Best Overall: Makeup By Mario Soft Pop Blush Stick
What We Love: There is a brush included on the other end of the stick.
What We Don’t Love: This is a popular item with shades going in and out of stock often.
After sculpting and shaping the beauty looks of Kim Kardashian — makeup artist, Mario Dedivanovic, finally launched his own line in 2020, called Makeup by Mario. The collection is impressive with a range of eyeshadows, contour products, brow pencils, and more. But it’s the blush sticks that really stood out above the rest and received high marks to earn the best overall spot.
All cream blushes could be described as creamy (duh), but this one in particular had a smooth, buttery texture that blended effortlessly. Plus, all the application methods worked with this formula. “It came with a blending brush, which was super helpful to get the product onto your skin evenly, then buff it out across your cheeks. You can also easily blend with your fingertips or a damp makeup sponge,” one tester said. Just a small swipe goes a long way as the product is deceptively pigmented and comes in five shades that would suit a range of skin tones, like deep plum, bright raspberry pink, and pale mauve.
Shades: 6 | Finish: Dewy | Size: 0.37 ounces
Best Value: MILANI Cheek Kiss Cream Blush
What We Love: This is incredibly pigmented — a dab goes a long way.
What We Don’t Love: The cream has a slick, almost tacky feeling, when first applied.
We all remember the horrors of drugstore blushes with chalky finishes sold in only two shades. Now, the aisles of your favorite impulse spot are filled with lots of hidden gems, like this Milani Cheek Kiss Cream Blush. The bright colors in clear packaging look like little cellophane wrapped candies — a sweet treat for your cheeks.
Now, your first thought upon seeing a blush compact might be, But a stick is easier to apply. And while that certainly can be true, this pick is still worth trying: The balmy texture glides across cheekbones with very little pressure. It can still be applied with fingers by tapping it onto cheeks or with a damp beauty sponge to blend. It shines as a minimal makeup product: “It’s very light and dries down quickly without leaving any feeling on your skin once it’s set,” one tester said. They did caution that it initially had a wet, bordering on slimy texture, but that faded quickly.
Shade Range: 4 | Finish: Sheer, dewy | Size: 0.37 ounces
Best Splurge: Victoria Beckham Beauty Cheeky Posh Cream Blush Stick
What We Love: This blush applies like a cream but sets (and lasts) like a powder.
What We Don’t Love: The tube is fairly small for the price.
This fancy stick is on the pricier end, but what did you expect from the beauty brand creator, Posh herself? The unique tortoise shell tube would look oh-so-nice sitting on a vanity. But aside from appearance, the tip of the blusher is smaller than a typical cream blush, which allows for a targeted application as you decide where and how much to apply.
The consistency starts out velvety, then as you blend it has a powdery finish. It’s the best of both worlds: the dew of a cream, but the lasting power of a powder. It was also easy to layer on top of itself for more oomph without clinging or streaking. I love that it’s a buildable formula with a very natural flush on the first layer and more bang from the second.
Shades: 5 | Finish: Buildable, glowy | Size: 0.17 ounces
Best Stick: Anastasia Beverly Hills Stick Cream Blush
What We Love: Oily skin types may appreciate the more matte formula of this blush.
What We Don’t Love: The shades contain shimmer, which is not everyone’s jam.
Anastasia Beverly Hills is well-known as being the expert of brows, but if you haven’t tried their cream blush, it may be worth adding to your arsenal. There is a synthetic brush on the other end to buff out color after depositing onto cheeks. “It really melted into the skin and felt lightweight overall,” one tester noted. The chubby stick is available in five shades—light and deep peach, light and deep pink, and a rosy brown—all with a bit of sparkle. “The shimmer added a nice radiance to my cheeks, so the finish was very naturally glowy and beautiful.”
Shades: 5 | Finish: Radiant | Size: 0.28 ounces
Best Gel: Maybelline New York Cheek Heat Gel Cream Blush
What We Love: The gel texture looks fresh and dewy on your skin.
What We Don’t Love: This is a very sheer, watery texture that is best applied with your fingers. Brush enthusiasts may find it more difficult to work with.
Maybelline New York Cheek Heat Gel Cream Blush brings the heat with this launch. Well, not literally, but the water-based blush does give you that fireside flushed-effect. The product felt weightless on cheeks, one said, “This glides onto skin and is not sticky or heavy at all.”
While the lightweight texture was a point in the pro column, it is also very light in pigment. “It’s good for a dewy glow, but would be hard to do a brightly colored cheek. I needed to do a few swipes to really see the color and that means using up a lot of product, and opening yourself up to squeezing too much out of the tube.” However at less than $6 a pop, it’d be hard to beat this price point.
