Color Correcting: If You Graduated from Kindergarten, You Can Handle This

I'm helping you figure out exactly the products you need and exactly where to apply them.

The color-correcting trend has gone viral. Maybe you've seen your favorite YouTuber painting bright red lipstick under her eye before she applies concealer. Maybe you've passed by a Sephora in the past week and seen splotches of peach and mint green decorating the windows. Maybe you haven't heard of it at all, but you're still reading because you just love makeup in all of its wonderful glory.

Well, I'm here to show you that color correcting is easy as ABC, 123, baby you and me, girl.

Remember the color wheel and Roy G. Biv? That's all you need to know to color correct! Complementary colors are colors that are opposites. When you place them next to each other, they make each other stand out more (like blue eyes and peach eyeshadow). But when you put them on top of each other, they neutralize and turn taupe-y or brown. So that means if you have under-eye circles (or dark spots), which are generally bluish in tone, you're going to need something in the orange family. Think about the The Mets — blue and orange are complementary colors.

Now, if you're a pale vampire like me, you're going to use a light peach or even a light pink (if the discoloration is minor). If you have a medium skin tone, you're going to use a deep peach or even a light-orange corrector. If you have a deep skin tone, you're going to use a burnt orange or even reddish-orange corrector. The lighter the skin, the lighter the corrector. The darker the skin, the more saturated the corrector. See? Super-easy!

For redness, you want to use a green tone, or yellow if you're super-fair.

For sallowness or yellow tones in the skin, you'll want to correct with a shade in the purple family.

If you have general areas of concern (like redness or dullness all over the face), you may want to use a primer. Primers are a bit more sheer than correctors and concealers and can easily be applied underneath the foundation to even out color all over and, as a bonus, help foundation stay on longer. I personally love the Make Up For Ever Step 1 Skin Equalizer Primers. There's a color-correcting primer for every concern, and they truly do preserve the quality of my makeup throughout the day.

If you have more targeted concerns, like blemishes, patches of sallowness, dark spots, and under-eye bags, I suggest using a creamy, more pigmented corrector.

I happen to have ALL OF THE ABOVE concerns, so I use a wide variety of correctors.

Generally, I use YSL Touche Éclat Neutralizer in Bisque under my eye. It's sheer in terms of color and texture, so it's great for those with minor concerns or those who don't like the feel of makeup on the skin. The one drawback is that they don't work as well on deeper skin tones. (But don't worry! We'll touch more on that in a second.)

For this corrector, I apply it straight from the brush-tip applicator under my eyes only where I have any blue tones and darkness. I then use my favorite Sephora Pro Airbrush Concealer Brush #57 in small circular buffing motions to make sure the colors start neutralizing.

If you have a deeper skin tone, I suggest using the Becca Backlight Targeted Colour Corrector in either Peach or Papaya for the under-eye area and/or dark spots. The product is highly pigmented, and it's super-sticky, acting like double-sided tape to keep your concealer on longer.

I use Marc Jacobs Cover(t) Stick in Co(vert) on my cheeks, chin, and nose. The green and yellow in this corrector neutralize my redness without causing me to look like Shrek. This corrector has velvet mica inside, which mattifies and makes the skin feel smooth without the use of silicone. It comes in three colors: the aforementioned Co(vert), Bright Now, and Getting Warmer — the last two act as brighteners (the former for fairer skin and the latter for darker).

Because this product has a swirl of color, it's easier to use for people who don't wear a lot of foundation. Sometimes when we neutralize, we can neutralize too much and become a little gray without foundation on the top. The swirls of color inside of these allow the product look a bit more natural and soft than other correctors. With these, I draw straight onto my areas of concern. I recommend blending out with fingers so they melt into the skin a bit more.

For the sallowness around my mouth, I use the Smashbox Color Correcting Stick in Don't Be Dull. This pencil is super-easy to use. I just draw small lines on top of my areas of concern and blend them out with the same #57 Sephora brush.

The Smashbox pencils come in four different colors: Don't Be Dull, Get Less Red, Look Less Tired (Light), and Look Less Tired (Dark). They're super-creamy, and a little baby bit goes a long way. These pencils are great for someone newer to color correcting (because you can get such precise placement) or someone looking for a corrector more pigmented than the YSL.

After you color correct, you can apply your foundation/concealer and then proceed with the rest of your routine. You can apply color correctors on top of foundation if the colors are still peeping through, but I find that's only necessary with stubborn blemishes and dark spots.

Color correcting bonus: I noticed I've been using a third of the amount of foundation I usually use for full coverage after I color correct. And if you're spending $47 for a bottle of Lancome Teint Idol foundation like me, color correcting certainly saves you money in the long run.

See, friends? Super-easy. Just like kindergarten. I would give you all a gold star if I could!

  • Have you tried color correcting before?
  • Do you have any color-correcting products that you swear by?