Here are the Best Makeup Products for Dark Skin

We love the glowy finish and shade range of MAC Studio Radiance Face and Body Radiant Sheer Foundation

In This Article

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Best Makeup Products for Dark Skin

LYS Beauty

There’s no worse feeling than looking for new makeup only to find out that they stopped formulating products after a certain skin shade — and yours didn’t make the cut. This is an unfortunate reality that people of color too often have to face, especially those with darker skin tones. I myself have gone makeup shopping and swatched products that only catered to shades that were noticeably lighter than mine, and my skin shade isn’t even the darkest you can be.

The good news: there are a lot of brands that took notice and put in the work to create products that cater to people across the spectrum of skin shades. Finding makeup that looks great and suits you is an experience that should be accessible to all colors. That’s why we were able to research and narrow down the list of makeup products for dark skin. While each product is worth the buy, our top pick goes to MAC Studio Radiance Face and Body Radiant Sheer Foundation. Its ultra light, sheer coverage will have your skin looking natural while also brightening up your complexion.

Whether you’re looking for something for the face, eyes or lips (or maybe all three), here is the best makeup for dark skin.

Best Overall: MAC Studio Radiance Face and Body Radiant Sheer Foundation

4.3
Mac Studio Radiance Face

Nordstrom

What We Love: The sheer coverage provides a natural glow that brightens up the face.

What We Don’t Love: Its hydrating formula may be too much for oily skin.

Lightweight, radiant and long lasting, this MAC Studio foundation offers so much within a single bottle. I’ve been using this foundation for the last couple of years and it’s served me extremely well. You can barely feel it on your face and it looks as if it could be second skin. A little can go a long way, meaning you don’t need to put a lot on per use to get the desired coverage and the bottle takes a while to get to the bottom. I also love how long lasting it is — put it on in the morning and it will be with you throughout the entire day — no touch ups necessary. Please note that it’s a liquid foundation with a pretty strong hydrating formula, meaning it suits those with a drier skin type or those who prefer a dewier finish.

Size: 1.7 fl oz | Shades: 30 | Wear Time: 10-12 hours

Best Splurge: Tom Ford Eye Color Quad Eyeshadow Palette

Tom Ford Eye Color Quad in Honeymoon

What We Love: There are a range of finishes within each palette to achieve versatile looks.

What We Don’t Love: The palettes are small for the price — with only four colors in each.

If you’re searching for a luxe eyeshadow palette whose quality matches its price, then look no further than Tom Ford Eye Color Quad. Each palette offers a range of finishes, from matte to sparkle, and you don’t need to use a lot of product to get full pigmentation. The shadows can also be applied both wet or dry, giving a broad range of creativity with the amount of looks you can create. With a relatively wide variety of shades to choose from, most palettes blend very well with dark skin tones. Overall it’s a great palette to invest in if you want something that can be used for both a natural beauty look or something a little more glam.

Size: 0.35 oz | Shades: 9 | Wear Time: 6-8 hours

Best Budget: BLK/OPL True Color Skin Perfecting Stick Foundation SPF 15

Black Opal True Color Skin Perfecting Foundation Stick

Walmart

What We Love: Its long wearing and provides full coverage to mask imperfections. 

What We Don’t Love: Its creamy base can cause makeup to slide off oily skin.

Black-owned beauty brand Black Opal is here to create high quality products for women of color at an affordable price. Just look at their makeup and it’s very apparent that this mission has been a successful one. Their stick foundation has a natural finish, provides full coverage, and truly masks blemishes. The foundation comes in 24 shades and is long lasting, which is ideal for an all day beauty look.

“I use [Black Opal] cream foundation sticks in every application and admire that not only are they representative of a number of shades but they are also affordable,” says Jessica Thomas, Professional Makeup Artist, Beauty Influencer and CEO of Bombshell Beauty by Jessica Thomas. “With their recent alignment with spokesmodels like Ryan Destiny, I also feel they are doing their part in the beauty industry to showcase the beauty in Black women and most importantly show to the younger generations who may not appreciate or understand how beautiful their melanin is.”

Size: 0.5 oz | Shades: 24 | Wear Time: 12-14 hours

Best Highlighter: PAT McGRATH LABS Skin Fetish: Divine Glow Highlighter

Pat Mcgrath Skin Fetish Divine Glow Highlighter

Sephora

What We Love: It's made with moisturizing properties to help nourish the face. 

What We Don’t Love: It has a high shine finish that can be a little too intense.

Smooth, reflective, and radiant, this highlighter is everything you need if you’re looking for something to achieve a glam look. If a highlighter isn’t shimmery enough, it can be a bit difficult for it to come through on darker skin tones. This botanical-oil infused product blends amazingly well with dark skin and provides a glowy radiant finish. 

