The Best Foundations for Dark Skin Tones, According to Beyoncé’s Makeup Artist
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.”
VIDEO: Watch an InStyle Editor Put Dark Foundations to the Test
The application of your foundation is just as important as the shade. He loves using the Artis Oval 7 Brush ($68, revolve.com) for high-definition skin.
Keep scrolling for Sir John's nine favorite foundations for dark skin tones.
Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation
Want a 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 range of brown shades, and when applied, creates a seamless, silky finish on the skin.
Tom Ford Traceless Foundation
This is one of Sir John’s absolute favorites because it has a finish that 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,” he says. It’s highly pigmented but has a weightless feel. Make sure you moisturize and exfoliate well before applying for a vibrant finish.
Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Foundation
This foundation is a go-to for high-def skin. Its was developed specifically to look flawless even under the most focused lens (no retouches needed, please), and comes in over 40 shades. Needless to say, there's one for nearly everyone.
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,” says Sir John. His method is to swipe a slightly lighter foundation on the high points of the 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 to capture and diffuse light. Its brightening effect evens deeper skin tones and reduces the look of dark spots in problem areas.
NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation
The name says it all: This line of liquid foundations has beautiful, deep shades and undertones for women of all skin tones, and offers staying power for up to 16 hours.
MAC Mineralize Moisture SPF 15 Foundation
What could be better than shea butter, minerals, vitamin E, and SPF 15—all in one? In addition to those benefits, this foundation is formulated to create a blurring effect for flawless coverage.
Black Up Matifying Fluid Foundation
If you have combination to oily skin, you need to get your hands on this matifying foundation. Black Up is the first Parisian makeup company made with specific ingredients for enhancing darker skin tones. Its matifying effect will keep skin looking fresh all day.
L’Oreal Paris Infallible Pro-Matte Foundation
This foundation is one of Sir John’s tried-and-true favorites because once it's on, it feels 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,” he says. 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 matifying formula has staying power of up to 24 hours.
Cover FX Custom Cover Drops
This innovative line of foundations is amazing for dark skin tones. It allows women to customize 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.