Sometimes I really am a curious cat. I’ve made it no secret that most of what Makeup by Mario releases aren’t exciting enough to compel me to make a purchase. However, this third collection launch revolves around highlighters, blushes, and bronzers, the latter two categories of makeup which have become a Herculean task to resist. I managed to talk myself out of the bronzers (and highlighters), but the best I could do was limit myself to three blushes. If you sign up for emails and use the code WELCOME15, you can save 15% off your first purchase from the official website. In addition, ground shipping is free. Of course, I could have saved even more money if I waited for a sale but…that’s the price of impatience!
I have two Soft Pop Powder Blushes in the shades Creamy Peach and Poppy Pink. Both products are equally smoothing on the skin. They give good color payoff and are buildable. In saying that, I have to point out that most brands know how to make a decent quality blush. It’s more common to find a good one than a bad one. Between all the brands, the main differences come down preferences of the levels of pigmentation someone wants, the shade and tone, how finely the powder is milled, the finish, and excluded ingredients (if you subscribe to the “clean beauty” trend). What I consider a top tier blush is whichever of those qualities suit my particular preferences the most. Anything deemed above standard is technically subjective. The Makeup by Mario powder formula is faultless, which is what I expect of any blush. However, what makes these unique comes down to longevity. The majority of powder blushes last a full eight hours on me. With the Mario blushes, I noticed that by the end of the night they looked nearly fresh! I went as far as a twelve hour wear test with Creamy Peach, which is very subtle on me to begin with, and other than slight fading on the apples of my cheek where I applied the least amount of product, it looked like I had only worn it for a few hours instead of twelve! This test was done with no setting powder or setting spray, it was just applied on top of a face primer and foundation. Based on previous 8-9 hour wear tests in which I used a powder as well, I believe it would increase the longevity even more. The long lasting results occurred with Poppy Pink too. I have dry-normal skin, so I cannot say whether other skin types will have as much luck with these as I did, but I recommend anyone who has trouble with the staying power of blushes to look into these. They are by far the longest lasting blushes I own with the least amount of fading when applied on top of foundation.
On completely bare skin, the blush started to significantly fade after 6 hours and by 8 hours it was pretty much gone. I expect a makeup artist brand to create products intended for use on foundation, not bare skin, so this test was purely for those who sometimes put on a blush and go about their day. I do that occasionally, so I know to reserve these blushes for days that I’m wearing foundation.
On Sephora’s website, Creamy Peach is listed as a shimmer formula and Poppy Pink as a matte. When I turn the pan in the light, I still see tiny sparkles here and there in Poppy Pink, but that doesn’t translate to the face. It still looks matte (though not dry or flat). As for Creamy Peach, the shimmer particles are easier to see, but it gives the effect of a satin finish. In my previous review on the Pat Mcgrath “shimmer” blush formula, I mentioned that Nude Venus didn’t have as much of a shimmery look on the skin, and Creamy Peach is even less so. I’d consider it a demi-matte. Below are swatches of some shimmer blushes I have in my collection to compare the amount of particles that can be seen.
I don’t consider this to be a negative aspect, just a warning for anyone expecting Creamy Peach to be very shimmery, reflective, or glowy. Instead, it’s a subdued satin radiance.
I watched some of Mario’s demonstration videos, and his intent was to create a soft, everyday natural “makeup for real life” kind of look. Poppy Pink is quite a vibrant shade, so using a fluffy lightly packed brush helps to achieve the vision Mario had in mind. I only need one or two dips with my brush. It’s the perfect blush draping color which I’ve been loving to apply further back on my cheeks, leaving the apples bare. On the other hand, because the tones of Creamy Peach blend into my skin tone so much (and it’s a little less pigmented than Poppy Pink), I have to heavily pack on 5-6 layers to get it to show. The nice thing is that even after applying so much product, it doesn’t look at all powdery on my skin. And the lack of reflective shimmer actually works in my favor because any other shimmer blush would have me beaming like the sun if I put that much on. The shade darkens a tiny bit, when it has had time to settle into my skin, but it’s never going to give me more than a subtle flush of color. This goes hand in hand with MAC Melba and MAC Mocha, Pat Mcgrath’s Nude Venus, and Hourglass Diffused Heat as shades that are barely deep enough to work for me, but I love them anyway.
