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How to Choose Between Powder or Cream Blush

Three women wearing different shades of blush.
Tower 28 Beauty/MAC Cosmetics/LYS Beauty

Powder and cream blushes are both popular ways to add a bit of dimension to your complexion. If you’re wondering which would work best with your skin type and be the easiest to fit into your makeup routine, we’ve got some answers!

Generally, any type of blush can handle the basic task of adding a bit of color and highlighting your cheekbones. To choose the right formula for you, though, a little research is a good idea. In addition to your skin type, your experience with makeup and personal preferences will also come into play. We’ll help you figure out which type of blush will give you the best rosy glow.

What’s the Difference Between Powder and Cream Blush?

Powder and cream are, arguably, the two most popular types of blush. The difference between the two is in the delivery or “carrier” of the pigment. This also affects the intensity and translucence of the color, how the blush is applied, and how easy it is to blend.

Powder blush usually comes tightly pressed in a compact, and in a variety of colors for different skin tones. It’s usually applied with a large, fluffy makeup brush.

Cream blush, on the other hand, can range in consistency from a soft, near-solid, to something a bit smoother. The more solid type usually comes in a small jar, while the smoother formulas can be squeezed out of a tube. Cream blush can also be applied with a makeup brush, but most people just use their fingers.

The Pros and Cons of Powder Blush

A woman applying powder blush.

Powder blush is where most people start, and with good reason: it’s super easy to use. Because they’re usually light, it takes longer to build up the color of powdered blushes, so they’re perfect for newbies.

For those who have a bit more experience with makeup, that same feature allows more control for layering, and customization, or even mixing more than one color.

Those who have oily skin might prefer powder blush because it helps even out that dreaded shine, rather than adding to it.

Powder blush does have some downsides, though. First, that subtle, powdery texture means it also wears off sooner than cream. If you have dry or dull skin, powdered blush might not be the best choice. The dry formula is pretty matte and can often cling to or highlight dry spots and other areas you might be trying to hide.

The Best Powder Blushes

A woman holding up lipstick and wearing blush; three arms with swatches of blush on them
MAC Cosmetics/NARS Cosmetics

As with any kind of makeup, what’s best for one person might not work for someone else, especially when it comes to colors and skin tones. That’s why it’s always a good ides to look for products that come in a wide array of colors, so you’ll have as many options as possible.

A staple powdered blush in the makeup world is this one from MAC Cosmetics, and it’s easy to see why. It comes in dozens of unique shades, all of which have a sheer, natural-looking color that stays on the skin. You can swipe on a bit to add just a subtle flush, or build up layers for a bolder look.

NARS Blush also comes in a wide variety of shades, as well as a couple of different finishes. You can choose a shimmer, soft satin, or classic matte finish in any shade to find the one that works best for your skin tone.

It also goes on easy, thanks to the microfine pigment particles, and is flexible enough to build up to your preferred level of intensity.

The Pros and Cons of Cream Blush

Cream blush might be a bit intimidating if you’re just starting to wear makeup, or if you’ve always used powdered blush. You might find the texture challenging to work with or the vivid pigments might be too much.

However, cream blush is a fantastic way to get that perfect, rosy flush you’re looking for. When blended gently, cream blush provides an incredibly natural-looking glow that’ll stick around for hours. The richer formula is also a major win for dry skin that needs a bit more of a dewy glow to stand out.

On the downside, cream blushes are probably not the best choice if you have particularly oily skin, as the last thing you probably need is more “dew.” They also tend to carry a lot more pigment than powder blushes, so it’s much easier to accidentally apply way too much.

If you’re just getting started with blush, you might want to play around with the powdered type first before expanding into the cream formulas.

The Best Cream Blushes

Close up of two women's faces, both of whom are wearing blush
Tower 28 Beauty/LYS Beauty

Cream blushes are usually more heavily pigmented than powder, so they might look a lot more vivid in the container than they will on your cheeks. Just keep in mind, a little bit goes a long way.

Some cream blushes come in tubes with a squeezable consistency, but your best bet when getting started is probably a compact, like Tower28 Beauty’s BeachPlease Lip + Cheek Cream Blush. It comes in six different shades of varying intensity and warm/cool undertones.

It’s also vegan, and cruelty- and gluten-free, with green tea and aloe to soothe your skin. It doesn’t contain any irritants that might upset sensitive skin and is super easy to apply for a subtle or bold look. 

Although its shades are designed to work with any skin tone, LYS Beauty’s Higher Standard Satin Matte Cream Blush look especially gorgeous on darker skin. The satin matte finish of this clean formula is also a bonus, as it blends into the skin to create a glow that looks natural without being too shiny.

Whether you’ve just started using blush or you’re a seasoned pro, it’s an integral part of any makeup routine. Oh yeah, and it’s super fun to play around with, too. So, pick up a few powder and cream blushes and start experimenting with your look.

Amanda Prahl Amanda Prahl
Amanda Prahl is a freelance contributor to LifeSavvy. She has an MFA in dramatic writing, a BA in literature, and is a former faculty associate focusing on writing craft and history. Her articles have appeared on HowlRound, Slate, Bustle, BroadwayWorld, and ThoughtCo, among others. Read Full Bio »
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