If you have a wasteland of barely-used, slightly-off foundations languishing in your makeup kit, we feel your pain. Finding the perfect match is no easy task—especially if you have brown skin. “Many complexions, but especially darker skin, tend to have a few different shades within their face, so it often takes two or more foundations to make the perfect match,” says makeup artist Kim Bower who works with Danai Gurira. She recommends using one foundation that’s the same shade as most of your skin for the perimeter of your face, and then another one that’s a half tone lighter for the center.
Makeup artist Janice Kinjo, who often works with Mindy Kaling, uses up to two to three shades to give the actress a more dimensional look, One foundation can sometimes read too flat,” she says. “You want to create areas of brightness in areas that may tend to be more pigmented, like under the eyes and around the mouth.” She uses shade 173 from Makeup Forever’s HD line ($43; sephora.com) to conceal and highlight on Kaling. Then she applies shade 175 to even out and contour the area along the hairline and jaw. To keep two or three formulas from getting cakey, Kinjo says she only uses a drop per shade. Her top piece of advice? “Regardless of how many foundations you use, look for formulas with orange undertones, since yellow and white ones can read ashy on dark skin.”
If you’re more of a one foundation gal, look for a forgiving sheer formula that matches the inner planes of the face. “Matching the color in the center of the face gives your complexion a brighter, more illuminated effect overall,” says pro Nick Barose who uses Lancome’s Cushion Compact in 555 ($39; sephora.com) on Lupita Nyong’o. “The biggest mistake that most women with brown skin tend to make is that they use a shade that is too dark.”