One thing that I found to be odd was that during the first week of the launch there were skin tones recommendations for each product on Sephora and Mario’s websites. Now they only have it for the highlighter, powder bronzer, and shaping sticks. The note that Creamy Peach could still work on medium-dark skintones and up to dark skin tones for Earthy Pink is the reason I felt comfortable taking a chance on those shades. Maybe they thought the advisory notes were too limiting and removed them, like Poppy Pink being listed for medium dark to deep dark skin tones even though it’s a pretty universal shade. Or perhaps there were some complaints for the blushes and that’s why they were removed, such as me being medium-dark and having Creamy Peach technically work for me, but only if I really pack it on. It’s still difficult to see on camera (clicking the image to enlarge it helps) but it’s visible in person.
For $24, these are an easy recommendation if you actually need a blush or just want something nice. As I mentioned before, the only aspect that really puts this above others on the market is how long lasting they are, so if that’s not an amazing feature to you, you may not find these blushes to be that impressive. I’m glad I have them, though.
I have no business continuing to purchase cream blushes, especially in the stick form which I don’t like as much, but my rationale was that I could use the special brush at the other end of the stick with my other cream products. That way, when the Soft Pop Blush Stick eventually goes bad, I’ll still have something usable out of it. I purchased the shade Earthy Pink, as I thought it would look the most natural on me.
I think this is a nice product. It’s like a slightly dewier version of the LYS Higher Standard Satin Matte Cream Blush. The LYS blush is only $16 for 6.5 grams. The Blush Stick has 10.5 grams, plus a brush, for $28. So, I do think the Mario Stick is fairly priced. It’s also only $2 more than the Fenty Match Stix Shimmers (which come in blush shades) which have 7.1 grams and, in my opinion, a lower quality formula.
Because I noticed the similarities of ingredients between the cream product in the Makeup by Mario Master Eye Prep and Set to MAC’s Foundation Stick, as well as the Master Metal Manipulator to the Mehron Mixing Liquid, I was curious to see if there were any products that came before which had similarities to the Stick Blush formula. The ingredients that follow the same order are highlighted in yellow. Underlined yellow means they all contain it but in different orders. Underlined red shows the ingredients unique to that formula and underlined blue shows an ingredient shared by two but not all three. The three products are the Glow Cream Base from the Natasha Denona Love Glow Cheek Palette, Makeup by Mario Blush Stick, and the Highlighter end from the Uoma Beauty Double Take Sculpt and Strobe stick. I own a Uoma Stick and can confirm they actually don’t feel the same. The one from Uoma has a bit more slide/glide to it. They have similar griping power on the skin but Mario’s has more of a tacky feel whereas Uoma’s has more slip. I own a different Natasha Denona Cheek Palette and the Cream Base formula for the version I have contains different ingredients, so I don’t know if they are similar or not.
The ways I recommend applying this product are as follows:
- Swipe the blush onto the back of the hand and pick up the product with the brush end to stipple it onto the cheeks. This method gives the most control in terms of being able to build up the product and leave a slightly less shiny finish. A second option is to dab the blush directly onto the cheek and stipple with the brush. This leaves more shine on the skin and reduces the amount of cleanup. I do not recommend swiping the stick across the cheek as that can move the foundation underneath.
- Use your fingers or a different (less dense) brush for a sheerer application. I personally do not like the look of the product when applied with the fingers. On bare skin it took me longer to blend and over foundation it kept getting splotchy.
