When you have a stubborn breakout or dark bags under your eyes from a night of tossing and turning, sometimes it seems like no amount of foundation or concealer can hide them. Even worse, as you pile on more product in an attempt to cover them up, it only seems to exacerbate the issue, drawing more attention to the area that you're hoping to conceal.
If that scenario sounds at all familiar, you might benefit from adding color correctors to your beauty routine. You may have seen a few of the brightly hued products pop up on your social media pages. Staples like L'Oréal’s green BB cream and this blue foundation tint have previously gone viral on TikTok.
While it may seem counterintuitive to put a colorful cream on the area you want to cover up, we spoke to several makeup artists who say that they regularly use color correctors to help with a range of issues.
What are color correctors?
“Color correctors are makeup or skin care [products] that you can use to correct discoloration, like sunspots or dark under-eye circles,” says celebrity makeup artist Andrew Sotomayor. “And the benefits of color correctors are that they have the opposite color of the discoloration. That means they reduce the amount of coverage that you need in terms of a concealer or a foundation.”
The great thing about color correcting is that you're using one color to cancel out a particular tone on your skin. To understand how they work, just look at the color wheel, says makeup artist Jonet Williamson: “Opposite colors cancel each other out.”
For example, because green sits on the opposite side of the wheel as red, the color can be used to tame the appearance of blemishes or red spots. Orange, on the other hand, is opposite to blue, "so [it] will help to eliminate blues in the skin such as bruising and dark circles," shares makeup artist Morgan Leigh. "In addition, purple helps to diminish the appearance of yellowish spots," she adds.
What are the different types of colors correctors?
- Green: Williamson says you’ll typically find green used in color-correcting primers. “They're used to balance redness in the skin,” she notes. “So [they're for] someone with fairer skin or a medium complexion that has a lot of redness or pinkness to the skin who wants to tone it down, so it matches the rest of their body." You can also sometimes find the color used in spot treatments, to cover redness from breakouts or other small, inflamed areas.
- Blue: A blue color corrector can be used to adjust makeup that's too warm, Williamson adds. Say you have a foundation that you bought right after your most recent beach vacation but have since lost some of your tan. You can add a couple of drops of a blue color corrector to neutralize and tone down the orange hues in the formula so it better matches your skin.
- Orange and red: While Sotomayor says that he uses color correctors often on clients, he adds that he only uses shades of peaches, pinks and reds, calling them "the three most useful." The colors fall on the opposite side of the color wheel as blue, green and purple, so they can be helpful for covering up darker areas of discoloration. "Peach and orange are really good on the eyes," he says. "If you've got a medium-to-light skin tone, a peach or a pink is good under the eyes at the inner corner, where we tend to get a little bit of blue." For those with darker skin tones, deeper orange or red shades can help counteract the hyperpigmentation in the area.
- Peach: A peach corrector is used to minimize blue undertones for light-to-medium skin, especially for under eye circles. "Those circles peaking through are actually blue. If you have darker skin, you can use orange for this purpose," says celebrity makeup artist Katie Mellinger.
- Yellow: Unlike other color correctors, which are typically applied before foundation or concealer. Sotomayor says that yellow color correctors can come in handy after you apply your base makeup. "Yellow is really great if you've picked up a little bit too much tan or you have a bit of a sunburn, or if you have sort of an uneven pigmentation," he shares. "You can do your foundation and can take a yellow color corrector afterward and apply it across your cheekbones, down the bridge of the nose in the center of the face, and use it like a highlighter. It'll bring out your bone structure, and it'll neutralize hyperpigmentation."
- Purple: Purple is on the opposite side of the color wheel as yellow. But because the color is made from a combination of blue and red, a purple or lavender color corrector could have similar effects but may be easier for non-professionals to use, since it's a softer version of a red or blue, Williamson says.
With that in mind, here are the best color correctors, according to professional makeup artists — plus, a few other trending and top-rated options we recommend. Want to browse by category? Click on the links below.
Best liquid color correctors | Best stick color correctors | Best color corrector palettes | Best color correcting creams | How do I apply a color corrector? | Concealers vs. color correctors | What to look for | Meet our experts
Best liquid color correctors
TikTok user Rose Siard went viral after she shared how she uses this blue pigment to neutralize the warm tones of an orange-heavy foundation, and viewers were amazed by the hack. Reviewers online agree, saying that it's great for those who struggle to find the perfect match.
"I have light/fair skin, so it's hard to find exactly the right shade for me, but with this, I can make my own perfect shade," one shopper wrote. "It's such a game changer, I will definitely be purchasing more in the future/recommending to others."
Nyx's affordable color-correcting primer has racked up more than 9,000 five-star ratings from Amazon shoppers who say that it helps reduce redness and create a smooth makeup look. "My makeup NEVER used to stay on all day," one reviewer wrote. "Now, when I get home from work, my face looks the same as when I left."
If redness is your main concern, Leigh recommends this color corrector from Make Up For Ever. The formula instantly neutralizes discoloration and evens out skin tone for 24 hours, according to the brand. Customers also love this product because it's not cakey or pore-filling.
When it comes to green color correctors, Williamson said she likes Smashbox's primer. The formula is said to neutralize redness while smoothing skin and protecting it against damage. It's made with soothing and nourishing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, algae, probiotic extract and vitamins.
If you have melanin-rich skin that is prone to pigmentation, this color corrector evens out dark spots. The formulation includes vitamin C, brightening agents, salicylic acid and more, which all help to minimize discoloration. According to reviewers, this lightweight product aids in minimizing acne marks. However, it is important to exfoliate your skin for better results.
