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The Makeup Maniac

The Makeup Maniac: The pros and cons of ‘colour correcting’

May 5th 2016 / Anna Hunter / 1 comment



Why taste the rainbow when you can paint it onto your face? I investigate whether colour correction really is a gamechanger…

Contouring has gone candy coloured, or at least that’s what you might assume if you search #colourcorrection on Instagram. As legendary makeup artist Bobbi Brown highlights, however, colour correcting isn’t about carving your face up, unlike a certain Kardashian-influenced beauty trend:

“Like contouring, colour correcting has been around since the 90s, but instead of giving you a new face, it’s about perfecting your skin naturally. Colour correcting is a way for a woman to make her skin look flawless at any time of the year, any time of the day. A lot of beautiful women have different colour issues in their skin, like hyperpigmentation. By colour correcting, you can make your face look like you really do have even skin - a true ‘no makeup makeup’ look.”

Now, admittedly, ‘no makeup makeup’ might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you survey the sea of pastel hued colour correctors that are re-emerging onto the market, but bear with me, as clever tonal trickery means that even the most lurid snot green has the potential to make your skin look pretty flawless.

Colour correction theory is based on the golden rules of the ‘colour wheel’, that opposite colours have the capacity to ‘neutralise’ one another. In a kind of ‘paper, scissors, stone’ fashion, lavender and blue nuke yellow, yellow mutes purple and brown and green brings down red. You can see how this might be handy if you’ve awoken feeling and looking a bit sallow, dark-circled or particularly rosy. Using all the colours at once, however, is rarely advisable, despite the bright tiger stripes you can survey on social media. As with almost everything in beautyland, less is more. Colour correcting is about trouble shooting and problem solving, not attempting to transform your skintone or 'Jackson Pollocking' your face. Makeup artist Sophie Everett has some pointers on application:

“When using coloured concealers, be careful not to apply too much of the product, as this can end up looking chalky on the skin and actually make the issue you’re trying to cover up look worse. To apply, gently dot the product onto the area and push the product into the skin using your ring finger. Avoid dragging your fingers as this will stretch the skin and leave the product looking streaky. Leave the corrector to settle into the skin for a few minutes before applying your foundation, tinted moisturiser or skin coloured concealer.”

Just in case you don’t have the colour wheel mounted on your wall for reference, Sophie also does the hard work for you in terms of determining what shade of colour corrector is likely to take your skin from ‘meh’ to marvelous:

“Green concealers are brilliant for applying on angry pimples as they neutralize the redness of spots, thread veins, rosacea and sunburn.”

“Orange concealers work better on those with dark skin or olive skin tones as lighter concealers are normally too visible. They are great for hiding any purple shadows under the eyes and can be handy for veiling hyperpigmentation. On paler skins, they are good for concealing tattoos and bruises.”

“Salmon and peach concealers are better for brightening the under eye area on paler skin tones, as they cancel out any purple and blue tones.”

“Lavender and lilac concealers neutralise yellow in the skin and are best worked as a primer all over the face to brighten a lacklustre complexion.”

“Some palettes feature white concealers. These are best used for highlighting. Apply to the tops of your cheekbones, down the bridge of your nose or cupids bow, to bring areas forward and compliment your bone structure.”

The fact that such apparently garish hues are intended as ‘cover ups’ may seem mind boggling initially, but the advent of blendable modern formulas and the fact that most correcting powders, liquids and solids slip under or over makeup in a fairly sheer manner, means that no one need know that you’ve been playing with a palette of pastels. However, if you have gone all in on an entire paintbox, take a step back to analyse what’s really going on, adjusting coverage accordingly, or removing it completely. If you can’t see any glaring issues such as dark shadows, redness or a very dull skintone, it may be that you shouldn’t go there at all, as dulling down your natural ‘glow’ is likely to make skin look cakey or off colour. That’s where the cons of colour correcting come in; picking fault at your face on a daily basis is just no fun.

If you’re pretty happy with the job that your foundation and concealer are doing already, the need for colour correctors isn’t great. For flare ups, special occasions or times when exhaustion has gotten the better of you, they can be key undercover weapons in your makeup arsenal, but regular meticulous application probably isn’t crucial. For days when you do crave colour corrective assistance, ensure that you apply in natural light, and tread lighter with your usual base than you normally would. Unless you’re using a more transparent all-over corrector such as Hourglass Ambient Light Correcting Primer, £36, (insanely flattering if you’re flagging), spot applying is the way forward. Pick your battles, so to speak, or as Bobbi Brown would say, ‘retouch, don’t reshape’.

Colour Correctors- The High Five

If you’d like to get even, look alive or step out of the shadows, one of the following should fit the bill…

Stila Correct & Perfect All-in-One Colour Correcting Palette, £32.50


The Rolls Royce of colour correcting palettes, Stila have thrown the kitchen sink at common skin gripes, finishing off with two tinted finishing powders to bring out the best in your complexion. A face map, explanatory booklet and mix up of cream and powder textures make this a seriously professional investment.

Becca Backlight Targeted Colour Corrector, £21

For targeted skin concerns, these vibrant paint pots cast a surprisingly subtle veil over imperfections. Despite initial alarm, the Papaya shade went down very well with Not Fair columnist Ayesha; her dark shadows almost vanished on contact, as did the deceptively light fire engine red pigment. This is as close to magic as makeup gets.


& Other Stories CC Quad, £12

It's simple, attention-grabbing yet somehow also low key; trust the Scandis to come up with a do-it-all four pan palette that’s slick, effective and economical. I especially love the violet shade for undercover highlighting; my skin beams, with no shimmer or glitter to speak of.


Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat Neutralizer Pen, £25

If you favour a liquid formula and count yourself as a die hard Touche Éclat fan then these pastel tinted pens will likely become much loved beauty stationery. With a lighter finish than their solid counterparts, the green, apricot and violet tinted correctors are subtle but effective when layered with makeup.


Clinique Superprimer Face Primers, £20

These smoothing, ever-so-slightly pigmented primers smoothed onto the scene a few years ago, and as long as you’re not averse to silicone, they anchor makeup while reducing the need to apply as much in the first place. Fine lines, oily patches and surface texture are also visibly refined too. The ‘super’ prefix is justified.


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