I've tried hundreds of concealers and mascaras in the name of beauty research, while my fellow beauty fanatic Giselle has turned her attention to everything from foundations to nude lipsticks in her quest to find the best products for darker skin tones. But my next beauty investigation might just be the one I'm most excited about: blusher. Some people love it, and some people hate it, but I absolutely adore blusher and swear by its magical ability to transform a tired complexion into something decidedly more lively. In fact, I'd sadly need more hands than I currently have to count the number of times people have asked me "Are you feeling okay?" when I haven't applied my usual dusting of the good stuff before leaving the house.
Luckily for me, as a perk of my job, I'm regularly sent new blushers to try out. Creams, powders, liquids and sticks—there are so many formulations out there, which means I'm incredibly fickle about remaining loyal to any particular formula. A blusher away keeps the doctor away, right? But for the purpose of this test, I ended up trying over 45 blushers, and they only made the list if I'd actually part with my own hard-earned cash to buy them.
I tried a mix of formulations and shades, and considered everything from application to longevity. Disclaimer: While I've given each blusher a rating, I would take this number with a pinch of salt. Honestly, I loved each and every blusher on this list, and they wouldn't be on here if I didn't genuinely think they were worth the money. (But it isn't as fun to give everything a 10/10, is it?) Keep scrolling to see which 10 made my final shortlist and to shop my favourites.
I normally opt for pink or coral blushers, so this neutral brown blush was quite the departure for me. I was worried it would be too deep for my pale complexion, but when applied sparingly, I was pleasantly surprised at the sun-kissed glow it imparted. The rich, creamy texture also worked well as a lip colour if you like the matchy-matchy look.
The cheapest blusher on the list, and honestly, one of my favourites. Coming in at just £4, this would make a great dupe for one of my other favourite blushers on the list from Milk Makeup. It was really creamy to apply, blended out well using my fingers (or a brush) and could be worn as a subtle wash of colour (or built up to a brighter pop of colour like I've got here).
These gel-cream formulas from Glossier are blusher for people who don't really do blush. They look incredibly pigmented when you first squeeze them out, but they blend effortlessly into skin, leaving behind more of a stain than a full-on pop of colour. They come in cute tubes (they look like watercolour paints) and can be mixed in the same way. Here, I combined peachy Beam with Puff (a coral + a cool pink) for a subtle rosy tint. Be warned, though: On my oily skin, these colours disappear after a few hours, so powder is essential.
In direct contrast to the Glossier blush above, Fenty Beauty Match Stix is one to try if you want there to be no doubt that you've got colour on your cheeks. Ridiiic is a bright orange that required a fair amount of sheering out on me, but I think it would look incredible on deeper skin tones. I was surprised at how much I liked this unusual shade and was really impressed at how long it stayed put for.
I already knew that I was a fan of these chubby blushers from Milk Makeup, but Perk was a new shade to me. It's described as a coral with shimmer and is definitely glowy on the cheeks. I scribbled it straight onto my face and blended out the edges with my fingers (there's no skill at all required here) and loved how it instantly made my skin look, well, perkier.
I'm a big fan of Lumene when it comes to skincare, but I haven't tried much of its makeup offering. I was really impressed with this unique formula. It's a water-based blush I found best applied with a flat-topped blush—it's incredibly liquidy, and I found it hard to get an even application with my fingers. It felt amazing on the skin—like I was wearing nothing at all—and made my tired morning complexion look a whole lot perkier.
Despite its name, I actually applied this blush on a bleary-eyed Sunday morning before a day priming the walls of my new house. Definitely not glamorous. However, the blusher-highlighter hybrid did a great job of making me look and feel a little bit more pulled together, and I'm a big fan of the sheen it delivered to my cheeks.
I almost always have one of these Lip2Cheek pots in my handbag, as they're great at making you look like you've actually taken the time to do your makeup (when in reality, you've applied everything with your fingers while on the Victoria line). I think I'll be getting plenty of wear out of Smile, which adds an almost sunburnt look to cheeks and lips (in a good way, of course).
Inspired by the cult lip liner in the same shade, this is the same nude-pink tones as Pillow Talk but in blusher form. A duskier shade than I'd normally gravitate towards, this ended up being one of my favourite blushers of the bunch. It's incredibly pigmented (so a little bit goes a long way), and I'm head over heels for the rosy flush that it creates.
I had never heard of this blusher before it landed on my desk, but it turns out Mark is actually an Avon beauty brand. Yes, remember the ladies that used to drop the catalogues at your door? Same people. I wasn't expecting much from this unassuming powder blush, but boy, was this stuff pigmented. The lightest dusting will go a long way here, and I'd use a large fluffy brush to really buff out the edges. It's a great "basic" blush that gets the job done quickly, and at an affordable price point.