Best stick color correctors
If you're looking for just one shade, Williamson likes Live Tinted's color correctors. "They have these color corrector sticks that are really easy to use. It's like a crayon that you dot on, blend it out really easily, and you're set," she says. Along with its color-correcting abilities, the brand says that the Huestick can also be used to add color to your cheeks, lips and eyes.
For those with olive skin tones, this color corrector stick will perfect your natural shade. According to reviewers, this product blends well and provides an even texture.
"I’ve used a lot of correctors but this layers so well by itself or under heavy makeup. I have very strong hyperpigmentation on my South Asian brown skin, so this works like a charm combatting the dark brown/purple under my eyes and around my mouth," shared one shopper.
Best color corrector palettes
This under-eye corrector offers a crease-free complexion and great coverage. It has a thicker formula than other color correctors and helps reduce the appearance of those fine lines with a quick touch. If you suffer from dark circles due to lack of sleep, the mix of invigorating ingredients will give you a bright look. The formula is waterproof and contains squalane, rose clay to soothe skin around the area and mica to soften the wrinkles.
Cheat your way to a flawless-looking complexion with this corrector from Charlotte Tilbury. This peach color will counteract any blue or purple discoloration under your eyes and works well on different skin tones. The creamy formula is easy to blend and has a brightening effect, thanks to the presence of mica.
"It covers dark circles under my eyes and sunspots [well]. It has a lovely soft and moist texture, and it melts into the skin very well," shared one customer with combination skin.
The Bobbi Brown Under Eye Corrector is the same formula as the brand's concealer, but it has a pinker base, Sotomayor says, so it works to help cover dark circles. It comes in 16 peach- and pink-based shades and is said to be waterproof and sweat-resistant to stand up to all-day wear.
Williamson says that she uses this Conceal and Correct Palette both on herself and on clients. "It's nice because they go by complexion, so it's light, medium, deep and dark," she notes. Each palette has two color correctors and multiple concealer shades that can be used individually or combined to help hide any problem areas.
Sotomayor says Make Up For Ever's HD Underpainting Palette in medium is one of his favorites because it includes peach and pink color correctors. According to the brand, the formulas combine pigments, powders and emollient oils to "provide a second skin, seamless look and feel."
This all-in-one color corrector will target all your skin concerns and imperfections. The palette features five tones of cream correctors including peach, pink, yellow, green and orange to target specific skin issues. Whether you want to neutralize hyperpigmentation or cover that sunburn, this palette brings all the essentials into one.
Best color correcting creams
With a creamy and lightweight texture, this inexpensive corrector is built to camouflage your blemishes while contouring your skin. The lavender tone corrector helps in neutralizing unwanted yellow undertones and sallowness. It also lasts for six to seven hours without fading and is a budget-friendly product to minimize redness.
Neutralize the look of your dark circles and dark spots with this creamy color corrector. What makes this formula efficient is the radiant finish which helps to give you that flawless complexion. The creamy texture doesn't feel heavy, and you can easily skip the concealer for a natural effect.
For a full-coverage finish, this color-correcting cream is the way to go. It's formulated for people who experience redness, hyperpigmentation, skin irritations and scars. The product contains colloidal oatmeal, which helps to reduce irritation, along with a mix of other key ingredients like collagen, aloe and peptides. With a thin layer of this product, you will conceal most of the blemishes on your skin, according to the brand.
Mellinger recommends this correcting shade for dark spots. This formula features a lightweight and gel-based texture that helps minimize under eye imperfections while neutralizing the appearance of redness. Customers love this product for its ability to hide raccoon-looking eyes and add a flawless look to their complexion.
How do I apply a color corrector?
The key to an even complexion when applying a color corrector is having well-moisturized skin. "Gently press the color where needed and top with foundation and/or concealer. I'd do this using a blending sponge to ensure a seamless application and coverage," shares Leigh.
For Mellinger, the best way to apply a color corrector is to use an appropriate-sized brush on the area that needs correction. "Then using either your finger, the same brush or another brush, blend the edges of the corrector. After that, apply your concealer on top of the corrector in a stipple pattern. This can either be done with a sponge, brush or finger."
What's the difference between a concealer and a color corrector?
According to Leigh, the difference between a concealer and a color corrector is that the former is used to match your skin tone, which helps cover up blemishes and other imperfections. "Depending on the severity of these imperfections, it's often enough on its own and on a good day, even a tinted moisturizer can do the trick!" she explains.
Alternatively, she adds, "As a professional makeup artist, I'd recommend a color corrector where there is more intense discoloration, such as severe rosacea or extreme darkness around the eyes, and similarly bruising."
What to look for when shopping for the best color correctors?
"When looking for a color corrector, try to find a formula that best suits your skin type. If your skin is on the drier side, you may want to opt for a cream or liquid color corrector. Powder and matte formulas are beneficial for more oily skin," says celebrity makeup artist Jillian Dempsey.
Meet our experts
- Morgan Leigh is a professional makeup artist based in New York City. You can also find her working on hair and makeup for weddings in and around the New York area.
- Andrew Sotomayor is an Emmy award-winning celebrity makeup artist with 17 years of professional experience. His latest work can be seen on Broadway.
- Jonet Williamson is a professional makeup artists and content creator working in New York and Atlanta. She's passionate about making beauty education relatable, working with brands on campaigns, content creation and product development.
- Katie Mellinger is a fashion and celebrity makeup artist specializing in flawless skin and feminine looks. Her work has been featured in outlets such as W, Vanity Fair, i-D, Wonderland, Oyster and many others.
- Jillian Dempsey is a celebrity makeup artist and is the founder of her eponymous brand.