Best cream blush: Get a healthy flush of colour with these formulas

Applying to the high points of the cheeks can lift the face, while application across the nose and centre of the face makes cheeks look more full (iStock/The Independent)
Applying to the high points of the cheeks can lift the face, while application across the nose and centre of the face makes cheeks look more full (iStock/The Independent)

A pop of colour on the cheeks can do wonders in instantly creating a fresh-faced, healthy complexion. The right shade of blusher will have you cheat your way into looking like you drink two litres of water daily, and get a full eight-hour sleep every night.

While traditional powder formulas can create this illusion, the power of a cream or liquid blush is in how natural it appears on the skin, blending naturally to give a flushed-from-within appearance.

The other benefit of a cream blush is the ease of application. Unlike powder blush which can sometimes appear chalky and be hard to blend to achieve a truly natural finish, cream blush can be applied with more precision.

Another benefit of cream formulas is that over-application can be easily corrected by simply blending away the product. Blush placement on the high points of the cheeks can lift the face, while application across the nose and centre of the face makes cheeks look more full.

While it has traditionally been thought that those with oily skins should stick to powder formulas and those with dry skin should use gel and cream blushers, the market has evolved and the longevity of formulas have improved. All of the blushers in our line-up withstood an eight-hour day on our tester’s oily skin.

Read more:

Aside from longevity and how long each blush stayed fresh on the skin, we also considered ease of application and how easy each product was to blend. We also looked at shade ranges and whether each product would work for a range of skin tones, as well as whether the product sat well on top of base make-up.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

The best cream blushers for 2021 are:

  • Best cream blush – Glossier cloud paint: £15,

  • Best cream blush for a dewy finish – Ciate London dewy cheek blush: £19,

  • Best highly pigmented cream blush – Nars liquid blush: £25,

  • Best cream blush for oily skin – Chantecaille cheek gelée: £40,

  • Best cream blush for a fresh-faced glow – Flower Beauty blush bomb: £5.99,

  • Best cream blush for a radiant finish – Iconic London sheer blush: £18,

  • Best buildable cream blush – Morphe 2 wondertint cheek and lip mousse:

  • Best sheer cream blush – Fenty Beauty cheeks out freestyle cream blush: £19,

  • Best budget cream blush – INC.redible for the first time bounce blush: £8,

Glossier cloud paint

Best: Overall

If you’re new to the world of cream blush, Glossier’s offering should be your go-to as it’s extremely easy to apply and leaves little room for mistakes. The blush, which is squeezed out of a tube, is a gel-cream consistency that blends into the skin with minimal pressure and dries to a matte finish. On “no make-up” makeup days, we loved tapping this onto the cheeks with our fingers for a seamless, flushed from within look.

As it is so effortless to blend, we found that it was easy to apply on top of base products without disturbing any creams or powders underneath. Despite its lightweight consistency, the product has good colour pay-off which still looked fresh at the end of the day. Our favourite was the shade “haze”, a cool-toned berry hue that perfectly mimics the colour of naturally flushed cheeks.

Buy now £15.00,

Nars liquid blush

Best: High pigmented cream blusher

Arguably the most pigmented blusher on the market, Nars’s liquid blush truly lives up to the brand’s reputation of producing top-quality complexion products. The blush is watery in consistency and dries to a natural matte finish with just the smallest amount needed for both cheeks. As a liquid formula, it is very easy to work with, but we do recommend working with it fast as it dries slightly quicker than some of its competitors.

A very versatile blush, we loved how this looked on bare skin on minimal make-up days as well as how easily it blended over base products, including powder, without disturbing the make-up underneath. Our favourite shade is “luster”, a true apricot that looks especially great on tanned skin.

Buy now £25.00,

Chantecaille cheek gelée

Best: For oily skin

A swatch of this blush shows visible specks of shimmer, but the formula itself dries to a soft matte finish. This makes it great for even those with oily skin who want to achieve the sheen of a dewy blush without looking shiny. The shade “vibrant”, a true raspberry, goes on sheer but is extremely buildable. Just two layers of this delivered a high pigment. This product blends easily over base products including powder, which makes touch-ups throughout the day hassle-free.

Buy now £40.00,

Iconic London sheer blush

Best: For a radiant finish

This blush is almost glossy in consistency and leaves a luminous, dewy finish on the skin which perfectly catches the light. As the name suggests, the blush is sheer but has enough pigment to leave a natural veil of colour on the skin. We really liked that Iconic London’s shade range is quite muted in tone, which means the blush looks very natural on the skin and is almost undetectable – in the best way. While the blush looks as good on bare skin as it does over make-up, we recommend using a make-up sponge for the most seamless application. The brand has also catered to a range of skin tones, from fair to dark skin. Of the darker shades, “berry boom” – a deep cocoa berry – was our favourite.

