Unless you’ve been blessed with perfect skin genes, you likely experience some kind of skin discoloration on your face. Think: redness around the nose, purple circles under the eyes, or brown spots speckled across your cheeks. While your first thought might be to dab on a flesh-tone concealer to cover these imperfections, a more effective makeup sleight-of-hand exists: color correction. What is color-correcting makeup? And how does it virtually disappear discoloration in one fell swoop? Here, we breakdown the theory behind it as well as the best application to net serious skin envy.
How do you find the right color-correcting makeup? First, you need to assess your skin in natural lighting and answer these four questions:
1. What is my skin tone?
Knowing whether your skin is Fair, Light, Medium or Dark will help you select the correct shade intensity of color corrector. For instance, lighter peach for lighter skin versus a darker orange-peach for medium-to-dark skin.
2. What is my skin undertone?
Undertones can be yellow, orange, red, olive and blue, and are represented in makeup with the following categories: Cool (slightly bluish, pink or ruddy); Warm (somewhat yellow, sallow, peachy or golden); and Neutral (skin’s natural tone is most evident). While undertones generally aren’t the focus of color correction, possessing a certain undertone can make you more prone to experiencing undertone-specific discoloration, such as ruddiness and sallowness.
3. What areas of the face do I need to correct?
Areas that typically experience discoloration are around the nose, under the eyes, and on the cheeks and eyelids.
4. What type of discoloration do I need to correct?
Blue, purple, yellow, red, or brown are the hues that afflict skin.
Once you’re able to pinpoint the answers to these questions, the new question becomes: How do I counter-balance or neutralize any unwanted tones? The short answer: By utilizing color theory and the color wheel.
How does color-correcting makeup work?
Not to get too into the weeds with the color wheel, but certain “complementary” colors (colors found directly opposite one another on the color wheel) neutralize one another when layered.
For skin discoloration needs, the following are important colors to pay attention to:
Orange: Cancels out blue and purple tones, which can be found in bruises or dark under-eye circles. Orange can also add warmth to skin. While you wouldn’t necessarily pick an orange product per se, peach is a popular color-corrector for neutralizing blues and purples on medium skin tones or taking down hyperpigmentation while orangey-pink vanishes dark spots on darker skin tones.
Green: Cancels out red tones, which occur in blemishes, broken capillaries, ruddy skin or rosacea.
Lavender: Cancels out yellow tones, which can occur when the skin appears too sallow.
Yellow: Cancels out purple tones, which also are found in bruises and under-eye circles. Yellow can also be added to “warm” skin or neutralize red areas. People with olive or tan skin should seek out yellow correctors.
Pale Pink: Cancels out blue tones, and is better suited for people with fair skin.
How do you properly apply color-correction products?
It’s a layering game to get the look right! Rather than applying the color corrector to your naked skin first, spot-treat uneven skin tone with your favorite concealer, and follow with an overall application of foundation or tinted moisturizer like you normally would.
Only then should you go back in with your color-correcting product to spot-treat major problem areas. This progression of products allows you to start off with a more even canvas, which in turn means you won’t need to use as much of the color corrector!
Blend the corrector using your fingers or a sponge, and be careful not to overdo your corrections. After all, too much green or lavender will look extremely obvious. Finally, if you feel your skin still has an overall cast — perhaps yellow or red — set your makeup with a correcting powder to impart a more even-tone appearance.