I have hyperpigmentation and dark circles due to my genetics and years of acne.
Color-correcting in makeup is the use of red, green, purple, and yellow pigments to conceal the look of scarring, redness, acne, dark circles, and more.
Indian skin differs from European and darker skin tones in that it has a unique combination of undertones the beauty market has not yet mastered.
I curated a routine of five products that conceal and blur the look of my acne scarring and dark circles.
For years, my makeup routine was all about the challenge of seeing how much makeup I could pile on top of my pimples and my brown skin underneath. This usually meant I would begin my day with a combination of brightly hued primers, concealers, and foundation caked on though they would inevitably melt off halfway through the day.
Post-acne I never really stopped – I had my scarring to cover up, and over the years, I added caking my genetically dark under-eyes with makeup to the list. Bottles of foundation and tubes of concealer came and went with frequency. I tried all sorts of different forms of cover-up, but the two things I could count on were that my scars would just appear unnaturally grey under a fog of products and that most of the product would be off by the time happy hour rolled around.
When color-correcting products became popular about a year ago, I figured it was easy enough. I put a bright red shade on top of my dark circles and scars to balance out darkness, and then covered the red with concealer to cover my insecurities – often coloring outside the lines to extend to my unblemished skin. But makeup artist David Maderich, previously Prince’s makeup artist and whose work can now be seen on “The Real Housewives of Potomac,” warns against this for Indian skin in particular. “Indian skin shades are hard to find from a bottle. You have to mix a lot of different colors – yellow under the eye, and a little bit of orange, yellow, and gold help to balance out pigmentation,” he says.
The two biggest lessons I learned from Maderich were that less is more when it comes to longevity of products on my skin, and that color-correcting on my uniquely brown skin means not just one color-correcting product in an orange/red hue, but a combination of that with yellow and gold pigments that combine to get the idyllic “I Woke Up Like This” look.
Here are the five products I use to blur my dark circles and acne scars in the order in which I use them:
Juice Beauty Phyto-Pigments Illuminating Primer
Juice Beauty Phyto-Pigments Illuminating Primer, available at Amazon, $26
I’ve been a longtime lover of Juice Beauty as a clean, organic skin-care brand, so when it came out with a Gwyneth Paltrow-renowned primer, I was immediately intrigued. I like the idea of a primer that comes from a skin-care brand, because while primer should also have beautifying benefits, I like the idea of it being a clean product to protect my skin from the makeup I put on top of it.
Maderich emphasizes the importance of not putting too much product on your skin. In fact, his suggestion is to swap your moisturizer with a primer. “Most people use way too many skin-care products during the day. The more you put on, the more your makeup will move.” For Indian skin, Maderich recommends mixing gold tints like this Juice Beauty one into your foundation rather than layering it if you want a more natural look. If I’m not in the mood to put on much makeup, I’ll stop after this step alone because the natural-looking gold tint gives my skin the perfect lit-from-within glow.
The product is super lightweight but hydrating, which is perfect for my sensitive skin. While the gold tint blurs the look of my scarring a bit, the first ingredient in the primer, aloe juice, calms the redness I often get on my sensitive cheeks and nose.
Cover FX Correct Click Color Corrector
Correct Click Color Corrector in Orange, available at Cover FX, $18
Through some pretty basic Google searching and information gathered from my favorite vloggers, I learned it was best to counteract dark pigmentation with orange/red tones. Most I tried were too light on my skin. Others were so pigmented that I’d find it hard not to get the color all over my face when blending the rest of my foundation and concealer on top of it. This one had the perfect amount of pigmentation, not to mention a no-mess applicator.
Makeup artist Amanda Shackleton, who works with Indian brides often, recommends this Cover FX corrector because the brick tone works well with a range of undertones – perfect for Indian skin. “The trick is it’s a subtle shade of red which allows more tolerance for dark undertones and combination undertones,” says Shackleton.
I use the applicator to swipe a small amount of this under my eyes and press it in with my finger before tapping a small pea-sized brush into the product and dotting it precisely onto my acne scars – like paint by numbers for my face. I used to think that, at this stage, you shouldn’t be able to see any pigmentation or scars at all, but like I said, once I started using less product, it lasted longer. It isn’t about covering the pigmentation; it’s about blurring it. And at this point in my makeup routine, that’s exactly how they look.
Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra Wear Camouflage Concealer
Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra Wear Camouflage Concealer in 370 W Bisque, available at Sephora, $31
My pursuit of the right concealer began nearly a decade and a half ago, right when I began getting painful, cystic acne. It took me up until about about a year ago to find the right one for my skin tone. Year after year, I’d go to makeup artists to be skin-matched only to be disappointed by the shade range, or lack thereof.
After years of trying almost everything on the market, I tested the Lancôme Teint Idole concealer on my hand and figured it was worth a shot. The wind-up stick made for easy application, and the redness wasn’t totally opaque, making its coverage buildable.
One year later, it’s one of the few concealers I trust, not just for its the color-match but also for its high coverage and natural finish. I didn’t expect the finish to be so natural. To be honest, the texture feels quite thick. The key, as Maderich and Shackleton reiterate, is to not be too heavy-handed with application.
According to Maderich, a concealer with a thick consistency is actually ideal for pigmentation. “It’s really hard to cover acne scars on the cheeks,” says Maderich. “If you choose to cover it, you have to use a concealer with a really thick consistency because you don’t want it to move. Anything creamy is going to move in an hour, so you want it to be almost a paste consistency.”
I layer this very lightly on top of the corrector. At this point, I still see some red tint coming through on my skin. Maderich advises applying two thin layers of concealer, powdering each. When I go in with the second layer of concealer, I’ll dot this on the acne scarring on my cheeks and jawline, avoiding my dark circles. For the second layer of that, I go in with a lighter-tinted concealer that has an even thicker consistency.
Sephora Collection Make No Mistake High Coverage Concealer
Sephora Collection Make No Mistake High Coverage Concealer in Almond, available at Sephora, $14
The skin under my eyes is far dryer than the rest of my skin, and the pigmentation is a lot darker than anywhere else on my face, so the skin here needs something different than the rest of my skin. I came upon this when I was browsing the aisles of Sephora during graduate school, not in the mood to spend much. I hadn’t heard or read anything about it, but figured I didn’t have much to lose given the low price (and Sephora’s great return policy).
I do notice the formula of this sometimes separates, so I make sure to shake the tube before squeezing out a very small amount of product. The consistency is even thicker than Lancôme’s, but it is super easy to blend. After I use one round of powder, I go in with a thin layer of this on top of my dark circles.
I chose two shades lighter than my natural skin tone, which sounds like a lot, but because I apply such a thin layer, it doesn’t look unnatural. This concealer has a yellow undertone, which Maderich specifically recommends for Indian women’s under-eyes. I press it into my skin with my fingers for a more natural look. The formula also contains sunflower seed oil, which keeps my under-eyes hydrated and crease-free.
For something I picked up on a whim, I’ve considered this concealer a staple in my routine for almost a year.
Milk Makeup Blur and Set Matte Loose Setting Powder
Milk Makeup Blur and Set Matte Loose Setting Powder in Translucent Medium, available at Sephora, $29
As a lover of vegan and cruelty-free beauty, as well as the brand’s founder, fashion editor Zanna Roberts Rassi, I first fell in love with the Milk Makeup’s fan favorite Kush Mascara (possibly the best thickening mascara I’ve tried). I travel quite a bit, so I found this when I was looking for a travel-friendly loose powder – not an easy thing to find. In addition to the lid on top, this has a second lid inside that presses against the netting through which powder comes through to keep product from coming through when you’re not using it.
A pressed powder can be easier, but Shackleton recommends a loose powder for setting makeup because it’s lighter and more finely milled. This means it can really get into the skin to set everything with light coverage. Though this does set my makeup, I think a lot of powders out there can do that. What I love most about this is the blurring aspect that gives me the lightly Photoshopped feel. I pat my Beauty Blender sponge into this before pressing it into my skin. I prefer using it over a brush because I feel a brush sweeps product over my face only for it to be easily swept off, while this really pushes it into my skin.