Makeup Tricks for Dark Skin

by Lisa Kovalovich

Makeup Tricks for Dark Skin

Update your bag or tricks—and your makeup bag—with these new rules for women of color.


With so many new, beautiful cosmetics options for women of color, it’s time to throw out that old, dated, just-doesn’t-work-anymore makeup advice! Here, fresh takes on old dark-skinned beauty thinking from Byron Barnes, creative director of Iman Cosmetics:


Old thinking: Dark skin has red undertones; your foundation should be red, too.
Fresh take: “Nothing is further from the truth,” says Barnes. “Most dark-skinned women have yellow or golden undertones in their skin.” That means that your foundation should have those same yellow or golden undertones for the perfect match. Use foundation to cover dark spots, hyperpigmentation, and uneven tone, all common problems for women with dark skin. A new formula to try: powder foundation. “It has the ease of application of a regular powder, but can give more coverage when buffed onto the skin,” says Barnes.


Old thinking: Use super-bright blush shades of fuchsia, orange, and red.
Fresh take: Stick to neutrals. “Bright colors aren’t skin-tone friendly,” says Barnes. His favorite cheek-color trick: Use bronzer in place of blush, sweeping it over cheekbones to add definition and to sculpt. If you love your blush shade too much to let it go, top it off with bronzer to soften the look. “Your blush should blend into your complexion,” says Barnes.


Old thinking: Wear black liner and shadow on dark eyes.
Fresh take: Add color! Instead of sticking to black, go for blackened (read: deep and rich) shades of liner, such as deep navy blue or forest green. On lids, go for soft earth tones to complement your liner. “Earth tones are the most flattering to darker skin tones,” explains Barnes. Ones to try: mauve, gold, brown, gold, and pewter.


Old thinking: Use dark, matte lipsticks and liners.
Fresh take: “The newest thing is the glossy mouth,” says Barnes. To achieve this look, skip your regular liner and try Barnes’ trick: Use a brush to line your lips with a neutral shade of blush. “The blush keeps gloss in place and adds some shape,” he says. Then fill in with a high-shine gloss in a shade like bronzy brown or shimmering mauve.