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How to Use Skin Concealers and Correctives

Written by Tommy Parsons on May 6th, 2014.      0 comments

I would love to take credit for the concept of neutralizing and correcting skin discoloration, however that credit belongs to the veteran makeup artists who worked in colour film and television and during the technical advancement that occurred in Hollywood in the 40s, 50s and 60s.  

For many years understanding how to use colour to “neutralize” unwanted tones and skin discoloration was taught, learned and practiced by Hollywood makeup professionals. In recent years this concept has been replaced by concealers and cosmetic products that camouflage rather than neutralize. If you use enough product you can eventually cover anything, however the makeup might be so thick you can carve your name into it. Most of these products are practically useless because they are not available in the colours necessary for true skin tone correction. The majority of concealers are highly pigmented versions of their corresponding foundations; lighter tonal colours that highlight the under-eye area and attempt to cover dark circles, redness and other skin discolorations.

Consumers and industry professionals have been lead to believe that if they use a lighter shade of concealer it will eliminate unwanted colour. In some paramedical and post-surgical instances this might be necessary, but in most cases layering on colour simply does not work. A thick coat of colour certainly cannot be used in high definition film or photography, as the thickness will be instantly read by the camera. This concept translates to everyday use; the last thing a woman wants to wear is something that appears caked on or shows that she has tried to cover up something on her face and failed. I myself think about the time as a teenager I tried to cover up an unsightly acne bump with liquid makeup only to realize it looked even worse – like something I tried to cover up but couldn’t.

So how do we go about covering up blemishes and discolouration before applying foundation? Before we even start, we need to understand four things: colour theory, the colours of cosmetic correction, our formulations, and the application process.

Certain colours will do the work for us when it comes to removing discoloration within, underneath or on the skin.
Light is the key factor and the main tool we work with.
Without light, we cannot see our work.
The selection of white light is important. If you don’t believe me, try doing someone’s makeup under a blue flood and see what happens when you get them in normal light. White light also comes in a variety of colours. These colours range from a reddish-orange white, such as the lamp beside your bed, to the blue-white lights on most new car headlights. Both of these examples have many white light colours between them, including normal daylight.

All of these white colours are measured in temperature variations called Kelvin. 
The light beside your bed is about 2800 degrees Kelvin, while car headlights are about 7000 degrees Kelvin.
makeup correctives

The lower the Kelvin temperature, the warmer the shade of white light, and the higher the temperature, the bluer the shade of white light.

If we go outside on a clear day at 12 noon and the sun is directly overhead – that’s the colour closest to the pure white light we need to work with when applying makeup. The colour temperature is about 6000 – 6500 degrees Kelvin. If you apply makeup in this colour temperature (6000 – 6500 degrees Kelvin) and it looks good, makeup in other colour temperatures (e.g. house 2800 or studio 3200) will look fantastic. This is the basic starting point for correction. You must be working in the correct light. Even the best of surgeons use great lighting - most hospital surgical lighting is 6500 degrees Kelvin.

newsletter_img_7.jpgIn the chart to the right you will notice how using a green filter will eliminate the unwanted redness from the light. That concept is very simple. Choosing the correct correction colour is actually simpler. You just have to remember what colours eliminate other colours.


Red and green, blue and orange, and pink and brown all cancel each other out.
For example, someone that has blueness under the eyes would use a colour that has a little orange in the undertones to correct or neutralize the blueness. Someone with a reddish-coloured blemish on the face would use a colour with green undertones. Now remember, you would never use pure red, pure green, pure blue or pure orange to neutralize. You would use a colour which had undertones of red, green, orange, blue or pink for the correction.

By adding a small amount of some red neutralizers (those containing green undertones) to a foundation, you will reduce the amount of red in the foundation.  
By adding a small amount of a green-based corrector over a red area of the skin, you will eliminate the red area completely.
ractice this by getting a very small amount and adding it over a red area of your skin like your knuckles.
makeup concealers

You will notice the red disappears, leaving the skin the same tone as the rest of the unaffected area.
Please note that if you add too much neutralizer, you will not only stop the transmission of red light but will change the skin tone colour, making it the same colour as the corrector. This obviously means you have used too much neutralizer. Another tip when using a corrector directly on the skin is to always apply powder after the corrector and prior to applying foundation. This prevents the corrector colour and foundation colour from mixing.

Tommy Parsons is the Cosmetic Division Director of DMK Cosmetics.

For more information on DMK Skincare contact:
Telephone: +64 22 0931272
Freephone: 0800 000 845

Topics: Makeup




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