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How to Use Makeup to Look Amazing If You Have Dark Skin

23 Feb, 2021
By Andie Reeves
Thanks to the growing world of beauty influencers of a variety of skin tones, dark complexions are finally being properly catered for in the beauty world.

It can still, however, be harder to shop for and apply makeup to suit you when so many pics feature women whose skin and features don’t resemble yours at all. Here are some pro tips for dark skinned beauties looking to up their makeup game…

1. Foundation First

  • First formula, then colour. Make that your mantra, then you can’t go wrong. Look at formulas that cater for your skin type or condition – for oily skin, a mattifying, oil-absorbing foundation, for drier skins, seek out a dewier formula. If you do still shine halfway through the day, don’t reapply powder as this can look cakey. Rather pat the area with an oil-absorbing blotting paper, like the one from Palladio.
  • Next, decide on the texture: liquid, cream, stick or powder. That is personal preference, but be careful with creams and liquids if you’re oily. Make sure they say oil free or mattifying, or you will end up very shiny.
  • Lastly, find the right shade…easier said than done. Be sure to test colours from your cheek to your jawline, and not on your hand. Choose around three shades you think look right, swatch them on and let them sit on your skin for a bit. Once they’ve settled you should be able to see which one looks the most natural; the shade that melts into your skin and ‘disappears’ is the one for you.

    When testing out shades it’s best to see how they look in natural light as the artificial lighting instore can distort the colour, so always go outside for a final check before you make your choice.

    A rule of thumb for South African girls is that they tend to have a yellow undertone, so go for warm-based foundations with a golden hue, not ones with pink undertones as these will go grey on your skin. And if it turns orange (because of the oil in your skin oxidising with air) or ashy (because it has too many chalky pigments), move on. If not, buy it.
Pro Tip: If you have trouble finding the perfect shade, you may need to mix two shades to get the perfect fit.

Our product picks:
Maybelline Fit Me Foundation Matt And Poreless
Revlon Colorstay Makeup for Combination/Oily Skin. Their warm shades for darker skin tones include Toffee, Toast, Caramel, Cinnamon and Spice.
Yardley Stayfast Foundation for Combination/Oily Skin.
LA Girl Pro Matte Coverage HD Long Wear Foundation.
Black Opal True Color Pore Perfecting Liquid Foundation.

Read More. Want to Find Your Perfect Foundation? Here's What NOT to Do

2. Two-Tone Face Makeup Tip

If you have dark skin, your face is may be a few shades lighter than the rest of your body. It’s also likely that your skin tone differs across your face, so how do you get an even complexion when your jawline and forehead are a darker shade than the centre of your face? The best advice we’ve heard is to choose a foundation in a colour that matches the skin tone on the centre of your face and neck, and then blend your foundation from the middle outwards and upwards for the most even toned finish.

Another misconception is that dark skin doesn’t need bronzer, but every skin tone looks amazing with a glow! To add dimension to your foundation, go in with a copper-toned matte bronzer afterwards, applied in a ‘3’ motion on both sides of your face - temples, cheeks and jawline.

Our product picks:
Gosh Giant Sun Powder, Revlon Skinlights Prismatic Bronzer, Palladio Baked Bronzer in Caribbean Tan and Essence Sun Club Natural Glow Bronzing Powder in Warm.

3. Clever Concealing Camo

Orange-y concealers are your BFF. Hyperpigmentation, where certain areas of the face are slightly darker than others, is common in women of colour. Neutralise these areas before you put on your foundation to make for a more even finish. A colour correcting concealer with an orange or salmon tint to it works wonders as it cancels out purple tones. And if your skin tone is quite deep, you can even use a red toned colour corrector to do the same job.

Another trick you may have heard of that sounds crazy but actually works for dark shadows under your eyes, is applying a creamy orange-red lipstick. This counteracts any blue-purple tinge and is invisible once you apply your foundation and a skin toned concealer over it.

Our product picks:
For colour correcting: LA Girl Pro Concealer in Orange.
For concealing: Yardley High Definition Concealer Pen in Medium Dark or Dark and Maybelline Fit Me Concealer.

Read More. Colour Correctors Are Your New Insta-Filter When Concealers Are Not Enough

4. Face Finishing Touches

Highlighting is often over-looked as women are worried it will make them look oily. This isn’t true, however, and a little bit of highlighting can add a stunning natural glow to your face. Avoid silver or white toned highlighting products – these look unnatural and ashy on a dark skin. Instead choose warm colours – a rose gold or bronze would be best.

