Non-powder Blushes I’ve Known and Loved

Once upon a time, I loved NARS Orgasm. And then, somehow we fell out of love. I think it’s because I’m a cavewoman at heart and prefer to apply all of my makeup with my fingers. Especially blush, which felt incredibly awkward to apply using a brush. Yes, I know, practice makes perfect but I can’t say I’m inclined to keep practicing when non-powder blushes are easier to apply and travel with than their brush-reliant counterparts. Here are my three faves.


Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Cream Blush, $24

I first experienced this product when I did the BlogHer fashion show last summer, and absolutely loved how it looked and felt. It’s lightweight but very bright and strong, so a very small amount will work. It looks odd when first applied, but worked in is rosy and warm and lovely. It’s one of the longest lasting cream blushes I’ve tried, and generally goes for 10-12 hours without fading. And friends, EVERYTHING fades on my skin.


Aveda Uruku Cheek and Lip Creme, on eBay for various prices

I know, I’m recommending something that is already out of production. I’m doing so in hopes that someone at Aveda is listening and will help a gal out because this stuff is fantastic. If you do snap up a tube from eBay and love it, you should be set for about six months. It’s is less potent than the Elizabeth Arden, but still packs a punch. It goes on light and dry, and lasts nearly all day.


Benefit Pocket Pal, $20

All lip tints dry my lips, including this one. But I use the gloss alone, and love that the stain doubles as a blush. I keep one of these babies in my purse at all times and it’s come in quite handy on days when I’ve zipped out the door without looking at my face. Which are more common than I’d like to admit. I do prefer the creams overall as this stain needs to be rubbed in quickly and accurately or it can look a little paint-like. But it’s great in a pinch. (You can also buy Benetint – just the stain – on its own.)

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32 Responses to “Non-powder Blushes I’ve Known and Loved”

  1. Amanda

    You can get Nars Orgasm – and a few more of their colors, I’m using Maui right now – in a 3-in-one stick that’s supposed to multitask as eye shadow/blush/lip tint. I just use it as blush because while I can use powders I found that eventually the bathroom got coated in a think film of peachy-pink shimmery blush.

  2. pam scott

    Hi Sally,

    This is a bit off-topic, but i have been looking for a true red lipstick, but everything i buy turns out to contain a hint of orange or blue. Can you recommend a long-wearing lipstick that would fit the bill? Thanks!

    • Sally

      Oh, Pam, I wish I could … my makeup knowledge is pretty minimal, I’m afraid! I had excellent luck heading to Sephora and asking for help – they set me up with Make Up For Ever in Rouge Artist Intense 44 (post about that here:, but I couldn’t say for sure if it’s a true red. Just that it works with my own skin tone. (Definitely a long-wearing formula, though.) It was absolutely the first tube the gal who was helping me plucked from the shelves, though, and it is the first red I’ve EVER liked on myself. So definitely recommend a trip to Sephora, if there’s one in your area.

      I trust Beauty Bets and here’s her take:

      Sorry I can’t be more helpful!

    • poodletail

      This is hard because it’s your own skin’s ph that will turn a shade orange or blue. 🙁 So, you need to try it out on your very own self.

      A tip: swipe the lipstick tester on the fleshy part of your palm under your thumb. If the shade is going to turn on you it’ll turn right there in front of your eyes so you can check that one off your list.

    • Lauren

      FWIW, I love Make up Forever’s Rouge Artist Intense 43 aka Moulin Rouge…supposedly it was created for the dancers at the Moulin Rouge and is a great red for every skin tone. I think it reads a touch blue on me, but it is pretty true to the tube.

    • Lisa

      I’ve had good luck with NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in ‘Cruella’ and Dior Rouge 999.

  3. Monica H

    I am a fan! I have discovered that my #1 criteria for makeup is that it be long-lasting. I didn’t wear makeup at all for many years, and I don’t have the patience for midday touchups. It must go on and stay on and look good all day, or I won’t wear it.

    I use the cream blush/lip tint from Bobbi Brown, and it looks perfect even with me just sorta putting it on haphazardly. I can put on powder blush OK, but I have to have the right brush with me and it’s gone midday. The cream is so much better from that perspective.

    For that matter I have pretty much ditched powdered eye shadows as well, for much the same reasons. Reportedly a primer will make them stay on longer but I’m not going to bother with a two-step process when one will do!

  4. Danielle

    I love Benefit’s Fine One One. It’s like a little tri-coloured deodorant stick. It has a highlighter, a peachy colour and a watermelon colour. One swipe and you’ll fall in love with your cheeks!

  5. Dee

    I am definitely a powder girl — I really DON’T like getting my fingers all makeup…plus my skin is oily and powders stay on better, I think. For what it’s worth, I tried the NARS Orgasm blush after it was mentioned in your blog, and am on my second compact! Unfortunately I have not found ANY makeup that doesn’t need a touch up by afternoon, but I am okay with that, I just bring my makep bag to work with me. (I also like Sephora, especially their return policy. I have purchased makeup items that really didnt work out the way I thought they would so I returned them. So much better than having a drawer full of stuff you don’t use!)

  6. Annabeth

    I used to love Aveda products – lots of them – but more and more got discontinued, to the point where I could find none of the stuff I loved. What does it matter if you like it? They’ll yank it in a couple years regardless. Seriously, it’s as if they pay no attention to product quality, product sales, anything; their entire market strategy seems to be predicated on people trying something new,, all the time. (I used to go to an Aveda hair salon, for instance, and more than one of the stylists expressed some frustration about always having to break in new products, even when the old ones were popular.) This strategy backfired, at least so far as I’m concerned, because I no longer even bother trying anything from Aveda. There’s just no point.

