4 Makeup Must-Dos For Darker Skin

People of deeper color, I'm here to walk you through the basics.
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Danielle G.
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People of deeper color, I'm here to walk you through the basics.

I’m not sure who’s been lying to women with deeper skin tones, telling them all the things they shouldn’t do with makeup, but it’s been embedded in the minds of so many that even to this day I have to hand-hold and offer prayer just to get some of us to wear red lipstick. I mean, I get it--sorta. When major cosmetics brands have foundation shades that might even be too light for Beyoncé and call it “Deep,” there’s a reasonable amount of uneasiness. But be at ease, my fellow deeper-hued ladies still fearful of this whole makeup thing, there’s so much greatness out there for you to try on that gorgeous skin of yours. And I'm here to walk you through it.

1. You Need More Than One Shade of Foundation

foundation dark skin

These are just a very few of the foundations in my stash. (I may or may not have a problem.)

Even when our skin is absent of things like dark spots, those of us with deeper skin tones are naturally two-toned--particularly we're lighter in the center of our faces and darker around the perimeter. Using just one foundation shade can have a flattening effect on the face, making it lose dimension, and who wants to be walking around all one-dimensional about the face?

The most natural looking foundation for many of us will actually be two shades to accommodate the natural differences in color on our faces. I typically wear Cover FX Total Cover Cream Foundation in shade N110. I love this because it covers dark spots so well and you can vary coverage going from natural to full while still looking like it's your skin but better. I also use the brand's N120 shade for the perimeter of my face and to contour my cheeks when I'm feeling fancy. Sadly, that shade is discontinued (and I'm still holding on to my last compact), but the Cacao shade in BECCA Cosmetics Foundations is similar. I also go the extra mile and use a concealer about two shades lighter (Cover FX Cream Concealer in N-Deep) to brighten my under-eye area and to highlight.

2. Be One With Bright-Colored Blush

illamasqua powder blusher

This is the kind of POW you should be looking for in blush. Don’t be scared--deeper skin tones can handle it.

I was a makeup artist before I embarked on my beauty writing career, and if I had a dollar for every time a client was visibly shaken when I popped out a bright-colored blush like NARS Exhibit A, I'd have enough to buy doubles of the entire Charlotte Tilbury makeup collection.

But blush is a must, ladies. Quick rule of thumb: The darker your skin, the brighter the blush. It does amazing things for brightening your complexion and completing your makeup look.

3. Find Your Nude

chanel mauvey pink lipstick

This is my current Holy Grail mauve-y pink Chanel lip combo.

So the thing about finding a great nude for your complexion is that it most likely won't be labeled as a nude. When brands do nude lip collections, often the darkest nude winds up looking like some Tyrone Biggums mess on our skin tones. Generally you want to go for some iteration of a brownish pink or brownish beige. Some of my personal faves are Make Up For Ever Rouge Artist Intense #28, Tom Ford Lipstick in Deep Mink, and Milani Cosmetics Color Statement Lipstick in Teddy Bare. And don't rule out the loveliness of mauve-y pinks as alternatives to nudes. My current lip combo obsession is Chanel Precision Lip Definer in Mordoré Nude + Chanel Rogue Allure Intense Long Wearing Lip Colour in Ambiguë + Chanel Lip Gloss Glossimer in Giggle on top.

4. Embrace Color

sleek makeup matte lipstick

Yup. Go ALL the way in with the color.

This is another common apprehension I hear from some deeper-hued beauties. I don't know who started this mess saying those with dark skin shouldn't wear color (my theory is it was some lame trying to hoard all the pretty colors for herself), but this is sooooo the opposite of true. Deeper skin was MADE to wear colorful and pigmented makeup (it's in the addendum under "What Are Little Girls Made Of"--look it up). We look beautiful in tonal coloring, and we look damn good in vibrant color. The next time someone tells you otherwise (ahem) tell 'em to kiss your Ruby Woo.

No, but seriously, the world is your oyster when it comes to makeup colors. Rock that red, pump that purple, OD on that orange. One of the easiest ways to ease yourself into a color is to try a softer formula--opt for red gloss before a full-on matte red lip or mix it with a deeper color until you get your beauty feet wet. Speaking of which, mixing colors should be so frequently done in your routine you should be able to list it as a skill on your resume.

  • I'm all for adding to this list. What are some of your makeup must-haves and must-dos for deeper skin? 
  • How many foundations do you use at once?