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  • Writer's pictureSarah Walsh

The Blush Effect: A Colorful Journey Through History and Trends

Let's talk about one of my favorite things: BLUSH! A beloved staple in makeup routines worldwide, it has quite the rich history. Let's highlight some of the uses throughout history!


Blush Powder
Blush Powder


In Ancient Egypt, both men and women used ground ochre, a naturally occurring earth pigment, to add color to their cheeks. This practice was was believed to signify health and vitality (sounds similar to bronzer, doesn't it?). Similarly, in Ancient Greece and Rome, people used mulberries, red fruits, and even crushed insects (!!) to achieve a rosy hue. These early blushes were thought to mimic the natural flush of youth, symbolizing fertility and vitality.


During the Renaissance, pale skin was highly coveted. Women applied mixtures of lead-based white paint and vinegar (EW) to lighten their complexions, adding a touch of pink to their cheeks with plant-based dyes or crushed carmine beetles (carmine was also used for lipstick). In the 18th century, blush became a symbol of status and sophistication. Both men and women in the French court of Louis XV applied heavy amounts of rouge on their cheeks.


Queen Victoria’s influence in the 19th century led to a decline in the use of "obvious" cosmetics, as makeup was associated with actresses and prostitutes. Makeup was often referred to as "paint"and women of this era resorted to pinching their cheeks or using beet juice to achieve a natural flush without the stigma attached to visible cosmetics.


The 20th century brought about the invention of motion pictures, and the demand for cosmetics surged, which lead to the mass production of makeup. Some of these brands are still around today, such as Maybelline, Elizabeth Arden, and Coty! In the roaring twenties, flapper culture embraced bold makeup looks, with women using cream and powder blushes to accentuate their cheekbones.

Photo by White Rabbit Photography
Applying blush to a Bride

In the 1950s, blush became an essential tool for creating the era’s iconic, sculpted look. Powder blushes in shades of pink and coral were popular, often paired with red lips and winged eyeliner. The 1980s LOVED vibrant, dramatic makeup, with bold blush colors applied not just to the cheeks but also swept across the temples for a striking look. This look was all about contrast and sharp lines, so bronzer was not as common.

The 90's brought us the amazing artistry of Kevyn Aucoin. Kevyn, a now legendary figure in the world of makeup artistry, revolutionized the use of blush through his innovative techniques and artistic vision. Known for his ability to sculpt and define faces, Aucoin's approach to blush was both transformative and empowering, helping to shape the way modern makeup artists and enthusiasts use this product. Aucoin popularized the draping technique, where blush is used to contour and highlight the face, similar to how one would use a bronzer or contour powder. He applied blush in a way that accentuated the natural curves of the face (not just the cheeks), blending it seamlessly to avoid harsh lines. This technique allowed for a more harmonious and youthful appearance, with the blush acting as both color and contour.


In contemporary beauty, blush remains a crucial element, but its application and formulation have evolved to offer more versatility. Today’s blushes come in various forms, including powders, creams, gels, and liquids, catering to different skin types and preferences. The focus has shifted towards creating a natural, radiant glow rather than a stark pop of color.


Whether you prefer a subtle hint of color or a bold, statement look, blush remains a versatile and indispensable part of any makeup routine, continuing to evolve with the ever-changing landscape of beauty.

What's your favorite blush?



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