- Swipe a slightly damp sponge across the surface of the blush stick and bounce it onto the cheeks for the (surprisingly) most opaque non-foundation-disturbing application and for the dewiest finish. For a sheerer application, dab the product onto the cheeks first and then bounce with the sponge to blend it out.
As seen in the four photo collage further up, a setting or finishing powder will lighten the cream blush and instantly mattify it. Any powder, including powder blushes, will both set it and ensure it lasts on the face looking quite fresh for at least eight hours. I have not done longer wear tests on it. Putting a powder blush on top of the cream looks nice, but it also looks fantastic when the blush stick is applied on top of a powder blush (like the Patrick Ta method). I’ve tested this with a few other brands’ powder blushes, but using the Makeup by Mario blush stick and powder blushes together absolutely locks it onto my face and they work together so seamlessly and beautifully.
If you don’t use powder, the cream blush will set on its own after a few minutes. However, it won’t be fully dry which means it will mostly stay on the face if touched. Regardless of me applying it over foundation or on my bare face, it fades around 6 hours if not combined with a powder in some way. Perhaps a setting spray will work to avoid powder, but I have not tried that out. The finish isn’t very dewy on my skin anyway, so I don’t feel like I’m missing out on the luminosity by using a powder. It’s easier for me to just do that or apply a powder blush on top when using the Stick Blush.
I mentioned that I used other brushes with this product. With my Sonia G Keyaki Mini Base brush, it worked fine but was a bit sheer. I thought perhaps the natural and synthetic bristle mix caused this effect but I had the same result with my Smashbox Cream Cheek Brush which is fully synthetic. Between the three, I prefer to use the Mario brush with the Mario blush.
I also tried the Makeup by Mario brush with the Patrick Ta cream blush from the powder/cream blush duo, as well as an LYS cream blush. It works fine with them, though I still prefer the Sonia G Keyaki Mini Base with my other cream products because the bristles are softer.
Speaking of the Mini Base, did you know that the new Sonia G Fusion Series is launching at Beautylish tomorrow? The same fiber mix in that brush is used for all the bristles in this series. Photo credit goes to Mel Thompson who was the first person to put out a video.
I will be getting two or three brushes. Considering how much I rave about the Mini Base, I wanted anyone who may be interested to know it will be available June 22nd! Okay, back to the review!
The foundations I used in the wear tests were the Nars Soft Matte Foundation, Dermablend Cover Drops, and a mixture of the Uoma Beauty Say What Foundation with Beautyblender Bounce Liquid Whip Foundation. The primers used were the MILK Hydro Grip Primer, Good Molecules Silicone-Free Priming Moisturizer, and Tatcha Liquid Silk Canvas. The brushes I used with the Poppy Pink blush were the Chikuhodo KZ-4, rephr 05, and HS-2 Hana Sakura Blush Brush. The brushes I used with Creamy Peach were the Bisyodo B-C-01, rephr 24, and Chikuhodo FO-3. The rephr 24 was most helpful because it’s so dense (as long as you keep it in a brush guard after washing) which meant I could layer up Creamy Peach easier. To those who read my last Fude update, do you remember that the rephr 24 was the one other brush I wanted to try, but it was always out of stock? I finally got it! It happens to be my favorite of the rephr brushes I own now. No figure!
Additional notes about the detachable Makeup by Mario Blush Stick brush is that any residue is easily wiped away with a microfiber cloth. I fully washed the brush once so far and the bristles maintained their shape and did not fray or become looser packed.
Because I already have cream blushes I like and the Mario brush is only superior when used with the Mario cream blush, in hindsight, I should have only bought the powder blushes. My inner makeup goblin talked me into it, and while I don’t regret it, I could have gone without the blush stick.
That’s all for today! One final thing I wanted to mention is that every so often I feel it is necessary to put a disclaimer that all products reviewed in this post were purchased by me. I always disclose if I did not buy something, even as far as mentioning if the product was a birthday or holiday gift from a friend. Also, none of the links in my blog are affiliate links. If this changes in the future, I will state it each time.
Thank you for reading!