Choosing the right foundation requires a lot of trial and error; and that’s before taking dark skin tones into consideration.
For many years, the beauty industry has underserved women of color with darker skin tones, but thankfully, that has changed. Gone are the days where you have to mix two, three or even four different shades together to get a shade that matches your brown skin.
Whether you are looking for a drugstore pickup that can deal with your oily skin or a dry skin formula that doesn’t cake, this list has you covered.
Here are the best foundations for dark skin that are so good even you won’t know where the foundation ends and your skin begins.
The Best Foundations for Dark Skin Tones in 2021
1. NARS Natural Radiant Longwear Foundation
This NARS foundation has done a fantastic job producing shades for every skin tone, including neutral, red and warm undertones. Your perfect foundation shade is almost guaranteed, thanks to the formula’s specialized skin-matching technology.
It provides buildable full coverage that is breathable and fade resistant, lasting up to 16 hours. Infused with watermelon, raspberry and apple extracts, your skin is instantly smooth with a natural radiance. This is one longwear foundation that gets better as the time passes.
2. Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation
A staple within the beauty industry, it is one of the best foundations for darker skin tones because it comes in over 40 shades and uses smart adaptive pigments that adjust to your complexion. It contains hydrating hyaluronic acid and silica powders to blur imperfections. Undetectable in photos, it gives the perfect natural glow.
A longwear, medium coverage liquid foundation, it is buildable fuller coverage. Perfect for dry, combination and oily skin types, this iconic formula feels like a second skin.
3. Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation
It’s impossible to not have heard of Rhianna’s makeup brand that shook the beauty world. Brown skin of all types is in the safest hands with this oil-free formula, which prompted other beauty brands to become more inclusive of darker skin tones.
One of the best foundations for medium to full coverage, it has a matte finish that still doesn’t seem quite possible. Lighter than air, long-wearing, velvety smooth and climate adaptive, you’ll find the perfect shade and you’ll look flawless.
4. Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra Wear Foundation w/ SPF 15
Touching up makeup is not something everyone likes to do. If you typically don’t have time, or generally hate foundations that require maintenance, you’ll love this full coverage foundation.
Available in buildable shades for every dark skin tone, it maintains the skin’s pH levels so color stays put with no creasing or caking to worry about on those insanely long days.
The right shade provides a gorgeous matte finish that doesn’t dry skin out and a smooth, blemish free appearance.
5. Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick
Darker skin tones will love this award-winning stick foundation made for all skin types and available in over 40 shades.
A full coverage foundation that can be used as a contour stick or concealer, it is made with a transparent base and is calibrated to your undertone, evening out and correcting your complexion in one step.
Emollients that include shea butter and olive extract provide moisturizing skincare benefits and climate technology resists water, humidity and sweat. The semi-matte finish will look and feel like your skin.
6. Maybelline Super Stay Full Coverage Liquid Foundation
One of the best foundations for dark skin tones you can find at the drugstore, it’s a longwear formula that lasts up to 24 hours and provides a fantastic matte finish.
It is available in more than enough shades to find the perfect match and the highly pigmented formula delivers full coverage that goes on smooth and is lightweight for all day comfort. It also has some serious staying power, able to withstand nights of sweaty dancing.
7. L’Oréal Paris True Match Liquid Foundation w/ SPF 17
Let’s be real: no list is complete without this drugstore formula. Not only does it come in over 40 shades, it also consists of pure color pigments that ensure your brown skin has its true undertone match.
The oil-free formula is graciously hydrating, giving light to medium coverage and a natural finish that lasts throughout the longest day.
The Best Foundation for Dark Skin Tones Buying Guide
For women of color, picking a decent foundation for your dark skin tone can feel very similar to placing bets in a Vegas casino – winning is uncertain, expectations are higher than they realistically should be and you’re likely to lose.
As anyone with darker skin who has gone through foundation roulette will tell you, mistakes are expensive. Foundation isn’t cheap and looking back at old pictures with terrible, cakey makeup can feel much worse than the money you’ve flushed.
Thankfully, today there are many more options and much more information about finding the right foundation.
Determine your undertones
Foundation should smooth out your skin tone, not change it. To get this right, undertone is very important because it never changes.
It’s better to use foundations that have been designed on undertones; they will give you the best chance at a perfect match. Brands that use single beige tone and simply add pigment result in flat darker colors that mask darker skin tones’ natural glow.
There are three undertones: cool (pink, red and blue), warm (yellow or golden) and neutral (a blend or mix of the aforementioned colors) and three different methods that can help you figure out which undertone you have.
Look at the veins on the underside of your wrist, in natural light
Blue or purple veins indicate cool undertones; bluish green veins indicate warm undertones; the presence of purplish and bluish green indicate neutral undertones
The off-white vs white test: holding up clothing in both colors near your makeup-free face and seeing which looks better against your skin
White clothes look good next to cool undertones; off-white clothing looks best against warmer undertones and if both look good, you’ve got neutral undertones
Use silver and gold jewelry
Silver jewelry makes cool undertones look luminous; gold jewelry makes warm undertones vibrantly glow and if both look good, you’re working with neutral undertones
Find the right foundation shade
The recommended places to test foundation are your jawline or the upper part of your chest. Use whichever area gives you the most accurate results, which can vary. Just be sure to never use your hand or wrist; these areas do not work well for brown skin.
If you’ve made good choices, you’ll find a shade range: one that is slightly lighter, one that is slightly darker and one that is just right. Choose the closest match to your skin and note the other shades – they may be your match during a different season.
Testing is your friend. Try to do it in natural light as much as possible.
Be on the lookout for oxidation
It’s happened to everyone: You think you’ve found a great match, only to buy it and come home finding out that you look as orange as an Oompa Loompa. That’s oxidation and it can cause foundation to vary in color throughout the day.
Oxides used in foundations to add coverage or SPF can react with the skin’s pH levels causing it to change color. Try to wear foundation for a few hours before you declare it the best foundation for you.
No More Flat Colors for Brown Skin
There are more options for brown skin than ever before and with the best foundations for dark skin tones in your makeup bag, you’ll always look your best.
You might also be interested in these foundations for other skin types:
- Best Foundations for All Skin Types
- Best Foundation for Acne Prone Skin
- Best Foundation for Combination Skin
- Best Foundation for Dry Skin
- Best Foundation for Mature Skin
- Best Foundation for Sensitive Skin
- Best Foundation for Pale Skin
- Best Natural Foundations
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