Buy now £18.00,

Morphe 2 wondertint cheek and lip mousse

Best: For a buildable finish

As the name suggests, this multi-functional product comes in the form of a mousse which is extremely comfortable on the skin. We really loved the natural matte finish of this blush and how easy it was to blend using the fingers. When wearing over base make-up, we found it worked best if we applied it to the cheeks after cream or liquid products and before powder. While Morphe’s offering is less pigmented than some of the other blushers in this round-up, the colour is buildable. We loved the colour “wish”, a light baby pink which kept our cheeks rosy all day.

Buy now £12.00,

Flower Beauty blush bomb

Best: For a fresh-faced glow

This is a pillow-soft formula that effortlessly blends into the skin. We were particularly impressed by how this blush glides over the pores, making our complexion look healthier and less textured. Out of all the blushers in this line-up, we found this made our cheeks look the most plump and full, instantly giving the illusion of a fresh-faced appearance. While the blush does leave a slight sheen on the skin, it doesn’t feel at all greasy and will work well for all skin types. We loved the shade “bubbly”, a bright baby pink that stayed put all day long.

Buy now £5.99, Flower Beauty

Ciate London dewy cheek blush

Best: For a dewy finish

This cheek tint delivers an extremely high shine and was one of the dewiest blushes of those that we tried. We recommend the shade “coconut”, a deep mauve that looks especially natural on those with light to medium skin. As the blush is very sheer, it may not show up on darker skin tones. While we loved the healthy glow this product gave us, it is not as buildable as some of the other formulas in this line-up. We recommend applying this cheek tint after base products but before setting with powder as it can cling to dryness.

Buy now £19.00,

Fenty Beauty cheeks out freestyle cream blush

Best: Sheer colour pay-off

Rihanna’s make-up brand changed the game when it first launched, offering vast shade ranges that put its competitors to shame, so it’s no surprise that its cream blush was highly sought after when it launched earlier this year. Living up to expectations, the blush is available in ten shades to suit all skin tones. We loved the shade “rose latte”, a muted soft, warm brown with a hint of pink which is perfect for medium to dark skin tones.

The blush has a balmy texture which makes it very easy to blend, even on top of other make-up. While the colour payoff is sheer, it can be built up. We thought this product worked best when we placed the blush on the cheeks with our fingers and then blended out using a sponge. A sweat and resistant formula, this blush stayed put throughout the day.

Buy now £19.00,

INC.redible for the first time bounce blush

Best: Budget cream blush

Somewhere between a cream and gel, this blusher is highly pigmented so we suggest using a light hand when dabbing it onto the cheeks. Once applied, you have to work with it quickly in order to get a seamless blend as it can cling to wherever it is first placed. However, we enjoyed using this blusher on the go as we found we needed just the smallest amount to get the desired colour pay off. Those with oily skin will love this formula as it has a velvety matte finish. Our favourite shade, “my first love” is a natural pink with a hint of mauve.

Buy now £8.00,

Milk Makeup lip + cheek

Best for: Multi-purpose use

For use on both the cheeks and lips, Milk Makeup’s stick blusher is infused with avocado oil and feels extremely moisturising, making it a good choice for those with dry skin. The product has a balm-like feel and gives a plump, dewy look to your complexion. While our oily skinned tester didn’t find that this product felt as comfortable on her skin as some of the others we tried, it still passed the longevity test and retained its colour after a full day in the sun.

As for application, we preferred to swatch the stick directly across our cheeks and then blend it out with our fingers or a sponge. The stick formula does mean this probably won’t be the best option for those who regularly wear matte base products or powder, as it can disturb the make-up underneath. Our favourite shade was “werk”, a dusty rose that looks great across all seasons.

Buy now £23.00,

The verdict: Cream blush

No matter what your skin type, choose Glossier’s cloud paint for a seamless, natural looking blush which blends into the skin with minimal effort. For those with dark skin, we recommend Fenty Beauty’s freestyle cream blush for its range of shades and undertones. Our top pick for achieving full, healthy looking cheeks is Flower Beauty’s blush bomb which did wonders in disguising skin texture and enlarged pores.

More make-up recommendations:

Voucher codes

For the latest discounts on make-up and other beauty offers, try the below links: