Contouring, strobing, color-correcting: We admit it, it’s hard to keep track (and master) all of the emerging beauty trends. Thankfully, a little art class 101 makes the latter—color correcting—pretty easy to understand.
In the simplest sense, color correcting is a way to camouflage or neutralize skin discoloration. “It takes us back to the color wheel,” explains celebrity makeup artist Lavonne Anthony, whose clients include Kerry Washington, Jamila Velasquez, and Ajak Deng. “By using opposite colors (a.k.a. complementary colors), you can cancel out discoloration on the skin like hyperpigmentation, melasma, dark circles, vitiligo and bruising.”Here’s your cheat sheet: Green neutralizes redness; yellow combats purple; purple neutralizes yellow or sallowness; pink promotes brightness; peach enhances brightness and evens skin tone for lighter complexions; melon enhances brightness evens skin tone for medium and darker complexion.
But there’s a catch: All shades aren’t created equal (or yield the same results) for brown girls, so we tapped into a few experts to help us get it right. Get ready to literally paint by the numbers to look your best yet: The ultimate guide to color correcting for dark skin, ahead!
Put in Prep Work
Prepping the skin with moisture is key to achieving a flawless finish. “Hydrate your skin with the appropriate moisturizer depending on your skin type and then follow with a primer. This will help to create a smooth finish and keep your makeup on all day,” shares Marc Jacobs Beauty Global Makeup Artist Gilbert Soliz.
Marc Jacobs Beauty Under(cover) Perfecting Coconut Face Primer, $44; at Sephora
Choose the Right Hues
According to Soliz, women with darker skin tones should lean toward rich yellows, burnt corals, and orange shades: “Whether you’re trying to conceal spots, blemishes, dark circles, or pigmentation, these are the best for deeper skin tones,” he says. With so many options on the market, it might be tempting to test the rainbow. “Steer clear of pink or peach shades as they tend to make darker skin tones appear grey,” he warns.
tarte Rainforest of the Sea Wipeout Color Correcting Palette, $45; at Sephora
Blend Baby, Blend
As with any color product, beautiful blending yields natural results. The last thing you’ll want to look like is a faulty art school project. “The best way to apply a color corrector to achieve a natural look is to first apply it with a concealer brush or straight from applicator, dab it or glide on area, and then blend with fingertips all over area that needs correction,” says celebrity makeup artist Carola González, whose clients include Kerry Washington, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Gabrielle Union, and Natalie Martinez. “Next, layer concealer on top of corrector and blend with your fingertips on same area.”
When using foundation, González recommends using a round foundation brush (like the Hourglass No. 2 Brush) to blend over area and the rest of the face using circular motions. However, when it comes to your under-eye area or covering pimples, Soliz is a fan of using his hands. “Fingertips do a great job of achieving a natural—or what I like to call an ‘athletic finish.’ It doesn’t read as refined or as ‘done’ as it would if you used a brush,” adds Soliz.
Trying to hide dark circles or bags? Neutralize under eye circles first (using the appropriate color corrector—see our first tip!) To fix dark under eye circles which tend to be blue or purplish in hue, use a yellow, orange or salmon corrector to neutralize it,” shares makeup artist Samuel Paul, whose clients include Kiersey Clemons, Anika Noni Rose, and Ashanti. “I prefer to mix these colors to get the perfect cover up shade—if it’s more blue then mix a bit more orange or salmon. If the dark color is more purple, use more yellow to counteract.”
NYX Above & Beyond Full Coverage Concealer in Orange, $5; at drugstore.com
Easy Does It
“Foundations and powders tend to oxidize on the skin after a few minutes so wear it for a bit to see how the natural oils in your skin change the appearance of the shade,” explains Anthony. “I also suggest taking a quick selfie with and without flash to see how it reads.”
Foundation oxidizing on you mid-day? Try buffing on a bit of orange cream blush to warm up your skin—it’s one of Soliz’s secret weapons. Remember, if color correctors peek through your foundation, it’s an indication that you’re putting on too much. “Buff on a sheer layer of the appropriate color corrector and try focusing on the area of concern. Then, apply your favorite foundation or concealer on top,” he explains.
BECCA Backlight Targeted Colour Corrector in Violet, $30; at Becca Cosmetics