Most blushes I put on my fair skin end up looking like I’m unintentionally cosplaying Trixie Mattel. And while I firmly believe that there is a time and a place for drag queen-caliber blush, I don’t experience those times and places that often — mostly, I want my blush to mimic a recent endorphin rush. [Insert post-coital cliche here.] The best drugstore blushes for fair skin impart the natural-looking flush us pale folks are after, sans gaudiness, ruddiness, or muddy-ness — all common blush complaints for people with lighter skin tones — and they have all the blendability and color payoff of their prestige counterparts.
Generally speaking, fair skin fares best with soft pinks and peach shades. As another rule of thumb, people with cooler undertones might want to opt for the former, and warmer undertones the latter. That said, all the shades listed ahead work for all manner of fair skin, undertones be damned, so go ahead and pick the color, finish, formula, and intended aesthetic effect you like the best. Beyond that, all the blushes listed ahead cost under $10, so the risk level is very low here.
From a ballerina pink to a sunny peach to a sneaky contour shade, scroll on for seven of the best drugstore blushes to achieve a natural-looking flush. (Or not — you can build them all up if you're feeling dramatic today.)
1. The Best Pink
You never forget your first, as they say, and for makeup lovers/hoarders, that adage often extends to our first-ever beauty products. For me, that’s L’Oreal True Match blush in Baby Blossom. The cool-toned, baby-pink shade looks very “baby’s first blush,” because it actually was, but 15 years and an evolved makeup collection later, I still gravitate to this unabashedly pretty shade whenever I’m looking a little sick, tired, or generally deflated. The color payoff is subtle — think lightly pinched, not slapped — but it’s just enough to cheat some natural joie de vivre. It’s shimmer-free, too, which is pretty hard to find in a drugstore blush.
2. The Best Neutral
One of the hardest things I have ever had to do, in the wildly low-stakes game of shopping for makeup, is find the Goldilocks of tonal blush: not too orange, not too pink, not too brown, and no glitter whatsoever. According to fellow fair-skinned folk, this nude Maybelline blush is just right. It reads a little more pink IRL than it does online. Regardless, it imparts the concept of color, if you know what I mean, rather than a discernible shade — exactly what we want in a neutral. This would be a nice and lively (but not too lively) shade for de-Gothing bold brows and a very dark lip.
3. The Best Peach
If makeup products were emotions, peach blush would be the feeling of your favorite meal at your favorite restaurant arriving on the arm of your favorite server. Obviously, we’re talking about an outdoor restaurant on a 75-and-sunny day. This peach blush from Physicians Formula can help you look satisfied with your current life choices, calmly optimistic about your future, and only a little bit sun-kissed. It’s a balanced patchwork of pinks, nudes, and bronzes, which all swirl together to create a natural, lit-from-within glow. The pink tiles have a bit of shimmer in them, too, for just the subtlest amount of sparkle.
4. The Best Blush For Contour
Cool-toned, matte, uber blendable: This NYX blush, while technically a blush, has all the makings of an ideal contour shade for fair skin — a not-so-secret secret that lots of pale people on the internet have figured out. Amazon reviewers rave about its impressive staying power, comfortable, vaguely creamy formula, and exquisite buildability. Shade-wise, I think it’s a good alternative to Fenty’s cult-favorite contour stick in Amber; and at under $8 on Amazon, the price is about three times more palatable.
5. The Best Shimmer
Speaking of cheaper alternatives to universally beloved products, this Milani blush in Dolce Pink is a great alternative for NARS's iconic Orgasm blush, thanks to the pinky-coral shade and subtle gold shimmer. The shimmer in here is finely milled and blends beautifully, so it looks much more expensive (like, Orgasm expensive) than some of the other glittery drugstore blushes out there. Lots of shades in this range other than Dolce Pink would look gorgeous on pale skin, too, and they can all basically double as a highlighter.
6. The Best Natural Formula
Burt’s Bees is the reigning champ of “natural” drugstore brands, and lucky for us, they make a really good blush. The formula contains some substances you may not recognize (and some you will, like jojoba and honey), but everything is 100% plant-derived. And as a mineral blush, it’s a safe option for people with breakout- or irritation-prone skin; it’s also free of potentially irritating additives like parabens, phthalates, and fragrances. In particular, both the Bare Peach shade (pictured here) and Shy Pink are beautiful on fair skin.
7. The Best Liquid
Liquid blushes are something of a unicorn as far as drugstore brands go, so I was very excited to find this one from Maybelline. It’s marketed as a gel-cream hybrid, but since it’s water-based and oil-free, it works more like a tint — it’s a little like Benefit Benetint, but less runny (which means it’s easier to work with!). You only need to tap on a tiny bit for a radiant flush, though you can build it up if you prefer more intense color, or mix it in with moisturizer to tone it down a bit. All six shades can work on fair skin, though Rose Flush is a foolproof pink.