While any cosmetic product can be prone to misuse if an individual is ill-informed, blusher is
often the most obviously misused. You can probably call to memory lots of instances where women you’ve met have appeared overly
made-up or clownish because of large swaths of color on their cheeks. Or sometimes, it’s colorful splashes just below the eyes and
other times in curves that touch the corners of the mouth. This is largely due to two factors: the confusion between the purposes
of blusher and contouring make-up, and improper color choices for these products.
The category of cosmetics commonly referred to as blusher often includes contouring make-up in
addition to the traditional cheek color. While these products are used in the same areas of the face and are applied in the same
manner, it would be helpful to think of them as separate products. They do serve different purposes after all.
Differentiating Blusher from Contour
True blusher is intended to help women recreate the light flush of color on the cheeks that
occurs naturally in young women. This effect has been desirable for centuries and has its origins in the idea that the blush
response is a sign of youth and innocence. Therefore, a woman whose cheeks were flushed with color would be young – and virginal –
and more appealing to the opposite sex. It’s a fairly misogynistic ideal, and has been downplayed over the decades since the
emergence of women’s empowerment movements. Today, it is seen typically as just another facet of cosmetics.
Its often-confused counterpart is contour make-up. The primary difference in the appearance of
contouring make-up versus blusher is in the color of each. While blusher is colorful – usually pinkish, reddish, or peachy in tone –
contouring make-up is neutral-toned and intended to blend in with the foundation base of cosmetic application. A good contouring
make-up will be just slightly darker than the foundation base used.
This is because the purpose for contouring make-up is to adapt the appearance of the face’s shape
by adding shading and minimizing the appearance of undesired traits. Contouring make-up can be used to minimize double chins, make
the jaws appear more defined, give definition to the cheekbones, slim the appearance of the nose, and even minimize the prominence of the forehead.
Using Blusher versus Contour
Most blusher and contour products come as compressed powder and are applied using a brush. This
provides excellent control in application and a soft-edged finish. The key to proper usage, however, rests in remembering the purpose for the products.
Let’s start with blusher. Blusher should be applied across the tops of the cheeks, primarily. To
apply blusher, simply smile at yourself in a mirror and lightly brush the blusher powder across the “apples” of your cheeks to give
them a hint of color. Be careful to keep this color effect subtle, especially in the daytime. You can always go for a heavier
application at night (or use a darker shade of color) but in the brighter, broad-spectrum light make-up can be more-easily seen, which isn’t what you want.