Makeup Staples for Darker Skin Tones

Please note that I am not affiliated with any of the brands that I have mentioned in this post and I have and will always give my honest opinion.


About 5 years ago I started a YouTube channel with the goal to show Women of Color (WOC), like myself, how to wear makeup. Sure there were still makeup tutorials out there but 5 years ago there wasn’t much out there to help girls like myself. Since then the internet and social media has evolved and there are tons of beautiful WOC’s showing others the way. This is beautiful and was very much needed. But where do we go from here? Now that we get the concept of contouring and mastering the perfect lip, what products work best for us? I did some research and came up with a few of the top products that work well on darker skin tones.


LIPS for WOCBecause we normally complete our lips last doesn’t mean they are any less important. The lips are the most important to me, so I’ve placed them at the top of my list. Every girl must master a red lip, a pink lip, a berry lip, and a nude lip. It’s the rules 🙂 . These are the products that can help create them.


The Perfect Red Lip
MAC’s Ruby Woo Lipstick has been proven, over and over again, to look amazing on any skin tone. It’s blue-ish undertones makes it also great for darker skin tones. The color is bold, rich, and paired with NYX’s Slim Lip Pencil in Plush Red or Plum this lipstick can be perfect for you too.


The Pinkest Pout
NARS is famous for having some of the richest colors on the market. So there’s no surprise that their Audacious Lip Collection would carry Michiyo and Fanny. The perfect Pink and Berry colored lipsticks.


The Perfect Nude Lip
For years we were stuck with nudes that were too light and chalky (makeup and fashion). I remember avoiding anything nude because I know it was not made with me in mind. But now all of that has changed. The makeup world is starting to cater to darker skin tones, even in drug stores, so you can now find a darker nude that works for you. A popular product that seems to work well on dark skin tones is MAC’s Touch Lipstick. Paired with NYX Slim Lip Pencil in Brown and NYX Butter Lip Gloss in Madeleine, my nude blends perfectly with my lips.


African Queen
NYX has a great quality line of  lip glosses that can take the place of a lipstick. Their Mega Shine Lip Gloss line is very popular. The color African Queen is my personal favorite. I take it with me everywhere for a quick pick me up if I’m in a hurry. This same line also has a wonderful clear gloss, which in my opinion should be a staple in anyone’s collection.


Face for WOC


Our faces tell on us. They tell if we are not eating right, if we are stressed, if we are drinking enough water and if we know know what we are doing when we put on our makeup n the morning. So our faces are a big deal. A lot of the time I see WOC’s ignoring our faces and fail to wear the proper foundation, if they choose to wear any at all. We get confused when it comes to color because in the bottle the foundation looks too light, or the concealer isn’t the right shade, or an even more common issue, “What colors do I use for contouring if I have darker skin?”. These are all valid questions that hopefully I can answer for you all. These products are my favorites and they work well on dark shades.

Prime Time
Before your foundation and after your face moisturizer its best to use a face primer. Primer creates a base canvas for your makeup to look as flawless as it can be. If you get a good primer it can help with applying liquids and powders on your face. I have even seen primers that were created to last over 15 hours on your face! Although I have never tried that particular one it sounds pretty cool. However my favorite face primer is The Body Shop’s All-In-One Instablur Makeup Primer. It controls shine for up to 12 hours, reduces the appearance of pores, hides your blemishes, and extends your makeup wear. I tend to have oily skin so I use shine controlling skin products and try to stay away from SPF in foundations. I also recommend their Matte It and Moisturize It Skin Primers.


Foundation has to be one of the most challenging topics right after concealer (we will get to that later). Normally when we think of makeup we tend to gravitate towards the eyeshadows and the lip products. But not much attention is given to the foundation. I mean I don’t blame us, its super complicated. There’s minimal coverage vs. full coverage, SPF vs. Non-SPF, oily skin vs. dry skin, powder vs. cream vs. liquid, and then we have to choose our color.


For those who want a more natural look and have very few blemishes, minimal coverage will work well for you. If you are like me and have dark circles under the eye and a but of acne, full coverage will work best for you. Whatever you choose, make sure to use a reasonable amount. Too much foundation looks cakey.


SPF is good but not for those who have oily skin as SPF usually ads oil to the formula. The type of foundation you choose is more of a personal preference. Choose which ever is easier for you to apply. My personal preference is a liquid foundation. Two of my favorites are MAC’s Pro Longwear Foundation and Revlon ColorStay Liquid Foundation. They have full to medium coverage and they both last all day.


For foundation color, I always recommend everyone to go to a makeup counter in a department store or Sephora to see what color foundation looks best on you. Then you will have a better idea of what shades work and what do not.
Concealer is a bit more complicated because of the many shades it comes in. Light, dark, green, purple, yellow, etc. Honestly the odd color confuse me too, but I know that its best to have both a light and dark concealer and possibly one to match your skin tone for light makeup days. Concealer’s job is to cover up any color imperfections. It is also used as a highlight for under the eye, under the brow, and on the bridge of the nose. A couple of great concealers I have used are MAC’s Select Cover Up Concealer & L.A. Girl Pro Conceal HD Concealer.


