Beauty Abroad, Part 9: Illamasqua Cream Blusher in Zygomatic, and Some Thoughts on British Beauty


It’s humid, guys. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but when the humidity level is 94% at 7:30 am, I can be forgiven for mentioning it again. I don’t understand how those of you who live in hot climates with year-round humidity keep your makeup from sliding off your faces, but I need to get in on whatever black magic you’re using. In East Coast summers, the only products that don’t melt into nothingness after ten minutes outside are mascara, lipstick, cream eyeshadow, and my newest discovery: cream blush.

Cream blush! Where have you been all these years? Thousands of miles away at Illamasqua counters, apparently.

(The pristine pan, with a drop of condensation that I dared not brush off for fear of marring the perfect smoothness. But now I can’t stop looking at that drop. Damn it!)

Illamasqua Cream Blusher in Zygomatic is a blush of many superlatives. It’s my first cream blush, of course. It’s my first neutral-beige blush. At £21.50, it was by far the most expensive beauty product I bought in England, but it’s also my favorite product of my British haul, and the one I’ve used most often since coming home. Sephora used to carry a small range of Illamasqua cream blushes for (I think) $26, but they phased out the line just before I left for the UK, so I had to swallow a price increase of about $10 overseas. Not that I’ve regretted it for a second.

Zoomed in for color and texture:

Ignore the droplet. IGNORE IT.

Illamasqua describes Zygomatic as a “naked pink brown,” which is accurate if your version of “naked” is “pale and cool-toned.” It’s a muted pink-beige that imparts a natural-looking flush to my pale complexion. Zygomatic is so understated on me that I can’t imagine it showing up well on medium- or dark-complexioned people, and several MakeupAlley reviews bear out my suspicions. On the plus side, Zygomatic is almost impossible to overapply; on the minus side, it’s too easy to blend it into oblivion. But as someone who lives in fear of overapplying her blush, I appreciate the subtlety of the color and the smooth blendability of the formula.

Swiped on my arm, then blended out:

The pan after two weeks of use, with its top layer broken to reveal a slightly cooler-toned beige:

Illamasqua blush packaging isn’t my favorite: the compact is hard to open and, due to its ~quirky~ shape, larger than it should be. But I can forgive a few packaging flaws when the products itself is so silky, dewy, and forgiving of application mistakes. I know some people use stippling brushes to apply cream blush, but I’m more comfortable using my fingers. I’ve been patting Zygomatic on the apples of my cheeks and blending it upward along my, wait for it, zygomatic bones.

Now for a few looks incorporating Zygomatic, with the caveat that, like many blushes, it tends to disappear on camera. The difference is that Zygomatic contributes a faint glow that does show up in photos–and, I’d like to think, makes my constant summer dampness look deliberate. I might be deluding myself about this.

The first look, from a few days ago:

Other makeup: Topshop Chameleon Glow in Wax + Wane applied over Maybelline Tough as Taupe cream eyeshadow; Maybelline One by One mascara; NYX Butter Gloss in Raspberry Tart, which I’ve almost used up. How is that possible?

Look #2, belonging to the library-carrel-selfie genre: mascara, Zygomatic, and Maybelline Vivid Rose lipstick. It was too humid to bother with serious eye makeup, and I wanted to get out of the apartment early and start working. Self-imposed schedules are hard to maintain; you start thinking, “Well, maybe this will be the day I take an hour to master the smoky eye.” Now and again I resist that thought.

Finally, from last night:

Other makeup: Kiko #251 eyeshadow layered over NARS Lhasa, both secured with an underlayer of Maybelline Tough as Taupe; same mascara as above; purple lipstick custom-made for me last December at the Bite Beauty Lip Lab in New York. If you’re ever in the area, go there! It’s so much fun.

So ends my Beauty Abroad series. I’ve now reviewed all of the makeup I bought in England (you can find the other posts in my Beauty Abroad tag), and I thought I’d wrap up with a few words on the differences I spotted between British and American approaches to beauty. Of course, these are nothing more than one person’s fugitive impressions; feel free to disagree or add your own observations!

I spent most of my time in the downtown area of a large, ethnically diverse city. This meant I got to see a good cross-section of British women in professional dress by day and done up for drinks or clubbing by night. Professional makeup is fairly similar in Britain and the United States: lots of no-makeup makeup and neutral colors. It’s in leisure hours when the differences really emerge. In my experience, Americans pay more attention to the overall effect of their makeup, while the British pay more attention to individual details.

