For beauty lovers, certain makeup items and ways of application define a moment in time. When I close my eyes and think of middle school, it’s frosty eyeshadow applied just above the lashline and clear lip gloss. High school: sticky, shiny lips via pen applicators like MAC lip glass and Stila lip gloss were all the rage, but I couldn’t afford those so I bought knock-offs from CoverGirl. And so much chunky glitter and shimmer everywhere—forehead, cheekbones, collarbones, you name it. Then in college, I could not go outside my dorm room without the cult-hit Nars bronzer in Laguna. It is shimmery and powdery, which makes it all wrong for contouring, but that’s all retrospective wisdom—at the time, I was so sure it was “sculpting”! Even in daylight! [Shivers.]
Now in my tasteful, graceful (haha) thirties, I should be above the frays of makeup trends, right? Sticking to my sensible liquid eyeliner and full eyebrows and a swipe of my favorite Chantecaille Lip Veil lipstick? But the latest brouhaha over blush is stirring something in my beauty-cynical heart. Blush sales increased by 17% from 2020 to 2022—and cream blush sales increased by 89% during that period. On TikTok, thousands of young women are showing off how to get a lifted and glowing look via cult products in what the kids are calling BlushTok, these days. After seeing a couple of these “transformation” videos, I’m intrigued. Here’s what I found about the great blush trend in 2022.
Creamy formulas (shimmer optional)
Ah, the eternal question: shimmer or no shimmer? The most popular 2022 formulas DO contain a bit of shimmer, enough to give that lit-from-within glow but not too clubby. Apparently, the cult item of 2022 is Charlotte Tilbury Beauty Light Wand in Pinkgasm—one of which sells every eight seconds. Note: while Charlotte Tilbury is cruelty-free, the Pinkgasm shade contains carmine and is not vegan. Consider using Peachgasm, pictured below.
This looks “natural” right? Look how much you have to work to get this.Fascinating.
Charlotte Tilbury Peachgasm Beauty Light Wand
I subscribe to another 2022 beauty trend, panning, which means using your products until you get to the empty pan. I will probably keep using my favorite cream blush, Kjaer Weis in Blossom. The brand is zero-waste friendly—I just buy a new pan and pop it into the forever-usable blush palette. And it doesn’t bother or clog my extremely sensitive skin, making it ideal for frequent wear.
Blush Sandwich with higher placement for a “snatched” look
Depending on your age, you’re either like, “omg duh” or “what did you just say?” Let’s break this down. A “blush sandwich” is just a trendy slang for what we’ve been doing for a while: darker shade foundation, contouring cream, or bronzer at the base, a pinky blush in the middle, and highlighter/concealer at the top. But the placement of all three elements goes about half an inch higher than what we, elder Millennials, have been taught. As a rule of thumb, the blush shade doesn’t go on the apple of your cheek, but roughly half inch higher—and so on, and so forth, going up to your temples. When done right, this gives you a lifted, “snatched” effect that Sophia Loren achieved by taping her temples higher and letting her hair cover the tape. Except no tape!
While this technique might be new, the pursuit of a lifted look is in line with the beauty zeitgeist of the past several years. Cult products like NuFace microcurrent device and collagen skincare, and the fox-eye trend all point to a youthful ideal. Perhaps that makes it feel like another ageist blight we have to struggle against, in a world that has too many critical issues to count. But I do still love that makeup is a creative outlet for women folx to express their femininity. To feel a little bit better. One thing about makeup, and blush especially, is that it makes me look better and happier instantly, even if I don’t feel up to it. And there are worse ways to feel good than putting something pink on your cheeks. I say blush away—if it helps you face the world with optimism and self-confidence.
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Photo: Charlotte Tilbury; Kjaer Weis