Highlighting & Contouring
For highlighting and contouring I have found a few good products. It was quite difficult finding a contour color that was dark enough to contour without using black. I finally found NARS’s Matte Eyeshadow in Coconut Grove. However, If you mix a dark brown and a matte black eyeshadow you can get the same results. Those who are a little lighter can get a way with a lighter brown as a contour. Just choose a shade that looks natural on your skin.


For a Highlight under the eyebrow or possibly under the eye you can use NARS’s Highlighting Blush in Albatross. Its a practically white so a little goes a long way. You can also use a concealer that is a few shades lighter than your skin.
I look at blush as a way to give life back to your face after your foundation and contour are applied. Its always a good idea to have a pink/purple, and a gold/tan blush. The gold/tan blush will give you a more natural  sun-kissed look and the pink/purple color will give you a nice rosy cheek for a night on the town or for an everyday look. My favorite blushes are from NARS but MAC and NYX are close behind. My favorites are NARS’s Blushes in Taj Mahal, Seduction, Exhibit A, and NYX Blushes in Crimson, Electro, and Double Dare.
Eye fir WOC
Your eyes are the window to your soul! I’m sure you have heard this plenty of times before but in my experience it’s true. Your eyes can tell on you if you let them! Its always a god idea to take care of them the best you can. Once you master eye makeup you can get an A+ in my book. I see so many women of color  with non-blended eyeshadow, solid white lines under their eyebrows, or even worse … eyeshadow without eyeliner! As women of color we are judged by our appearance so it is important that we look our best.  I will explain how to tackle these in future videos and posts. For now lets work on the basics.


Lid Primer & Base
Eye lip primer is a must if you want your color to stick and stay for hours at a time. Some lid primers even stop your eyeshadow from creasing throughout the day. The primer I use is Urban Decay’s Eyeshadow Primer Potion. Another great option is Smashbox’s Photo Finish 24 Hour Shadow Primer.


An eyeshadow base is normally used on top of your normal lid primer or just by its self. I have found that bright shadowsappear closer to their true color when a light base is used. For a smokey eye a dark base works best. The popular NYX Jumbo Eye Pencils in Milk and Black Bean are what I have used for years and they last a long time.
Eyeshadow is one of those things that can be used from pretty much anywhere. In my experience there are not many eyeshadows I can’t use. With the right primer and base any color eyeshadow works well on dark skin (Don’t let anyone tell you different!). I recommend purchasing a eyeshadow palette that has every color like BHCosmetics, Coastal Scents, Sleek Makeup, or NYX Eye Shadow Palettes.


At places like MAC, NARS, NYX, Coastal Scents, and E.L.F you can make your own customized palettes. Customized palettes are a little more but if you only wear a few colors its better to have them all in one place without having to search through a large palette. Coastal Scents offers cheap palette options for customizing your own palettes. I like to have on hand a cool palette (blues, bright greens, silvers), a warm palette (pinks, reds, purples), and a neutral palette (golds, browns, olive greens, whites, blacks).
Eye Liner
Eye liner is a must have when finishing off your look. Depending on your look you can go with a dark brown or a black. There are even special color options that can be used for special occasions like bright or glitter liners. There are also different kinds o liner. There is liquid liner, gel/cream liner, and pencil liner. I generally use gel liner because its easier to control application with an angled eyeliner brush. My favorite is NYX Epic Black Mousse Liner but most gel liners work pretty well in my opinion. So just find one you love.
Brow Liner
Brow liner is important to fill in your brows to give them shape. I recommend always using a dark brown liner however never using a black liner. Even if your eye brows are naturally dark, filling them in with a black liner looks unnatural, if not ridiculous. Investing in a brow brush and a brow gel can go a long way.


Last but not least, the right mascara can make your eye lashes like 3-5x longer than normal after applying. My favorite drugstore mascara is Black Radiance’s Full Effect Mascara. Its only $4 and it makes my lashes look amazing! My other favorite is Yves Saint Laurent Mascara Volume Effect Faux Cils Shocking. FOr darker skin, black mascara always works better than brown.


Now that I have told you about my favorite products and techniques for darker skin tones, tell me about yours. Are there any products worth mentioning or tips that you would like to share? Leave them below in the comment section. Always remember that although we have darker skin we are beautiful and with the right techniques we can wear any color we want. The sky is the limit!


Please note that I am not affiliated with any of the brands that I have mentioned in this post and I have and will always give my honest opinion.

I’m a twenty-eight year old lifestyle blogger who has a passion for literally everything. There are people who have a hard time finding something they like but in my case I have a hard time finding anything I don’t like. I live in Atlanta and work as a Information Technology Solutions Architect and a freelance Web/Graphic Designer. This blog is a mix of everything that consumes my life, whether it's technology, design, fashion, current events, health and fitness, traveling and of course my everyday life.


  • Hey Diamond! Saw you in the Mattieologie periscope and didn’t know you blogged! This is a great post for WOC. Ruby Woo is a must and I love the Smashbox primer!

    • Hi Tiffany! Thanks for the feedback! Yes I just started again. I used to do it in college … then life happened lol! Oh and look out for an email from me 🙂


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