How do color correctors and neutralizers work?


I'm noticing all these concealers and foundations labeled as "correctors." Can you explain the concept to me?

Color correctors, also known as neutralizers, are meant to "correct" hard-to-cover skin discolorations like redness from rosacea or bluish gray under-eye circles. They're based on the idea that when you want to neutralize a color, you place its opposing color over it. That's why, for example, color correctors for red-toned skin are green tinted. We asked Lisa Pasternack, the founder of Its About Me Cosmetics, to break it down for us.

The skin is made up of four types of pigments, of which every individual has a unique combination. They are: oxygenated hemoglobin, or what makes blood red; reduced hemoglobin, which is the pigment that appears blue in veins seen through the skin; melanin, the major pigment, which darkens when exposed to sunlight; and carotene, responsible for the yellow tones in skin.

The undertone colors of skin are either predominantly blues (cool) or red (warm) in appearance; if skin has a higher proportion of carotene (yellow pigment), it will appear warm as well.

  • Different corrector shades will interact with your skin (and each other) in different ways, and because everyone's skin has its own personal mixture of pigments and undertones, you may want to experiment with a color-correcting pigment wheel, which offers a variety of tones with which to blend your own personal neutralizing recipe. But here are the basic color-correcting rules:
  • If your skin is beige toned and you have blue or green undertones, yellow-based correctors will even out skin tone by neutralizing blue, and pink-based correctors will neutralize green.
  • If you have brown-toned skin and you want to hide blue and gray undertones, choose a peach-orange-based corrector.
  • If you have a yellow-based skin tone and you want to even it out, choose a lilac-shade corrector, which neutralizes yellow.
  • You can apply correctors just as you do concealers, with your fingers or a concealer brush.
  • It's best not to dip your fingers directly into the corrector because of the possibility of contamination, so use a small spatula or cotton swab.
  • Be conservative in your application. You shouldn't need a lot '- just a few pin-sized drops.
  • Blend the corrector over the area you want to cover with your fingertips or a makeup sponge. I like fingertips because they're warm and help in "melting" the concealer into the skin.
  • Don't use a corrector product that's too dry, even if you have an oily complexion. Dry products are difficult to blend and don't look as natural on the skin.

Product Name: Tabula Rasa by Maven Cosmetics
This color wheel has five tones and a nice creamy consistency that blends well under foundation to neutralize a range of pigment concerns, including blotchiness and under-eye darkness.
Price: $36

Product Name: NARS Powder Foundation

A new product from François Nars, this powder foundation covers without appearing visible on the skin and contains UVA protection as well. Following are the colors recommended for various skin tones.

Mont Blanc: For fair, porcelain complexions with a slight hint of pink
Deauville: For light to neutral skin tones with a good balance of pink and yellow
Budapest: For light to medium olive skin tones
Fiji: For medium skin with golden yellow undertones
Barcelona: For tanned, olive and Asian skin with golden yellow tones
Santa Fe: For medium skin with peach or pink undertones
Sahara: For medium skin tones with a ruddy complexion
Sedona: For tanned and medium to deep skin tones with yellow undertones
St.Tropez: For tanned and olive complexions with yellow undertones
Jamaica: Created for Naomi Campbell, chocolate brown with a neutral yellow undertone
Price: $45

A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.