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How To Color Correct Like a Seasoned Pro

Color Correcting Is The Makeup Artist Secret You Need To Know

09 Aug 2022

Maybe it’s early in the morning after a long night out, and you’re staring yourself down in the mirror, wondering how you’re going to cover up the dark circles betraying your lack of sleep. Or perhaps, last night you unwisely picked at a pimple, and now you’re left with an angry (and very red) spot on your chin that you need to camouflage (we’ve all been there). Concealer can help, but it may not completely disguise more obvious skin discolorations. What you really need is a color corrector—and the know-how to use it properly.

Ahead, we’ve put together a comprehensive color corrector guide to help you get started. You’ll learn everything you need to know about color correcting, including which shades to use for your skin color concerns and skin tone. We’ll also introduce you to a few color correctors that we have on offer at NYX Professional Makeup. Keep reading for your ultimate, one-stop color-correcting guide.

What Is Color Correcting?

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, we thought we’d review what color correcting is for anyone unfamiliar with the practice. In the most basic terms, color correcting involves using tinted makeup (specifically, color-correcting makeup) to help balance out skin discolorations, such as dark circles, redness, or sallowness. Unlike concealers, which, well, conceal, color correctors, work their magic by visibly neutralizing unwanted tones. As such, they’re not skin colored but come in a variety of shades, from yellows and peaches to purples, blues, and greens. Typically, color correctors are used prior to applying your foundation and concealer, though the exact order of application may vary depending on the products you’re using and your personal preferences.

How Do I Know Which Color Corrector To Use?

You don’t need an in-depth knowledge of color theory in order to understand the basics of color correcting. What can help, though, is to visualize the color wheel. Colors that lay opposite one another on the color wheel (think: red and green or purple and yellow) are contrasting colors. When mixed together—or, in the case of makeup, applied on top of one another—they cancel one another out. With color correctors, you want to seek out a shade that contrasts the tone of the discoloration you’re trying to neutralize. We’ll go into the specifics below.

How To Color Correct Redness

Redness—like that from breakouts or irritation—can be neutralized with a green color corrector, like our HD Photogenic Concealer Wand in the shade “green.” The emollient-rich formula goes on like a dream and helps neutralize red tones without looking cakey or obvious.

How To Color Correct Dullness

Sallow, dull-looking skin typically can be brightened and balanced with a cooler purple or blue color corrector. Try the lavender shade of the aforementioned HD Photogenic Concealer Wand and apply it only where needed to achieve an even-looking complexion.

How To Color Correct Dark Circles

Many under-eye color corrector guides will tell you that yellow is the best shade for neutralizing dark circles, but in truth, it depends on your skin tone. Those with lighter skin will find that light peach-toned color correctors can help balance the blue shades of their dark circles, while yellow-toned correctors work best for those with medium-tan skin and purplish under-eyes. And for those with a deeper skin tone and brownish dark circles, a warmer orange or peachy shade may provide more natural-looking results. If you’re unsure which color corrector shade to use, we recommend snagging our Color Correcting Palette. The six-pan palette includes six creamy shades that work with a range of skin tones. Use the color correctors straight from the pan or layer the shades together to create a custom color that suits your needs.

How To Color Correct Dark Spots

As with the under-eye area, the best color corrector for neutralizing dark spots depends on your skin tone. For those with lighter skin, we recommend a pink or peach-toned color corrector. If you have darker skin, a deeper brownish-orange may be better. Again, our Color Correcting Palette contains all of these shades.

How To Use Color Corrector: A Step-By-Step Breakdown

Once you’ve figured out which shade you need, applying your color corrector is pretty straightforward. Here, we break down five steps to follow when applying color corrector for an even finish.

Step 1: Prime Your Face

First, prime your skin with a makeup primer. Not only will primer help your products grip better (allowing them to last longer), many formulas can also help blur pores, smooth fine lines, and mask other skin imperfections. If you’re not sure which primer is right for you, our article Prime Time: How To Pick The Right Makeup Primer can help you find your formula.

Step 2: Apply Your Color Corrector

After giving your primer a minute or two to set, you can apply your color corrector (or color correctors). As for where to apply color corrector, there aren’t specific spots you’ll always want to hit. It’s dependent on where your discoloration is.

You can use your fingers, a brush, or a sponge to blend out the colorful concealer; choose whichever tool works best for you. Note that there may still be a tint left on your skin after blending, and that’s fine—your foundation and concealer will help cover that up.

Step 3: Layer On Foundation

Next, apply the foundation of your choice. For buildable coverage, try Total Control Pro Drop Foundation, which comes in 30 versatile shades (that can be further customized with the Total Control Pro Drop Foundation Hue Shifters). It’s lightweight and helps cover imperfections while leaving the skin with a natural-looking finish. If you prefer full-coverage formulas, we recommend our Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Full Coverage Foundation. The pigmented foundation delivers smooth, matte coverage that stays true for up to 24 hours. It also helps mattify shine, making it a great pick for those with oilier skin types.

Step 4: Apply Concealer Where Needed

After foundation, apply concealer for a bit of added coverage where needed. As with foundation, you’ll want to pick a formula that offers the right amount of coverage for your needs. For medium coverage with a natural-looking finish, we recommend Bare With Me Concealer Serum. Infused with tremella mushroom, cica (also known as centella asiatica) extract, and green tea, this lightweight concealer helps cover imperfections and leaves your skin feeling hydrated for up to 24 hours. If you want a fuller-coverage option, try Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Contour Concealer. The creamy concealer comes in 24 highly-pigmented shades and offers long-lasting coverage with a matte finish.

Pro Tip: To have a more minimal makeup day, you can neutralize discolorations with color corrector but skip the foundation and concealer. Just be sure to sheer out your color corrector, so you’re not left with obvious patches of color.

Step 5: Set Your Makeup

Once you’ve color corrected, concealed, and blended your base to perfection, set it all in place by misting your face with a setting spray. We have several makeup setting sprays on offer at NYX Professional Makeup—choose one with a formula that suits your skin type and desired makeup finish. Enjoy your even-looking skin!

Next: Why Setting Sprays Really Work


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