Mar 16, 2023

The 15 Best Drugstore Blushes of 2023

Add a pinch of color to your cheeks with these super blendable, buildable blushes.

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InStyle / Alli Waataja

Blush has undergone quite a rebranding process in the past few years. Some considered it old-fashioned whereas others just didn't see the need for it when in reality, blush surpasses other beauty products in its versatility alone. With the right technique and formula, you can create the illusion of radiant skin, fake a faux sunkissed glow, and add dimension to your features.

Frankly put, blush is the equivalent of a really great party guest: Fun, reliable, and complementary to every situation. Plus, with its rise in popularity on TikTok as well as all the how to videos from celebrity makeup artists, the well of inspiration for how you can apply it and the looks you can master never runs dry. What's even better — working with a more affordable drugstore brand gives you a little more leeway to try them all without sacrificing quality.


What We Like: The blush comes in an extensive shade range, is super buildable, and makes skin glow.

What We Don't Like: It could be too shimmery for those who prefer a matte finish.

Recommended by all three of our experts and thousands of TikTok users, we had to get our hands on the Milani Baked Blush – and the results were as dazzling as everyone promised. A glowy, natural color warmed our cheeks with one swipe while the shimmer finish gave our cheekbones an eye-catching allure, making us feel positively radiant.

We are equally impressed with the way the blush blends seamlessly over pores and rough textured skin. Even though we typically turn to creams for the most blendability, creative and editorial makeup artist Anya Tisdale applauds this powder's buildable formula. This all-star attribute makes the blush conducive for layering it with your other products to create a cohesive, not cakey, makeup look.

With 11 shades to choose from, we have no doubt that you’ll find one suitable for your needs, but the aptly named Luminoso is our favorite — its subtle peachy hue looks natural on a variety of skin tones. Each of the colorways leaves behind a satin or shimmer finish that we think provides a gorgeous lit-from-within effect. However, if you’re glitter-averse we recommend opting for the matte finish of Milani's equally beloved rose powder blush.

Price at time of publish: $11

Shades: 11 | Finish: Satin, shimmery | Size: 0.16 oz


What We Like: Between the clean formula that's safe on all skin types and the universal shade range, this blush will suit a variety of skin tones.

What We Don't Like: The ultra rich formula makes the shades easy to over apply.

Boasting versatility, there's so much fun to be had playing with the shimmer and matte finishes included in this quartet of colors. Consider taking the warm, top-right brown shade to the inner hallows of our cheeks for added depth, and combining the bottom two pink ones to create a more understated, everyday blush. You can even swatch your lids with any of the four shades for a no-fuss eye makeup application.

The best part? Everyone can enjoy them since the natural-looking shades come in universally flattering rose and peach colors that suit a wide range of skin tones. If you’re skeptical, let us explain: The formula mixes together seamlessly, allowing you to customize a shade that works best for you, and it means you can use this palette every season.

Word to the wise: Use a very light hand when applying these blushes because the color payoff is very strong and can be too intense for more natural looks.

Price at time of publish: $9

Shades: 4 | Finish: Matte, shimmer | Size: 0.48 oz


What We Like: The creamy formula has hydrating ingredients that feel luxe and lightweight on the skin.

What We Don't Like: It can look patchy if you don't blend it before it dries down.

Calling this pick "small but mighty," Tisdale swears by the strong color payoff and extensive shade range this blush offers. Enjoy the freeing feeling of going bare-faced, courtesy of its lightweight formula, yet you’ll still reap the benefits of brighter, cheerier skin that the pigmented colors provide.

There are also added benefits for your complexion from the inclusion of shea butter and glycerin: Two ingredients that not only contribute to an effortless application, but they may help your skin appear softer and more hydrated over time.

Feel free to ditch your other makeup tools because the cushioned, doe-foot applicator makes for a super straightforward application — just dot it onto skin and buff. If you are eager to try different techniques à la the sunburn blush trend, know that manipulating the creamy texture with a brush or makeup sponge is just as simple.

Although we appreciate how blendable this is upon first application, we recommend working quickly because it dries down fast.

Price at time of publish: $10

Shades: 6 | Finish: Matte | Size: 0.67 oz


What We Like: The pigmented shades stand out on mature skin without looking too bold.

