Simply put, use discretion when buying blush--blush is supposed to mimic your own skin's blush, not someone else's. If you don't know what your natural blush looks like, cuss in front of your conservative aunt. Or maybe your grandmother. Now THAT is a sure-fire way to make your blush show up.
The rules to follow:
1) Know your undertone- Yellow undertones should use peachy/orange undertoned blushes. Pink undertones should use rosy/cool red blushes. Now, don't think you have to completely adhere to this. Both undertones look great in plums, and both look great in pinks. I tend to stay away from coral-y blushes, simply because they don't look natural.
2) Know your skin type- if you have oily/combo skin, I would suggest staying away from blushes with a lot of sheen or shimmer. They can bring attention to any excess oil on the face, especially in natural sun light. I have oily skin, and I know that sheeny blushes are about as far as I can go. If you have normal/dry skin, use any blush you please! Shimmery and sheeny blushes can bring a healthy glow to the skin. Just be cautious with matte blushes--sometimes they can enhance dryness.
3) Invest in a proper blush brush- Generally, the brushes that come with blush are glorified eyeshadow brushes. They aren't big enough for the cheek area, so that can make application difficult. When I use the term "invest", I don't mean that you need to drop $20+ on a brush. The brand E.L.F. (eyes lips face) makes great brushes, all within the $1-3 range. I like both their large stipple brush and complexion brush. Both aren't super dense, so they will give you a more natural application, and they both blend like a dream. The complexion brush also works wonderfully for applying powder, so pick up 2!
So without further ado, here are my favorite blushes. I have worn these when I have been super pale and using fake tan, and I can say that most work for all skin colors, ranging from fair to very tan. The other great thing is that they are either matte or only have a slight sheen. Why is this good? Generally, the blushes I come across in the drugstore (and occasionally high end brands) are loaded down with glitter--not a good look. An overload of glitter can tend to make blush look cheap and completely unnatural. Matte and sheeny blushes are your best bet all year round.
1) Marc Jacobs Promiscuous, slight sheen ($30)- a bit pricey, but gawgeous. I'd like to start out by saying that Marc Jacobs deserves a golden star for packaging. Allie like. But getting past that, this is the perfect rose color is great for both yellow and pink skinned gals. Also, it lasts for ages (8+ hours).
2) NARS Amour, matte ($30)- As you can see, this blush is well-loved. I, uh, borrowed it from my mom earlier this years and still have yet to give it back. Prior to me, uh, borrowing it, my mom had it for about a year and half. That's the great thing about NARS--they might be expensive, but you don't have to repurchase for literally years. As for color, this is about as peachy as I'll get before things start to show up orange. If you have pink skin, test it out, but if you have yellow, definitely give it a go.
3) NYX Bourgeois Pig, matte ($5.00)- If you haven't heard about NYX, then set aside a good hour to simply browse their website. They have about 1000 and a half different products, all at great prices. The best part is that they are all great quality, with the blushes being no exception. They aren't typical drugstore blushes--they aren't coated in glitter, and they have great color payoff. They last for quite a long time, with only a little fading by the end of the day. To be honest, they are right on par with most high end brands. As for Bourgeois Pig, it is about as pink as I will go. I would recommend wearing this if you are fair to light, but when I wore this when I was tan, it didn't quite show up. This color is one of the most popular from NYX, out of about 25+. The best part about NYX? A lot of their blushes are dupes for high end--they even have one for the coveted NARS Orgasm.
4) NARS Dolce Vita, sheen ($30)- Hello, sexy. This blush is da bomb. I love berry colors on my cheeks, because they most mimic my natural blush--a very deep red. I wear this religiously during the fall and winter, and even from time to time during the summer (so that means great for fair and tan skins!). I especially love pairing this with a minimal eye and berry lips. Even though it seems a little intimidating, it can be blended to a beautiful crushed berry color. It might not be as famous as other NARS colors, but it is a superstar in its own right.
5) NYX Desert Rose, slight sheen ($5.00)- If you crushed a raspberry and made a blush out of it, it would be this. If you don't feel like making the plunge with Dolce Vita, this is a great berry alternative. Something I forgot to mention about NYX blushes is that they last a lifetime. If you scroll up, you'll notice that it looks like I barely use them. Not the case. I used Bourgeois Pig for three months religiously, and Desert Rose intermittently with Dolce Vita all throughout winter. This is more of a purple-y berry, so I would recommend it more for pink/neutral skin types.
P.S. MAJOR brownie points to anyone who knows the song "Desert Rose" by Sting. I hum it every time I put this on. And if you don't know it or can't remember it, here is a not-so-subtle push to listen to it. Your ears will thank me--it's almost too badass to pass up. Observation--Sting's eyes are closed for about 75% of the music video.
Happy Blushing (and listening)!