How to Wear Cheek Stains & Tints

What: Cheek stains provide lasting color during the sweaty summer months.

What the experts say: When the mercury rises, blush tends to go south, sliding right off of our faces. A cheek stain prolongs this departure, promising to fight the need to recede longer than a cream or powder blush would, because it literally stains the skin. To make the most of your stain—and not look like a clown—editorial makeup artist Michelle Coursey tells us to focus on the application for different stain types.

“Most important: Move quickly because the product sets almost instantly on the skin, making the amount of ‘play’ time you have to create a natural-looking flush fairly limited,” she explains. Liquid stains are trickiest to apply, but Coursey says they’ll withstand the summer heat longer than their peers. “With liquid stains, wet a makeup sponge with water and squeeze out the excess until the sponge is merely damp. Then apply three dots of the stain to the apples of your cheeks, and quickly blend out with the sponge.” Sticks tend to be the easiest, but also fade the fastest. For these, Coursey says, “dab a little of the stain on your pointer finger and middle finger, then apply to the apples of your cheeks and blend out quickly. Repeat this until you reach your desired intensity.”

What we say: Before we chatted with Michelle, we found cheek stains a bit irksome—mostly because we were one red plastic nose away from Bozo whenever we tried them on for size. But now that we have the application down pat, it just comes down to finding products that deliver on staying power. Benefit’s ultra-new Posietint (sister to cult fave Benetint) takes the intimidation out of cheek stains; rather than granting a deeper, berry flush, it deposits a subtle, petal-soft pink hue that is extremely subtle. The $29 price tag? Not so subtle, but worth it if you feel like splurging. Of course, we know you’re on a budget, so we dug up these two price-conscious stains that deliver the goods: JK Jemma Kidd Cheek ID and Sonia Kashuk Sheer Tint. Priced at $18 and $9.99 (respectively), these two sticks are fabulous alternatives to higher-price stains. They both impart budge-proof, long-lasting results, and offer a range of natural-looking hues that won’t have you joining the circus any time soon.