How Do You Apply Blush? Do You Bounce or Swirl, or Do You Have a Different Method?

Published in: Just For Fun, Makeup Tips/How To

Mission: Impossible. That’s what I’m going to start calling my efforts to organize my makeup collection. At the rate things are going, I should be done in roughly 10 years, give or take. I just keep getting distracted/hypnotized by all the pretty colors and end up spending more time playing than actually organizing. Instead of putting things into the appropriate bins, I put them on my cheeks. πŸ™‚ I’ve also been staging things for pictures like the one above…


Seriously, I’m not getting anywhere, and, yes, I’m sitting here with hot pink blush on my right cheek and a shimmery plum on my left.

About blush, that reminds me. How do you apply it? I usually do it one of two ways, either bouncing or swirling the brush, and the brush is usually just a standard blush brush like the MAC 129 ($34), unless the blush I’m going to apply is highly pigmented or dark. In those cases, I’ll go with a fan or duo fibre skunk brush instead, both of which apply a little less product per layer.

mac 188 small duo fibre face brush
My current favorite blush brush, the MAC 188

Sometimes, when I want to lay down more concentrated color on the apples of my cheeks or if I’m applying a cream blush, I’ll ditch the brushes altogether and use my fingers.

Just like women did in ye olden days. Almost. Back then they’d use their fingers, too, except sometimes without the blush. They’d just pinch their cheeks to turn them rosy red. I’ve done it before…in a pinch (sorry!). πŸ™‚

In choosing a brush for blush, I also consider the size of a brush’s head and the size and shape of my face. I don’t have a lot of room on my cheeks for big brush heads, so I prefer small-to-medium ones. Big ones tend to splay on me, depositing color like a puff on the skin around my cheeks.

Do you bounce?

To apply, I either bounce or swirl the brush like so. Oh, all of these videos are from 2009 (10-15 pounds ago, huzzah!).

The Bounce

Or swirl?

The Swirl (Tabs makes a special appearance)

And a general intro to blushes…

Then I blend, blend and blend some more!

And just when I think I’m done blending out the edges of my blush, I blend a little more.

How about you? What are your favorite blush brushes, blushes and techniques? Do you bounce or swirl, or do you have a different method?

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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So far, 51 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Jessi says:

    I love the 188 for cream blushes. I only use it for blushes without sparkle because I’m paranoid about stray sparklies sticking in the brush and messing up my non-sparkly blushes. I need like 5 more 188s for all different purposes! Do you (or anyone) know any good stippling brushes cheaper than MAC?
    Jessi recently posted … Week 4- Shopping my Stash for Untried Polish- OPI OPI Red and Some Glitter

  2. Gina says:

    “Please excuse my broke-ass manicure” LOL Karen, you crack me up!

  3. i definitely do the swirl!

    i feel like i really need a 188 brush in my life! i’m putting this on my wishlist :).
    dani@callitbeauty recently posted … Collection Spotlight- Valentino – Spring 2011

  4. Emmaline says:

    You are too cute! You should do more videos!

  5. Heidi says:

    I had to think about this for a minute… I’ve been on such a cream blush kick lately that I had to think about how I apply powder blushes with a brush. By the way, I’m crazy about the cream blushes from NYX. They’re not sticky or tacky, they blend beautifully, just perfect.

    Anyhoo, when I do apply with a brush, I’m definitely a swirler. I either use a blush brush from Ecotools, or a skunk brush from MAC if it’s a really pigmented blush.

  6. Jan says:

    I sweep it on. Similar to paint strokes.

  7. Alice says:

    O: I didn’t know you had a youtube channel! Your voice is really different from what I imagined it to be ^^ (in a good way lol)

  8. Rae says:

    Is it crazy that I think you look even younger *now* than you did back when those videos were first posted? πŸ˜› Seriously, Karen, you’ve been looking ah-mazing recently!

    I tend to mix my methods, blotting on the colour with a “bounce” motion and then blending it in with a “swirl,” but it varies by the day.
    Rae recently posted … Marcelle Essentials- an ode to boring cleansers

  9. Beatrice says:

    i am a big fan of the swirl technique lol i feel like it blends the color better. as of late i’ve become a bit of a blush hoarder. I keep seeing new ones and i can’t control myself! >< lol
    Beatrice recently posted … Is Victorias Secret Mineral Bronzer Gold Baked Into A Pan

  10. Appu says:

    I am loving the new Tarte Amazonian Clay blushes. They are mighty pigmented so I use a duo fibre for that. Otherwise it is a normal blush brush πŸ™‚
    Appu recently posted … ELF Studio Cream Eyeliner in Gunmetal

  11. Tiffany H says:

    I bounce then blend. I either use a MAC 129, 116, or 188.
    Tiffany H recently posted … Tarte EmphasEYES Inner Rim Brightener

  12. Tiffany says:

    I tend to bounce but it depends on the blush and how pigmented it is.

  13. Tiffany says:

    I’m a swirl person myself, I’ve never considered the bounce method. Great videos, my three year old enjoyed watching them with me. She loved seeing your “pretty makeup”.

  14. Emily says:

    I use the brush from EcoTools and bounce then swirl. Sometimes I use a kabuki, and for uber-pigmented blush I use this stippling brush from Ulta, I can’t remember the brand.

  15. Beth says:

    I like to swirl on one cheek and bounce on the other.
    I live on the edge like that.

  16. Carrie says:

    I usually tap it on lightly, then blend and add more if necessary w/ my EcoTools brushes. My favorite blushes are MAC Dainty, Nuance & Warm Soul Mineralize Blushes. I also love Springsheen as well as the Beauty Powders from their Liberty of London and Venomous Villains collections.

