Your Guide to Finding the Perfect Makeup for Dark Skin Tones

April 14, 2020
By: Diana Crisan | by L'Oréal
The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Makeup for Dark Skin Tones

Your dark skin tone can handle seriously pigmented colors like no other — berries, pinks, reds, purples… we could go on and on. But while you can have all the fun you want with bold lippies and bright blush, shopping for the essentials like foundation doesn’t always come quite as easily. Not to worry — we did all the work for you. Consider this your ultimate guide to finding the perfect makeup matches for your skin tone. First up, we’re sharing a step-by-step makeup tutorial you can try at home.

The Ultimate Makeup Tutorial for Darker Skin Tones

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

STEP #2: Apply a liquid foundation like the 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 included in the Urban Decay Cherry Highlight & Blush Palette. Apply it to the apples of your cheeks, nose, forehead and chin.

STEP #4: Using a product like the Maybelline New York Facestudio Master Contour Face Contouring Kit, Medium to Deep, apply a contour two 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 a bright-eyed look.

STEP #7: Using a liquid eyeliner like Maybelline Master Precise Ink Pen Eyeliner, start from the outer corner of your eye and work 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.

How to Find the Perfect Makeup Shades for Your Skin Tone

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 knowing 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 (warm) W, Suede C (cool) and Suede N (neutral). If your complexion has pink, red and blue undertones, you’re cool, if it has yellow or golden undertones, you’re warm and if it has balance of both, you’re neutral. If you’re unsure, try one of these tests 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, 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, 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, you’re likely on the warmer side. If silver jewelry looks best on your skin tone, 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. 

To ensure a perfect match, test two to three shades alongside one another and wait several minutes to let the foundation warm up and mix with your complexion..

TIP #3: Choosing the Right Blush

Dark skin tones call for deep mauve shades like a cranberry colored blush or even bright orange. Don’t let the bold colors intimidate you — they’ll look more subtle on than they appear in the pan. Bright fuchsia also works wonders on dark skin with warmer undertones, while tangerine will flatter cooler undertones.

TIP #4: The 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 or 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 a bold 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 cool complexions include purple, pink and reds with blue undertones.