This article originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of ELLE.
The first thing to know about color correcting is that the name pretty much says it all: It cancels out shades of discoloration-redness, purply gloom under the eyes, gray undertones-using contrasting hues. How to determine which color counteracts which skin concern? "I tell people to just Google the color wheel-it’s not a one-size-fits-all situation," says L.A. makeup artist Robin Black. For example, the lavender that neutralizes sallow, yellowish tones in fair skin would show up chalky on darker skin shades, which are more likely to benefit from brightening bronzy hues.
"Color correcting is why your skin looks different when a makeup artist does your makeup versus when you do it yourself," says Sephora pro makeup artist Hector Espinal. "It’s our secret weapon." He helped develop the brand’s new range of gel serum color-correcting sticks, which join Sephora’s exclusive launch of a wide array of color-correcting products from brands such as Urban Decay, Cover FX, Tarte, and Algenist, now available in an extended range of pigments to work on more skin colors and issues. Sephora also recently introduced the Color Correct Crash Course game on its app, which teaches color correcting by letting you choose the appropriate pigments to fix discoloration issues on a like-complexioned avatar.
Whether it’s a liquid, concealer palette, or lipstickesque bullet, Black applies a color corrector before foundation and concealer so that less of those products are needed. "Color correctors aren’t meant to conceal dark circles-they neutralize discoloration," she says. "Put concealer on top, if you even need it." Espinal, on the other hand, often mixes correctors with concealer for the sake of speed. Formulas that go on sheer and add only a hint of lavender or peach, both makeup artists agree, go a long way. "There’s often discoloration around the nose and mouth," Espinal says. "If you color-correct those areas and around the eyes, you get what I call the ‘ring of light.’ " Which looks as beautiful as it sounds.