natural beauty: cheek color.

February 2, 2016

IMG_4602If I was tasked to come up with names for makeup, I’d call my favorite cheek color Snow Day Pink. Forget all those flower names.

Maybe this is strange to say, but I feel especially beautiful when I come back inside from being outside in the snow. I dunno: something about all of that vasodilation that produces the perfect rosy glow. Doesn’t matter if my hair is matted and I’ve had to peel off layer after layer until I’m left standing in nothing but leggings, a t-shirt, and socks pulled up to my knees. If I’ve got a good snow blush going, I still feel pretty.

Since I can’t always have just returned from a day in the snow, I rely on a little cheek color—in the winter especially—to keep from falling into the depths of despair when I see my wan reflection in the mirror.

I’ll add a note: When you venture past skincare, natural beauty can get a little more tricky. There are just more ingredients needed to engineer cosmetics. For me, that means identifying brands that I feel like have done their homework. It requires a certain leap of faith and a lot of trust. I consider myself to be a fairly well-educated person, but it’s hard for me to to find a blush, for instance, with ingredients whose names I can really understand, even from cosmetics companies that I admire. In the name of beauty—er, vanity—I decide to trust what I read and choose cosmetics companies that adhere to strict safety guidelines, that go above and beyond in terms of sourcing thoughtful ingredients, and that proudly proclaim their commitment to making safe cosmetics. I’m the first to admit it’s not a foolproof system, but I’ll also say that girl wants a little cheek color come January. I don’t think I’m the only one.IMG_4598

Do It Yourself.

+ Gather red things. Beets? Hibiscus? Anyone who has ever peeled a beet or brewed hibiscus tea knows that both can provide a nice little natural stain for fingertips (and countertops). So it stands to reason that using either in a little DIY concoction made for staining your cheeks would work too. Most recipes I’ve seen call for adding the natural color to a carrier oil or similar neutral base, like vegetable glycerin. Full disclosure: I’ve never made my own beet blush. And I’m not sure I ever will. But here’s a nice-looking beet tutorial if your interest is piqued. Any beet blushers out there who want to chime in?

+ Pinches. You do this, right? Pinch your cheeks before a photo? It’s the oldest trick in the book, and I almost never remember to do it, but one of my best friends is a cheek-pinch devotee and gives a little squeeze before every photo. And she always looks rosy!

Have Someone Else Do It For You:

W3ll People Universalist Multi-Stick Luminous*: I’ve had this for a few months and it’s really terrific. It’s creamy and goes on easily without looking too luminous. (They also let you order samples so you can get the color just right!)

Stowaway Cheek & Lip Rouge*: I have this little guy in Peony and Cantaloupe. Extra huge bonus: It’s terrific on cheeks and lips. 

Josie Maran Coconut Water Cheek Gelée: This is one of very few makeup products that I’ve bought and used all the way up. The gelée name is apt since this isn’t creamy like the others on the list. It goes on smoothly and the extra moisture feels especially nice in the wintertime.

RMS Lip2Cheek: While I’ve never tried this myself, this two-in-one product has been recommended to me by friends on many occasions. A kind of natural-beauty cult favorite, my friends who have used it rave about the combination of color and moisture, on cheeks and lips.

What about you guys? Any great finds for a little natural blush?

Disclosure: I am sometimes sent beauty products to review for this series (or otherwise). When I love them and think you might too, I write about them. Items that were sent to me for review are marked with an asterik. All opinions are my own.

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  • Reply Jennifer February 2, 2016 at 9:38 am

    Love RMS products – I use their Un-Coverup as concealer and (on days when I need a little more coverage) a sheer foundation. For cheeks, I love Vapour’s Multi-Use stick for a little glow. It sinks into my skin wonderfully for a really natural “just came in from outside” look. My go-to shade is Courtesan (my olive skin can take a lot of color), but they have a few more shades that I’m sure will flatter all skin tones.

  • Reply Kari February 2, 2016 at 10:24 am

    Which brand is pictured? Curious.

    • Reply Erin Boyle February 2, 2016 at 10:28 am

      The little round compact is from Stowaway (in Canteloupe). The stick is from W3ll People!

      • Reply kari February 3, 2016 at 2:44 pm

        Thank you!

  • Reply Rachel February 2, 2016 at 10:35 am

    Thnks for giving us so much good information on natural beauty – it is so helpful! I struggle with makeup packaging – it seems like there’s so much plastic involved, in an endless cycle of replacement. Do you know of any cosmetics companies that focus on sustainable packaging, in addition to natural ingredients? My search has been unsuccessful so far.

