Beauty Without Fuss

Wednesday 4 June 2014

Giving Good Face: Illamasqua Blush-Up Brush

By Laurin

Let me get something out of the way: I had a not-insignificant identity crisis while preparing this piece. Throughout the months I’ve been contributing to this blog, I’ve mostly been able to use single-feature pictures (lips, lashes, arms, etc.) or better yet, pictures of David Bowie in one of his many incarnations. I’ve not yet written many pieces that require a full shot of my face. But this week, I wanted to write about the Illamasqua Blush Up Brush, and it seemed like cheating to just show the brush, or my cheek with blush applied. After all, the point of blusher is to either add colour to the face, or enhance its structure. I decided to show my full face.

From a young age, I was always told I was pretty, and it stuck. I’m generally okay with what I see in the mirror when I’ve made a bit of effort, but believe me when I tell you that what I’m seeing on the screen of my iPad is NOT what I’m seeing in the mirror. I can’t explain it. My greatest hope is that technology is indeed evolving at light speeds faster than the human eye, and my camera is simply picking up lumps and bumps that my naked eye cannot. In which case, I shall simply hire a sympathetic portrait painter for all my future selfies, tip well and think no more of it. But my worst fear is that the ageing process has accelerated since reaching my mid-thirties, leaving me with sagging cheeks and major dehydration lines under my eyes. Deciding how best to deal with this is a decidedly trickier process, so while I crack on with googling “jowl sorcery”, get a load of this:

The Blush Up Brush is from Illamasqua, my new favourite make-up brand. I spotted this in Nicci Jackson’s personal brush roll when I was at Muse last week. My faith in the transformative power of good make-up tools is childlike, and judging by the way my entire class dutifully scribbled the names of the brushes used during morning demonstrations, I am not the only one. 

The brush came out last year as part of the I’mperfection Collection, but as far as I can tell, it was somewhat overshadowed by the buzz around the duck egg speckled nail varnishes released at the same time. It’s understandable, but also a damned shame because properly applied blusher will do far more for your overall look than spangly nails ever will (although you should obviously have both).
The idea behind the Blush Up Brush is that the short, densely-packed elliptical bristles place the blusher directly under the cheekbone, which you then brush upwards in short, sharp strokes to diffuse the colour onto the cheeks. This has the effect of contouring at the same time, as the colour you’ve placed directly beneath the bone will naturally be darker than the wash of colour above.

Above is a picture of me, minus blusher. To use the brush, load up the brush with your chosen colour and gently tap away the excess. Next, suck in your cheeks and place the brush directly in the hollow beneath the bone. Flick upwards and repeat, working from the centre of your face, all the way to the ear. Soften the strokes wherever you want a gentler diffusion of colour. There is an excellent video on the Illamasqua website that demonstrates the technique.

Above, I’ve used the brush with NARS Orgasm blusher and a touch of NARS Copacabana Highlighter at the top of my cheekbones. The brush produces a very defined look, and as such, I think it works better with a stronger colour. I’ve tried it out with NARS Deep Throat (a soft peach) as well, and found it much harder to see the colour wash on my cheek, making it look like I’d tried to apply bronzer with a bad case of the DTs. The other thing I noticed is that because I am right-handed, I found it more difficult to get the left-hand side of my face to look right. I eventually realised that for some reason, I wasn’t placing the brush high enough on my face. I found it helped to do my dominant side first, then try to match it on the other side.

 The Blush Up Brush is an excellent investment if you’re just getting into contouring, as it not only allows you to try it with a single product, but it also helps you to learn the bone structure of your own face and proper placement of shade and colour for when you do want to go advanced.
Get your hands on one and have a play. The possibilities are endless. In the meantime, I’ll be starting a formal campaign to bring hats with veils back into fashion, as per my new role model, Anna Karenina. What could go wrong?

The Illamasqua Blush-Up Brush is £28.50 at

The Fine Print: Bought it myself, innit.

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