What We Don't Like: The finish isn't as dewy as the name implies.

We’ve discovered some game-changing concealers (thanks, Jamie Lee Curtis) and outstanding foundations that enhance mature skin, and now we found a way to add color back into these complexions with this affordable liquid blush from Makeup Revolution.

Simply put, "as people age, their skin tends to get drier and thinner," explains Gray, who tells us this blush does an excellent job of bringing back radiance with its hydrating formula and pigmented shades. It also "blends like a dream," she adds, which makes the blush totally customizable.

The fine-tipped applicator allows you to better control how much you’re using so you can target certain features, like the corner of your cheekbones or the top of your temples. And even though it settles down into a semi-matte finish rather than providing skin with the intense luminosity implied by the name Superdewy, we like that it still looks fresh and doesn't cake on dry skin.

Gray is also a fan of the diverse colorways, specifically calling out the peachy-toned Fake the Flush shade as being very complementary to fair skin and suggesting deeper skin tones try Blush Me Up, a berry-colored hue.

Price at time of publish: $7

Shades: 8 | Finish: Dewy | Size: 0.5 oz


What We Like: The liquid formula melts in your skin to provide a natural-looking finish that's perfect for everyday wear.

What We Don't Like: It's not a very extensive shade range.

A top-notch liquid blush dries fast, won't transfer, and plays well with our other skincare and makeup products. And this little number from NYX ticks all those boxes and more, says celebrity makeup artist Emily Gray. She recommends this blush over other liquid options because its long-lasting formula is also "extremely lightweight" and "easily blends into the complexion to give a natural flush of color."

The blush seemingly does it all. The finish is dewy, but won't increase the sheen on an oilier complexion and it glides across the rough, flakier areas of dry skin without skipping or dragging. We partially credit this attribute (and our gleaming skin) to the formula's use of tremella mushroom, a hydrating plant-based ingredient some experts believe helps the dermis retain moisture.

Though there are no pink shades for when we seek that cherub-cheeked glow, we’re overjoyed at how the bronzy shades will fake a beach day better than any self-tanner.

Price at time of publish: $10

Shades: 3 | Finish: Dewy | Size: 0.33 oz


What We Like: This travel-friendly stick-style applicator makes application a piece of cake.

What We Don't Like: The shades are a little sheer.

Housed in convenient twist-style tubes that lend themselves to easy application, blush sticks are a great option for beginners and no-fuss personalities. Celebrity makeup artist Elizabeth Seropian is a huge fan of blush sticks, and specifically name-checks this Revlon pick as one of her favorites. She tells us there's no wrong way to apply it (a boon for blush novices), whether it's "directly to your cheeks and blended out with your fingers," or with a brush.

And if you feel lost in whether cream vs. powder blush is better, this cream-to-powder formula efficiently quashes the debate. You can manipulate the creamy texture into whatever trend Hailey Bieber is sparking before it dries down into powder to lock your look in place without looking dusty.

The rosy sheer shades provide just the right amount of coverage if you need a touch of color before a first date or seek an on-the-go blush that’ll go great with everything, but we’d layer them with one of our other favorites on this list if you want a more striking look.

Price at time of publish: $16

Shades: 2 | Finish: Semi-matte | Size: 0.31 oz


What We Love: The plant-based formula is easy to layer thanks to hydrating ingredients that provide radiance to all skin types.

What We Don't Love: It's difficult to fit larger brushes into the small packaging.

Gray and Tisdale both waxed poetic about the buildable, long-wearing, and high-impact creamy formula of the e.l.f. Putty Blush. Tisdale is impressed with how it "diffuses beautifully into the skin," so we can see why it's a cult favorite among social media influencers and has even made an appearance on the red carpet.

The secret sauce behind its blendability is the argan oil and vitamin E-infused formula that "moisturizes the skin throughout the day," says Gray. The plant-based emollients lock in moisture and lend themselves to a more malleable blush you can layer without it clumping. What's more, the putty texture feels like nothing on your skin and stretches from your dimples to your temple without feeling sticky.

Our experts are equally impressed with the shade range, particularly Bali, a warm nude that doubles as a bronzer or contour shade, and Bora Bora, a bright, Barbie pink ideal for springtime looks.