    • Reply Erin Boyle February 2, 2016 at 10:42 am

      I’ve definitely seen some brands that are making an effort on this front. Briar, from RMTL sponsor Marble and Milkweed, has switched to a compostable container for her lip balm, for instance. And I know that Kjaer Weis is great organic cosmetics company that makes refills for their products. Their cream blush might be a nice one to try, though I haven’t tried it myself!

      • Reply Maggie February 2, 2016 at 10:55 am

        MaryKay has a mineral line and they come in less plastic…they are powder based…

      • Reply Mahesha February 3, 2016 at 4:02 am

        please check this etsy shop
        she packages everything in an eco- friendly manner. i love her stuff.

  • Reply Jackie (York Avenue) February 2, 2016 at 10:36 am

    I agree that it’s much harder to go the natural route with cosmetics vs skincare. I’m wondering about the Honest Company line of cosmetics…haven’t tried it yet but really love their body lotion and other skincare products. I trust them when it comes to ingredients and having done their homework…curious to know how you feel about them in general? They might be a good option to try for cosmetics.

    • Reply Lynda February 2, 2016 at 3:04 pm

      I recently switched to the Honest Beauty line and have fallen in love. I prefer light coverage but something that stays with me all day. I have found that in these products. Their blush is amazing also. Erin mentioned she uses the blush on her lips, what a great idea! I’ll be tryjng that trick tomorrow.

  • Reply Lindsay February 2, 2016 at 10:41 am

    Have you heard of Beauty Counter? They are a line of skincare and makeup products (they have kids stuff too!) that is chemical free! I have completely fallen in love with all of their skincare and makeup products!

    • Reply Erin Boyle February 2, 2016 at 10:43 am

      Yes! Never tried their makeup but have had the chance to try some of their other products!

  • Reply Lindsay February 2, 2016 at 10:46 am

    Their makeup is great! I don’t wear a lot day to day, but I highly recommend their color pinch cream blusher! It doubles as a lipstick and a cream blush- and I live for it!

  • Reply Alex February 2, 2016 at 10:59 am

    if you’re looking for a powder blush, jane iredale makes beautiful options! but i also love w3ll people, RMS and stowaway!

  • Reply MissEm February 2, 2016 at 11:39 am

    I love the Josie Maran one and am about to try the stowaway one. I used to use Korres lip butter, which I still like, but it’s a bit too shiny for me compared to those other two.

  • Reply Sharon February 2, 2016 at 11:45 am

    I love the idea of cream blushes but have no idea how to apply it so it looks natural and not crazy. Any suggestions?

    • Reply Genevieve February 2, 2016 at 3:28 pm

      Just touch a tiny bit on the apples of your cheeks, and then blend up and back along your cheekbones with your fingers. You can build color if you start too light. It works best on moisturized skin (I use it on top of first sunscreen then BB cream). It is really easy.

    • Reply Christie February 2, 2016 at 8:38 pm

      I put the smallest dab on my middle finger and smile. I dab where the fat part of my cheek puffs up then with all my fingers I move up the cheekbone in a soft circular form. You can add more if need be. I am pale so a tiny dab is enough.

  • Reply catie February 2, 2016 at 11:50 am

    my favorite for many years, and another one that’s great for lips and cheeks is rosy lip tint from marble and milkweed:

  • Reply Annie February 2, 2016 at 12:40 pm

    I was just at my local herb shop last week in search of beet powder for just this reason! I’d like to make a natural lip/cheek stain combo. Or perhaps separate them so I can add a bit of cinnamon or mint EO to the lip balm?

  • Reply Julia February 2, 2016 at 12:57 pm

    I recently discovered Real Purity ( on my quest to find a natural cosmetics company that isn’t just green-washing, but actually sells make-up with limited and safe ingredients. I’ve been really happy with their products, especially their foundation, eyeshadow, blush, and mascara.

  • Reply Sarah February 2, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    I’ve been happy with Tarte’s cheek stains. They are great for lips too. I love any make-up product that I can clean with a quick swipe of a tissue.

  • Reply Jessica February 2, 2016 at 2:42 pm

    Great round up! I may try one of these. But I believe it’s vasoDILATION of the capillaries that makes a cheek rosy — in other words, they widen and then you see more of ’em.

    • Reply Erin Boyle February 4, 2016 at 11:48 am

      It was the fever talking, I promise.

      • Reply Jessica February 4, 2016 at 9:03 pm

        Another way to get flushed 🙂 Hope you’re feeling better.

  • Reply Sarah February 2, 2016 at 3:00 pm

    I now couldn’t live without my Stowaway Cantelope compact. It creates exactly the snow glow you describe! It was my go-to gift this holiday season. Before that I used a La Bella Donna cream blush quad compact that has been discontinued. My skin has had a great response to their products – I also use their highlighter and what a dewy sheen it adds onto the snow glow!

