Sunday, July 9, 2017

All My Blushes

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All My Blushes

At the end of the summer my husband and I will be moving--first to Texas for three months and then to California for the next nine months. Since we're going to be looking at temporary/shared housing, I'm trying to downsize as much as possible (or at least to minimize what I take with me rather than storing in my mother-in-law's basement). I'll be on a postdoc fellowship with a fairly scanty stipend, so I'm also trying to take whatever I can to avoid shopping during that time. It's a tricky line to walk between packing light and buying duplicate shit that I already have. So far my packing list includes clothes, a very few books (we'll need library cards), only the most vital kitchen supplies (like the french press and the smoothie blender), and sheets and towels. Of course, necessities also include makeup and toiletries for me, both because I want to use up things I already own rather than buying them new, and also because I want to continue blogging while I'm out west. Still, I've managed to weed out a ton of stuff, most of which I'll give away, and to store a few things rediscover a year from now. (Does anyone else have a recurring dream in which they go back to their parents' house and find a closet full of amazing clothes that they'd forgotten? No? I should probably have myself examined. Anyway, that's how I picture my reunion with my stored makeup.) I'm storing most of my nail polish, for instance, and only taking these bottles along.

While organizing and packing (did I mention we're also moving into a local sublet this month where we'll be staying for six weeks?), I was inspired to swatch all of my blushes, so that's what this is all about. Because my skin tone is quite neutral, I'm able to wear all sorts of blush colors. The only ones I've had much trouble with are peaches that are too orangey, like Milani Luminoso. I was pleased to realize when I looked at all of these blushes together that I didn't have many dupes or near-dupes.

This post is going to be pretty casual: I'll show you swatches and talk a little about each product. I haven't taken new photos of most of these blushes on my face, but where there are illustrations in previous posts, I've linked to them. The swatches here represent my entire blush hoard with the exception of a coupe of things I've already put into my discard pile and the blushes in a BareMinerals palette that I put into storage (one of which I swatched here).

Here's the first batch, sort of grouped according to formula and then color:

Cream blushes: Wet N Wild Silk Finish Lipstick in What's Up Doc?,  NYX Cream Blush in Tea Rose, Marcelle Cream Blusher in Raspberry, e.l.f. Cream Blush in Vixen, and Stila Convertible Color in Poppy

Cream blushes, left to right:

Wet N Wild Silk Finish Lipstick in What's Up Doc? and NYX Cream Blush in Tea Rose

Swatches of Wet N Wild Silk Finish Lipstick in What's Up Doc? and NYX Cream Blush in Tea Rose

Please excuse the long scratch on my forearm in every photo here! My foster cat loves to be picked up and carried around, but does not like to have her nails trimmed, so there's always a long claw left behind to get me. And I can't take photos with my left hand, so here we are.

For cream blushes, I made a heavy finger swatch of each blush and then blended it out with whatever was left on my finger. For the powder blushes I did the same thing with an eyeshadow brush that's particularly good for swatching (used here, for example). It's easy to see how different your typical eyeshadow and blush are when you swatch them with the same brush!

I keep What's Up Doc? with my blushes rather than with my lipsticks, because it makes a terrible lipstick and a great cream blush. The slipperiness that makes it a disaster on my lips makes it easy to blend as a blush, though since it's very pigmented, I have to use it extremely sparingly. It also stains, which personally I like. (If you want to see it on my lips, here.)

Tea Rose is a terracotta shade that's on the neutral side but still warm enough that it looks best on me when my hair is dyed red, as it is now. You can see it on my face in this post. It's getting a little old, but I love the formula and it seems to be in perfect shape, still, so it's a keeper for now. It's more susceptible to fluctuations in temperature than my other cream blushes, so I guess we'll have to see how well it survives the early-September road trip south.

