Painting different colours across your face like war paint might sound like something you would save for a three-year-old’s birthday party, but it’s big news in the beauty world right now. Known as extreme colour correcting, the trend is all about picking a rainbow of brightly hued concealers to camouflage your flaws – whether that’s redness, dark under-eye circles, or discolouration – and applying those concealers at the same time for a bespoke and surprisingly effective route to a flawless complexion.
Colour correcting isn’t a new theory, of course. Correcting concealers have been on the market for decades – but social media has taken it to a whole new level over recent months, with beauty gurus creating elaborate patterns across their complexions in various different hues, taking photos of the process, and then blending to prove what a difference it makes to their skin.
It might sound complicated, but it really is just about learning how different shades in the rainbow cancel each other out, and to work that out, your first step is to go back to basics and look at a simple colour wheel.
‘Colour correctors work on the basic principles of colour theory from art class,’ says Joette Balsamo, make-up artist at NYC’s Marie Robinson Salon. ‘If you have an excess of a particular colour in your skin, the colour opposite on the colour wheel will neutralise it or tone it down.’
Top beauty YouTuber BellaDeLune elaborates on the theory. ‘Looking at a colour wheel can help you to read your face and figure out what colours best go on your skin to neutralise others,’ she explains in a tutorial viewed by nearly 100,000 subscribers. ‘I have a lot of red in my complexion, for example, which is cancelled out by green as it is directly opposite in the colour wheel’.
The results are certainly impressive – and it isn’t just green that she paints across her face. Purplish circles under eyes are cancelled out by red or orange. Yellow undertones are balanced out with purple or blue. And dull, dark shadows are instantly brightened by peach and yellow. It’s that simple.
A word of warning, though – while the tutorials on YouTube and snaps on Instagram look impressive with thickly applied hues in every colour of the rainbow, it doesn’t necessarily work on a day-to-day basis. Experts recommend we take the trend as inspiration, but apply the different colours in a subtler, easier to apply, more wearable way.
‘Much like contouring, social media has taken the colour-correcting trend to an extreme,’ says US-based celebrity make-up artist Emily Cheng. ‘But it’s actually easily adaptable, and highly impactful for everyday use when done correctly. The trick to colour correcting successfully is not to go overboard. As much fun as it may seem to paint your face with all the colours of the rainbow, less is always more.’
So what colours should be in your beauty palette? We’ve rounded up the hues, expert advice, and specific products that will help you colour-correct at home.
Got a flushed, red complexion? Suffer from blemish scars, broken veins or visible capillaries? It might seem unnatural to reach for green-hued cosmetics, but it makes perfect beauty sense, as the two colours cancel each other out.
‘Green is great for covering any redness on the skin such as a blemish or rosacea’, says L’Oréal make-up artist Collier Strong. ‘Apply the colour over trouble spots such as the T-zone and cheeks, then apply foundation.’
Green works well in layers, so start off with just a dab and build up coverage until you have neutralised the redness. If the redness is quite pronounced or in certain areas, you will find it easier to use a thick concealer, blended well with a sponge or a brush. If your complexion has a general redness, a green primer or pressed powder used all over will balance it out.
Try It’s Skin Babyface One-Step Base SPF15 (Dh45, thebbcreamgirl.com) has a smooth, silky texture that allows skin to breathe. It not only neutralises redness with its green hue, but also primes skin for your foundation and boosts its long-term staying power.
If your skin is looking dull and sallow, with noticeable yellow undertones (the kind of dullness when darker complexions lose their summer glow), a purple or lilac-hued corrector can bring life back to your skin. Located opposite yellow on the colour wheel, lilac immediately neutralises undertones on your skin to bring it back to its best.
‘Yellow can sometimes read as dullness or a lifeless tone to the skin,’ says Lori Taylor, pro lead artist for Smashbox Cosmetics, ‘so these primers are particularly helpful for aging skin.’
The best way to apply the correctors is to imagine the places where sunshine would naturally fall on your face, such as your cheekbones, nose and chin, and apply the product across these areas. Once you’ve blended, apply your foundation as normal and you will see a noticeable boost to your skin tone.
Try Becca Backlight Targeted Colour Corrector in Violet (Dh172, Glamazle.com), neutralises yellow tones. It has a highly pigmented formula infused with light-reflecting pearls to lend a healthy glow to skin.
Suffering from too many late nights? Your eyes may be showing the signs, with a set of dark under-eye circles that tend to have a purple or bluish tinge. So how do we make them disappear?
Short of spending a week in bed to catch up on sleep or jetting away to lie on a sun lounger (we can dream, at least), we can turn to pale pink colour correctors to neutralise and disguise the dark areas before we apply our usual foundation.
‘A peachy-pink corrector is perfect for brightening the eye area,’ says L’Oréal make-up artist Collier Strong. ‘First apply a base concealer, then dab a rosy hue directly over bags to erase bold, blue capillaries and reflect light like a highlighter would.’
Make sure you finish with your usual foundation and powder, and your eyes will never give away the secrets of those late nights (even if your alarm clock does).
Try Make Up For Ever Lift Concealer in Pink Beige (Dh120, Paris Gallery) is the perfect pale-pink tinted concealer for neutralising dark circles. The formula also helps to smooth fine lines around the eyes, priming skin perfectly for your foundation.
Applying bright orange make-up to your skin might set off alarm bells (after all, orange faux tan is up there with the ultimate beauty sins) – but when used for colour-correcting, the warm hue is perfect for balancing out unwanted cool tones in the skin.
In fact, correctors in shades of apricot, orange or coral can work wonders on concealing a whole plethora of skincare issues on darker skin tones, from discolouration to acne scars to dark circles.
But while a primer, concealer or powder will help to balance your skin tone and disguise flaws, the corrector may not be enough to cover the darkest discolouration – so follow up with a concealer that matches your skin tone and blend with a brush.
Try Clinique Superprimer Face Primer in Colour Correct (Dh420) is a smooth, silky base that promises to unify skin tone and work as the perfect primer for make-up. It has a peach-orange tone that is suitable for most skin tones.
Extreme Colour Correcting Kits
Make like the beauty bloggers and social beauty stars by trying a kit designed for extreme colour correcting…
Jane Iredale Corrective Colours Kit Dh129 (Basharacare.com)
Makeup Revolution London Ultra Base Corrector Palette Dh48 (Glamazle.com)
Make Up For Ever 5 Camouflage Cream Palette Dh175 (Wojooh)