Tactical Makeup Techniques: Conceal and Correct

Makeup has been described as War Paint for decades and to no wonder. For the makeup artist brushes are swords, foundation is camo, and lipstick bullets are literally that–bullets. And for the everyday makeup wearer, it’s not much different. So, here we stand at the precipice of your makeup training in War Paint: Tactical Makeup Techniques. At the Alcone Warehouse, I’m frequently referred to as Sgt. Kraemer, and I will be your Drill Sergeant. Now stand up straight, with shoulders back, and march forward into battle with the glory of flawless skin in your eyes!

Camouflage I: Correction and Concealment

According to Lt. Colonel Hampton P. Conley in his 1988 Research Report for the Air War College, “A History of Camouflage: Concealment and Deception,” effective camouflage is a combination of concealment and deception along with an element of surprise. He cites the classic “Trojan Horse” as an exceptional example that illustrates a common theme, which is to have knowledge of the land and the enemy.
I know what you’re thinking: “What does this have to do with concealer?”

In applying concealer, we know the most common enemy is the human eye. Sometimes it’s a camera, sometimes it’s a stage but for the most part, we’re working to keep the human eye from detecting discoloration. That’s our mission for the purpose of this article.

Knowledge of the land is the first step.

What and where are you trying to conceal? We’ve all made the mistake of piling on too much concealer or foundation over a pimple or dark circles only to realize that we’ve drawn more attention to what we wanted to cover up in the first place.

What color are you trying to cover?

A first response might be redness from acne or purple from under-eye circles. However, for some, it may be a little more complex than that. A quick look at the Flesh Tone Color Wheel by Terri Tomlinson can break down the kind of discoloration you’re most likely facing, as well as the skin tone concealer and primary correctors you can use to effectively mask them.


This tool can also be invaluable in determining whether you want to use color corrector or concealer. To clarify the difference, let’s refer to the wheel. We can see that redness can be neutralized by green tones while deep purples can be knocked out by yellows. Pesky blues respond well to orange and red shades. The closer your discoloration to the center of the wheel, the more likely you are to need a corrector, whereas the further from the center, the lighter coverage of concealer will do.

For example, if you’ve got a bright pink blemish, you can use a yellow-green corrector to first mask the shade, then follow with foundation or concealer to adjust it to match your flesh tone. However, if you’ve got just a touch of blue darkness under your eyes, a slightly yellow-orange foundation might just do the trick.

The deeper the discoloration, the more aggressively you have to work against it. You must assess and your plan of attack. In the case of a black tattoo, for example, the impulse is to just use more foundation. Remember this is war. Paint out the tattoo with orange-red corrector until it’s covered. Allow it to set, then follow with concealer and foundation until it matches your skin tone.

Arm yourself with the right products.

There are a number of fantastic correctors available that can be used to combat discoloration such as Joe Blasco Neutralizers, Ben Nye Concealer Wheels and Kryolan Dermacolor Camouflage Creams. Each of these powerhouse products can effectively mask discoloration to varying degrees and some even feature transfer-resistant and waterproof finishes when they’re set properly.

For more severe discolorations, especially on the body, Jordane Total Tattoo Cover and European Body Art Evo Palettes offer exceptional coverage making them ideal as pre-concealer products. Both are made with professional-grade formulas that provide a transfer-resistant matte finish so they may feel a bit dry on the skin. If so, just press a small amount of face oil into the skin once the product has set to loosen the “grip.”

For moderate discoloration, a great concealer can do the trick and products like Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer and Danessa Myricks Vision Cream Cover are perfect tools for your artillery. These full-coverage concealers all feature a wide range of shades and beautiful emollient textures that look like skin once applied for a more natural, corrected effect.

Now for the tactical application.

You’ve got your arsenal ready and now it’s time to conceal like the pro that you are! Remember to practice these techniques as much as possible. Now that you’ve got the know-how, you just have to implement it.

Step One: Identify and Evaluate. What are you covering and which products are you going to use?
Step Two: Correct. Apply enough corrector to effectively mask the discoloration. Set if need be.
Step Three: Conceal. Using concealer or foundation cover the corrector to bring it back to skin tone.
Step Four: Deception. Blend the edge of the concealer or foundation into the skin. Apply foundation as need be.
Step Five: Surprise. You’ve achieved beautifully flawless skin!

Post contributed by J.D. Kraemer

Interested in airbrush makeup? Read TEMPTU Professional Airbrush Makeup is Here!