Applying makeup on dark or black skin

To flatter the beauty of chocolate, caramel or espresso skin (such lovely sweet expressions!) you have to know the specific techniques and use the right products.

Here are a few tips and tricks to get great results with black or dark skin.


If you use products for light skin or the wrong tones, you could get a greyish effect. To avoid that and to get a nice luminous effect, look for gold, orange, chocolate or copper shades. Don’t go for pinkish colours.

Your foundation formula should have a strong pigmentation. If you have an oily or combination skin, choose mattifying or oil-free formulas, in liquid, cake, stick or powder form. If your foundation is in liquid, stick or cake form, don’t forget to use powder to fix the whole look. As with your foundation, your powder should have the same shade (gold, orange, chocolate or copper). But if your skin is dry, opt for moisturizing formulas, thicker and richer.

This may surprise you, but there are « bronzing » powders for dark skins! Different from bronzers for light skins, they don’t make you look more suntanned; they give a nice bright look. You can get bright orange or yellow tones. Try: Ipanema correcting powder (illuminates dark skin) and Samara (eliminates greyish tones, gives touches of light and gets rid of redness) from Nacara (canadian brand for dark skins). Lovely complexion guaranteed!

If you have a pearly powder in a gold tone, you can apply it on the cheekbones, down the centre of the nose, under the eyebrows and on the temples.

Two foundation shades technique for black skins
Two foundation shades technique for black skins

There’s also a professional technique which is often used in photos for dark skins; you use two shades of foundation to create dark and light areas. The light zone will be created with a foundation one shade lighter than your skin. Create a light oval shape from the middle of the forehead to the base of the chin, with the eyebrows as extremities. So the exterior part of the face is made up with a darker shade, then the areas are blended. The face will look slimmer and more luminous.

Shaping the nose with darker foundation makes it look thinner
Shaping the nose with darker foundation makes it look thinner

You could also apply a darker foundation on the sides of the nose to make it appear slimmer.

Don’t forget to apply a concealer which matches your complexion. Choose one that is the same colour or just one shade lighter than your skin tone. Yellow, light caramel or orange concealers often work well. If your eyelids as well as your under-eye areas are dark too, lighten them with your concealer.


Your blush should also be highly-coloured and should not have whitish or pinkish undertones. Look for bright orange, red, fuchsia or dark brown to apply under the cheekbones.


Eye shadow colour is also important. The colour should be quite strong so that it shows up on a dark eyelid. So don’t use transparent or poor quality eye shadows. I really like M.A.C and Make-Up Forever eye shadows because their pigment is quite intense. There are also specialised companies for dark skins which offer good quality products such as Nacara, Iman, Fashion Fair, Black’up, etc.

The most flattering colours are gold, copper, orange but any colour is fine as long as you can see it. Apply a concealer or foundation on your eyelid before the eye shadow. It will look better and will last longer. If you wish to create areas of light and shade, apply a luminous colour on the brow bone or on the lid. If not, you won’t see it. Your dark shade should be a lot darker than your skin, such as black, ebony or charcoal.

To line your eyes, use black, dark blue or navy eyeliner or pencil on both upper and lower lids, right at the roots of the lashes. These colours will light up the eyes and give you a great look.
Finish with several coats of black lengthening mascara.


As with eye shadows, copper or orange tones are great with dark lips, but a nice burgundy, bright red or fuchsia (or any other colour) can be flattering depending on your complexion. If your skin tone is warm, look for a warm shade (vice versa if your skin tone is cool) so that the final result looks right. If you have very full lips and you don’t want to emphasise them, choose matt or satiny colours, in more subtle shades. You could also line your lips with a pencil just inside the lip contour to reduce the volume. If not, a nice transparent, brown or beige gloss will make you look great.

Dark skins have more variations than light skins. You may have to try several foundations and lipsticks to find the one that’s right for you. Why not ask a professional? It’s worth it if you want to look your best!

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