It wasn't easy to fit our larger, fluffier brushes into the small round pot, but since we found the best results patting on the blush with our fingers, this isn't much of an issue.

Price at time of publish: $7

Shades: 8 | Finish: Semi-matte | Size: 0.8 oz


What We Love: The multi-faceted tool works well as a blush, contour, and as eye makeup.

What We Don't Love: It's not very long-lasting.

Especially as the beauty world embraces a "more is more" attitude with blush (welcome back, ‘70s glam) there are truly no rules when it comes to how you wear it. However, learning how to work with this makeup can still be intimidating for beginners, which is why we love the uncomplicated application of this swipe-and-go stick-style blush.

The blush, which actress Rachel Bilson deemed her "favorite secret weapon," boasts a cream-to-powder formula that layers with minimal effort and even includes vitamin E to treat your skin to a satiny feel.

Don't ditch this from your routine even once you feel more comfortable with your technique — the shimmery finishes double as a highlighter while its deeper, nude-toned options make for wonderful contour colors.

Seeing as how it doesn't have the longest staying power, we’re glad the travel-friendly, micro-chubby stick is an adorable accessory to any purse pocket so we can swiftly reapply it at a moment's notice.

Price at time of publish: $5

Shades: 6 | Finish: Satin | Size: 0.8 oz


What We Love: Packed with ultra-hydrating plant-based oils, this blush helps make skin feel plumper and appear healthier.

What We Don't Love: The coverage is a little sheer.

It only makes sense that the tried-and-true brand for quenching our dry skin and soothing our cracked lips would make an equally hydrating blush.

Burt's Bees packed this product full of fatty acids with antioxidants that your skin will drink up, like coconut oil, castor seed oil, and — our personal favorite — jojoba seed oil. Considered one of the top-ranking oils, it leaves complexions looking revitalized and contributes to a dewy finish when added to makeup products.

Since this blush does a stellar job of providing that au-natural radiance, Tisdale says she reaches for this on days that she doesn't feel like doing a full face of makeup. Instead, she takes advantage of the subtle neutral-toned shades to pull together her lip and cheek look into one cohesive style.

Price at time of publish: $13

Shades: 6 | Finish: Dewy | Size: 0.32 oz


What We Love: The long-wearing formula stays on oily skin without sliding around or wearing off throughout the day.

What We Don't Love: The packaging doesn't hold the product very securely.

Whether your skin naturally produces excess sebum or you are trying to ward off summertime sweat, Gray always recommends individuals with oily complexions use powder blushes. They "will keep a more matte appearance and help absorb any potential oil throughout the day," she says, adding that powder blushes blend extremely well with a matte base like a foundation or primer.

This Catrice AirBlush Mat blush goes a step further and also dulls the double-edged sword of finding a formula that stays put without using a tacky, sticky residue to keep it there. It locks hard-earned makeup looks in place with a stunning, mattifying, and weightless formula that feels like nothing on our skin.

One tip: Be careful to keep this blush away from the inside of designer bags when you travel because the lid tends to pop off and can sometimes spill powder from the compact.

Price at time of publish: $6

Shades: 3 | Finish: Matte | Size: 0.19 oz


What We Love: The dermatologist-tested formula keeps sensitive skin from breaking out while adding just the right amount of color.

What We Don't Love: There's a little fallout from the powder.

As someone who struggles with redness and sensitive skin, blush used to terrify me – wouldn't I just exasperate the issue? However, after Seropian's recommendation, I tried this one and had a total glass-slipper moment. Finally, I found a blush that fit my needs perfectly — it provided my skin with warmth without exaggerating my rosacea or irritating my skin.

The brand says the hypoallergenic formula is dermatologist-tested, and it leaves out added fragrances, mineral oil, and sulfates that can disrupt our easily-irritated complexions. As dry and sensitive skin tends to go hand-in-hand, it's also nice to see hydrating ingredients like squalane and glycerin on the list for an added bit of luminosity. The pearlescent formula not only has a nice reflecting finish, it almost functions as a setting powder to slightly blur pores.

Like many powders, this one has a little fallout, but using a makeup sponge kept me from seeing too much debris on my clothing.

