When the cold weather rolls in, it is often accompanied by dry skin.  And dry skin is no friend of powdered blush.  What's a girl to do to get a rosy hue?  Tarte has the answer with its extensive range of cheek stains, which impart a dewy glow instead of a powder's sometimes lifeless finish.  In all my years of blush shopping, I have never found a line so plentiful and versatile as tarte's Cheek Stains ($28).

For the unacquainted, a tarte cheek stain comes in a push-up gel stick that goes on your cheeks with no drips or streaks.  Even though the texture seems a bit sticky at first, this feeling vanishes as the gel spreads out and dries into a rosy splash of color.  Depending on how much you dab on with your fingers or smear on directly with the stick, the effect on your cheeks can go from a healthy glow to a ruddy flush.  It is also recommended for use on the forehead, nose, and chin, to achieve a just-in-from-the-cold appearance (or feign a just-from-the-gym look).  I even occasionally dab it on my lips for a subtle kiss of color, since it lasts longer than most glosses and the ingredients are generally safe.

Tested by dermatologists, tarte's cheek stain was formulated with the skin's best interest in mind.  There are no parabens, phthalates, or sulfates to worry about, and each stick's delicious scent is derived from natural sources.  Because the formula is oil-free, you don't have to worry about breaking out in areas where you just wanted to blush.  The slimy coating it leaves on your skin might feel like it is clogging your pores, but I have not once had a bad reaction in ten years of devoted use.

Each cheek stain contains a proprietary blend of what tarte calls its T5 Super Fruit Complex, which includes extracts from goji, acai, maracuja (passionflower), acerola, and pomegranate.  These fruits are brimming with antioxidant-rich nutrients and vitamins.  Acai fruit has known anti-inflammatory and skin-softening properties, helps fight free radicals, and promotes cell regeneration.  Pomegranate and acerola extracts are packed with vitamin C and other antioxidants, which aid in brightening skin and fighting free radicals.  Goji berries are also rich in antioxidants, particularly carotenoids such as beta-carotene and zeaxanthin, and may potentially prevent the growth of cancer cells.

The idea is that such nourishing ingredients will deliver refining and anti-aging benefits with each application.  In addition to the fruit extracts, some of tarte's cheek stains include titanium dioxide, which protects the skin from sun damage by absorbing ultraviolet light, and shea butter, which nourishes and conditions the skin.  Certain shades unfortunately contain carmine, a dye derived from insects, and PVP (polyvinylpyrrolidone), a film-forming agent, both of which are linked to potential skin sensitivities.  Nonetheless, the whole package of ingredients is pretty impressive, considering you may be feeding your skin with anti-aging nutrients at the same time you are creating a rosy complexion.

Lately, I have been using a shade called Blissful, which imparts a sheer peachy-pink hue.  Though Blissful is currently available exclusively at Bergdorf Goodman, a variety of tints can be found online for around $28.  There is a fair amount of product for the price, since a single application stays on all day, and a 1oz. stick can last well over a year.  The only caveat is that tarte's cheek stains are not travel-friendly, since the container is bulky and the gel melts when it comes into contact with heat.  You are forewarned - now no blushing when your cheek stain leaks in your cosmetic bag because you couldn't bear leaving home without it!

Each shade of tarte's cheek stains has a slightly different spin on ingredients.  For the entire range of basic tints, the ingredients are as follows:

Blushing Bride:
Propylene Glycol, Water, Nonyl Nonoxynol-150, Glycerin, Sodium Stearate,
Laureth-23, Lycium Barbarum Fruit Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil,
Euterpe Oleracea Fruit Extract, Malpighia Punicifolia (Acerola) Fruit Extract,
Punica Granatum Extract, Passiflora Incarnata Fruit Extract, PVP, Fragrance
(Natural). (+/-): Mica, Bismuth Oxychloride (CI 77163), Titanium Dioxide (CI
77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77489, CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), Carmine (CI
75470), Red 33 (CI 17200), Red 40 (CI 16035), Yellow 5 (CI 19140, Blue 1 (CI
42090).


Bronze Goddess:
Propylene Glycol, Water, Nonyl Nonoxynol-150, Glycerin, Sodium Stearate,
Laureth-23, Lycium Barbarum Fruit Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil,
Euterpe Oleracea Fruit Extract, Malpighia Punicifolia (Acerola) Fruit Extract,
Punica Granatum Extract, Passiflora Incarnata Fruit Extract, PVP, Fragrance
(Natural). (+/-): Mica, Bismuth Oxychloride (CI 77163), Titanium Dioxide (CI
77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77489, CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), Carmine (CI
75470), Red 33 (CI 17200), Red 40 (CI 16035), Yellow 5 (CI 19140, Blue 1 (CI
42090).


