In 2017, when Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty launched in Sephora, it sparked what folks are calling the “Fenty Effect,” which pushed many brands to expand their foundation shade ranges to be more inclusive of people with darker skin tones. While there are household name brands that have been creating these deeper shades for decades (MAC and Bobbi Brown come to mind), as more cosmetics companies have stepped their game up, the foundation options for darker skin have thankfully increased.
Some of these brands may have the options, but figuring out the perfect foundation shade is another challenge. So, we asked makeup artists for the 411 on how to make the foundation-shopping process as smooth as possible.
First things first: Start with what you know. “When shopping online for foundation, always use the foundation you currently use, or like most, as a point of reference for color when selecting shades,” says makeup artist Ashunta Sheriff. Luckily, these days, technology is on your side, as many brands offer shade-matching quizzes to help you narrow down your options based on the products you currently use.
If AI isn’t your thing (or you simply prefer in-person shopping), makeup artist Delina Medhin recommends buying multiple shades of foundation — if you can. “Especially in the pandemic, go with brands that offer samples or virtual consultations,” she says.
Consultations and quizzes aside, another shade-matching trick to keep in mind is to use your undertone as a guide. You’ve probably noticed how brands describe their foundations as cool or warm, maybe even olive, pink, or peach, to indicate the shade’s undertone. To figure out your own, Medhin offers a simple tip: look to your chest.
“If you see a yellow tone, then you are cool-toned,” she explains. “If you see more red, then you are warm-toned.” If you can’t figure it out based on the color of your chest, flip your arm over and zoom in. The back of your arm, according to Sherriff, is an obvious place to spot yellow or reddish undertones.
All of this being said, no matter what you’re searching for — whether you want a matte finish, a dewy look, or something in between — we’ve rounded up the best foundations for dark skin. Now, your foundation can be as personalized as your coffee order.
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