Beauty Crush: Scarlett O’Hara

Most girls get their early beauty lessons from their moms, their sisters, or their middle school buddies during group bathroom breaks. I got mine from Gone with the Wind.

The scene is early in the film, before the war and Rhett Butler have come into Scarlett O’Hara’s life, and she’s sneaking off from ladies’ nap time during the barbeque to find her darling Ashley Hamilton and profess her undying love to him. (Unrelated: is it just me, or was he so not worth the fuss? I’d take Clark Gable any day.) Without much time to freshen herself up, Scarlett peeks into a mirror at the beautiful Twelve Oaks plantation and gives her cheeks a quick pinch. Immediately, she’s rosy-cheeked, flushed, and oh-so-lovely.

In the years since, I’ve caught many a backstage beauty tutorial during fashion week and have interviewed my share of makeup artists. There’s contouring to be done, bronzing, highlighting, and the like, but for myself, I prefer to keep it simple: a flush of bright color right on the apples of the cheeks. (Hint: smile when applying blush—no need for fish face.)

The cheek-pinching trick indeed works wonders—and there’s no color more natural than the one that’s actually, you know, natural—but if you’re looking for something that lasts more than a few minutes, a few blushes have worked their way into my regular regimen.

I’m forever loyal to Benefit’s Benetint, which may have originally been formulated as a nipple tint for an exotic dancer (it’s true!) but now is perfect for a sheer pink cheek flush. But recently, I came across a compact of Dolce & Gabbana The Make Up’s Luminous Cheek Color in Sole, an intimidatingly bright shade of orangey-red, and I’m hooked. A light hand is necessary (seriously—check out that color!), but if you get it right, it’s a flush neither Ashley nor Rhett could resist.

Photos: A rosy-cheeked Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind (top); Dolce & Gabbana The Make Up's Luminous Cheek Color in Sole, Benefit's Benetint cheek and lip stain (bottom).