Finally, A Guide To Color-Correcting Makeup That Actually Makes Sense

Straight from the pros.

color-correcting makeup
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The general rules of makeup application are simple: Start with skin prep, follow with base products, and finally, add color and depth back into your face with blush, bronzer, and eyeshadow. Regardless of what your desired look, this order is pretty consistent. But there are times when you need to give your complexion extra attention for a flawless finish – and that’s where color-correcting makeup comes in. Though it may feel like an extra step, the results are worth it. “I like to think of it as fine-tuning the skin before reaching the foundation stage,” says Jeanine Lobell, celebrity makeup artist and founder of Neen.

As any makeup enthusiast knows, your complexion is the foundation of any standout look. For some, this ends at finding the right foundation and concealer combination. However, even with shade matching, certain areas of the skin can be hard to even out. Dark circles, for example, are one of the most common skin concerns. You can treat them with a brightening eye cream or slather on layers of concealer for extra coverage — but that will only take you so far. “If you’re loading on makeup and still see the colors coming through, it’s a good indicator that color-correcting could be your solution,” says celebrity makeup artist Lisa Aharon.

You might be new to color-correcting, but you’re certainly not alone. The age-old technique has recently become a buzzy topic, with many mainstream brands introducing targeted products to their existing lineups. Below, TZR tapped four makeup artists for everything to know about color-correcting makeup.

The Benefits of Color-Correcting

If you’ve ever had a stint of redness or hyperpigmentation due to acne scarring, you know how difficult it can be to get an even-toned makeup look. The color-correcting technique, though, makes it easy. As the name implies, it uses a series of shades to neutralize conflicting tones in your skin. Put simply, it creates an even canvas. “It's all about balancing out those colors on your face that you'd rather not have stand out,” explains Lobell. Discoloration is a common skin concern that can arise suddenly or be a more permanent issue. According to Sabena Collier, Bobbi Brown Cosmetics Pro Makeup Artist, incorporating color-correcting makeup into your routine can really help improve your look. “Birthmarks, age spots, and sun spots are all areas that can benefit from color-correcting,” she says. This step also means you won’t have to apply layers of foundation to mask imperfections.

How To Apply Color Correcting Makeup

Since color-correctors are designed to even the skin tone, they should be applied before your foundation and concealer. According to Temple, this will help perfect your base and save you a lot time. “Start with one dot and focus on the area of concern, like the inner corner of the eye where discoloration is most prevalent,” says she says. Once you’ve added it to the skin, blending is essential. After all, the last thing you want is a patchy appearance. Lobell notes that your fingers or a brush are both ideal. “Gently tap the product into the skin until it appears seamless. Then use a sponge to softly blur any harsh lines before applying your concealer,” she says.

Which Color Corrector Should You Use?

This technique requires some general knowledge about undertones. After all, you need to understand the cause of the discoloration to correct it. With that in mind, Lobell explains that five colors are primarily used to even the complexion: Green, yellow, pink, orange, and purple. Each shade works uniquely to counteract the tones in your skin. To determine where you need to color-correct, Collier suggests first assessing the areas of your face with an excess or lack of pigment.

Green Color Correctors

Aharon tells TZR that using color theory is a good way to go about correcting your skin issues. “Think of the color wheel — you’ll want to use complementary shades to conceal,” she says. That said, green correctors are used to tone redness in the skin. Maybe you had a stubborn breakout, or are dealing with a flare-up from an existing condition like eczema or rosacea. Regardless of the case, a green product can help. While there are concealers that can offer pinpoint spot coverage, a tinted primer can give you an even base before applying makeup. If you’re aiming to conceal a blemish, simply add a small dot and blend until the surrounding area is even.

Yellow Color Correctors

Yellow correctors offer a range of benefits and can used all over the face. “This shade is ideal for brightening and toning down discoloration,” says Lobell. When used under the eyes, it can illuminate the area to make it appear more lifted. It can also be used to conceal purple or blue undertones caused from a lack of sleep, genetics, or a light bruise. The good news is that several types of products can be used to achieve the look. From concealers to setting powder, you have options. Plus, if you’re new to color-correcting, it will be easy to find one to fit your needs.

Pink Color Correctors

As far as correcting goes, pink is probably the most recognized color. “If you have unwanted darkness under the eye or any hues of purple, pink is ideal for neutralizing those colors,” says Chanel Temple, Huda Beauty makeup artist and brand educator. But as she explains, the key is to find a product that works with your skin tone. “True rose shades work best for cool undertones, while a peachy-toned hue will be better for warm undertones,” she adds.

Orange Color Correctors

According to Lobell, orange and red correctors are used to tackle intense areas of hyperpigmentation. Like pink and peach, these shades neutralize blue tones in the skin — just on deeper complexions. Collier explains that bisque and orange colors have a warm undertone that offsets dark purples that can occur under the eye or around the mouth. In that vein, she suggests using a light layer of a creamy product. This will help even the tone and keep the area from looking too heavy.

Purple Color Correctors

Purple is a little less common, but can still be a helpful shade to have on hand. “This kind of color corrector is typically used to remedy sallowness or yellow tones in the skin,” says Aharon. That said, it can also be a beneficial tool for brightening dull areas. However, Lobell adds that while it can work on anyone, it’s best paired with lighter complexions with cooler undertones.

Remember, it's not about covering everything up. Instead, this technique is meant to target specific areas to create a balanced, even look.