Marcelle Cream Blusher in Raspberry, e.l.f. Cream Blush in Vixen, and Stila Convertible Color in Poppy

Swatches of Marcelle Cream Blusher in Raspberry, e.l.f. Cream Blush in Vixen, and Stila Convertible Color in Poppy

Raspberry is one the only blush here for which I've bought a replacement. This is my second one (and they've changed the packaging since). It's not flashy or anything, but it's a flattering shade on me and a formula that's easy to use. It's a subdued rosy plum (not berry!!), similar to my natural flush. It blends nicely and doesn't fade easily. Raspberry is my default choice when I want some color but don't want my blush to stand out much. I think Marcelle is only available in stores in Canada at this time, though they do have a US website.

Vixen has been discontinued along with the other blushes of this type, but you can read my full review here, if you want. The formula was just like those weird Maybelline Bouncy Blushes. This color is somewhere between red and fuschia--it tends to pull more red on me. I'm pretty sure I will have this blush until the day I die and never finish it, even though I use it semi-regularly.

Poppy is my purest red blush, and it's more of A Look than the others. It does a kind of fairytale, Snow White thing on me, which I like, but which isn't something I go for every day. I don't use it as a lip product, by the way. Like most multi-use products, it's too drying for my lips.

Powder blushes, neutral/coral/peach, left to right:

Unknown very old Quo holiday palette, Unknown Ulta brand GWP blush, Milani Baked Blush in Corallina, and Wet N Wild Pearlescent Pink (new version)

Unknown very old Quo holiday palette

The left swatch is the panned matte dusty rose shade at the bottom left of the palette, and the right swatch is the shimmery peach at the top right. Now would be a good time to point out that swatches aren't an obvious way to demonstrate the quality of blushes. Especially for those of us with paler skin, blushes that swatch really pigmented and opaque are going to be tricky to use, so the sheerness above is actually a good sign for me. But it can still be hard to tell from a swatch how well a blush will blend, especially since there's a difference between the bare skin on my inner forearm and the skin on my face that may be covered in various other products before I apply my blush (even if only sunscreen).

Nevertheless, I've loved both of these blushes for well over a decade now and they are still going strong. I even wore them to my wedding (you can see them on my face here), where I did something I often do: blended the two together. The peach is pretty orange/warm, and can look a little off on me depending what clothes or other makeup I'm wearing, but the combination of these two is really pretty. I recommend playing around with blush combinations if you haven't done that before. You can mix two together on your brush, for instance, or you can try using a darker or cooler shade further back on your cheekbones with a brighter or warmer shade on the apples of your cheeks.

Unknown Ulta brand GWP blush and Milani Baked Blush in Corallina

Swatches of Unknown Ulta brand GWP blush and Milani Baked Blush in Corallina

I don't use this anonymous Ulta blush often, but it's neutraliest blush I own, so I've been hanging on to it. The weird thing is that it has some colorless specks of weird glitter in it that don't do much other than being weird. You can see one of them in the top quarter of the farthest left swatch if you look closely.

Corallina applies much more nicely to my face than it appears in this swatch, and it's a more vibrant coral than it looks here. It's chock-full-o' pure gold glitter (you'll have to take my word for that too), which isn't an everyday look for me.

Wet N Wild Pearlescent Pink (the new version)

The new Pearlescent Pink is a shimmery peach, which is not the same as the old version. You can read all my rants thoughts about the old and new versions of this blush here and see them both on my face. This blush is similar to the peachy Quo blush above, so I'm really just holding on to it for comparison swatching at this point. If I ever finishing that other blush, I'll start using this one, unless I've decided to give it away in the meantime.

Powder blushes, pink and plum (left to right):

Wet N Wild Pearlescent Pink (OG) and Tarte Amazonian Clay Blush in Fearless

Swatches of Wet N Wild Pearlescent Pink (OG) and Tarte Amazonian Clay Blush in Fearless

The two versions of Pearlescent Pink are different enough that I grouped this one with the pinks rather than with the peaches. Fortunately blushes last forever, because I'll miss this stuff when it's gone. The only downside is that the shimmer can be glitzier than I'd like in direct sunlight. As I said, I have a whole Pearlescent Pink comparison post with photos here.