  • Reply Christie February 2, 2016 at 8:36 pm

    I love honest beauty blush, lips, and mascara, and jane iredale tinted moisturizer. I like RMS bronzer.

  • Reply Laurie February 2, 2016 at 9:54 pm

    In trying to pare down my makeup box I’ve been pretty happy with RMS. I have the uncover up, luminizer, lip2cheek, one eyecolor I use as a liner and mascara. That’s pretty much all I need. (Truth be told I’ve held on to my last Urban Decay eyeliner pencil because I hate to waste it and it’s longer-wearing than the RMS).

    My forays into DIY have been limited to beet lip stain (unsuccessful), lotion bars and lip/cuticle balms (very successful)!

  • Reply Katherine February 3, 2016 at 5:57 am

    Kjaer Weis is my favorite! The initial buy is a bit pricey, but I love that they have refills (which I’ve order twice now). They go on so smooth and natural and the colors are lovely.

  • Reply Allie February 3, 2016 at 5:59 am

    In the past, I’ve used the red lip tints from Portland Apothecary and Fig + Yarrow – for both lips and as a cheek tint. At some point I started making my own (I prefer a darker red/pink cheek stain) using shea/cocoa butters, apricot oil, beeswax, and alkanet root + beetroot powders. There are lots of recipes out there, and the ingredients are easy to find at Mountain Rose Herbs!

    I’m really enjoying your skincare series – keep it coming, please!

  • Reply amanda February 3, 2016 at 8:11 am

    This one is my favorite:

  • Reply MW February 3, 2016 at 5:17 pm

    I second Vapour Multi-Use stick! Torch is a total snow day color. I have fair skin and it is so natural looking applied with a soft fluffy brush. It never oxidizes on me and the tube lasts ages.

  • Reply Karen February 3, 2016 at 7:30 pm

    I just found this lip and cheek stain from Fat and the Moon on etsy:
    It uses beet juice (among other simple ingredients) and gives that Snow Day Glow!

  • Reply H February 4, 2016 at 1:29 am

    Just FYI, vasoconstriction causes less blood to get to the skin = more pale. Vasodilation causes more blood to get to the skin = more color.

    • Reply Erin Boyle February 4, 2016 at 11:47 am

      Let’s just blame it on the fever that was brewing when I wrote this post?

  • Reply Emilie February 4, 2016 at 8:17 am

    A timely and helpful post, Erin, thank you! Last week I noticed the *very* pale look had set in. I have used several Beauty Counter products, but the blush I purchased is too bright right now. Just ordered a Stowaway and an RMS to try.

    • Reply Emilie February 5, 2016 at 10:13 pm

      As I mentioned earlier, I had just noticed I look *very* pale, but was working hard on the Caucuses, had volunteers living at our house for the last month, etc. etc., and had no time to worry about looks! After the last volunteer left this week, I ordered in
      a Stowaway, Josie Maran and RMS to do a comparison [I scooped out small amounts w/ a cotton swab so I can share the product with my sisters/daughter]. Love Stowaway’s Cantaloupe the best — what a gorgeous color! Had never heard of RMS and Josie Maran. RMS’ ‘Smile’ is lovely on my cheeks; not liking the Lip part of Lip2Cheek – looks dry, but I can recycle the packaging and the product jar/lid – a big plus. Josie Maran is too light for what I need now – I’ll revisit that in the late Spring. Again, though, Erin, thank you so much for giving us all this great information!

  • Reply Robin February 4, 2016 at 4:59 pm

    I’m obsessed with Stowaway and love their lip color – I swear by the Cheek & Lip Rouge in peony for both cheeks and lips. This pale girl with sensitive skin just loves it!

  • Reply Ann G. February 5, 2016 at 10:14 am

    Has anyone tried Bare Minerals blush baum? I’m under the impression it’s better for you than many brands – but I’m not 100% sure! I’ve been using it and like the smooth color quite a bit!

  • Reply EatsPaste February 10, 2016 at 5:36 pm

    I have liked ‘most’ of the Honest Company (Honest Beauty) that I tried ( the face hydration mist just stung but I have uber-ornery cheeks).
    Josie Maran’s cheek gelees ARE super; I have two shades. ( her ‘Matchmaker’ foundation is also great for me)
    Gwyneth Paltrow is now the creative director for Juice Beauty’s new makeup line. While I must admit to not caring for her public persona much, her cred as far as being able to trust that she would develop products not loaded with chemicals is pretty strong, so I’ll at least check it out…

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