You know that “WTF HOW?!” feeling you get when you see a celebrity’s un-retouched face in red carpet photos, or a model’s weirdly ethereal skin in close-up videos? Like, how? Nobody has that perfect of skin in real life, right? Nobody has zero splotchiness, or under-eye circles, or giant red zits, right? Welp, folks, this is where we introduce you to the magical world of color correctors, the unsung heroes behind 99-percent of ridiculously good-looking skin. Because no, none of those models or actresses have perfect skin—they just have the right products (and a team of professional makeup artists, but shhh).
Sure, you’ve probably used a color corrector once or twice before. Maybe you drew over your middle-school zits with a chalky green concealer that left you with a zillion bright-green dots. Or maybe you slathered on a purple primer and wondered why your skin looked white-washed and ashy. But when used correctly, color-correcting primers, concealers, and powders can give you the appearance of a quick dip in the Fountain of Youth mixed with 100 hours of sleep. Yes, they’re that good.
Though dissertations could be written on exactly which color should be used to cancel out or enhance other colors (oh, wait—we think that’s called art school?), we’ll give you the abridged version: For neutralizing redness, use yellow and green color correctors. To perk up dull, sallow skin (in very fair skin types), try lavender and blue tones, and to cancel dark circles, use pink for fair skin tones, peach for medium skin, orange for medium-to-dark skin, and red for deep skin tones.
Did your eyes just glaze over? Yeah, we know; it seems tricky, though we promise it’s really not. So to help you figure out exactly which color corrector to try—and how to use it—we rounded up the newest and coolest color correctors that seriously work wonders on your skin. Click through to find the best corrector for you, and get ready to feel like a skin sorcerer.
Urban Decay Naked Skin Color Correcting Fluid
What they do: Minimize intense redness (green), neutralize splotchiness (yellow), cancel dark circles on fair skin (pink), cancel dark circles on medium-to-dark skin (peach), perk up dull skin (lavender).
How to use them: Just like you would a concealer: Dab them over any areas you want to correct, blend them in with a damp BeautyBlender or brush, then apply your foundation.
Best for: All skin tones
Urban Decay Naked Skin Color Correcting Fluid, $28 each; at Urban Decay
Essence Colour Correcting Powder Beautiful Finish
What it does: Subtly neutralizes redness, brightens dullness, and gives skin a subtle glow, all at once.
How to use it: With a big, fluffy brush, swirl this finishing powder over your foundation (or tinted moisturizer) for a matte, velvet finish.
Best for: Fair, medium, and medium-to-dark skin tones
Essence Colour Correcting Powder Beautiful Finish, $3.99; at Target
Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra Wear Camouflage Corrector
What it does: Minimizes dark circles, acne scars, and age spots.
How to use it: Dot it over your skin like a concealer, then blend it out with a damp Beautyblender or concealer brush, before applying your usual concealer and foundation.
Best for: Medium-to-dark, dark, and deep skin tones
Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra Wear Camouflage Corrector in Orange/Red, $31; at Lancôme
Algenist Reveal Color Correcting Eye Serum Brightener
What it does: Cancels out dark circles and brightens sallow under-eyes.
How to use it: Dot and blend the serum in an upside-down triangle beneath your eyes, then layer on your concealer and foundation or tinted moisturizer.
Best for: Fair-to-light skin tones
Algenist Reveal Color Correcting Eye Serum Brightener, $31; at Sephora
Physicians Formula Cushion Corrector + Primer Duo
What it does: Brightens darkness and dullness while leaving skin with a dew-y, hydrated finish.
How to use it: Press the included sponge into the cushion compact, then press and dab the primer over clean skin as the first step in your makeup routine.
Best for: Fair, light, and medium skin tones
Physicians Formula Talc-Free Cushion Corrector + Primer Duo SPF 20 in Lavendar Peach, $16.99; at Ulta
NYX Color Correcting Concealer
What it does: Minimizes intense redness (green), neutralizes splotchiness (yellow), cancels dark circles on fair skin (pink), medium-to-dark skin (peach), and dark skin (apricot), perks up dull skin (lavender).
How to use it: This stuff is thick and concentrated, so a little goes a long way. Dab a damp sponge over one shade to pick up a sheer layer of color, then stipple it over your "problem" spots before applying foundation. Or, use a small concealer brush to spot-treat dark marks, scars, and pimples, before layering with concealer.
Best for: All skin tones
NYX Color Correcting Concealer, $11.99; at Target
Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Makeup Color Base
What it does: Counteracts sallow, blah skin and gives your complexion a just-slept-for-14-hours look.
How to it: Smooth it over cleansed skin (like a primer) with your fingers or a damp sponge, then apply your usual makeup base.
Best for: Fair and light-to-medium skin tones
Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Makeup Color Base in Lavender Pink, $48; at Peach & Lily
Koh Gen Do
Catrice Prime & Fine Anti-Red Base
What it does: Softly neutralizes all-over redness and ruddiness (think rosacea, keratosis pilaris, or just splotchy, red skin).
How to use it: Just as you would a primer. Because it is a primer. Smooth a pea-size amount all over your cleansed skin as the first step of your makeup routine, or use in conjunction with your usual primer and just blend over red patches.
Best for: All skin tones
Catrice Prime & Fine Anti-Red Base, $7.99; at Ulta
BH Cosmetics 6 Color Cancealer & Corrector Palette
What it does: Minimizes intense redness (green), neutralizes pink splotchiness (yellow), cancels dark circles on medium skin (peach), and medium-to-dark skin (salmon). It also contains two "normal" concealers for all-over concealing.
How to use it: Because these pots are pretty thick and opaque, use a damp BeautyBlender to pick up a sheer layer of color, then dab it over your "problem" areas before applying foundation. Or, use a small concealer brush to spot-treat dark marks, scars, and pimples, before layering with concealer.
Best for: Medium-to-dark and dark skin tones.
BH Cosmetics 6 Color Concealer & Corrector Palette in Medium, $7; at Ulta
L'Oréal Paris Infallible Total Cover Color Correcting Kit
What it does: Perks up dull skin (periwinkle), neutralizes splotchiness (yellow), minimizes intense redness (green), and cancels dark circles on fair-to-medium skin (peach).
How to use it: Using the included sponge, dab each shade over areas you want to correct. If the concealer feels too opaque and thick, dampen the sponge, first, before picking up the color for a sheerer finish.
Best for: Fair, light, and light-to-medium skin tones
L'Oréal Paris Infallible Total Cover Color Correcting Kit, $16.99; at L'Oréal Paris