Doll Face:
Propylene Glycol, Water, Nonyl Nonoxynol-150, Glycerin, Sodium Stearate,
Laureth-23, Lycium Barbarum Fruit Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil,
Euterpe Oleracea Fruit Extract, Malpighia Punicifolia (Acerola) Fruit Extract,
Punica Granatum Extract, Passiflora Incarnata Fruit Extract, PVP, Fragrance
(Natural). (+/-): Mica, Bismuth Oxychloride (CI 77163), Titanium Dioxide (CI
77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77489, CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), Carmine (CI
75470), Red 33 (CI 17200), Red 40 (CI 16035), Yellow 5 (CI 19140, Blue 1 (CI
42090).


Full Blossom:

Carthamustinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Castor Oil, Candelilla Cera, Silica,
Stearalkonium Hectorite, Glyceryl Oleate, Cera Carnauba, Butyrospermum Parkii
(Shea Butter), Propylene Carbonate, Trihydroxystearin, Fragrance (Natural),
Caprylyl Glycol, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Lycium Barbarum Fruit
Extract, Euterpe Oleracea Fruit Extract, Malpighia Punicifolia (Acerola) Fruit
Extract, Punica Granatum Extract, Passiflora Incarnata Fruit Extract. (+/-):
Red 6 (Ci 15850:2), Yellow 5 (CI 19140:1), Red 7 (CI 15850:1), Iron Oxides (CI
77491, CI 77492, CI 77499).


Flush:
Propylene Glycol, Water, Nonyl Nonoxynol-150, Glycerin, Sodium Stearate,
Laureth-23, Lycium Barbarum Fruit Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil,
Euterpe Oleracea Fruit Extract, Malpighia Punicifolia (Acerola) Fruit Extract,
Punica Granatum Extract, Passiflora Incarnata Fruit Extract, PVP, Fragrance
(Natural). (+/-): Mica, Bismuth Oxychloride (CI 77163), Titanium Dioxide (CI
77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77489, CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), Carmine (CI
75470), Red 33 (CI 17200), Red 40 (CI 16035), Yellow 5 (CI 19140, Blue 1 (CI
42090).


Natural Beauty:
Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil,
Hydrogenated Castor Oil Laurate, Candelilla Cera, Cera Carnauba, Butyrospermum
Parkii (Shea Butter), Rice Bran Wax, Glyceryl Oleate, Trihydroxystearin,
Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Euterpea Oleraceaa Fruit Extract,
Lyceum Chinense (Goji Berry) Fruit Extract, Punica Graanatum Extract, Ribes
Rubrum Fruit Extract, Rubus Villosus Fruit Extract, Vaccinium Macrocarpon Fruit
Extract, Fragrance (Natural), Caprylyl Glycol. (+/-): Carmine (CI 75470), Iron
Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499).


Sunkissed:
Propylene Glycol, Water, Nonyl Nonoxynol-150, Glycerin, Sodium Stearate,
Laureth-23, Lycium Barbarum Fruit Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil,
Euterpe Oleracea Fruit Extract, Malpighia Punicifolia (Acerola) Fruit Extract,
Punica Granatum Extract, Passiflora Incarnata Fruit Extract, PVP, Fragrance
(Natural). (+/-): Mica, Bismuth Oxychloride (CI 77163), Titanium Dioxide (CI
77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77489, CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), Carmine (CI
75470), Red 33 (CI 17200), Red 40 (CI 16035), Yellow 5 (CI 19140, Blue 1 (CI
42090).


Tickled:
Propylene Glycol, Water, Nonyl Nonoxynol-150, Glycerin, Sodium Stearate,
Laureth-23, Lycium Barbarum Fruit Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil,
Euterpe Oleracea Fruit Extract, Malpighia Punicifolia (Acerola) Fruit Extract,
Punica Granatum Extract, Passiflora Incarnata Fruit Extract, PVP, Fragrance
(Natural). (+/-): Mica, Bismuth Oxychloride (CI 77163), Titanium Dioxide (CI
77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77489, CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), Carmine (CI
75470), Red 33 (CI 17200), Red 40 (CI 16035), Yellow 5 (CI 19140, Blue 1 (CI
42090).


Tipsy:
Propylene Glycol, Water, Nonyl Nonoxynol-150, Glycerin, Sodium Stearate,
Laureth-23, Lycium Barbarum Fruit Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil,
Euterpe Oleracea Fruit Extract, Malpighia Punicifolia (Acerola) Fruit Extract,
Punica Granatum Extract, Passiflora Incarnata Fruit Extract, PVP, Fragrance
(Natural). (+/-): Mica, Bismuth Oxychloride (CI 77163), Titanium Dioxide (CI
77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77489, CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), Carmine (CI
75470), Red 33 (CI 17200), Red 40 (CI 16035), Yellow 5 (CI 19140, Blue 1 (CI
42090).