It’s no secret that women with darker skin tones often have trouble finding the right foundation shades. Whether it's picking out the perfect match for their skin tone or having limited shade options available in cosmetics lines, it can be tough. We got the inside scoop from the guru behind the flawless looks of Beyoncé, celebrity makeup artist Sir John, on how he nails foundation-matching his clients with dark skin.
The pro has beautified the faces of Hollywood’s hottest—including Gabrielle Union, Joan Smalls, and Iman—and he's a firm believer that having a great complexion is what women with darker skin tones need to master before anything else. “The first step is to know your undertones. Do you have a peach, orange, or olive undertone? They’re all completely different dynamics,” said Sir John. His go-to technique for women with dark skin tones to match their shade is to start by applying foundation around their hairline. “The sun naturally makes the skin warmer and deeper around the hairline. If you have a good match around your hairline and it blends seamlessly into that area, it’s going to give you a really smooth veil of color for your complexion everywhere else.”
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The application of your foundation is just as important as the shade. He loves using the Artis Oval 7 Brush ($55, net-a-porter.com) for high-definition skin.
1. Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation
Want foundation that feels like butter on your skin? This award-winning liquid is perfect for women with dark skin tones because it comes in a diverse shade range of brown shades, and when applied it creates a seamless, silky finish on the skin. A little goes a long way with this lightweight formula that’s made with Micro-Fil technology for a luminous glow.
Armani | $62
2. Tom Ford Traceless Foundation
This is one of Sir John’s absolute favorites because after applying this liquid foundation it looks like a stunning veil of second skin. “[It's] beautiful for women of color because it looks like glowing, luminous skin and it’s not heavy at all,” said Sir John. It’s highly pigmented but has a weightless feel for a balanced complexion. Make sure you moisturize and exfoliate well before applying for a vibrant finish.
Tom Ford | $80
3. Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Foundation
This foundation is a go-to for high-definition skin. It comes in a galore of over 40 shades for women with darker skin tones to choose from. Needless to say, there's a shade for nearly everyone. After correctly applying this foundation to your skin, you’ll always be camera ready. Its ingredients were developed specifically to look flawless even under the most focused lens (no retouches needed, please).
Make Up For Ever | $43
4. Dior ‘DiorSkin’ Star Studio Foundation
“Women of color have to understand that they’re not just one color everywhere; that is the biggest misconception. You want a lighter foundation and a deeper one, because you should aim for your skin to look three-dimensional. If you just take one foundation and swipe it all over, you’re taking the dimension and the character away from your face,” said Sir John. His method is to swipe a slightly lighter foundation on the high points of your cheek, middle of the forehead, chin, and across the bridge of the nose. If you want a foundation that beams on your face, look no further. This illuminating version is infused with silica beads made to capture and diffuse light. Its brightening effect evens deeper skin tones and reduces the look of dark spots in problem areas.
Dior | $50
5. NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation
The name says it all. This line of liquid foundations has beautiful deep shades and diverse undertones for women of all skin tones. It claims to make a woman’s dreams come true with staying power for up to 16 hours. After applying, you’ll achieve a full-coverage glow that still looks natural, as it is formulated with Even Tone Technology made to diminish discoloration for an even complexion.
Nars | $48
6. MAC Mineralize Moisture SPF 15 Foundation
What could be better than shea butter, minerals, vitamin E, and SPF 15 all in one? This foundation is ideal not only because of these extra bonuses but also because of the mixture of powders formulated within the foundation that creates a blurring effect for flawless coverage. The light-reflecting illusion it has will actually make you glow. Now shine on!
MAC | $36
7. Black Up Matifying Fluid Foundation
If you have combination to oily skin you need to get your hands on this matifying foundation that adds a beautiful fluid finish to your complexion. Black Up, which became available in all US Sephora stores this year, is the first Parisian makeup company that is made with specific ingredients for enhancing darker skin tones. There’s a shade for all women with dark skin tones in this line, not to mention the foundation’s mattifying effect will keep your skin looking fresh all day.
Black Up | $42
8. L’Oreal Paris Infallible Matte Foundation
This foundation is one of Sir John’s tried-and-true favorites because after applying it will feel like it’s barely there. “This is spot on for women of color. I love it because it anchors and stays grounded to the skin for a very long time,” said Sir John. The lightweight and creamy foundation might just be one of the best drugstore purchases for women with darker skin tones. Don’t worry about too many touch-ups either, the mattifying formula will literally last you from day to night with staying power of up to 24 hours.
L'Oreal Paris | $12
9. Cover FX Custom Cover Drops
This forward-thinking line of foundations is amazing for dark skin tones because it allows women to customize any of their favorite beauty products with a simple drop that transforms the formula into a personalized color. You can blend a few drops into anything that is water, oil, or silicone-based. This includes everything from serums to moisturizers.
Cover FX | $44