Once upon a time — not too long ago, actually — beauty brands created products that marginalized and excluded women of deeper, darker skin tones. At one point, there existed only five variations of brown that required mixing different brands together to create the perfect shade. Luckily, that is slowly starting to change. Major brands have expanded their shade ranges to cater to a diverse customer base for once, and thanks to black-owned beauty companies, the concealer, foundation and creamy blush options these days are virtually endless.
Nonetheless, not all products are created equal. As a dark-skinned black woman, I am here to provide you with the best foundations for brown skin in all its wonderful, varying shades. If you are absolutely sick of mixing and matching and trying on makeup that doesn’t blend well into your skin, then this is the perfect place to start. I have tried all of these foundations, and I can say, these are the best.
Writers note: I am a deep brown with red undertones, so I look for reddish-brown shades that highlight that.
Best For All Day Wear & Combination Skin
When Rihanna unveiled her inclusive beauty line, the industry went insane. From the lightest of ivories to the deepest of browns, there is a shade (50 different ones!) available for every makeup lover. This soft matte foundation gives skin an instant boost of smooth, pore-reducing, shine-free color. Because of its climate-adaptive technology, which adjusts to the weather, it can be worn no matter the heat index or humidity outside. The best part? It is lightweight, has buildable coverage and is virtually undetectable.
Best For Oily Skin
Founded in 1999, Black Up Cosmetics is the first makeup artist brand created by Fabrice Mahabo, for women of color, but usable by all women. Formulated with sebum-regulating ingredients, this mattifying foundation helps to keep oily skin comfortable and balanced. The fluid texture provides easy stretching and medium coverage that lasts all day long despite your activity. All you will need is a dollop of this perfect product for an even complexion.
Best For All Skin Types
Drugstore favorite Black Opal celebrates the subtleties and diversity of black skin since 1994. This foundation, which started as black only, now has shades for everyone. It is an oil-free formula that helps to minimize pores for a superiorly smooth finish. It is perfect for all skin types and comes in 12 different shades. This provides light to medium coverage and has a lightweight, soft texture.
Best For Uneven Skin Tones
Since the very beginning, NARS has been known by makeup artists and skincare buffs alike as the go-to foundation and concealer brand. This sheer foundation is an essential brown-skin product. It’s ideal for evening out complexions with a natural-looking, flawless finish. It is formulated with glycerin (for all-day hydration), vitamin C (for brightening) and turmeric extract (for improved radiance). It also comes in 40 varying shades so everyone can indulge.
Best For Normal To Dry Skin Types
If you have ever had the chance to ask a makeup artist about a product always readily available in their bag, it is this. The silky finish, color payoff, and buildable coverage are just three reasons why this product is continuously hyped. But the best part about this foundation is the satin finish. If you want a foundation that provides several dark-skin tone suitable shades while also feeling like a second skin, look to this cover stick foundation.
Best For Oily, Acne-Prone Skin Types
Bobbi Brown has really stepped it up in recent years, offering new variations of must-have products and extending shades for all skin tones and types. This foundation is coveted because of the water-based formula that instantly seeps into the skin and gives it a boost. Not only is it virtually undetectable, but delivers UV protection as well. We would advise to continue using your daily sunscreen as well.
Best For All Skin Types
Created for even the most sensitive of skin types, Cover FX provides customers with antioxidant-rich ingredients and a massive shade scale for healthy, weightless full coverage in a vegan, cruelty-free, gluten-free and sulfate-free formula. This product has the clean green stamp of approval at Sephora. Their essential product is the cover drops, which can be added to any foundation, concealer or BB cream on the market for your unique, matched hue.
Best For Sensitive Skin Types
Smith & Cult has a (you guessed it) cult following for their gorgeous nail polish shades, but now they have stepped into a new arena: foundation. This blurring foundation gives skin an oil-free finish, buildable medium coverage and a-soft-to-the-touch feel that lasts all day. If you are a fan of foundation that provides you with coverage but never feels cakey, then this is your brand.
It comes in 42 different shades, from porcelain to dark chocolate and can be applied with just your fingertips. Huggers, don’t be afraid. It is also transfer-resistant! Key ingredients include Aloe vera gel (for soothing) and chlorophyll (for brightening)!
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