Price at time of publish: $11

Shades: 4 | Finish: Sheer | Size: 0.32 oz


What We Love: Drier skin types will benefit from the moisturizing cream-to-powder formula that won't settle onto dry patches or into fine lines.

What We Don't Love: There are only two shades.

Powders may seem to play favorites to more oily complexions for their ability to mitigate shine, but Gray admires how this one gives dry skin a matte finish without looking dusty. She also touts its blendability, weightless feel, and buildable formula — all of which are game-changers for dry skin. It also leaves out alcohol, fragrances, and parabens, so there's no need to worry about it exacerbating the itchiness or flakiness that sometimes accompanies this skin type.

For only offering the blush in two shades, Catrice made sure they were still pretty universal. Gray recommends the shade Worth It,which is a warm hue that’ll look like you spent just the right amount of time in the sun.

We’ll leave you with one more tip from Gray: To combat the dryness on the cheeks that can make the blush look patchy, she suggests using a Beauty Blender or dense makeup brush and tapping the cream onto the apples of your cheeks. Be sure to blend in an upward motion and take care not to bounce the applicator on your skin, which will "disturb any potential texture," she says.

Price at time of publish: $6

Shades: 2 | Finish: Matte | Size: 0.07 oz


What We Like: The long-lasting powders sweep across all skin textures and provide a gorgeous natural finish.

What We Don't Like: Coverage is very light.

Powder blushes can be a gamble: Choose the wrong one and the formula crumbles, clings to dry patches, and looks just plain cakey, but we’re pleased to report the Maybelline Fit Me Powder Blush does just the opposite. We hardly noticed the feeling of it on our skin until we looked in the mirror to find the most gorgeous kiss of color.

The shimmer finishes have an ethereal, iridescent finish that's ideal for those who prefer lighter coverage. Plus, with 10 to choose from, there's practically no way you won't find a shade to match your skin tone or desired look.

Want to recreate the light of a rooftop summertime sunset? Try sweeping on the warm peach or burnt orange shades for the quintessential summer flush. Looking to build up to J.Lo-level sharp cheekbones? We’d suggest blending in the sultry plum hue for added depth.

Price at time of publish: $6

Shades: 8 | Finish: Shimmer, matte | Size: 0.16 oz


What We Love: The rich hues provide a pop of color that won't wash out deeper skin tones.

What We Don't Love: It's difficult to get the product out of the container with a brush.

Though the star feature of this blush is the terracotta-baked formula that makes skin look like it spent some time along an Italian coastline, we’re partial to its versatility. The rich hues add instant depth to cheekbones, accentuate jawlines, and perk up your complexion.

When buffed onto the skin, the shades give darker skin tones a vibrant flush — particularly Warm Berry, which dusts onto cheeks as a gorgeous deep purple. All three colorways suffuse the skin in a shimmery finish, but without being so glittery they veer into stage makeup territory.

No matter what look you desire, it won't take long to build up with the pigmented colors — we just suggest dabbing them on with your fingers since the formula doesn't stick very well to a brush.

Price at time of publish: $6

Shades: 3 | Finish: Shimmer | Size: 0.1 oz


What We Love: The formula contains plant-based, natural ingredients to provide some added benefits to your skin.

What We Don't Love: The tip can break if you press down too hard.

Contrary to popular belief, fair skin isn't confined to only translucent shades — just use Daphne Bridgerton as your guidepost for how the right formula can complement red and pink undertones rather than intensifying them. And we found it with this Pixi blush.

It features an enticing cocktail of skin-loving ingredients, like ginseng, aloe vera, and witch hazel, to deliver a formula that melts into the skin, rather than looking streaky against it.

The slim rectangular design is similar to that of some of our favorite sunscreens, fitting neatly into even a Sydney Sweeney-approved clutch and truly living up to its name as an on-the-go option. The product dispenses from a twist-style tube that eliminates the need for any additional tools. Swipe on directly (and gently, as the tip is a little fragile) and pat your skin with your fingers.

Price at time of publish: $18

Shades: 3 | Finish: Glowy | Size: 0.6 oz

Gray asks herself three questions when choosing a blush: Does it blend into the skin well? Is it patchy? What is the color payoff?

Formulas that play well with other products as well as different skin types and textures is essential. It will also help the rest of your makeup appear cohesive, she says, adding that "if it does not blend well, the blush will be patchy and cling to areas of the face."

