4 Makeup Artists Share the Best Foundations for Darker Skin Tones

Finding makeup you love is already challenging enough, but if you add on the layer of having Black or brown skin, the task can become even more daunting. From finding the best foundation for dark skin tones to the best blush or best bronzer, searching for makeup can feel inundating. And while beauty brands like Fenty Beauty have disrupted the industry to create foundations that cater to darker skin tones, it seems that the challenge for many women now is figuring out where to start. What foundations for dark skin tones are actually worth trying in a sea of seemingly endless new products?

In search of that answer, we spoke with four professional makeup artists to get their tips for finding the best foundation for your skin tone and the foundations they actually use on clients. Ahead lies the foundation you’ve been searching for.

WHO: Lennie Billy

WHAT: Professional Makeup Artist, Content Creator 

 

How important is it to find the right foundation for your skin tone?

It’s super important and is an essential step in a makeup routine because you want for you or your client's complexion to look like that’s their natural skin.

Do you have any tips for finding the best shade to match darker skin tones? 

Yes. Definitely work on finding your right undertone, try to match your foundation with the color of your neck or chest, do not swatch it on your hands (instead, use your chest), and make sure you also know your skin type. This helps the foundation's longevity.

What’s the one foundation hack that’s changed your makeup routine? 

Have a great skin prep. Prepping your skin is fundamental. Make sure you have a clean base, apply the right products depending on what finish you’re doing, dewy or matte, and less is more. Apply your foundation little by little.

What foundation brand(s) do you swear by for darker skin tones (for clients or for yourself)? And why? 

Right now, many brands are catering to a wide range of skin colors, but my top five favorites are Juvia’s Place, Too Faced Born This Way, Fenty Beauty, MAC, and the new Rare Beauty. All of these brands have great complexion products and a pretty strong shade range for the Black community. They also have an excellent quality of products, different finishes to choose from, and are easy to work with, a plus as both a consumer and MUA.

Shop Lennie Billy’s favorite foundations for darker skin tones:
Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation

"I’m wearing Fenty Beauty’s Pro Filt'r Hydrating Longwear Foundation in my image above. Even though I have combination skin, it's one of my favorites, as it’s an excellent foundation with a beautiful dewy finish."

This Black-founded beauty brand specializes in products made for darker skin tones. 

If you’ve been looking for an oil-free foundation, this one is perfect for you.

This matte foundation lasts 24 hours and comes in 63 different shades.

Consider this a sign that you should try Selena Gomez’s new makeup line.

WHO: Camara Aunique 

WHAT: Celebrity Makeup Artist, Founder 

 

How important is it to find the right foundation for your skin tone?

 Finding the right foundation for your skin tone is super important, especially as seasons change. You want to make sure you have something that matches your winter complexion and also gives your skin a nice finish since the weather may be drier. 

Do you have any tips for finding the best shade to match darker skin tones?   

I would say see if you can order samples first. Try to get at least three colors and swipe on your lower jaw. The color that matches the most is the winner, but for women of color, we may need to mix two colors to find the perfect color.

What’s the one foundation hack that’s changed your makeup routine?  

I love to apply my foundation with my hands or a wet Beautyblender. Soak the sponge, squeeze it entirely out, and apply. 

What foundation brand(s) do you swear by for darker skin tones (for clients or for yourself)? And why?   

Right now, I swear by Black Opal foundation for my clients. Since we're on Zoom and under lights, I need a foundation that doesn’t get too oily, and the Black Opal sticks work for that. Personally, I am loving Kevyn Aucoin’s Skin Enhancer ($48). I love when skin looks effortless and supple, and it helps me achieve a light look I can wear all day.

Shop Camara Aunique’s favorite foundations for darker skin tones:
Black Opal True Color Pore Perfecting Liquid Foundation

A foundation made with darker hues in mind.

Not into liquid foundation? This stick formula is perfect for you. 

Not sure about your shade? Take Aunique's advice and test out a few foundations before committing to a full bottle.

Once you find your perfect shade, apply it like Aunique with a sponge.

WHO: Nam Vo

WHAT: Celebrity Makeup Artist 

 

How important is it to find the right foundation for your skin tone? 

