Meet the makeup equivalent of Photoshop’s magic wand tool.
Tell us if this sounds familiar: You dot your go-to concealer just below your eyes to get rid of any signs of dark shadows, only to find that it hasn’t concealed much of anything. No matter how many layers you apply, your dark circles and hyperpigmentation still seem to show through, making it look like you haven’t slept in over a week. Sure, you could opt for a full-coverage formula, but in our experience, these tend to settle into fine lines, only enhancing their appearance. So, what’s the solution? Easy, it’s all about investing in that little-known makeup essential known as the color corrector.
Although they may look intimidating at first glance, color correctors are the makeup artist-approved secret to nailing a more even complexion (seriously, they’ve been around for decades). The reason lies in their unique formulas, which, as celebrity makeup artist Jamie Dorman points out, are similar to concealers but with one key difference. “Color correctors are like concealers, except they’re offered in a range of colors to help balance discoloration in the skin.” So while concealers help mask imperfections by matching your natural skin tone, color correctors neutralize or cancel out the color of a blemish, dark spot, or under eye shadow, thereby helping to reveal a more uniform complexion.
How Do Color Correctors Work?
The secret to their color correcting powers actually lies in the basic principles of color theory (aka the giant color wheel you learned about in elementary school). As you might recall, colors that sit opposite each other on the color wheel cancel each other out, and the same premise applies to color correctors. Simply determine the color of the concern you’re looking to address (i.e., redness, brown spots, etc.), and choose the opposite color makeup product, which, as Dorman explains, “will bring your complexion back to a neutral palette before applying your foundation or concealer on top.” For a simpler solution, we also put together this handy guide to help you determine the best color corrector for your skin’s needs:
- Green: Correct redness in the skin, making it especially useful for those dealing with acne, flushing, or inflammation.
- Lavender: Neutralizes sallowness and yellow tones.
- Blue: Cancels out orange tones. “If you had a mishap with a sunless tanner, this color could help correct that,” adds Dorman.
- Pink/Peach: Addresses blue tones and dark shadows, particularly in those with fair skin.
- Yellow: Corrects reddish-purple marks and is best for those with medium or olive skin tones.
- Orange/Red: Cancels out deep blue tones and heavy shadows, particularly in those with darker skin tones. “If your under-eye circles are very dark, or if breakouts and acne scars leave dark marks on your skin, this is the shade you want to use,” says Dorman.
How to Use a Color Corrector
As for how to apply your color corrector, Dorman suggests looking for a product that has a lot of pigment and buildable texture. “L.A. Girl has great color correctors in their HD Pro Corrector Collection if you like liquid formulas,” adds Dorman. “I also personally like Westmore Beauty’s Shadow Edit Magic Eraser (more on that below).”
Once you have your desired formula, it’s as easy as applying it to the areas you’re looking to address using either clean fingertips or a makeup sponge. “After you have the desired coverage, gently pat your concealer or foundation on top, then set it in place with a dusting of finishing powder,” says Dorman. The result is a complexion so even you’d think it was a filter—and that, ladies and gentlemen, is the power of color correctors.
Ahead, we’ve rounded up the ten best color correctors for your every concern. From dark circles to acne marks to overall dullness, there’s no complexion issue these candy-colored products can’t fix.