Many times a blush, like the e.l.f. Putty Blush, taps hydrating ingredients, such as glycerin and shea butter, to help the formula melt easily into skin while offering conditioning benefits and a radiant finish.

And while it's nice to have a pigmented formula that offers color in one swipe, what's even more important is finding a blush that's buildable, which allows you to fully customize your look.

Like foundations, blushes typically come in four finishes — shimmer, matte, satin, and dewy — and there are unique benefits to using each one. A shimmer shade, for example, can double as a highlighter and be applied along your temples and down the bridge of your nose.

Meanwhile, blushes that dry down to a satin or dewy look are valuable a great options if you’re looking for an extra bit of luminosity and shine, which is something those with dry or mature skin may benefit from using.

However, blushes with a matte finish are a failsafe option for all skin types — yes, even drier ones, as long you’re using a lightweight formula, like the Maybelline Fit Me Powder Blush.

Whether you prefer a natural look or are still learning how to use blush, when in doubt try to find a one with a sheer finish and buildable formula. According to Gray, "this prevents it from becoming too pigmented," she says. "Sometimes, once the blush is on the face, it's hard to take the pigment down."

Here's the good news: There's no wrong answer when it comes to what type of blush will look best on your skin and it really depends on what you’re most comfortable with, says Tisdale. "Some people may enjoy using blush over redness on their face, while some people may like using cream blushes, even if they get a bit oily," she says. The point is: It's entirely up to you.

For example, dabbing on a liquid blush after applying her base makeup is what works best for her oily skin. To prevent it from veering into greasy territory as the day goes on, she sets the look with a dusting of powder blush over top. Seropian agrees that a powder blush may work best for oily skin since it "helps to absorb excess oil and prevent shine." Additionally, with this skin type, she tells us to look for blushes that are "non-comedogenic, and have a matte finish."

Dry and mature skin may benefit most from using cream or liquid blushes, says Seropian, especially ones with dewy finishes that contain moisturizing ingredients, such as "hyaluronic acid or glycerin.

"For combination skin, it is best to use a versatile blush that can work for both oily and dry areas," says Seropian. She adds that powder blushes with satin finishes are an excellent option here because they "provide a natural-looking glow without accentuating any dryness or oiliness."

If you have sensitive skin or deal with conditions like rosacea, Gray recommends looking "for formulas that do not contain fragrance, alcohol, oils, and parabens as these are going to be the most gentle on the skin." Avoiding these potential irritations will help prevent a flare-up.

Since mature skin tends to lean toward the dry side, Seropian recommends using a liquid or cream blush, as it will "leave the skin looking dewy and natural," she says. These types of formulas are also less likely to skip over wrinkles or settle into fine lines, and instead blend beautifully with textured skin.

Additionally, you’ll have luck finding a blush with hydrating ingredients, like jojoba seed oil, glycerin, and different plant butters that can help restore radiance and moisture, like Burt's Bees 100% Natural All Aglow Lip & Cheek Stick.

Tisdale opts for liquid blushes when creating a natural look, like the NYX Bare With Me Luminous Cheek Serum. With only a tiny dot of product, they’ll "diffuse very softly on the skin to create a very youthful flush," she says.

Cream blushes have a similar effect, especially those with a satin finish that gives skin a "natural-looking glow," Seropian says. She adds that no matter what blush you use, the key to a no makeup-makeup look is a blendable formula, as this will allow for smooth and even application that looks like your natural skin, only enhanced.

Irene Richardson is a writer covering fashion and beauty trends. For this story, she researched and tested dozens of drugstore blushes. She also consulted three sought-after makeup artists, Elizabeth Seropian, Anya Tisdale, and Emily Gray.

Ma X, Yang M, He Y, Zhai C, Li C. A review on the production, structure, bioactivities and applications of Tremella polysaccharides. Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol. 2021;35:20587384211000541. doi:10.1177/20587384211000541

Gad HA, Roberts A, Hamzi SH, et al. Jojoba Oil: An Updated Comprehensive Review on Chemistry, Pharmaceutical Uses, and Toxicity. Polymers (Basel). 2021;13(11):1711. Published 2021 May 24. doi:10.3390/polym13111711

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