From celebrity-inspired trends to hacks & tricks, here’s our guide to makeup for dark skin so that you feel confident to try new makeup shades & techniques!
Hey gorgeous! Beauty is such a curious thing: one may pretend that’s its for a certain body type or skin tone, but really the truth is that beauty knows no color, size or shape. Oftentimes, when we find something, or indeed someone, beautiful, we can’t even put a finger on exactly what we like about it, or them.
Indeed, some of the people I’ve discovered who care the most about beauty are women of color. While here in India, women care more about natural skin care, home remedies and beauty without makeup, women of color in South Africa love to wear a full face of makeup even on a daily basis. They really have mastered the art of makeup for dark skin. On the other hand, the Koreans love extensive skin care and many American-African women have a 360 approach to beauty, where makeup complements fitness, personal grooming and wellness.
Pro Tips & Tricks – Makeup for Dark Skin
Makeup for dark skin tone may seem very different just by looking at it, but has more or less the same rules as that for lighter skin tones. There are definitely some tricks and hacks that you can use for dark skin especially. If you’re just starting out experimenting with makeup for dark skin tone, you’re in the right place!
Because after tons of research, talking to makeup artists and my dark skinned friends and spending years observing the makeup looks of my favorite celebs, beauty bloggers and dark skinned women I’ve met IRL, I’ve compiled a complete guide to the basics of makeup for the dark skin tone. Let’s go!
Try Bringing Out Your Features
However simple it seems, it’s one of the most important makeup tips for dark skin complexion. Dark skinned women often have prominent eyes or lips or both. And make up is the best way to enhance your most beautiful features. For light skinned girls, it’s often considered a good idea to play up either eyes or lips. But this rule goes out the window when it comes to dark skinned beauties. If you observe celebrities like Beyoncé, Naomi Campbell or Zendaya, you’ll find that their make up is often focused both on eyes and lips equally.
So there are really no bounds when it comes to experimentation. It’s totally okay to go for a smokey eye and pair it with a beautiful red lip. Or wear colored eyeshadow with a bright lipstick. If you wanna know how to apply makeup for dark skin tones, it’s a nice idea to follow these celebs on Instagram or check out their daily and red carpet makeup looks. They’ll give you so many ideas.
Skin Should Be Your Main Focus
This goes for any skin tone, but women with dark skin tone have to pay extra attention to their skin, because of your prominent features. An even base can really do wonders to help you sculpt your face and highlight your eyes and lips. Before you can begin your make up, do a proper cleanse and if required, scrub.
Try to make your skin all flawless with proper hydration. Massage it in with your fingers or too like jade rollers, to reduce any puffiness and make the face look sculpted. Then start with a makeup primer and then go on to wear your makeup.
Find the Perfect Foundation
Foundation is the most important part of makeup for dark skin. It forms the base of your makeup look and it can make or break your look. I know how hard it can be for dark skinned woman to find matching foundation. But it will be worth all the effort.
Ideally, your foundation should match your shade exactly, or not be more than one shade lighter than your face. It’s best to let your foundation match the neck so that it can even out your skin tone. Making a face look lighter than the neck is definitely not a good look.
Brands like NARS, L’Oreal, MAC, Maybelline and Fenty have a great variety of shades in foundation for dark skin. So if you’ve found your perf shade in makeup for dark skin, stay loyal! If you can’t, ask the makeup artist at the store to help you try some shades.
How to apply makeup for brown skin? Start with your primer, you can take a coin-sized amount and apply it all over the pre-moisturized face with your fingers. Then take some foundation first on the back of your hand, apply dots of it all over the face, including nose, forehead, chin, cheeks, upper-lip, temples and neck. Then use either a foundation brush or wet sponge to blend it in nicely. You can also use your fingers, but it doesn’t work well unless the foundation is liquid.
Pay Attention to the Concealer
This is the most common mistake I have seen nearly all dark skinned beauty bloggers and vloggers make. To make your make up look professional and perfect, your concealer should not be lighter than the foundation, otherwise it’ll create patches of mismatched skin under your eyes and chin. You want an even skin-tone, not white patches in the middle of your face.
Using extra light concealer just shows that one prefers a lighter skin tone, and that’s never a mark of a good makeup look. Because professional makeup for dark skin is all about enhancing your features and feeling good in your skin, not about changing it.
