Knowing where to start when you’re trying to find a foundation that matches your skin tone (and I mean really matches as opposed to somewhat blending in enough to look okay beneath the dim lights of your bedroom) is no easy feat. Knowing where to start when you have a dark complexion can feel even more daunting because, sad, frustrating and outdated as it might be, it’s not quite as straightforward as strolling into your local chemist and walking out with makeup that perfectly suits your warm or cool undertones.
Before you feel too disheartened though, there are more and more brands offering shades of foundation that extend beyond the token colour of ‘mocha’, you just need to know where to find them. That’s where we come in. We’ve rounded up the best makeup brands that cater to a wide range of skin tones for black women. Here’s everything you need to know in order to find your perfect match.
How to find your shade
Okay, forgive me for stating what you might already know, but I can’t emphasis enough just how important it is to test, test and then test again. I speak from very awkward experience when I say I understand how uncomfortable it can be to try on a number of foundations in the middle of Boots while hundreds of strangers are bustling about around you. But taking the time to go through a few shades, textures and brands will make you a whole lot happier than rushing out of the store with the first product you find with a ‘deep’ or ‘dark’ label on it.
Swatch a few shades along your jawline if you can and if the options are there, do take the time to try the shades that look deceptively similar because chances are, the difference will be bigger than you think once you put it on your skin. If you’ve got the time and a particular brand in mind though, it’s definitely worth making your way over to one of the make-up counters in a department store and having an artist test a few colours for you.
Undertones for dark skin
Getting to know your undertone could be the difference between glowy and ashy finish, my friends. Generally speaking, we either have a cool, warm or neutral undertone to our skin colour and there are lots of different ways to work out which category you fall into.
Most straightforwardly, you can just have a good look at your clean, make-up free face. If you can spot yellow or orange tones to your skin, you’ve got a warm undertone and if you can spot red, pink or even blue, you have a cooler undertone. Mixture of all of the above? You’re most likely a neutral. Other methods include working out what colour the veins on your wrist are (greener veins mean warm, bluer veins mean cool) and understanding whether your skin looks better with gold or silver jewellery (gold means warm, silver means cool).
Where to find the best foundation
It’s not what anyone wants to hear - especially two weeks away from pay day - but I’ve found that when trying to find a foundation that matches my skin tone as well as it should, I’m generally looking at the pricier end of the spectrum as the cheaper, drugstore brands are typically a little way behind the premium ones when it comes to having a diverse range of shades on offer.
The Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation, £40, has a great range of shades catering to a whole 21 tones that include cool and warm variations, and Lancome’s Teine Idole Ultra, £31.50, is a personal favourite for stocking 40 shades quite evenly spread across the spectrum and being one of those few that actually doesn’t budge for the best part of the day. A good powder foundation for dark skin is even more of a pain to track down as, at the moment, it’s slim pickings for shades darker than ‘tan’. If you’re a dedicated fan of the Estée Lauder Double Wear range though, you’ll love the Stay-in-Place Powder Makeup, £35.00, which currently comes in 26 shades. If you’re on a budget though, Maybelline Fit Me! Matte + Poreless Foundation, £6.99, has a really nice texture and offers 32 shades, while L’Oréal Paris True Match Foundation, £9.99, is also a great high street shout.
What about BB creams for dark skin?
In all honesty, I lost a lot of faith in finding a BB cream for my skin tone when I struggled to find much more on offer than Nars’ Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturiser, £30, and high street options are pretty much non-existent. But then I stumbled across Clinique’s Blend It Yourself Pigment Drops, £25, which lets you turn a moisteriser you already have into a BB cream. Sure, it can seem like a bit too much DIY when you’ve hit ‘snooze’ seven times and are already trying to save precious minutes first thing in the morning. But the up side is that you get to have even more control over the level of coverage and type of finish to your make-up, which isn’t yet as common place as I’d like it to be in the world of make up for black women.
Shop our edit of the best foundations for dark skin in the gallery below