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Flushed! The Ultimate Guide to Cheek Stains Including Top 6 Picks

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About Cheek Stains

Stain is an unfortunate word for a beauty product, dontcha think? I mean, beauty mavens don’t want stains — we want an alluring tinge of color that highlights our bone structure. We want a subtle flush that speaks of youth and vibrancy. Stain as a descriptor doesn’t paint that picture.

Even so, the right cheek stain really does deliver that youthful glow we love so much. If you’re into the natural makeup look, you absolutely need a good cheek stain.

Stain or blush?

Here’s a confession. I didn’t wear cheek color, blush or stain, for years. I didn’t really see a need for it, until I got to my 40s. At that point, my youthful complexion lost its natural vibrancy pretty fast. I was suddenly looking at a paler me in the mirror.

Since then, I’ve favored cheek stains over blush. Blush can look unnatural, because it sits on top of the skin. Unless you’re really talented with a makeup brush, your cheek color can be either invisible or too aggressive.

Blush comes in powder and cream forms. Stain, on the other hand, is a liquid or semi-solid. Both are blendable and generally have a more transparent, dewy quality relative to blush. These formula temporarily stain the skin, rather than sitting on top of it as a blush would.

Many cheek stains stay on longer than powdered blush. They can also have moisturizing properties.

Applying cheek stain

To apply a liquid cheek stain, squeeze a bit on to your fingertips and gently blend from the apples of your cheeks back towards your head. You could also dab a bit onto a high quality makeup brush and use the brush to blend.

Semi-solid cheek stain comes in a stick — like a big lipstick — that you apply directly to your skin. Swipe it on from the apples of your cheeks backwards and then blend with your fingers or a blending brush.

If your stain isn’t blending well or going on splotchy, try exfoliating first.

You know you have the application right when you can see just a dewy flush on your cheeks.

It’s a risk with any cheek color that your application looks more aggressive under different lighting. Avoid this by making sure your bathroom lighting is very bright — a vanity mirror will do the trick. And on sunny days, take a quick peek in your compact mirror when you step outside.

When to wear cheek stains

The right cheek stain looks gorgeous in natural and more done-up looks, any season of the year. Pair cheek stain with BB cream, mascara, and lip gloss for an easy beauty look that’s still pulled together. Or, use it as a subtle backdrop for smokey eyes on a night out.

Best premium cheek stains

This list of best cheek stains is based on popularity as indicated by product reviews and search frequency. For examples, lots of people search specifically for Tarte Cheek Stain and so that product is pretty high on the list. I also include my own favorite as the editor’s pick, since I use this product daily.

RankBrandPrice PointNoteworthy
Editor’s pickEco Lips$30 for 3Eco-friendly, 3-in-1 formula
1.Tarte$30A fan favorite
2. The Body Shop$20Trusted brand
3. Jane Iredale$30Use on lips and cheeks
4. Benefit$30Layer for more impact
5.Elizabeth Mott$13Budget-friendly

Eco Lips lip and cheek tint

Eco Lips lip and cheek tint is a multi-use stick you can swipe on cheeks, eyelids, and lips. You can also use the nude shade for contouring. To see why I love this product so much, read my Eco Lips review.

Tarte cheek stain

Fans say Tarte’s cheek stain has a nice, creamy texture, with a soft color and just a bit of shimmer. Use the wide applicator directly on your cheeks, and then blend gently with a sponge, brush, or your fingertips.

The Body Shop lip and cheek stain

The Body Shop’s stain is a liquid formula that you dab on and blend. Fans say it’s long-lasting and just as beautiful on the lips as on the cheeks. It’s also cruelty-free and vegan.

jane iredale Just Kissed lip and cheek stain

Just Kissed by jane iredale is a lush formula that contains olive butter, avocado butters, rose wax, and bees wax. These ingredients soften and deliver moisture to your lips and cheeks. If you have oily skin, you may find this product too moisturizing to use as cheek color. A thin applicator gives you precision, whether you’re wearing it on the lips or on your cheeks. Fans love the sheer, long-lasting colors.

Benefit Cosmetics Benetint Rose lip and cheek stain

Benetint is the original lip and cheek stain, and has developed a cult following since it was developed way back in the ’70s. The kiss-proof, sheer color has an alluring, sexy vibe — which may be why so many women swear by this product.

Elizabeth Mott cheek stain

If this is your first leap into cheek stains, try this formula by Elizabeth Mott. The price point is fantastic for a proven product that women love. A small applicator works well for the lips and can easily dab color onto your cheeks. Just blend quickly and you’ll have that sheer wash of color that lasts all day.

About drugstore cheek stains

Try as I might, I can’t find cheek stains in my local Walmart, Target, or Walgreens. You can shop Target and Walmart online for products like Pixi Cheek Gel or Maybelline Cheek Heat Blush, which look more like gels than stains.

My local Target does carry lip stains, like L’Oreal Paris Rouge Signature Lip Stain. But unless the product is labeled as lip and cheek stain, it’s likely not designed for cheeks. That means it won’t blend well on your skin. Don’t try to turn a one-trick pony into a multitasker. You’re better off investing in the Elizabeth Mott product for $13.

Since I don’t have any drugstore cheek stains in my area, I have to defer to you. Do you buy cheek stain at the drugstore? Share your favorite products!

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Tuesday 15th of July 2008

Tarte’s cheek stains are the best!  They’re a gel stick, so they combine ease of application with lasting power.  Granted, one is a bit pricey, but they last forever.  I’ve had mine for 2 years now and with frequent use, barely made a dent in it!

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