Finding the exact shade of concealer is very important, especially if you have pigmentation around your eyes, forehead, chin or lips. Getting the concealer right can really make dark skin look beautiful. Don’t overdo it, else it’ll give a cakey look. Just go for a light layer and blend it with a wet sponge.
Try Fun Lip Colors
Lip colors are one of the most fun things to try when it comes to makeup for brown skin tone. I’ve seen so many dark skin girls who are afraid to try bright lip colors, believing that they suit only pale skinned girls. But you won’t know what suits you unless you try! Of course, dark skinned women can rock nudes and darker lip tones like cocoa, burgundy or wine. But it’s a great idea to give colors like fuchsia, lilac or coral a try. They look beautiful on dark skin tones.
Pair bright lip colors with metallic eye shadow or matching smokey eye makeup. What suits you will really depend on your skin tone but it’s a good idea to try different things before you settle on your go-to lip color. Dark, deep 90s lip colors also look good in makeup for dark skin.
Here’s a really great tutorial by professional/celebrity makeup artist Lisa Eldridge, where she applies makeup for brown Indian skin using a bright fuchsia lipstick.
Experiment with Lighter Lip Colors
It’s a common myth that dark skinned women they have to wear lipsticks that are darker than their skin tone, in order for it to “show”. But for the last couple of years, nude shades have taken over the major beauty trends, whether it’s on runways, Instagram or on the red carpet.
Women of all skin colors can find their perfect shade of nude. Try like nudes like sand, biscuit, caramel and cream. Also try light pinks like cotton candy, powder, blush and petal pink. Pair them with shimmery eyeshadow or winged liner. Or wear a light pink or nude lip with a darker shade eyeshadow of the same color.
You can also use these shades for simple everyday makeup for dark skin, such as for work or casual outings. Just pair it with a winged liner and you’re good to go!
Colored Eyeliner & Cat-Eye
Add color to your eyes with colored eyeliner. Fun colors like turquoise, leaf green, purple and metallics make for a great colored eyeliners, especially when wearing them as statement cat-eyeliner. For parties, add some glitter. Pair these with a nude lip balm or lip gloss.
Never Skip Eyeshadow Primer
All eye-shadows look more pigmented when used over a primer or base. But using an eyeshadow primer is especially important when applying makeup for dark skin tone. This is because it’ll be difficult for eyeshadow to show on darker eyelids, unless you use primer. Primer also makes sure your eyeshadow doesn’t disappear into the crease after a few hours. So if you skip the primer, you’ll only be able to see those ugly crease lines at the end of the night.
Black Smoky Eye
Black looks great on women with dark skin tone and celebrities have proven that time and time again. Black smoky eyes not going out of fashion anytime soon and is great for parties, weddings, night out and other special occasions. It’s one of the easiest and safest trends you can try in makeup for medium dark skin.
Be sure to go for black eyeshadow to suit your eye shape. Go for smokey cat-eyeshadow if you have downturned eyes, and concentrate more on the outer edges if you have almond eyes. If you have deep-set eyes, play it up with silver or grey.
Pair your black eyeshadow with shimmery nude lip gloss or a beautiful red lip. Or you can also try chocolate or pink lipstick with it.
Brown Smoky Eyeshadow
If black makes your eyes look too small, go for brown smokey eyeshadow instead. Brown smokey eyes work perfectly on medium to dark skin tones, and there are many shades of brown to play with, like mocha, coffee, cedar, walnut, copper, etc.
Pair brown smokey eyes with warm pink lipstick for a casual look. You can also try a warm shade of brown, such as brick or chestnut. Pair with matching metallic lipstick for a party look. Or add nude lipstick & bronzer for a night-out.
Metallic colors are a great idea to bring out your beautiful features. Metallics are the secret weapon when it comes to make up for dark skin tone, be it eyeshadow, highlighter or lipstick. Go for beautiful smoky eyeshadow in shades like copper, bronze and silver.
Metallic Matching Guide:
Pair your copper eyeshadow with dark chocolatey lipstick, pink-nude, brown or caramel nude lips. Pair silver eyeshadow with pink, red or fuchsia lips. Another great idea is to go for rose gold eyeshadow and pair it with beautiful blush colored lipstick, for a rosy, feminine make up look. So breathtaking and chic!
Contour & Highlight with Foundation
Contouring is all about creating the illusion of shadows to sculpt the face and improve its shape. Find a bronzer or liquid contour makeup one shade darker than your skin tone to apply under the cheek bones, under your jawline and on the sides of your nose.