In general, American makeup tends to be neutral and monochromatic. Americans want to look like airbrushed versions of their normal selves; a typical going-out look for a young American woman in an urban area involves a black or brown smoky eye, lots of mascara, blush and/or bronzer, some contouring, and either nude lipstick or no lip color at all. There are exceptions, of course; red and coral lips have gained quite a foothold (liphold?) in neighborhoods dominated by retro-twee hipster culture. But in general, wearing bright or experimental makeup in the US marks a woman as an eccentric. Not a bad eccentric, necessarily; just someone who wants to get noticed. For that matter, going entirely without makeup seems to be a more popular choice in America than in Britain. As I’ve mentioned before, I didn’t wear makeup until the age of 23, and my decision went unquestioned by other young women. Sometimes I wonder who buys the bright lipsticks and eyeliners available in every CVS and Sephora, because I so rarely see people wearing them.

By contrast, many British women adore bold colors, especially in lipstick. Red, fuchsia, purple, orange, burgundy, bubblegum pink–I saw it all, even at the academic conferences I attended. I also noticed some painstakingly executed cat eyes, another rare sight in the States. British makeup tends to be more experimental than American makeup, but also messier and more haphazard; there’s less of an attempt to make all the elements cohere. Which is not a criticism! Overall, it seemed that the British brought a sense of play to their beauty practices, and I felt more comfortable having fun with my makeup when I was there.

I’m curious what originally produced this sense of play. The gloomy weather? Britain’s centuries-old tolerance for eccentricity? The fact that seventeenth-century courtiers dressed like this?

Portrait of John Belasyse, 1st Baron Belasyse of Worlaby, by Gilbert Jackson, 1636. Source: National Portrait Gallery.

The availability of bold makeup at a low price point certainly makes a difference. American drugstore makeup is still dominated by soft, neutral colors; to find makeup with a sense of adventure, you generally have to splash out for MAC, NARS, or Urban Decay. Across the Atlantic, Sleek, Rimmel, Bourjois, and other affordable brands produce a wide range of colors and finishes. Of course, they produce this wide range in response to existing demand; but what about a customer interested in matte burgundy blush but reluctant (or unable) to spend more than £10 on something she might not like? In the States, she’s out of luck; in Britain, she has options. It was refreshing to see.

Also refreshing, these days: homemade strawberry-coconut-lime popsicles and Lana Del Rey’s new album. Is it really summer if I’m not mooning around the apartment listening to something like this?

14 thoughts on “Beauty Abroad, Part 9: Illamasqua Cream Blusher in Zygomatic, and Some Thoughts on British Beauty

  1. BTW, I forgot to tell you how great fuchsia and purple lippies look on you. And I can see Zygomatic blush is a handsome complement to the bright lip colors. 😉


  2. Thank you! Fuchsias and purples are my favorites. 🙂 And I hadn't seen that article, so thanks for the link! It's really fascinating what \”beauty\” means in different countries. I was surprised she didn't reach out to anyone in Korea or Japan, given how huge the beauty industries are there…


  3. That fuchsia lipstick is STUNNING on you 🙂 I have Zygomatic and haven't pulled it out lately…Illamasqua cream blushers fall into my \”mixed feelings\” products category, haha.


  4. *Tips hat for zygomatic reference* :-DLoving your observations on UK vs US beauty preferences! Coming from neither of these places (directly, depending on how colonial you're feeling), it's very interesting to try and compare that with what I see here! I think (perhaps unsurprisingly), that we lean toward the UK preferences, as I see a lot of bright lipstick (despite the apprent 'nude' trend).


  5. I admit I had to look up \”zygomatic.\” Thanks for the extra knowledge, Illamasqua! I expected the word to have some obscene connotation, given Illamasqua's usual product-naming habits…I wish I lived in a place where statement makeup was more common! I don't understand why American women cling to their brown eyeshadows and nude lipsticks when there are so many other awesome colors out there.


  6. Hi AB (from the future haha)! I am one of those who live in year long humid climates… And I'm wondering why you recommend cream blush and shadow? For me cream blush always feels a little bit icky in humid weather. And I don't really trust cream eyeshadow to stay on my lids. I feel that powders would at least kind of maybe absorb the excess oiliness and moisture? Would like to hear your input!


  7. Yes, this sort of thing is very subjective! I don't have problems with excess oiliness, so that's not something I think about on humid days. What often happens for me is that my face is *already* moist when I put on my makeup, which means that powder eyeshadow clumps up in my eyelid folds and doesn't blend properly. This is less of a problem with powder blushes, but in general, I find that powder formulas can be difficult to apply to skin that's already quite damp. The only cream eyeshadows I've tried so far are the Maybelline Color Tattoos and the ColourPop Super Shock Shadows, both of which have a stiff texture that stays put for a while. I can imagine that runnier cream shadows might be less trustworthy.Hope that helped!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s