I think it’s essential and also a matter of preference. Some people, like me, prefer to look a bit more tan. Some like to look lighter as long as it blends, which is important. As far as foundation selection goes, you can slide one shade darker or lighter depending on your preference. 

Do you have any tips for finding the best shade to match your skin tone?  

 Many people say they test the neck, the jawline, the forehead. I would say I like to try in the middle of my cheek because it’s not my skin’s lightest area. The forehead is usually the darkest, and under the eye is usually a little lighter. I think the cheek is a middle ground to test the foundation. I like to do it on the apple of my cheek and then blend outward. My forehead is significantly darker than the rest of my face, and sometimes, my foundation will be a little lighter than my forehead, so I always bronze my forehead and make it work toward the end. 

What’s the one foundation hack that’s changed your makeup routine?  

I don’t know if I have a hack, but when it comes to makeup, I like to do three-dimensional makeup and light from within. It’s never just flat and one tone for me. I might use one foundation, but I go in there, and I highlight and darken, so it’s like a whole thing. I highly recommend you don’t stop at a good foundation, whether that means adding bronzer, contour, highlight. I just don’t like the skin to look flat. I want to make the skin look like there’s light shining through.  

What foundation brand(s) do you swear by for darker skin tones (for clients or for yourself)? And why? 

There are a few foundations I feel are fantastic. The first that comes to mind is the Bobbi Brown Foundation Stick ($49). They’ve had the dark shades and the right dark tones for ages. Armani Luminous Silk Foundation ($64), Make Up For Ever, MAC, and of course, we can’t forget Fenty Beauty. I think those are standout companies that are great at offering diverse shade ranges.

Shop Nam Vo’s favorite foundations for darker skin tones:
Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick

In addition to matching your shade perfectly, this foundation is moisturizing.

Offered in 50 shades, this is one of the most beloved foundations. 

MAC’s popular foundation also comes in a stick form for the liquid adverse.

“I’ve noticed that working on set, a lot of African American models will have the foundation that they have on set that works for them. Time and again, Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation—in 11.5, 12, and 13—happens to be that foundation. As a makeup artist, I recommend you have those three shades in your kit.”

What’s another makeup essential Vo swears by for darker skin tones? Bobbi Brown’s Pro Face Palette ($285). She shared, “I think a makeup artist should have this in their kit, as it has so many different shades.” But if it has too many colors for you, we’d recommend investing in this simple two-tone concealer kit. 

WHO: Jessica Smalls

WHAT: Celebrity Makeup Artist 

 

How important is it to find the right foundation for your skin tone?

Find the foundation for your skin tone—it’s the most important thing! 

Do you have any tips for finding the best shade to match your skin tone?   

A great tip for finding the right shade of foundation is to match your jawline. Darker-skin women tend to be darker around our face's perimeter. Making sure the color matches your jawline is paramount for a flawless blend and application. 

What’s the one foundation hack that’s changed your makeup routine?   

One hack that changed my makeup routine was to dampen my makeup sponge with a hydrating mist and use it to smooth out any makeup that has fallen into any creases. Not only does it smooth out the creases, but it also refreshes the foundation to look as though it was just applied. 

What foundation brand(s) do you swear by for darker skin tones (for clients or for yourself)? And why?   

The one foundation that I swear by for darker skin tones is the Beautyblender Bounce Foundation ($40). They have the warm and cool undertones down pact. 

 

Shop Jessica Smalls’s favorite foundation for darker skin tones:
Beautyblender Bounce Liquid Whip Long Wear Foundation

This foundation comes in 42 different shades and is vegan and cruelty-free.

Now that you’ve found the foundation, be sure to take Smalls’s advice and try applying a hydrating mist before putting on your foundation.

Shop more foundations and makeup essentials:
Uoma Beauty Say What?! Foundation

This matte foundation is available in 51 shades. 

After you've applied your new favorite foundation, finish it off with a great setting powder

Want to invest in a high-quality makeup brush? This one is perfect for you. 

Looking for a translucent setting powder to take away the struggle of finding a shade to match your skin tone? Try this one. 

Looking for a clean-beauty foundation in your shade? Try Tarte's foundation. 

This eco-friendly reusable makeup remover is perfect for when you're ready to take off your new go-to foundation. 

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