By now, any of us who frequent social media have seen bloggers, vloggers and beauty gurus smearing red lipstick under their eyes and blending candy coloured stripes into their skin. You may also have noticed a veritable rainbow of colour correcting products hitting the shelves of your favourite beauty stores. What has long been a makeup artist’s secret weapon is finally reaching the masses and trending big time on the social media stage. Pastel rainbow war paint may not be everyone’s idea of every day makeup, but there ARE simple tricks you can try at home to elevate your makeup game with colour correctors – and you definitely should!

What it is

Colour correcting relies on the basics of Colour Theory to neutralize problematic areas of the skin. The application of colour correctors before foundation allows for a more natural complexion result when combined with foundation and concealer, as you’re able to achieve coverage without using as much of the latter. I often find that I’m unable to fully neutralize serious skin concerns without the use of colour correctors, and have heard from my clients time and time again that they’re unable to completely hide their concerns with concealer or foundation alone.

Having a basic understanding of colour theory will allow you to choose the right corrector for your concerns. We all remember the colour wheel from art class in our elementary school days… (you know, primary colours, secondary colours, blue + yellow makes green and all of that?)

Colour Wheel

Colours that are opposite of each other on the colour wheel are known as “complimentary colours”. When placed next to each other, they provide the strongest contrast. When combined, they actually cancel each other out and produce a neutral shade.

Complimentary Colours

It’s all making sense now, right? In order to neutralize a problem area (for example, redness from a blemish) we would choose the complimentary colour (green) to cancel out the concern. It’s fairly simple if you can remember what colours are complimentary to each other. The analogy that I use to remember them is mostly sports related (and it’s not a patented analogy, so it’s okay if you want to use it too):

Oilers – Blue & Orange

Lakers – Yellow & Purple

Christmas – Green & Red (yes, I am aware that Christmas isn’t a sports team, but it works!)


How to do it yourself

The key with colour correcting is to first choose the right colour for your concern. You want to look carefully at the problem area you’re looking to neutralize and identify the main colour of the concern. Bear in mind that orange or peach correctors can be too warm or dark on fairer skin tones and that pink correctors can turn darker tones ashy. Check out the table below for a cheat sheet when it comes to correcting some common concerns:

Colour Correcting Table

Some trial and error may be involved when you’re looking for a colour corrector, just like it would be when hunting for the perfect foundation. I always recommend trying the product on before you buy it. The moment you put it on, you should be able to see the difference.

When it comes to makeup, I don’t believe in following the rules… but then again, there are some guidelines that might be helpful when it comes to colour correcting. The first being that less is more – you want to work in THIN layers. The goal is to achieve a natural looking complexion – and remember that you’re going to be putting foundation or concealer over top of your corrector. If the consistency of the product is very creamy and emollient, you may want to set it with a translucent powder before moving on- and it’s always a best practice to PAT concealer over top of the corrector so as not to remove all of the correction you’ve just done.

Also, you’ll want to be sure only to target the area where you have the concern. A green corrector in an area that is NOT red may have you leaving the house looking like Shrek or the Hulk. If you experience a concern like redness or dullness all over the face, opt for a more sheer colour corrector like a primer, which is less likely to turn your whole face an unnatural shade.

Why it’s here to stay

I’ve read many articles touting colour correcting as “the new contouring”. Like contouring, colour correction has been around for many years before trending on social media. Makeup artists have long been using the technique to achieve the ultimate flawless complexion result with minimal heavy foundation type products. In fact, colour correcting products have been available to us from classic brands for years. Laura Mercier’s Secret Concealer and Bobbi Brown’s similar correctors in peachy and pink correcting hues were both launched in the late 1990s. As makeup culture evolves and consumers become more savvy, more and more products are being released to the masses. In the age of the selfie, looking our best is more important than ever. With that said, colour correcting isn’t magic, or a passing fad. The tools to perfect your complexion are at your finger tips, and everyone can unleash their inner makeup artist!