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Color Correcting Makeup, Explained

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Case chapter.

I was kind of a late bloomer. I didn’t put on mascara until I was 13, and that was only because my friend and her mom were shocked upon hearing I had never worn it. “You’re a girl,” said my friend’s mom. “You’re supposed to wear makeup.” (It didn’t go well; I immediately rubbed my eyes without thinking and smudged it.)

Nine years later, I realize that what she said was a) wrong (talk about gender roles) and b) kind of rude, but I do wear makeup regularly. However, I’m comfortable going places without it, and when I do wear it I try to keep it simple. Often I wear just mascara, foundation, and lip balm. So when I first saw color correcting makeup, I was stymied. What did I need a green or lavender concealer for when it was hard enough finding foundation to perfectly match my skin tone?

(From left to right: 6 Color Concealer and Corrector, $5, bhcosmetics.com, e.l.f. Studio Corrective Concealer, elfcosmetics.com, Nyx Cosmetics Color Correcting Concealer, $11.99, ulta.com)

However, it turns out that different colors can work wonders for different problem areas. Color correcting makeup has become more popular lately, and with the rise of very inexpensive color correcting palettes like the ones above, anybody can try it. As you may know from my previous articles, I’m very into art and color, so I became fascinated with the effects of color correcting makeup. Using it can be overwhelming at first, though, so I’ve made a list of several colors and how to use them.


Color correcting makeup works largely through canceling out its opposite on the color wheel. Pink cancels out any mild yellow or green undertones, so it’s good for brightening overly dull/sallow skin. Like all color correcting makeup, it should be applied first and blended into the skin, and then layered under your regular foundation.


Orange concealer is good for covering bluish-green tones such as veins and purplish under-eye circles. It works especially well on darker skin tones, where it can be used to even out skin tone in general. If you have lighter skin, try yellow instead.


Yellow concealer works best as a general skin tone evener, and clears up mild red tones. It can also be used for hiding dark circles and veins on light skin tones. I have a large vein under one eye and perma-dark under-eye circles (which I lovingly blame entirely on my Polish ancestry, although my sleep patterns don’t help), so a bit of yellow concealer works wonders for me.


Green masks overly red areas of the skin—it’s good for balancing out everything from rosacea to sunburn to blemishes/spots, and covers acne scars well. Never use green on dark circles, though; it will make them look worse.


Did you apply too much self-tanner or bronzer, and now you look like an Oompa-Loompa? Blue neutralizes orange and will take you back to a normal shade. Blue also covers dark circles on dark skin tones.


A light lavender shade can be used for highlighting the face, especially if your skin has yellow undertones. A little dab in problem areas will brighten things up.


While single colors are targeted to certain areas, multicolored palettes are used all over as a one-step skin tone fixer. The colors are blended together so you can brighten and add warmth to skin while minimizing redness at the same time. 


Color correcting makeup is as useful as it is colorful! Armed with a few different colors, you can hide any imperfections and make your face glow. 

I'm Emily, a senior at Case Western Reserve University studying Psychology and Evolutionary Biology. My favorite animal is the two-toed sloth, and I do research on moths, which can live on the fur of sloths. When I'm not in the lab thinking about moths (and sloths), you can find me drawing, singing, writing poetry, eating macaroni-and-cheese, or getting way too interested in pictures of vacant malls. Also, check out my recently created blog on animal reproduction: http://www.sextraordinary.wordpress.com