Shades: 6 | Finish: Dewy | Size: 0.27 ounces
Best Multipurpose: Milk Makeup Lip + Cheek Cream Blush Stick
What We Love: This handy little stick can be swiped over lips and cheeks.
What We Don’t Love: The oils in this hydrating product may cause it to slip off oily cheeks.
The versatility of this clean blush made it a fierce competitor for a winners list. The formula contains mango butter, avocado oil, and apricot oil for a hydrating boost and gives a reflective quality to your cheeks. And if careful selection of ingredients is a priority for you, this pick is vegan, paraben-free, and considered “Clean at Sephora.” The thick stick is also dual-purpose as it can be swiped across lips and cheeks, and the shades were developed to look great on both areas. One tester was “in love with how this one feels.” “The texture is lightweight and so comfortable, and I actually think it’ll stick to the skin to last all day. It looks and feels really natural,” she said.
This product also has the second largest shade range with eight options to choose from, including a lush berry tone and an uber pale baby pink. The end result: “I feel glowy and fresh. Pigment is just right and doesn’t need a lot of building to make it look good. It’s very natural and good for any occasion,” one tester raved. This sounds like an easy add to cart.
Shades: 8 | Finish: Buildable, dewy | Size: 0.21 ounces
Best Natural Finish: Rare Beauty Stay Vulnerable Melting Cream Blush
What We Love: It’s easy to apply with your fingers for the most realistic, skin-like finish.
What We Don’t Love: If you’re looking for a pigmented blush, this is not the one for you. This cream is a sheer formula.
Selena Gomez launched her makeup line Rare Beauty in 2020, because she wanted a brand that felt authentic. “I just felt like the beauty space started to get really crowded with a lot of unrealistic messages. I had a moment where I was like, ‘I’m not a makeup guru or the most incredible makeup artist, but I want to get involved,'” she previously told InStyle. And while authenticity and celebrity beauty lines can be a hard pairing, the actress is making a go of it. One of the best products in the collection, in my opinion, are her blushes. The liquid blush received rave reviews, while the cream blush was a winner with customers.
I have to say that the hype is real. This feels incredibly creamy; your finger just glides across the top. Plus, for how dewy it looks, I was surprised that it didn’t feel overly heavy or sticky. Aptly named, this blush quite literally melts into your skin. Other than having a really pretty flush, it wasn’t obvious where I had applied this blush in the best way possible. It’d be my ideal low maintenance makeup choice and looked good on top of bare skin without any concealer or foundation.
Shades: 5 | Finish: Satin | Size: 0.17 ounces
Best Shade Range: Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Cheeks Out Freestyle Cream Blush
What We Love: Although it starts off very sheer, the colors are buildable for more intensity.
What We Don’t Love: There is a very small amount of product in each compact.
Leave it to a pioneer of inclusivity, Queen RiRi, to launch a product with an expansive color collection. While most blushes will have a peach, pink, and berry tone, Fenty Beauty took that a whole leap further and included colors such as violet, tangerine, and a poppy red. The creams start off sheer — so don’t be afraid to choose one of the fashion tones — for a subtle take on bold color.
One tester appreciated the no nonsense, buildable formula, saying “It was pretty easy to work the product into my skin with my fingertips and blend it around my cheekbone. It’s definitely a buildable option that doesn’t look blotchy when layered.” The texture was also great; “It’s not sticky or heavy, which is a plus, and also didn’t go on spotty nor settle into pores,” confirmed the tester.
Shades: 10 | Finish: Sheer, dewy | Size: 0.1 ounces
What to Keep in Mind
Cream blushes by their very nature are a dewier product. That can be a godsend for dry skin types craving more moisture in their products, and a nightmare for oily types afraid of looking like a grease slick by noon. Consider if you want to layer your cream blush with other products (specifically powders to mattify) or if you just want a supple wet cheek glow, says Brittany Whitfield, an NYC-based makeup artist.
Cream blushes span the spectrum from opaque pigmentation to sheer washes of color. Decide if you want a barely-there tint that’s easy to dab on with your fingers or a product with the impact that may take more finesse to blend out. In general, cream blushes are often more forgiving than say a powder, since it sinks into the skin for a natural-appearing flush.
Choosing makeup shades can have a lot of factors that come into play: what does your outfit look like, the colors in the rest of your makeup, and your unique undertones. And while it’s an artform, so there are no wrong answers when it comes to your blush shade, there are guidelines that can help you find the most flattering tone.
“I like to choose an undertone similar to the client’s natural lip shade,” Whitfield says. “It also depends on how clients like their skin. If they love bronzer, they’ll tend to gravitate to warmer colors on the face — but if they’re a contour girl they might feel more comfortable with cooler undertones.” When in doubt, the easiest way to pick a blush color is to match the shade of your natural flush. Think: the color your cheeks become after a long walk.