Tarte describes Fearless as "pink coral." Really? I mean, the plastic that the packaging is made out of could reasonably be described as coral, I suppose, but the blush itself is a completely different color. I think of this blush as more of a Barbie pink. It's not too warm and not too cool, a little bright, and fun but natural on my skin. This is my most expensive blush. I've used it many times, and as you can see from the photo above, the embossing isn't even worn down. Before buying it, I used a card sample that lasted many, many months. This is a blush that will never die.

Be a Bombshell Blush in Sweet Cheeks and theBalm Instain Blush in Pinstripe

Stain from theBalm Instain Blush in Pinstripe

Sweet Cheeks came in an Ipsy bag once upon a time. It's a nice, warm pink with some smooth shimmer, but it's quite pigmented and powdery, so I don't use it as often as I might otherwise.

Pinstripe is a deep, moody, slightly sickly plum. I like it a lot. The Instain formula is lovely. Pigmented with a very subtle, satin shimmer, easy to blend, and long-wearing. It really does stain. Here's the above swatch after removal with a makeup wipe:

Here is Pinstripe on my face. I was experimenting with a low blush placement.

I would always recommend waiting until theBalm shows up on HauteLook if you want one of their products, which is where I bought this blush. Most things will be included in the sale, and they're usually 50% off. They also have 50% off sales on the brand website now and then, but in the past there have been problems with the site crashing.

When I look at all of these blushes together I think, first, this is more blush than any one person actually needs, but also that my blush hoards pretty much covers all the bases for me. (Ok, I've been tempted on and off by Urban Decay Bittersweet, but let's try to forget that.)

As for my favorites among the bunch, that's tricky. I mean, I really love Stila Poppy, but it's not the most wearable blush here. If my favorites are the blushes I wear most often then right now they are Marcelle Raspberry, OG Pearlescent Pink, and (just while I have red hair) NYX Tea Rose. Price really isn't any indication of how much I'll like a blush or how well I'll think it performs (and I've tried out several higher end blushes that confirm that opinion).

How do you do blush, if you do it at all? Do you have just that one versatile, natural shade that you wear with everything, or do you have a whole blush wardrobe that you switch up along with the rest of your makeup? Either way, what's your favorite?


  1. I'm so impressed that you've had that Quo palette for that long!! That is dedication.

    I have a similar blush collection in terms of size - I like having some variety, but not too much. I definitely have go-to shades, but I'd get bored if I only had a few. My favourite is Hourglass Mood Exposure, but Benefit Hervana is a really good slap-it-on-and-go neutral shade for me.

    I want to try the Wet N Wild blushes! I keep hearing such good things. I'm always too lazy to go to Walmart, though.

    1. The Quo set is great! It came with an eyeshadow palette and a lipstick palette the same size, and everything was really good quality, though I threw the lipstick out years ago when they got funky. I got in on clearance after that holidays so I've more than got my money's worth.

      I have a sample of Mood Exposure, and it's really pretty, though not as perfect on me as on most people who love it. And actually these are the only Wet N Wild blushes I've tried! Because I have enough haha

  2. Of the blushes I have, ofra in Rendezvous and the Balm in Pinstripe are my favorites. I've repurposed a Tarte poppy colored Tarte lip crayon as a blush but it is still a bit too warm. And I just recently got a tube from Birchbox by a brand Beautanique that is just a very nice, cool toned Barbie pink that somehow works.

    1. Lipsticks as cream blushes are great. I really should do that more often. They can be hard to blend sometimes, but I've found that mixing a little lipstick into a primer can work great.

  3. I have too many blushes. I don't even use blush every day but I get sucked in like a preschooler with a new box of crayons; I want all the colors.
    California huh? If you are ending up in North cali, the land of insane rent and awesome foods, you can forget the winter gear and just pack a Raincoat. If in socal, maybe not even that.

  4. "if you do [blush] at all" aww you remembered me! I'm pale/cool with dark hair, and I never do blush, in favor of the '40s porcelain look. But this is a nice collection!


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