My makeup modus operandi is basically natural-looking with subtle definition and pops of colour, like I could have plausibly "woke up like this", slapped a bit of lipstick or eyeliner on and not tried too hard. To that end, watercolour blushes have been working out well for me -- want to see some swatches?
You can see my wee collection above, with offerings from Daniel Sandler, Makeup Revolution London, and Bourjois. In terms of texture, the Daniel Sandler Watercolour liquid blush and the Makeup Revolution The One Fluid Blusher are the most similar in texture -- very liquid, with pigment suspended in a silicone base. To apply, I put a drop (that's all you need!) on the back of my hand, and either tap it on my cheeks with fingers or swirl a duo-fibre brush in it and apply a sheer layer. All of these are really blendable and most dry to a skin-like, satiny-matte texture, and I think that's the beauty of these -- they're more workable than quick-to-dry stains, last longer than cream blushes, and harder to overdo when compared to a regular powder blush.
I first tried Makeup Revolution's The One Fluid Blusher in Rush Me over a year ago. It's a glowy coral shade with a noticeable golden shimmer to it. It actually reminds me a little bit of Nars Orgasm powder blush, although Orgasm has a bit more iridescence to it -- see a comparison below (sorry, I had a hard time editing it to both show the colour and finish!):
Makeup Revolution London are known for making dupes of famous and higher-end makeup products (I totally have thoughts about that...), and this, I guess, is a copy of Daniel Sandler's Watercolour Liquid Blush. I had the opportunity to meet Daniel at his blush masterclass held at Beautymart in Topshop Oxford Circus in December, and got to have my blush applied by the man himself!
We went through the different options and settled on Cherub, a matte medium pink, topped off by the shimmery Icing. On the day you could get a free sample if you made a purchase of a full-sized Watercolour blush; Daniel didn't have samples of Icing with him, so we decided on the warm pink-ish brown Spicey. He applied the blush with his Waterbrush, which I really liked the look and feel of -- it's more of a paddle brush style, similar to a flat foundation brush, but I've had good results with my fingers or a duo-fibre like the Stippling Brush from Real Techniques.
I have noticed that Makeup Revolution's formula seems to settle much quicker in the bottle than that of Daniel Sandler's. It also seems a touch greasier -- judging by the ingredients list, the Makeup Revolution formula has more silicones, and it may just be that there is a higher pigment to silicone base ratio in the Daniel Sandler. This might contribute towards the price difference: Makeup Revolution's blush retails for £3 (Superdrug, which weirdly stocks a wider range of these than Makeup Revolution's own website), while Daniel Sandler's is around £15 depending on where you get it (Look Fantastic, Beautymart, and Daniel Sandler's own website, where you can also get samples for £2.50), so it depends on your budget and preference. I haven't noticed any separation issues on my face with the former though, so from a performance point of view it's fine. According to the packaging, Daniel Sandler products are produced by Kryolan in Germany. I've never used Kryolan but they make products for professionals, so there's a bit of clout behind DS products!
Sneaky note from Daniel Sandler on his twitter a while ago: he's launching Glow Watercolour, which I assume is capitalising on the massive highlighting/strobing market.
The Bourjois Aqua Blush is less fluid and more of a gel, almost mousse-like texture. Unlike the Makeup Revolution and Daniel Sandler ones, these are water-based -- you can feel a cooling sensation when you apply it to your skin. I have 02 CocoriCorail and 04 Berry Nice -- both dry matte. I wouldn't normally go for a coral or peachy shade like CocoriCorail, whether that's on the lips or the cheeks, but after using Korres' Zea Mays Blush in Orange I'm a convert. This is much more subtle, though, and gives a really natural, slightly flushed effect on my NC30-ish skin.
Berry Nice is true to its name, giving a similar flush to what I normally turn when I've been in the cold, or after the gym. I feel like it's quite a bit more pigmented than CocoriCorail, although it might just be that Berry Blush has cooler undertones and pops against my warm skin more, while CocoriCorail is very similar to my skin-tone. A slight downside is that these have a fairly strong scent, which is pretty typical of Bourjois products. I also find that they clog a little bit inside the pump applicator, and to get around that you have to give it a couple of pumps so that you can get fresh product out -- a bit annoying when barely half a pump is enough for both cheeks! These retail for £8.99 at Boots, Superdrug, and FeelUnique amongst other places.
For me, these work best on the top of liquid or serum textured foundations (like Glossier's Skin Tint, quick review here). I have a bit of pigmentation from blemishes on my cheeks, but if you have even-toned skin without many imperfections, these would also work really well on bare or moisturised skin. Lisa Eldridge has a really great video on liquid blushes where she goes through application methods here. I'd love to try the Becca Beach Tints shown in the video, as well as Stila's new-ish Aqua Glow Watercolor Blush. I've also just seen that Lancome will be bringing out a cushion blush soon as well!
Let me know if you've tried these, or any other similar products I should check out. Not that I'm buying makeup for the rest of the year (or as long as I can hold out) -- the Bourjois blushes were my last loot, all the way back in November! Are you proud of me?