Lavender primer? Green concealer??

The array of weird colors on the market is understandably baffling to most consumers. As a pro makeup artist, I use the principles of color theory every time I apply makeup, and you can too –– especially if you have a stubborn blemish that just doesn’t look good with a thick pile of concealer on top. When it comes to covering the tough stuff, color correctors work wonders – and you can get away with using less foundation as a result.

Here’s how concealer work:

Discoloration on the face has an undertone to it. For example, undereye circles are often blue, grey or violet; pimples are pink; hyperpigmentation is brown. You can cancel out the unwanted pigmentation by using a concealer in a complementary color – i.e., the color opposite on the color wheel and then blend your natural skin color (foundation) on top as needed with a little powder to set. You end up needing less coverage because the colors are doing the work for you.

READ: Concealer 101 for Redheads: How To Apply and Get a Flawless Finish 

This method is preferable to use only a “nude” concealer because most aren’t opaque enough to do the job themselves: a light shade over a dark shade will create an unattractive a greyish cast. Neutralizing the discoloration with a soft wash of a complementary color saves you from having to use a thick, heavy concealer that’s just going to appear ashy and grey.

A few of my favorite ‘redhead friendly’ corrective products:

Temptu S/B Neutralizer Wheel & S/B Adjuster Set

Graftobian HD Glamour Crème Corrector palette

MAKE UP FOR EVER Camouflage Cream

NIA24 Rapid Redness Recovery Lotion (Skincare)

Here are the corrective formulas for easy reference:

1. For blue-toned undereye circles, try a peach concealer to warm up the skin and brighten the eyes.

2. Grey tones in the skin can be adjusted with pink.

3. For rosacea and acne blemishes, use a yellow or green. *Be sure to use green very sparingly and sheerly, as it can drain all the pink from your skin, making you look a bit grey.

4. For sun damage and hyperpigmentation, use orange to neutralize the brown. The darker the skin, the deeper your concealer should be. Orange is the most magical concealer color when serious coverage is needed. I can even use a wash of orange to soften a multicolored tattoo that needs to be concealed.

5. Enliven sallow skin with a sheer wash of lavender.

6. Add a drop of blue concealer to cool down a foundation that is too warm for your skin, or to tone down an overly orange spray tan! Go sparingly; like green, blue tends to OVER adjust.