Growing up in the early 00s, bronzer was the IT girl of the makeup world. Benefit’s Hoola Bronzer, £28.50, Cult Beauty, reigned supreme and if you weren’t pairing spidery lashes and side partings with copious amounts of bronze cheek product, you might as well have been from Mars. With that in mind, it’s not as surprising that I didn’t start to use blusher until my early twenties.
Although my teenage years consisted of many makeup mishaps, I stayed well away from blusher, terrified that even the smallest amount of pink or plum pigment would take my overly pale complexion from haunted Victorian doll to full-on clown. Thankfully, when I discovered cream blushers, that all changed.
I doubt I have to explain what a cream blusher is, but indulge me for a second in letting me explain why I love them so much. Unlike powders, cream blushers come in an array of finishes. While my preference is to always look like a dewy dumpling, you can also get your hands on matte, satin and even hybrid highlighter-blush finishes, which in my opinion make them a prime pick for all skin types.
It’s also easier to be more precise with your blusher placement when using a cream, and you can apply it with pretty much any tool, including, at a pinch, your fingers (a commuter’s makeup dream).
The best cream blushers
The industry has picked up on the shared love for cream blushers and the market has started to flood with every colour, finish and applicator type imaginable. To help you narrow down your search, I’ve rounded up my six favourite cream blushers and the merits of each.
Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Matte Beauty Blush Wand, £30
As mentioned above, I’m a glowy finish girly through and through, so I didn’t expect to fall as hard in love with CT’s Matte Beauty Blush Wand, £30, Space NK, as I did, but oh boy, are they gorgeous. If you are prone to oily skin or always catch yourself with your hand on your face at 3pm as you slump at your desk (guilty), this blusher does not budge or fade.
It has a soft matte finish that’s more natural than powdery and currently comes in a peach, pink and cherry shade, which you can build from a delicate flush to a statement blush.
Glossier Cloud Paint, £17
The first cream blusher I ever tried and the one that made me a blush convert was none other than Glossier’s Cloud Paint in Dusk, £17, Glossier, which gives the prettiest nude flush if you’re a pale girl like me.
Other favourite shades include Storm and Eve, a gorgeous mulberry and deep rose which look stunning on deeper skin tones for that ‘red wine flushed’ look.
The formula is lightweight and easily blendable with a sheer pigment so it’s quite difficult to overdo it, making it a great blush if you’re just starting out with the product. If you’re more into statement blushes that pack a punch, this probably won’t cut it for you (you’ll prefer Rare Beauty’s Soft Pinch Liquid Blush, £22, Sephora, more on that later), but for an everyday, healthy glow, this gets full marks from me.
Vieve Sunset Blush Balm, £21
Vieve managed to win me over on powder blushes with its original Sunset Blushes, £23, Cult Beauty, so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the new balm blush version. Somewhere between a balm and a gel texture, this blush in no way leaves a greasy cast like you might expect with the former. Instead, its consistency reminds me of skincare, which would make sense as it’s formulated with vitamin C, E and chamomile flower extract to hydrate and brighten the skin.
The shades match the original Sunset Blushes, with Piazza remaining my absolute favourite for a deep wine-red tint. I love how neutral and earthy the hues are, which makes them a great option for those who want to achieve that ‘no makeup makeup’ look with a natural touch of colour.
Refy Cream Blush, £14
If a glowy, your-skin-but better look is your game, this balmy cream blush from Refy gives the most luminous finish. With a soft, buttery finish and a sunkissed glow, this blends into the skin seamlessly; use a densely packed brush to press into the skin and build up to your desired flush.
The formulation is a dream for dry skin types and is also non-comedogenic, making it a great glowy option for oily skin types that won’t clog pores. The colour range isn’t as extensive as others, which I hope they’ll extend in the near future, but shades such as Malaya (a deep rose), Citrine (a warm-toned nude brown) and Cherry (a rich rosewood) are universally flattering for all skin tones.
e.l.f Putty Cream Blush, £6
Let’s hear it for e.l.f because once again, it’s smashed it out of the park. The high street makeup brand has become infamous due to having viral hit after hit on Tiktok, and its Putty Blusher, £6, e.l.f, is much deserving of the hype.
The original formula applies like a cream to more of a soft matte finish, but this luminous version pips it to the post due to the gorgeous, sun-kissed glow it gives my skin. I sometimes find thicker cream blushers and balms can move foundation underneath, but this glides smoothly on the surface with a dense fluffy brush or your fingers, without disrupting your base.
It’s also a makeup artist favourite, with model and MUA Yasmin Salmon citing it as her top high-street makeup staple.
Rare Beauty Soft Pinch Liquid Blush, £22
This is one of the most pigmented colour products I have ever come across, so if you’re a blush lover, you have to try it.
You only need to tap the tiniest amount, and I mean TINY, with the doe foot applicator before blending out for a pop of colour that seamlessly sits on the skin.
This liquid blush also has one of the most inclusive colour ranges, with 11 shades currently in the lineup. Formulated in a mix of matte and dewy finishes, Rare Beauty has created a blush to suit every undertone and skin type, from cool vibrant pink to stunning terracotta and deep, rich berry.
In a testament to its popularity and performance, this blush is nearly always sold out, so if you can get your hands on it, don’t hesitate.