Do be aware that it’s meant to be glittery; so subtle, natural looks may be harder to accomplish with this highlighter. You can try to blend it out for a softer look, but ultimately a super glowy face is the easiest look to achieve. 

Size: 0.17 oz | Shades: 4 | Wear Time: 8-10 hours

Best Foundation: NARS Sheer Glow Foundation

4
Nars Foundation

Sephora

What We Love: It’s long-lasting on all skin types.

What We Don’t Love: This is not the pick for you if you’re wanting the fullest coverage possible.  

Available in 40 shades, this foundation was truly created to be a product for all skin colors. True to its name, this NARS foundation provides a glowy and natural looking finish that will last all day. The product practically melts to the skin with a lightweight coverage and it blends extremely well. Whether you have dry or oily skin, the formula caters to multiple skin types.

“I really enjoy that [the NARS] brand messaging is never veering on the ‘inclusivity is trendy’ wave and I appreciate that personally and professionally I am able to find a shade for anyone and everyone,” says Thomas. “My absolute favorite complexion products from them are their liquid foundations. The NARS Sheer Glow Foundation will forever be a staple in my kiy because it comes in an extensive range of shades and leaves the skin moisturized and with a slight glow.”

Size: 1 oz | Shades: 40 | Wear Time: 12-14 hours

Best Bronzer: LYS Beauty No Limits Cream Bronzer and Contour Stick

Contour Stick LYS

Lys Beauty

What We Love: It’s a clean beauty product from a Black-owned brand.

What We Don’t Love: Its high pigmentation may cause you to unintentionally apply too much.

Praised for its creamy texture and smooth formula, the LYS Beauty bronzer stick delivers amazing definition and more. Not only does it work for bronzing, but it also does wonders for sculpting your face. When applying, be mindful of its high pigmentation. A little can go a long way, so no need to put on too much at once. Beyond that, it blends like a dream and adds a warm glow to your face. 

Size: 0.25 oz | Shades: 5 | Wear Time: 8-10 hours

Best Concealer: Dior Backstage Face & Body Foundation

5
Dior Backstage Face and Body Foundation

Sephora

What We Love: It’s easy to apply and doesn’t crease in fine lines.

What We Don’t Love: It dries more quickly than other concealers.

For anyone whose go-to is a no foundation look and just wants to put on some concealer and call it a day, this Dior concealer is just what you need. The creamy formula covers darkness and blemishes and blends effortlessly into the skin. With its caffeine-enriched formula, it can tone down puffiness and really brightens up the face. It also features a brush tip applicator, which can be more precise than a fingertip and softer than a sponge.

Size: 0.37 oz | Shades: 22 | Wear Time: 6-8 hours

Best Lipstick: Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Fenty Icon The Fill Semi-Matte Refillable Lipstick

Fenty Icon The Fill Semi-Matte Refillable Lipstick

Sephora

What We Love: Even with its semi-matte finish it doesn’t feel overly dry on the lips.

What We Don’t Love: It would be nice to have a larger shade selection.

Searching for a plump lip look without the high gloss finish? Then add this Fenty lipstick to your cart ASAP Though it’s a bit limited in its color selection, the shades that are provided match well with a full range of skin colors. Its bullet shape really accentuates your cupid’s bow and does well with adding volume to your lips. More than that, it's hydrating, long wearing and doesn’t easily slide off throughout the day. The product also sells refills: when you run out of your favorite shade, keep the tube and replace the bullet. Overall it captures the natural color of your lips adequately, and it’s a great product to incorporate into an everyday makeup routine.

Size: 0.134 oz | Shades: 10 | Wear Time: 6-8 hours

Best Eyeshadow: Juvia's Place The Nubian Mini Eyeshadow Palette

Juvia's Place The Nubian Mini Eyeshadow Palette

What We Love: Its high pigmentation really makes the eyes pop.

What We Don’t Love: It can have a bit of fallout when applying.

Juvia’s Place is a brand that provides range at an affordable price point,” says Professional Makeup Artist Sadè-Amour Mirabal. “You can find everything to create a full face glam using their products.”

This Juvia’s Place eyeshadow palette is perfect for an everyday look. While the color selection may be neutrals, its high pigmentation really enhances your features and makes eyes pop. The colors are also buildable and blend like a dream. You don’t need to apply too much to get the effect you want, plus it’s long wearing. There’s a mix of matte and glimmer shadows to work with and test out different looks.

Size: 0.63 oz | Shades: 1 | Wear Time: 8-10 hours

Best Blush: Rare Beauty Soft Pinch Liquid Blush

4
Rare Beauty by Selena Gomez Soft Pinch Liquid Blush

Courtesy of Rare Beauty

What We Love: The liquid formula comes in both matte and radiant finishes.

