The Best Foundations For Dark Skin: Tried And Tested

After a model tweeted about the lack of make up options for black women at Fashion Week, we wanted to see if Leomie was experiencing #blackmodelproblems or #everdayblackgirlproblems

We Test 6 Makeup Counters To See If Leonie Anderson's Make Up Problems Apply To All Black Girls

by Tobi Oredein |
Published on

Hi. My name is Tobi, I’m 26 and I’m a virgin. No, I’m not referring to the bedroom, I’m actually talking about makeup, as I have never worn a foundation. Although, I did surrender and buy a BB cream once. So I’m definitely more of a beauty beginner than a makeup maverick, who sticks to a one, two combo of Bobbi Brown’s corrector and concealer.

However, my quest for the perfect foundation isn’t because I feel it’s time to acquire cosmetic products that would give my face a flawless finish. The truth is that Leomie Anderson’s Twitter outburst, shaming makeup artists ill-equipped to work with darker skin tones, made me think: Is Leomie’s experience a one-off? Or are makeup brands are still behind the times when it comes to catering women of colour?

So I decided to brave London’s Oxford Street and visit 10 makeup counters to see 1) Does the UK high-street offer a foundation suitable for women with dark skin and if so, 2) what is the best foundation for those with dark skin.

Unfortunately, the sales assistants of three different counters all sheepishly turned me away, when they admitted that their ranges better suited the Andrex puppy’s fur than my complexion (obvs, they didn’t say those exact words.) I should add that they were apologetic and all kindly pointed me in the direction of MAC. But when one (high-end) brand explained they had discontinued darker foundations, the sales assistant added: 'I could always fly to the States if I really want a foundation for my skin tone.' Once I picked up my jaw up from the floor, I finally found some makeup brands who had great foundation options for me when asked specifically for a 'foundation that would give me a natural glow.'



Illamasqua’s Skin Base foundation range is a winner! The makeup artist suggested the foundation in a shade 17 and not only was it was a great match, it gave my skin the natural looking glow I requested. Also, the makeup artist won brownie points when she showed me another foundation in the same range, but in a different colour. Why? She explained that if I went on holiday and got a deep tan, I would probably need the foundation in shade 18. I thought it was a great gesture, as it illustrated that Illamasqua had trained their staff to be well-equipped when serving women with my skin tone.

Charlotte Tilbury

After some discussion, the makeup artist at Charlotte Tilbury suggested I go with the brand’s Magic foundation in the Dark 10 shade, as the orange pigment of the product complimented my red undertone. She also explained that I didn’t need to apply foundation all over, as I had good skin (win!), and that foundation should only be applied to cover areas of hyperpigmentation. So I was relieved that I wouldn’t resemble a cake. However, I was left disappointed when I saw the final result. I looked way too orange and way too bright.

N0 7

The No 7 makeup artist used the brand’s Match Made device to take pictures of my skin in order to find the right foundation, which reassured me that nothing should go wrong. The device said the best foundation for my complexion is the brand’s Stay Perfect foundation in Walnut. But while I had high hopes thanks to her reassuring tone and savvy gadget, the foundation left my skin looking dull.

Estee Lauder

I loved this foundation! Once again, this brand used a nifty gadget to take pictures of my skin and the result was the Estee Lauder Double Wear foundation in the Rich Cocoa shade. Not only did the colour match my skin, it also did a great job of covering my areas of hyperpigmentation and the foundation felt super light on my face.


So before I start my Sherlock Holmes analysis of the foundation, every makeup artist I visited was given the exact same brief: 'I’m looking for a foundation that would give me a natural glow.' I personally thought this was the least natural looking foundation, but the product felt weightless on my skin. I thought my makeup artist did a great job of evening out my skin tone, but the only problem is that the colour I used was apparently the darkest in range, meaning girls with a darker complexion will miss out on this great product.

Yves Saint Laurent

Can we get a row of brown emoji praise hands for this foundation? Firstly, I would put this foundation at the top of my list because it was, in my opinion the closest match to my actual skin tone. Also, the YSL makeup artist didn’t apply much and this liquid foundation blended in like a dream. I loved the natural glow and I feel like this foundation gives the illusion that I just have great skin, as it looks like I’m wearing and nothing and best of all, it felt like I wasn’t wearing an ounce of foundation.

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Follow Tobi on Twitter : @iamtobioredein

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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