  17. Michelle says:

    I use a skunk brush and swirl — I am a big believer in blending out the edges also! Oh, and what is the peach blush in the middle of the picture?? Need!

  18. Nicky Bromow says:

    I simply swipe it… btw, you should do more videos!
    Nicky Bromow recently posted … ma Want List du mois de mai

  19. Kelsey says:

    I use the gel blush from Bonne Bell, and I just apply it with my fingers, sort of rubbing it in a circle on the apples of my cheeks, and then blending out & up a bit towards my temples. Takes me about five seconds, and I think that it looks a hell of a lot more natural than powders or creams.

  20. Kaelin Chan says:

    I use airbrush makeup, so to get natural looking flush, I apply a cream blush on my bare skin then spray my foundation over it. Then I use either an airbrush blush, or a powder one with a small fluffy brush on top of that to give the color more of a pop. With this system my colors last all day, and while sitting for long hours at school you know homegirl wants a stay-put flush πŸ˜€
    Kaelin Chan recently posted … The Boyfriend Tag

  21. teresa says:

    love this post karen! and your videos are tooo cute. do you think you could also do a tutorial on cream blushes? those seem to be gaining popularity lately, and I’ve just been winging it!
    teresa recently posted … whoops

  22. Jen says:

    You sounded a lot different than what I expected you to (whenever I read blogs, I tend to imagine the writer as if they are speaking).. you have a cute voice! ^__^ Loved the videos… I’ve been needing a bit of help about applying blush, I’ll take these steps into consideration for my next application. πŸ˜€

  23. Erin says:

    I have struggled with finding a good method for YEARS, but now I bounce and swirl with the ELF Complexion brush, and that does the job. For cream blush, I use Sonia Kashuk’s synthetic flat top, which blends like none other.

  24. Nina says:

    i usually use a stippling brush because im sooo scurrred of having apple cheeks LOL. but i also love hte 129.

    for certain blushes like springsheen or xrocks, i use a fan brush (el cheapo one by elf) to just feather the blush on my cheeks.

    • Nina says:

      another thing i do is i grab the tiniest bit of face powder on a small clean brush (the 109 is a fave) and i very gently buff out the edges of the blush that i just applied.

      much like blending out the harsh edges of an eyeshadow line. this step makes my blush blend into my cheeks more.

  25. Vonvon says:

    LOL! Karen, your first 2 paragraphs remind me so much of myself…each time I try organizing my stash, which I don’t think is as big as your ;), I would also get distracted. And I tend to wear one blush each on each cheek, especially right now when I am featuring blushes in my blog.

    Most of the time , I would swirl or swipe the bush across my cheeks. For more pigmented blushes, I would use a duo fibre brush and bounce it on my cheeks.
    Vonvon recently posted … A-Blush-A-Day- No 5- Burberry Light Glow Natural Blush Earthy Blush No 7 – Swatches &amp Review

  26. Chris25 says:

    I dab it onto the apples of my cheeks, then buff it out along the cheeks toward my temples. I tend to swirl unless I am using a NARS blush.

  27. NeenaJ says:

    I guess I kinda swirb – not really bouncing or swirling, but something in between. Maybe I need to work on my technique! I use the Japonesque travel blush brush that I got on sale at Ulta – the bristles are very soft. But, looking at your videos, I might need to get the 129. It might be easier to control the amount applied.

    P.S. you’re adorbs regardless of poundage!

  28. Allie says:

    Awww your videos are so cute! And Tabs looks waaay bigger when he’s actually on your lap!

  29. Lucie says:

    With less pigmented blushes I swirl, tap off the excess and apply, but more pigmented ones I feel I need to ‘bounce’ to avoid getting too much colour!

  30. Dee Dee says:

    i have the 131 which is my favorite for blush application. I also have (a close second) the Bobbi Brown blush brush wihich I snagged at the CCO for $30!

  31. Dee Dee says:

    and you should absolutely do a blush overview pictorial!!!! Blush is my favorite

  32. Trisha says:

    You’re adorable, Karen. πŸ˜€

    I tend to windshield wiper it. Basically I just go back and forth across my cheek. But now I’m totally gonna try the bounce method. Bounce!
    Trisha recently posted … Nutrisystem Nation Week 3 Results and NS Newbie Tips

  33. Liz says:

    Too funny! I, too, bounce and swirl.

  34. Charisse says:

    Karen, you’re so adorable!

    I’m a swirl kinda gal myself. I also like using Sonia Kashuk’s blush brush and my current blush obsession has got to be the Stila’s self adjusting blush…so awesome! Once in awhile, I also use my Yes to Carrots lip tints as blush when I’m in a pinch πŸ˜›

  35. Melessa says:

    yes i blend a lot as well….hmm technique though, i swip a lot and always rock the cheesey smile. ive been doing the swirl one more often recently, and sometimes i bounce. trying out different techniques and placements. none look bad, but sometimes it looks better and i cant figure out the right method to keep it consistent (i think a lot has to do with placement as well, like directly on the apples? a little bit more towards the ear? higher? lower? etc.).

    congrats on the weight loss whoop whoop!! not an easy feat. and those pigtails in the blush for beginners look adorable on you! i think i may have to give ’em a try

  36. Melessa says:

    oh and i use this smal, angled blush brush from bare minerals

  37. Gilby says:

    Always bounce. You get some much more control on placement and pigment. πŸ˜‰

  38. Heather says:

    What about those of us who just pink. I’ve been applying a broker cream bc I’ve not found a blush that doesn’t make me look like a china doll. I’ve had a couple diff counters give it a go to make me look less santa clause and I’ve failed so far. So! Are they skinbton where blush is baacally irrelevant?

  39. Madison says:

    I almost never wear blush because I never really learned how to apply it properly, so I just tried the swirl technique and it works great! thanks for sharing!

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