Choosing Makeup for Dark Skin Tones

Your dark skin tone can handle seriously pigmented colors like no other! Berries, pinks, red, plum … we could go on and on (and we will)! While you can have all the fun you want with bold lippies and bright blush, shopping for the essentials doesn’t come as easily. Finding the right makeup for dark skin can be a challenge.

Tracking down the best foundation and even bronzer can be a painstaking and time-consuming task. That’s why we did all the work for you and put together a guide on how to find the perfect match for your skin tone, starting with the perfect tutorial to recreate at home.

STEP 1: Test out your foundation shade before you apply. We recommend swatching each shade on your jawline and then blend them together for a perfect match.

STEP 2: Apply a liquid foundation like NYX Professional Makeup Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Foundation to give your skin a dewy finish.

STEP 3: Reach for a highlighter that has golden undertones rather than silver or pink. We’re loving the one from Urban Decay Cherry Highlight & Blush Palette. Apply it to the apples of your cheeks, nose, forehead and chin.

STEP 4: Using the Urban Decay Naked Skin Shapeshifter Palette in Medium Dark, apply a contour 2 shades deeper than your natural skin color. Apply to select areas of your face like your cheeks, jaw and hairline.

STEP 5: Use a brow pencil that’s a few shades lighter than your hair color to fill in your brows. We love the L’Oréal Paris Brow Stylist Definer Mechanical Pencil.

STEP 6: Opt for an eyeshadow with a shimmer or demi-matte finish to boost your skin’s natural glow, like Scorched from the Urban Decay Naked Heat Palette. Apply a lighter shade to your brow bone, like Chaser and then, use a deeper shade like Ashes in your crease. Finish your eyeshadow by patting a light shade like Chaser into the inner corners of your eye for brighter-looking eyes.

STEP 7: Using a liquid eyeliner like Maybelline Master Precise Ink Pen Eyeliner, start from the outer corner of your eye, working inwards to create the line. Then, fill in the gaps, working outwards. Use a black pencil eyeliner like Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil to line your waterline and lash line.

STEP 8: For added drama, trace over your wing with a black liquid eyeliner like Maybelline Line Stiletto.

STEP 9: Choose a mascara that lengthens the appearance of your lashes like Maybelline Volum’ Express Waterproof Mascara.

STEP 10: Have fun with a bold lip like a long-lasting shade of Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick.

TIP 1: Work with Your Undertones

Whether your skin tone is fair, dark or anything in between, the key to finding the right makeup is dependent on your undertones. And when it comes to shopping for the right foundation for dark skin, things can get a little confusing, as most brands will offer two or more colors that look almost identical.

For example, Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra 24H Long Lasting Foundation comes in Suede W, Suede C and Suede N — warm, cool and neutral. What exactly does this mean? Well, beneath your specific skin tone lies a subtle hue of one of the following undertones:

Cool: Pink, red or blue undertones

Warm:Yellow or golden undertones

Neutral: A balance between both cool and warm

Not sure what your undertones are? Here’s how to find out:

The White Vs. Cream Test:Grab two articles of clothing (or even a towel) — one white and the other off-white. While wearing no makeup, decide which color complements your skin tone best. If it’s the pure-white shade, your undertones are warm. If the cream color suits you more, then you have cool undertones. If both flatter you just the same, you’re neutral.

 The Vein Test: Look at the veins on your wrists. If they’re green, then you have warm undertones. If your veins are blue, then you have cool undertones. Do you have both colors or do they appear to be blue-green? Then you have neutral undertones.

The Jewelry Test:If gold jewelry enhances your complexion, then you’re likely on the warmer side. If silver jewelry looks best on your skin tone, then you have cool undertones.

TIP 2: Foundation for Dark Skin

Working with your skin’s undertone will help you determine which foundation is perfect for your dark complexion. Check out our favorite foundations and pinpoint your exact shade based on your findings above. If you’re testing foundation in person at a beauty counter, start by swatching colors from your cheek to your jawline — keeping the color of your chest in mind.

With darker skin tones, faces are typically lighter than the body, so when testing colors, you want to make sure the shade matches your body as a whole. To ensure a perfect match, it’s best to test two to three shades alongside one another — wait several minutes to let the foundation warm up and mix with your complexion. Then decide which shade looks the most natural.

TIP 3: Choosing the Right Blush

Forget pale pinks and barely there blush! These shades can sometimes work for you, but dark skin tones call for deep mauve shades like a cranberry colored blush or even bright orang

Don’t let the bold colors intimidate you, as they will come off as subtle against your complexion and lend just enough color to give you a true flush. Bright fuchsia also works wonders on dark skin with warmer undertones, while tangerine will flatter cooler undertones.

TIP 4: Best Bronzer for You

Don’t let anyone tell you that you shouldn’t rock bronzer! A sun-kissed glow works for every complexion — including yours! What you want to look for is a product that will highlight and enhance your skin tone for that lit-from-within glow. Look for a neutral bronzer like IT Cosmetics Sunshine in a Compact, and apply it to your forehead, temples and upper cheekbones for an instantly warmer complexion.  

TIP 5: Eyeshadow Shades

Any rich shade will really make your eyes pop! Jewel tones like purple, bright blue, emerald green or a deep burgundy stand out against your complexion, while gold and bronze tones instantly warm your skin tone and brighten up your eyes.

Steer clear of white (or off-white/cream) and pale or frosty colors as they can give your skin an ashy or dry appearance. As for the shadow finish, opt in for soft shimmer or demi-matte — if you prefer a matte finish, go for deep neutrals like nude or chocolate (we love L’Oréal Paris Infallible Paints Metallics in Violet Luster).

TIP 6: Flattering Lipstick Colors

Just like the bright blush colors, dark skin tones can have just as much fun with lipstick! A glossy pink or violet looks fresh and spring-like, whereas abold matte lip will really make your pout stand out while berry hues instantly warm up your complexion.

Women with warmer undertones look stunning in peach, orangey-red and even chocolate brown shades. Flattering shades for ladies with cool complexions include purple, pink and reds with blue undertones.


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