But if you have dark skin tone, you’ll want to add some foundation in a lighter shade than your skin tone to really bring out the contour. Apply it on the high points of your face, like jaw, cheekbones, forehead and center of your nose. For this, use a foundation that’s a shade or two lighter than your regular foundation.
Use the Power of Strobing
Using highlighter the right way can make your skin look really flawless. These days it’s all about the dewy skin make up or the glass skin trend. Use highlighter on all the high points of your face, where light falls naturally, to create the illusion of glowing skin. Apply it on the tip of your nose, your cupids bow and your cheekbones. You can also apply it ever so slightly on the bridge of your nose, your forehead and your chin if you prefer.
Make sure the look looks dewy, not oily. So don’t overdo it, and don’t spread it out too much. Keep the highlighting very precise and choose the right shade. Avoid going for a highlighter that’s too light for your skin tone, such as silver or white. It’s ideal to go for a highlighter in a shade something like cream or rose gold. Try it on before you buy and check it out in different types of light and from different angles.
Try Lip Gloss to Bring Attention to Your Full Lips
Dark skin women often have lovely full lips naturally. So it would be a great idea to make them the highlight of your face. Go for shimmery lip colors, metallic shades or micro-glitter. This is also a great idea for simple makeup for dark Indian skin. You can just wear lip gloss over a beautiful punch pink lip-liner. And pair it with light-coverage foundation/BB cream and winged liner just on the upper lash-line.
Blush for Dark Skin Tones
Who says dark skinned women can skip the blush? No matter your skin tone, blush is always a great idea. It’s definitely required if you’re wearing dark lipstick, otherwise your skin will look washed out. And if you’re going for no makeup makeup, wearing a touch of blush will make your skin look healthier. Go for warm tones to suit your skin. A bronze-shaded blush can bring out a sun-kissed natural look. You can also try softer hues to match your lipstick, such as rose pink, magenta or rosewood to create a machy monochromatic look.
No-Makeup-Makeup for Dark Skin
The no make up make up look is a great idea for daily wear, for casual dates, lunches, going shopping, for office or college. If you want natural looking makeup for dark skin, you have to spend more time prepping your face.
Hydrate your skin and massage it for a minute or two, so that you reduce puffiness and increase blood circulation. Use makeup primer over moisturizer to make the skin look more dewy. You can skip foundation, but just wear under-eye concealer and point concealer to cover your spots.
Add a subtle bit of highlighter to bring out your high points, such as cheekbones and brow-bones, and make your face seem naturally sculpted. Then apply black eyeshadow to the gaps between your lashes to create a darker lash-line. Finally, wear a nude lip balm either just as by itself or over a light pink shade of lip liner. Finish with the slightest hint of blush.
Monochromatic Makeup Looks
The safest way to create party looks is to wear your lipstick, eyeshadow and blush in shades of the same color. For example, pair a brick colored eyeshadow can be paired with a lipstick in darker brick-shade. And a warm-coral blush. Here are some examples.
Easy Dark Skin Makeup Step by Step
This is one of my favorite tutorials for dark/ black skin that combines the black smokey eye makeup with a simple peachy-nude lip:
So I hope you found my guide to makeup for dark skin helpful. Which type of looks do you create and which are you looking forward to creating now? Let us know by commenting below. And share your looks with me by tagging me on your Instagram pics @shilpaahujadotcom!
– Where to Contour: How to Contour & Highlight for Different Face Shapes
– Basic Makeup Essentials: Makeup Tips and Tricks Every Girl Should Know
– How to Wear Dark Lipstick Without Looking Like a Goth Queen
Shilpa Ahuja the editor-in-chief of ShilpaAhuja.com, which she founded with the goal of inspiring confidence in the modern working woman through fashion. Other than defining the direction of the magazine, she also writes about fashion & beauty trend forecasts, industry analysis, and opinions.
Shilpa’s work has been published in the University of Fashion blog and Jet Airways magazine. She is also an artist, illustrator and cartoonist. She is also the creator of Audrey O., a comic series that represents the lifestyle of millennial women. She enjoys creative writing and world travel. Her art has been exhibited at Harvard Graduate School of Design and the Aroma Hotel, Chandigarh and been published in Chandigarh Times.
Originally from Chandigarh, Shilpa also has a professional degree in architecture and has worked in interior project management. She is also the author of the book “Designing a Chinese Cultural Center in India”. Shilpa has a Masters in Design Studies degree from Harvard University. For feedback and questions, please email [email protected]