  7. Margot907

    I’m pretty frugal, but my one splurge make-up item is NARS Mulitple in Orgasm. It’s the prettiest color in a super easy cream blush stick. I always feel prettier after I’ve put it on.

    I’ve also had good luck with Sonia Kashuk’s cream blush in the coral shade. A little goes a long way so it lasts forever.

    • Emily

      Another round of praises for the multiple! I love the way it makes me look like Snow White.

  8. Evita

    I use Revlon Cream Blush in “18-Berry”. It is inexpensive, widely available, natural-looking, and the perfect shade for my fair cool skin. It even has a little pop-up mirror !

  9. Olivia

    I switched to a cream blush a few years ago and I love it. I use one from Avon that looks like a big lipstick. Dab a bit on, blend and go. I think the color looks more natural and it stays on all day.

    • Jessica

      I use the same thing and have for years. I love it. It’s like $8.00 and lasts forever. It just twists up when you need more just like a lipstick.

  10. Kim


    I agree with you on the lip tint front. But I have found that if you are using a tint that is a true, long lasting stain rather than just a subtle lipstick, you can freely apply a clear balm over it liberally to get the moisture plus long lasting lip colour. It is worth a try if you already have benetint in your makeup bag.

  11. Lainey

    NYX has a line of cream blushes that are inexpensive. I love the Boho Chic color for my fair, high contrast, pink undertone skin!

  12. Lauren

    Urban Decay used to make THE BEST sheer cream blush called Afterglow that came in 7 or 8 Shades. It’s been discontinued, but folks might be able to get it on ebay. It’s almost fool-proof and goes on so smoothly.

  13. Lisa

    Diorblush Cheek Creme! It was a limited edition from summer 2013 but I still love it. Blendable, lasts forever, and so pigment-rich that two very light swipes across the pot with two fingers gives you enough colour for a natural-looking flush.

  14. K-Line

    My years-long fave is Stila cream blush in Lilith. I LOVE this stuff. Can’t even be bothered to try something else.

  15. Copy Czarina

    Illuminare Cosmetics (available online) makes two cream blushes with SPF 20: Perfect Color Mineral Blush and Ultimate All Day Blush. The color selection is limited, but the Ultimate All Day Blush in Portofino Porcelain is the color I would blush if I did blush, which I don’t–and it really does last all day on my oily skin without changing color.

  16. alice

    All of these comments have made me curious – I never tried cream blush because I just imagined I would end up looking like I have clown face. How do you apply so you don’t get too much color on your cheeks and it looks natural??

    • Glamdoc

      I´m sorta with you here Alice; I do dabble in cream rouges (NARS Multiple in Portofino, and some MAC stuff), but I can never seem to get it 100% right. Especially with the Portofino I most often look hot and flustered…Tips anyone?

    • Shaye

      Just dab a little on with the tips of your fingers and then blend, baby, blend! I’ll actually rub the palms of my hands against either cheek in a swirling motion three or four times and then finish by smoothing back along my cheekbones.

      • Glamdoc

        Thanks Shaye 🙂 This is pretty much what I do, so guess I must have a wrong-ish color then!

  17. MLC

    Another vote for Bobbi Brown (Pot Rouge in Pale Pink). I love the way it stays on all day, and the way it comforts my dry skin. I don’t use it as a lip tint, though — when it’s on my cheeks it looks fresh and dewy, but on my lips I think it looks too intense.

  18. Shaye

    Tarte Cheek Stain! I use Tipsy, which is a gorgeous coral that is the exact shade I turn when I’m, well, tipsy. Or cold. Or embarrassed. In other words, it’s the shade of blush that I actually blush. 🙂 They have several other lovely colors if coral isn’t your bag.

    What I love about this blush is that it gives a dewy, youthful finish. It’s not shiny or shimmery, but it’s just got the slightest sheen that makes your cheeks glow.

    It’s also dead easy to apply. It is super-blendable and almost impossible to get wrong.

    I’ve also used Stila Convertible Color and Maybelline Dream Bouncy blush, and liked both well enough. But they just aren’t my Tarte Tipsy. 🙂

    • Shaye

      …and when I say “almost impossible to get wrong,” I mean that when my 3-year-old niece and I “play makeup,” (her suggestion, usually after we’ve played zombies and hide-and-seek), the little one puts the dang stuff on herself and doesn’t end up looking like a clown.

  19. Alison

    I got hooked on gel blushes back when L’Oreal was making the Translucide Gel Blush in a little tube. I am a VERY fair redhead with warm undertones, and this stuff lasted and looked totally natural. Since it’s gone, I now use the Pixi Sheer Cheek Gel available at Target. It’s a little heart-stopping at nearly $20 for that little tube, but it lasts me MONTHS and I am on my third tube. Go Rosy or Flushed. Blend quickly. Done! The peachier ones look like nothing and aren’t worth the money. I also like how the tube is hardy and won’t break or spill in my purse.

  20. Jessica

    I must be a cave woman too because I would rather use my fingers too. It just blends better with the warmth from fingers rubbing skin. Plus, my skin is dry and it makes me itch just thinking about putting any kind of powder on my face. Eeek!