Redness in skin can be caused by a variety of factors, from acne and rosacea to sunburns and allergic reactions. While redness can sometimes clear up on its own, it often needs a little help to be less visible. So what colors counteract or neutralize redness? Here’s a quick overview of how color theory applies to redness and which hues are most effective at reducing the appearance of red skin.
Green and Red are Complementary Colors
In color theory, colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel are considered complementary colors. Red and green are complementary, which means they essentially cancel each other out. Green contains the wavelengths that are missing in red light, so when green and red are mixed together, they create a neutral gray or brown. This makes green pigments very effective at reducing the appearance of redness.
Green Concealers, Color Correctors, and Primers
Due to the color canceling properties of green, many color cosmetic companies formulate concealers, color correcting primers, and powders with a green tint. These products are designed to neutralize redness and give skin a more even, flawless appearance. The green pigments actually work to diffuse the red wavelengths of light, making redness much less visible.
Applying a green-tinted color corrector under your normal concealer or foundation is an easy way to minimize the look of red patches, acne, rosacea, and broken capillaries. Some popular options include:
- NYX Professional Makeup Color Correcting Concealer Green
- L’Oréal Paris Studio Secrets Professional Green Face Primer
- Physicians Formula Green Concealer Stick
- Covergirl + Olay Simply Ageless Green Corrector
- MAC Prep + Prime CC Color Correcting Green
How Exactly Does Green Cancel Out Redness?
The key to understanding how green pigments neutralize redness lies in the physics of light. White light is made up of a spectrum of every color wavelength, from red to violet. Red wavelengths are around 700 nm long, while green is around 500 nm. When green and red light mix, the resulting light is a neutral yellow-brown right in the middle of the spectrum at around 600 nm.
Our eyes perceive this middle wavelength as a neutral beige color rather than red or green. So by applying a pigment with green undertones, it actually bends and scatters the long red light waves, converting them into shorter yellow/brown waves. The green cancels out the vibrant redness and leaves skin looking more even-toned.
Yellow and Orange Pigments Also Minimize Redness
In addition to green, warm yellow and orange hues can also help to cancel out ruddiness. While not direct complements to red, these colors still contain enough green/yellow pigmentation to help neutralize red wavelengths and diffuse redness. Concealers and color correctors with yellow, peach, or orange undertones can minimize the appearance of red spots and uneven skin tone.
Some examples of peach and yellow-toned color cosmetics include:
- Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circles Concealer
- NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Vanilla
- Bobbi Brown Corrector in Peach Bisque
- Smashbox Color Correcting Stick in Apricot
- L.A. Girl Pro Conceal HD Concealer in Yellow Corrector
What About Purple and Blue Pigments?
On the opposite side of the color wheel, shades like blue and purple are also complementary colors to red. So in theory, they should be able to neutralize redness as well. However, most makeup experts do not recommend using cool-toned pigments to color correct ruddy skin. The blue and purple hues may end up accentuating sallowness or making skin appear bruised and puffy when layered over redness.
While green, orange, yellow, and peach concealers are your best options for minimizing redness, you can use a touch of blue or purple to color correct other issues. Blue helps counteract yellow sallowness and purple can brighten dull skin caused by sun exposure.
How to Apply Color Correctors for Redness
Here are some tips for getting the most out of your green, yellow, peach, and orange color correctors when trying to neutralize redness:
- Use sparingly just on areas of redness for a natural look.
- Dab on lightly after moisturizer but before foundation.
- Let it sit for a minute before blending out edges.
- Layer foundation or concealer on top.
- Set with translucent powder to finish and prevent creasing.
- Avoid using cool-toned powders and concealers which may accentuate redness.
Professional Cosmetic Procedures for Redness
In addition to cosmetic color correction, there are also some professional facial treatments that can help reduce stubborn redness and broken capillaries:
- Laser treatments – Laser genesis and pulsed dye lasers help repair capillaries and reduce visible redness. Multiple treatments are usually required.
- Intense pulsed light (IPL) – IPL uses different wavelengths of light energy to treat redness and broken blood vessels.
- Chemical peels – Gentle chemical peels with lactic acid or salicylic acid can improve skin tone and fade post-acne red marks over time.
Always consult a certified dermatologist to determine which in-office procedures may be best for your particular skin concerns.
The Best Makeup Colors to Minimize Red Facial Skin
To summarize, here is an overview of the top cosmetic colors for neutralizing facial redness based on color theory:
|Color||How it Neutralizes Red|
|Green||Complementary color, cancels out red wavelengths|
|Yellow||Contains touches of green that helps diffuse redness|
|Peach||Has yellow undertones to counteract ruddiness|
|Orange||Neutral and earthy tone minimizes red appearance|
Avoid using cool-toned violets, blues, and purples to color correct redness, as they may accentuate sallowness. Stick to the warm, complementary green family instead.
Other Tips for Reducing Facial Redness
In addition to using green color-correcting cosmetics, here are some other tips for minimizing redness and flare-ups:
- Use gentle skincare products without alcohol, fragrance, or harsh exfoliants.
- Protect skin from sun exposure which can trigger redness and broken capillaries.
- Keep skin hydrated and nourished to heal inflammation.
- Take antihistamines to reduce redness caused by allergies.
- Use cooling compresses and soothing creams to calm irritation and flushing.
- See a dermatologist if persistent redness is a concern to rule out rosacea or other conditions.
Redness causing uneven skin tone can be annoying to deal with, but is often easy to minimize with the right color corrective makeup. Look for concealers and primers with green, yellow, peach, and orange undertones which counteract the red wavelengths of light. Professional laser treatments can also improve persistent redness issues. With the proper cosmetics and skincare routine, you can get your complexion looking more even, smooth, and neutral in tone.