The 3-Step Trick To Finding Your Personalized Blush Shade

This blog launched on September 17, 2018. The weekend before, I was out and a (Japanese) friend of mine put in a request: “PLEASE do a piece on blush for women of color. It’s the only makeup I wear and I can’t find a good one. Every magazine and blog points me to Nars Orgasm, but it looks awful on me.” At that point, I screeched and said, “I knowwwwwwwww, it’s the worst! Why do so many people say it’s universal and looks good on everyone? It makes me look like a clown!” About 10 minutes into our Nars Orgasm bashing, our other friends were ready to head out the door, so the conversation ended . . . But I didn’t forget that conversation and I actually did RESEARCH on blush. So Mariko, this one’s for you…

First, let’s discuss the “Nars Orgasm as universal” myth. Even though it is the #1 selling blush in the US, it is 100% NOT universal. NARS either has a good marketing/advertising team with deep pockets for influencers and/or the majority (but not all) of beauty bloggers and editors are space cadets. YouTube beauty blogger, Lanie Luvs Beauty made me laugh with her, “[Nars Orgasm] made me look like a disco ball . . . It’s not for us!” Similarly, beauty blogger, Tamim Alnuweiri wrote in Nylon, “[NARS Orgasm] looked like I had glittery dirt on my face when I tried it on”. This is not to say that Nars Orgasm doesn’t look good on some WOC. But you get my point. OK, I’m done with the critical race theory part of this piece. Let’s move on.

3 Steps To A Blush Shade That Is Perfect for YOU

Step 1: Look Inside Your Mouth

I tried to match blush shades with my inner lip color. I’m not wearing any blush here.

I tried to match blush shades with my inner lip color. I’m not wearing any blush here.

Are you ready? Are you ready? The answer to your perfect blush shade does not lie in your skin surface tone and undertone. Instead, the answer is inside your mouth, says makeup artist Yvonne MacInnis. “Take a peek at the inside of your bottom lip. This color, which is different on everyone, is a great guideline to what color ‘exists’ organically in each individual skin tone organically.”

Step 2: Figure Out Your Skin Type


I scoured the interwebs and stopped in every Sephora and makeup counter that I could over the past few months to ask for “advice” on blush. I have gleaned the following:

Powder blush = Oily skin and people without wrinkles

Gel or Cream blush = Normal to oily skin and people with wrinkles

Cream blush = Looks especially great on very dark skin

I have normal to oily skin, so I went on the hunt for a cream blush, for the first time ever. I don’t have wrinkles yet… but it was good to learn (and see) how powder blush sits in wrinkles and fine lines and looks terrible compared to cream blush which blends into wrinkles and looks more subtle and natural.

Step 3: Try, Try and Trust Your Intuition

This is how I was taught to apply my  MILK Werk cream blush . It is unblended here.

This is how I was taught to apply my MILK Werk cream blush. It is unblended here.

MILK Werk  blended into my cheeks.

MILK Werk blended into my cheeks.


At 38, I mainly seek paraben-free personal care products. An exception is lipstick, but I am trying . . . All of my shampoos/soaps/deodorants/face washes/moisturizers are free of these toxins which are illegal in Europe, but not the US. So, it was pretty easy for me to find a perfect blush shade since I was able to eliminate many brands due to my restriction. Sidenote: I’m not a blush person. I have owned 2 blushes since college (I graduated in 2002, you do the math). The 2nd of these blushes was purchased in 2011 (Chanel powder blush) and I wore it maybe 2-5x per year. I threw it out a few weeks ago . . .

So over the past few months, I would walk into Sephoras around the city and would ask one of the makeup artists for their advice. I would say, “1) I am looking for a blush, 2) That is void of toxins (parabens, pthalates, etc…). Can you help me?

Each person would bring me to the MILK Makeup section and point me to these lip + cheek cream sticks. They would say that out of the natural brands, this was their favorite product. So, I did the “lip trick” and tried Werk (a dusty rose color)… AND OF COURSE… they had the sample, but this blush shade was sold out in Downtown Brooklyn, SoHo and Online for THREE MONTHS. I tried the sample on in the store and liked it, but I didn’t trust that. I needed to have it and use it on multiple days to really test it out. Thus the delay in writing this piece!

I was finally able to buy MILK Werk the week before Christmas and I love it! I wear it about 1x per WEEK! This is completely new for me. It is subtle and natural and puts a pep in my step on grey winter days. It is the first cream blush that I own and I especially like how it blends into my skin so effortlessly. It’s turned me into a boldlipmascaradabofcreamblush type o’gal.

Anyhow, I hope this was helpful!

If NARS Orgasm doesn’t work for you, please share the blush shade that does!