You whine this refrain all through the winter season. Now, “I’m cold” is the latest makeup trend to make the rounds on TikTok — so much so that #ImColdMakeup has garnered over 134 million mentions to date.
Much like how the summer involved leaning into the sunburned look, this winter is all about embracing what the cold weather naturally does to your skin, Rudolph-red nose and all. The good news? If you’re not eager to brave the cold for real, you can recreate the trend with a handful of products and a simpler-than-ever technique.
Since the eyes and brows have been in the trend spotlight for the past few years, many are excited that blush is having a major comeback. “As a New York City MAC pro makeup artist during the late ’90s, I remember this blush trend during Fashion Week, and now, it’s back in a really fun, modern way,” makeup artist Erica Taylor said. “After all, the quickest way to pick up your complexion and lift the face is blush — it’s taking the trend to everyday wearable that’s the trick.”
Thankfully, it’s easy to do so. Skin prep will be important for this look; you want to appear naturally flushed and rosy, not parched and covered in dry patches. And since winter is typically synonymous with dry skin (you can thank drier air and less water intake for that), it’ll be extra important to up your hydration and opt for moisturizing products where you can.
One way to ensure your skin is moisturized is by choosing a hydrating primer. Taylor recommends one that contains glycerin as well as blurring properties to ensure a clean, velvet matte finish. Next, you can work to neutralize any redness on your skin with a green color corrector. This may sound counterintuitive, but celebrity makeup artist Neil Scibelli said that covering up the existing redness on your skin allows you to strategically place blush on the areas that are actually meant to create the “I’m cold” look. Not to mention, it’ll make for a more even (read: not blotchy) final result.
Now it’s blush time. If you’re cool-toned, Scibelli recommended going for a rose, berry or mauve hue, as these tones complement blue undertones well. If your skin leans warm, he said to opt for deeper corals, peaches and warm pinks. For deeper skin tones, a magenta, deep wine or rich coral will do the trick.
No need to layer on multiple blush colors here — this is a simple trend that doesn’t require much to be effective, said film and television makeup artist Kerrin Jackson. Plus, if you introduce multiple colors, you could end up with a muddy mess, she said. If anything, Taylor said, you can top off your blush with an icy or pearl highlighter to give an illuminating lift to the skin.
The placement of the blush is also important here. Using round strokes, apply the blush strategically on the high apples of the cheeks and on the tip of the nose, Taylor recommended. You’ll also want to make sure that the blush hits the outermost part of your cheeks where they naturally would be flushed in the cold, Jackson said. “You’re aiming to hit the high points across the middle third of your face — this is the area that’s exposed when you’re out in the elements,” she said.
As for tools: For powder blush, go for a round brush with tightly-packed bristles for a denser application, or a fluffy brush with longer bristles for a more diffused look. If you choose to use a cream-based or liquid blush (which Scibelli recommended for winter), use the warmth of your fingers to apply the product and blend into your skin upward and outward.
Finish off your look with a touch of blush on your cupid’s bow to accentuate your pout. You can also add a swipe of the same blush product across your lids for a monochromatic look. “For more of a frosty glow, use a bit of powder highlighter above the cheeks and on the eyelids,” Scibelli said.
Keep reading for some products that’ll help you get the “I’m cold” makeup look, from a luminous multi-gloss stick to an easy-to-blend liquid blush.
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A creamy blush and lip stick
R.E.M. Beauty’s Eclipse Blush and Lip Stick is multi-tasking at its finest. Available in 10 shades, which range from soft pink to burgundy wine, this creamy formula is easy to build up and blend out. Plus, it’s formulated with jojoba seed oil and grapefruit extracts to ensure your skin stays hydrated (yes, even during the dry winter months).
A soothing color corrector
Scibelli is a fan of the Neutrogena Clear Coverage Color Correcting Green Concealer because it helps “soothe the skin as it neutralizes any existing redness,” he said. You have niacinamide to thank for that — plus, the fact that it’s oil- and fragrance-free means it won’t add to any irritation your skin is already experiencing.
A skin-like gel-cream blush
Glossier’s Cloud Paint blush won Jackson’s stamp of approval for how natural it looks on the skin. “This makes it look like the flush is coming from beneath your skin and not sitting on top,” she said. That’s due to the easily buildable formula (which applies sheer and looks increasingly flushed as you layer) as well as the blurring pigments, which reduce the look of pores.
A soft, flexible brush
Make Up For Ever’s 160 Blush Brush is large, but not overly so. “The bristles are longer, so there’s more flexibility when you apply a product, but the rounded ends allows for more control as you deposit your cheek color,” Jackson said. The end result: you can work quickly and with precision, but still create a soft cheek that screams “I’m cold.”
A hydrating tinted lip oil
Catrice Cosmetics’ Powerfull 5 Glossy Lip Oil is formulated with a blend of hyaluronic acid and avocado, coconut and almond oils to get rid of dry, chapped lips. Plus, it’s compact and easy to tote around from the ice skating rink to the slopes for application on the go. Choose the shade Raspberry Glow — it adjusts to the natural pH of your lips for a gorgeous flushed, frostbitten look.
A blush-highlighter hybrid
If you’re looking for one do-it-all product, The Lip Bar’s Glow On Powder Highlighting Blush will become your winter go-to. The formula is laced with ultra-fine pearls that transform a dull complexion into a naturally radiant one. It feels weightless on the skin (never cakey or drying), and packs a pigment so opaque it’ll last through treacherous rain and winter snowstorms alike. It comes in three shades to suit all skin tones.