Translucent powder is a great way to set your make up in place for the day, but if you have a dark complexion it can give your look a slightly ashy feel. A banana translucent powder, however, is actually a yellow/golden shade that is very flattering on a warm skin tone. It can be used to set your makeup under your eyes, on the nose, forehead and chin, and under your contour (but not all over the face). If neither of these work for you, choose a powder in the exact shade as your foundation or use a setting spray.

Our product picks:
Highlighters: LA Girl Illuminate Glow Cream or for a more subtle all-over glow, try LA Girl Shimmer Spray in Rose Gold.
Powders: Black Opal True Color Soft Velvet Finish Powder in Neutral or Yardley Translucent Loose Powder are great translucent choices for dark skins. LA Girl Pro Setting Powder is available in Banana Yellow if you would like to try this option. For skin toned powders, try Revlon Colorstay Pressed Powder and Yardley Stayfast Pressed Powder.
Setting Sprays: LA Girl Pro Setting HD Matte Finish Spray or Maybelline Lasting Fix Makeup Setting Spray. Make sure you use a proper fixing spray and not a facial mist which won’t set your makeup.

5. Go Bold with Eye Colour

Women with dark skin can pull off lots of exciting shades on their eyes. Steer clear of white and pastel colours, which will wash you out, and go for jewel tones, bright pops of colour and warm golds and bronzes. If you want a beautiful natural eye, go for natural metallics like golden, coppery or bronze shades.

You could also mix two complementary shades like purple and gold. Using a four- or five-shade eye shadow palette takes the guesswork out of choosing complementary shades if you’re not sure.

Instead of using a basic black eyeliner, go for blackened shades like indigo, amethyst or forest green. Don’t forget your mascara and, most importantly, an eyelash curler to straighten out curly lashes to make them look longer (yes it does that too). Or for an extra glam touch, try false eyelashes.

Our product picks:
Eyeshadow: For a wide variety of different colourways, try LA Girl Beauty Brick Eyeshadows, or Revlon Colorstay Eyeshadow Palettes. Maybelline Nude Eyeshadow Palette in Burgundy Bar and Rimmel Magnifeyes Multi Eyeshadow Elecviolet are also good palettes for dark skinned beauties.
Eyeliners: Essence Long Lasting Eye Pencil and Revlon Colorstay Creme Gel Eye Pencil have some stunning colours you can experiment with.

Read More. Simple Insider Secrets on Exactly How to Apply Eyeshadow Right

6. Ditch the Black Brows

Because we have black hair, our brows need to be black too, right? Not really, say most top make-up artists. This look can be ageing and make your face look hard. Rather go for a two-step brow, using a medium dark brown and deep brown combo, using the darker shade at the ends of your brows so it looks more natural.

For a natural looking brow, apply a powder or pencil with small feathering motions so it looks like your eyebrow hairs, rather than a hard solid line. Soften the look even more by then brushing the brow hairs upwards and outwards with a clean spoolie.

Our product picks:
Essence Brow Powder Set, LA Girl Inspiring Brow Kit and Rimmel Brow This Way Brow Sculpting Kit in Dark Brown.

Read More. Here Are 5 Easy Steps to Shaping the Most Amazing Brows

7. The Cheek of It

Lighter skins may look best with pastel pinks and subtle flushes on the cheeks, but dark skin looks incredible with super bold hits of colour. The colours may look way-too-bright in the pan but against your skin they will just bring your face to life. Try deep mauve or bright fuchsia if you have cool undertones, and an orange-hued shade if you have warm undertones.

For a softer shimmer you could also use a bronzer which will brighten things up and give your face a warm glow. Sweep it over your cheekbones to sculpt and add definition.

Pro Tip: For a strobing effect, apply a touch of gold shadow on the top of the cheekbones and on your collarbones, where the light catches, and blend well.

Our product picks:
Revlon Powder Blush in Very Berry and Yardley Stayfast Blush in Terracotta.

Read More. How to Use Makeup to Make the Most of Your Face Shape

8. Statement Lips

The lips are another area where you should totally play around with colour. A bold fuchsia is great for summer, berry tones will warm up your face, oranges add radiance and chocolate-tones are great for every day wear.

Nude lips are pretty much always on trend. To find your best nude, ignore the shade names and just pick a colour which is two shades darker than your skin tone.

Pro Tip: Use a nude lipliner to outline your lips into a perfect shape before applying your lipstick. This will ensure you don’t have any dark lines on the edges of your lips.

Our product picks:
L’Oréal Rouge Signature Lip Colour and Revlon Ultra HD Vinyl Lipcolor for great ranges of brighter colours, Maybelline Superstay Matte Ink Crayon and Black Opal Color Splurge Lip Color Stick for their variety of shades.

TheChicNatural Makeup 101 ➟ How to Get a FLAWLESS FACE for BEGINNERS!

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