Makeup for Darker Complexions

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Modern Traditional's guide to makeup for women with dark skin.
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How to Apply Makeup for Women with Dark Skin


Foundation and Blush | Eyes | Lips | DarkComplexions.com | African Braiding


The author: Nicole LasherOne should not begin an essay on outer beauty and enhancement, without first mentioning that the most important aspect of beauty is the goodness within.  No amount of makeup will improve a constantly frowning or sneering face.  In fact, frowning, sneering, and other negative facial expressions will eventually marr your skin with wrinkles as evidence.  As you age, you will be much more beautiful with laugh lines than with frown lines.  Please keep that in mind.

Skin care is also important.  There is no magic regime that works for everyone.  You must take your individual skin type and the climate you're living in, into account.  Basically, before you put on any kind of makeup, your skin should be clean and strong.  You will also need to protect your skin from the sun and weather while you're wearing makeup.  If your foundation doesn't have it already included, you should wear sunscreen under it.
 

Foundation and Blush

In some cases, makeup itself can be protective.  Many foundations come with sunscreen, but some people prefer it plain and simple.  Either way, foundation can be a nice layer between your skin and the pollution, pollen, and other irritants outside.

You should choose a foundation that not only matches the lightness or darkness of your skin, but its undertones as well.  When people talk about whether someone has cool or warm color, or whether they are a winter or summer color, they are talking about which range of colors works best with the person's undertones, not just how dark or light brown it is.

What this means specifically for women of color is that even though almost all of us, by virtue of being brown, have some yellow in our skin color, some of us have more red or bluish undertones overriding the yellow, and some of us have a more bronze or golden undertone.  Some people even look a bit greenish in the right light.

Here is a diagram of the color range for most darker complexioned people:

Cool colored people are those whose skin color has some bluish or reddish tint.  Neutrals have both bluish to red and golden or bronze tint.  Warms have golden and yellow tint to their skin.

It would seem rather simple to match colors for us, but you all know our skin darkness and tint changes with the seasons and with age.  So it is a good idea to buy makeup for the year in winter, and then again in summer.  It is also prudent to reassess your best colors, especially of foundation, with an experienced makeup artist every few years.  What fit you at 20 may look horrible at 30.

Here are some examples of how different colors look on different skin tones:

 


More color guidance in Color Bubbles:
Click on a bubble for more information about your skin tone.
Cool Dark
Cool Dark
Cool Medium
Cool Medium
Cool Light
Cool Light
Warm Dark
Warm Dark
Warm Medium
Warm Medium
Warm Light
Warm Light
Mixed Tone
Mixed Tone

For the woman of color, it is worth the money to buy professional quality foundation.  It will save your clothes to do so, especially if you wear a scarf or headwrap.  You need color that stays where you put it as best as scientifically possible, and that won't look streaky if something rubs your face harder than usual.  The best are private label foundations that are manufactured specifically for use with models.  They withstand heat and bright lights better than most others.  They also don't alter the color of makeup that is applied on top of them as much.

One of the issues many women of color have with foundation is facial hair.  Some of our ethnicities tend to grow darker, thicker sideburns, upper lip, and chin hair at puberty.  It can be very tempting to opt for trendy methods, but our grandmothers knew best when it came to this.  The best methods to preserve our skin are still threading and tweezing.  Today, there are epilators for facial hair that are basically like mechanical threaders or tweezers.  Never wax your face.  It stretches the skin beyond its natural tolerance, and breaks blood vessels.

Foundation should be applied with a moist (not wet) natural sponge or with the fingers, over the whole face including the lips.  It is better to use too little than too much, so make a few dots of it on your skin and spread it around.  If this is not enough, add a little more, until you have an even layer but not streaks.

If you accidentally use too much, gently wipe it with a clean tissue, and then spread what is left with your fingers or sponge.

A totally translucent powder should be used over or instead of foundation.  Apply this with a "kabuki" or large puffy brush.

Many women of color don't really need blush to highlight our facial contours, but if you do, then take the whole face, not just the cheeks into account.  Step back and look in the mirror.  Wherever you need highlights, be it on the cheeks, forehead, and/or the chin, give them a light brush, and blend it in.  Unless you want a stark effect, the blush should seem a part of your skin color.  Some people opt for a light glitter or shimmer powder instead of blush, because this is what actually gives the effect most women of color are looking for in a blush.
 
 


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