown, I have to create that "tabula rasa" and obliterate as much of my natural "ruddiness" as possible. I've steered clear of really strong colors and red-leaning colors thinking I would be adding to the problem. I'm going to the Chanel counter today perchance so maybe I can check it out!

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  12. Oh how I am tempted by this blush. Is it a baked Euro-style JC? or the more powdery US type? I did purchase a red blush from BB called Poppy which is a slightly warm red. Not bad, but not as pretty as this. Which would you say goes the best with the Armani 1 bronzer, Z? I'm guessing the neutral JC red...

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  13. Absolutely! I love red blush. Jouer makes a nice cream one also.

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  14. Pansy, I don't remember Rouge being especially powdery, but remember I *barely* touched down with the brush tips! It would be hard to kick up any dust at that rate. I believe it was made in France. I'll check when I get home. As for Armani ... hmm. I seem to recall a very faint mauve undertone in that bronzer, so the red might clash. I will swatch them together and post it up on the forum.

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  15. Oh, the MAC is lovely! I love that plummy color. I have a MAC red that is matte and not shimmery, which I do like a lot...I've really been loving bright cheek colors lately. Thanks for walking us through your blush journey!

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  16. Interesting! I've always avoided red blush because I thought it made me look ruddy all over (even though I'm not).

    The MAC "Love Thing" swatch color reminds me of Cindy Joseph's Boomstick a bit (without the sparkle). If you want to try a cream/gel formula, I *still* highly recommend it!

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  17. I had a red Chanel blush back in the 80's and that was the last of the red blushes I had seen in ages. After that, the blushes turned into muted tones of rose, pink, peach. It was a nice change but I miss colors that were actually a lady's "rouge" color. I hope those blush colors come back. My favorites are from Sula at the moment because they look like "rouge" colors.

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  18. Larie, I wouldn't mind a red blush that has no shimmer, a bit like blush my flapper grandmother would have worn.

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  19. Veuve, facial ruddiness was the first thing I thought of when reviews started to come out, but I managed to convince myself that on my paler days, a barely-there dusting of red would be just what I needed. I was still skeptical, so looking good was double the pleasant surprise.

    One of these days I will try the Boomstick. I promised myself no more purchases for while, though, especially blush. Even though you'll see lots of 'new' product in upcoming posts, I am just woefully behind.

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  20. Olivia, exactly! Muted roses are pretty, and they are the blushes most often recommended to me by SAs, but it always felt like a wedge of pink on top of my skin. I am really enjoying this old-time lady's "rouge" color and hope the reds stick around. It won't matter much to me, as the Chanel and MAC together would last a lifetime (as long as they don't harden, which they very well may do), but I wouldn't mind a non-shimmery one--even if the shimmer doesn't show up much.

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  21. There is one by Revlon, the color is beautiful and the quality is surprisingly good.

    Let me tell you one thing I do from time to time: I take a red lipstick (dryer formulas work better) and put some on the back of my hand. You can add a liquid/cream highlighter if you like. Then lightly wet a brush with some Fix + and dab the brush lightly. Duo fibers work fine.
    Not as simple but believe me, the results are great. And you can have your perfect color and the perfect kind and amount of shimmer you want, anytime :) It works.

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  22. Renata, thanks so much for the reminder! I experimented using lipstick as blush about a year ago and completely forgot about it. Talk about a complementary look when wearing the same shade on lips and cheeks! I now have to think about which are my most suitable reds (I have a LOT of red lipstick.) Thank you!

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  23. Those colours are gorgeous! I love the subtle shimmer in them. I cant wear red blush because i have very red cheeks already, so it just makes me look like a clown :(
    Grace xx

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  24. Grace, my cheeks are quite rosy, too, so I don't wear it every day (more like 2-3 times a week), but when my skin is not naturally fired up (red wine is a total killer for me), I love how Rouge gives me a youthful glow, just like having come inside on a cold, winter day, after building a snowman.

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  25. Love this post! I've recently become very interested in red blushes too. I agree, the color is more natural. The ones I've been trying are RMS lip2cheek in Rapture (more of a brown red, but I LOVE it for my medium warm skin tone) and Tarte Amazonian clay blush in Natural Beauty. After seeing this post I want to take a look at the MAC one, the plummy tone to it looks like what I'm after! Thank you!

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  26. I dont think I own a read blush but I definitely blush pink...patchy and pink. blech

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  27. Thanks for the swatches and it's a lovely color BUT I can't do red blush! I have tried a few over the years and they all look odd on me. I'm so happy you found something you love though =)

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  28. Well, you know I love red blush! That MAC looks really nice as well. I think this year I may have bought more blush than any other kind of makeup (aside from nail polish). I can't wait until my tan fades and get some good usage out of the red blushes. The flush of subtle red against clear pale skin is one of the loveliest things.

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  29. If you have strong undertones, then it will distort the natural red/pink color of a flush beneath the skin. So if you're quite yellow, you do indeed blush peach, if you're very olive, you do indeed blush mauve. If your skin is more transparent, as yours is, an unadulterated red is more flattering. There is no such thing as a universal shade of blush, but red does come close.

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  30. Red blush works for me, and I really love this Chanel "Rouge!" It should be part of their permanent collection. But then I apply it so lightly, I may never run out! As per our High/Other End products conversation, I'm an NC45 with yellowish undertones. I apply "Rouge" with lightest touch of a fan brush, then blend carefully if necessary.

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  31. I love this blush too. I found it remarkably easy to wear. Red is how I flush. I always get so frustrated when I apply a pretty peach or coral blush and then an hour later I'm blushing underneath and wonder what the point was. Dain must be right. My skin is pretty damn translucent so red it is!

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  32. I am a first time reader of your blog and have enjoyed this one as I love red blushes. They look the most natural on me. One that I have used for years is by Paula Dorf. It was at one time beloved by make-up artist everywhere. It's call Candy Apple and she has since come out with a stick version. Give it a try. :)

    ~kim

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