Blusher is a funny one. It's only if you happen to go without it on an otherwise made-up face that you really appreciate the role it plays in making you look alive.
Blusher has an unbeatable ability to perk up your appearance, but many of us are more uncertain in our use of it than we are with any other make-up staple.
There's that terror of looking like a red-cheeked clown and, given the Irish tendency towards ruddiness, we can be a little shy of blusher.
This season's blushes pack a lot of pretty punch and, in the pots, they look like a whole lot of shimmer and strong pigment, but the textures are sheer and the results will put roses on your cheeks. If the shimmer really scares you, we liked a couple of options that allow you to pick and mix not just blusher shades, but texture too.
So you can bump up the brio in your blusher as little or as much as you wish, according to how much life there is in you this spring.
THE PANEL KIP CARROLL BEST OVERALL
Mac Pearlmatte Face Powder in Sunday Afternoon, €29, Brown Thomas and BT2 This powder is prettiness personified, but it can be played up or down according to how much you choose to cheer up your cheeks. Divided into four sections of colour — three shades of pink, plus a streak of highlighting silver — a brush swept across the lot gives a medium-pink sheen, or you can pick and choose. “I like that this offers options,” said one panellist, “for days you want to play it low-key and for nights you want to look extra alive. A fast-track option for putting spring in your make-up bag.”
BEST STRAWBERRIES AND CREAM
Essence Souffle Touch Blush in Frozen Strawberry, €3.99, available nationwide Very shimmery in the pot, this goes on as a very sheer, slightly glowy blush; it’s flattering rather than fierce. As the name suggests, it has an intriguingly cool feel on the skin, which is not unpleasant. “The colour looks very red before you apply it and blend it,” said a panellist, “but the effect is very much that pinched-cheek look you hear about.”
BEST SHADES OF SPRING
Chanel Blush Horizon De Chanel, €55, Chanel counters nationwide Another multi-pigment product where, again, you can either opt for all at once, for a warming, illuminating effect, or pick out a shade you want to emphasise and either choose to use or ignore the highlighter strip. The blend of coral and pink shades was very pleasing. “The bit of coral muted the winter-red that tends to creep into my cheeks,” a panellist said, “and it's a very subtly pretty overall look, with an enclosed brush that's not bad.”
BEST BRIGHTER DAYS
Estee Lauder in Electric Pink, €36, Estee Lauder counters nationwide Our preferred and extremely pretty pink is just one of 14 shades of this new blusher range. Available in either satin or shimmer finishes, the former has a low-key glow and though it's a long-wearing powder, it never looks powdery, something which can cancel out that youthful-glow effect. “I love the big, wide square of product,” a panellist said. “You can really load up the brush and avoid that racing-stripes look.” BEST
Clarins Instant Light Blush in Brown Fizz, €23, Clarins counters nationwide The liquid-cream texture of this product is notable, but this shade is one for the darker-skinned, who can look dull after the long winter. All three shades — applied with an applicator that's akin to a large lip-gloss wand — bestow glow and have a light, less tacky finish than your usual cream blush. “It's lovely and smooth to apply, and gorgeously sheer while properly pigmented, too,” said a panellist. “A foolproof pick-me-up.”