Year after year, the look for spring and summer involves a requisite “pop of color.” Lipstick, liner, nails, what have you, it’s all about looking fresh and “natural” with a touch of vibrant contrast. I know full well that the absolute last thing you want to do come rising temperatures is put on more makeup… so why not try a pigmented cream blush on top of your SPF 30+ tinted moisturizer? Unlike powder blush, creams don’t emphasize oiliness or texture, and they amp up the glow factor without fail — and, for the sweaty-faced, they help to make it look like you just got back from a run instead of just stood on the subway for 5 minutes. Give one of our favorites a try; you might just like ‘em enough to keep them in rotation year-round!
1. Stila Convertible Color in Lillium: If an eye-catching fuchsia cheek color isn’t quite on your radar, dip your toe into the trend with this pretty dusty pink shade. The slightly tacky texture makes it easy to blend without worrying about streaks or uneven color, and it looks gorgeous dabbed on lips in a pinch (the floral-embellished flat disc compact is adorable and perfect for travel). It’s a simple, one-step way to get a natural, rosy flush without the fuss. [$25, Stila]
2. Tarte Cheek Stain in Natural Beauty: Screw natural: slap this sheer berry shade on with abandon for bright, doll-like pink cheeks. You’ll look like a friggin’ Rembrandt… but act quickly, because you’ve only got 20 seconds before the creamy stain settles in for all-day wear. Don’t worry, twenty seconds gives you much more time to play than you would think. [$30, Tarte]
3. Too Faced Full Bloom Lip & Cheek Color in Prim & Poppy: This shade of coral, while not quite as universal as a pure pink, is unexpected and gorgeous on a range of skin tones. The pale benefit from its reddish warmth, and it really lights up darker complexions. (The only people who should steer clear are those with very yellow tones, but the rest of y’all are good.) The Full Bloom formula is soooo creamy, but it goes on sanity and never feels greasy or oily. Like! [$21, Too Faced]
4. Illamasqua Cream Blusher in Laid: Every single one of this British brand’s cheekily-named products is a better-than-safe bet — nobody packs a pigment punch like Illamasqua. The tiniest (like, pinky-sized) dab of this silky cream blush melts into skin for an effect that would be “natural” if it weren’t so damn colorful. This bright rose shade is stunning on all skin tones, whether used with a light hand on the fair or built up for seriously gorgeous impact on darker skin. [$26, Sephora]
5. Smashbox Blush Rush in Radiance: No, no, don’t run away! It’s really not as scary as it looks, I promise. It’s actually really, really pretty, and it looks ridiculously good on all skin tones, making it one of those magic products you just can’t resist. Yes, it is bright. But poke a finger in there (or better yet, a fan brush) and blend the tiniest bit into the fattest (sorry) point of your cheek, blending it up towards your temples for a radiant glow that looks alarmingly, well, natural. [$24, Smashbox]