What We Don’t Love: These are highly pigmented, which can be more difficult to work with.

A makeup product that provides an instant pick-me-up for your skin is this Rare Beauty liquid blush. It's super high pigmentation makes the colors pop on the skin and that serves darker skin tones well. These are some of the most intense blushes we’ve ever tried, truly a single drop is all you need for both cheeks. Any more than that and you may have difficulty blending. That being said, when you apply the proper amount, they are easy to diffuse on the cheeks and give a natural-looking flush. Whether you go for the matte or dewy finish, both have a very smooth and silky texture that feels great on all skin types.

Size: 0.25 oz | Shades: 11 | Wear Time: 6-8 hours

What to Keep in Mind

Coverage

When it comes to makeup shopping, knowing how much coverage you are looking for can be a determining factor on what you end up buying. In simple terms, coverage is how light or heavy you want your makeup to appear. If a less is more look sounds right to you, then sheer or light coverage is the label to search for. Sheer coverage doesn’t completely cover the skin, but rather evens out a bit of redness or discoloration, almost like a filter for your skin. It’s a great option for anyone that favors a “no makeup” makeup look because it's the closest coverage level to looking like natural skin.

If you're looking for something a little heavier, but not completely covered, then try medium coverage. Of the three coverage levels, it’s the most buildable. It can conceal a few blemishes, but also still provide that natural look. Full coverage is the heaviest option meaning it completely covers the skin. Because of that it is the coverage level that cancels out all dark spots and blemishes and leaves you with a blank canvas. 

Finishes

Finishes refers to the type of texture you want left on your skin. The two main finishes to know are matte and dewy, though there are other levels that fall in between. A matte finish means one without any glow or shine and is typically preferred by those with more oily skin. Matte finishes tend to arise from formulas that are extremely absorbent and soak up natural oils. On the opposite end of the spectrum are dewy finishes which is one that makes your skin look glowy and radiant. Much like matte is for those with oily skin, dewy works well for someone with drier skin. Those formulas are all about providing moisture. Any skin type can wear any finish, but knowing how a formula will react with your natural oils may help to guide you to the best product for you. 

Your Questions, Answered

How do you shop for makeup for dark skin?

According to Mirabal, one of the best ways to shop for dark skin is to look for brands that provide wide shade selections and to swatch the product on your skin. To know how to swatch “you simply select three to four shades that you feel are closest to your skin tone and swipe a small amount of each product on your neck, chest or jawline one shade next to the other,” she explains. “Let the swatches sit for a minute and once the time has elapsed look to see which color looks closest to your actual skin. Test the shade against your face by swatching a small amount on your jawline, cheekbone, around your nose and on your forehead. If the shade looks as though it will create an even complexion from your forehead to chest then you’ve got your shade.”

There truly are products and brands out there for everyone, so don’t ever give up or feel discouraged if you keep testing products that don’t work out. Finding the right products for you can be a bit of a process, but once you finally find them it can make the experience of putting on makeup that much more enjoyable.

How do you figure out your skin undertones?

Understanding your undertones is essential in finding the right makeup for your skin. Not only do undertones help you find your best match for foundation, but it will also assist you with figuring out what lipstick colors, eyeshadow shades, and blush look best on you (yes, Black girls can wear blush!), says Mirabal.

An easy way to find your undertone is with the vein test. When you look at the veins in your wrist, what color are they? “If they’re a green-ish color, you likely have warm undertones. If your veins look blue-ish or purple you likely have cool undertones. If your veins are green-ish blue you may have neutral undertones,” Mirabal says. 

How do you search for makeup brands that cater to darker skin tones?

One of the best ways to find makeup brands that cater to your skin tone is by following makeup artists and creators that are also of that skin tone, which is exactly what professional makeup artist Zola Headley suggests. “The best way to find makeup and makeup brands that cater well to darker skin tones is to follow makeup artists and enthusiasts who are heavily invested in making dark skinned people feel seen in the beauty industry,” she says. “Usually this means they themselves are those deeper tones, or they work with many models or clients who have those skin tones. It can be so hard (or sometimes even impossible) to find the right products if you don’t do enough research, so these MUA’s shed light on the fact that those products [and brands] do exist and are tangible.”

Why Trust InStyle

Janelle Sessoms is a freelance journalist that likes to cover fashion, beauty and culture. She has more than a couple of years of experience and has bylines on sites such as StyleCaster and Making It In Manhattan. To compose this roundup of makeup products for dark skin, she reached out to professional makeup artists to get their expertise, read a multitude of product reviews and did a deep dive into a variety of brands to look into which sellers genuinely create products that cater to skin tones of all shades.

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