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Which shade is best for dark skin?

Finding the right makeup shades can be tricky for those with darker skin tones. With fewer options available in drugstore brands, and undertones playing a big role in finding a good color match, it can take some trial and error to discover your perfect shades. Luckily, the makeup world has been expanding its range of deeper hues, making shopping a bit easier. Here’s a guide to picking the best shades for dark skin across makeup categories.

Choosing the Right Foundation

Foundation is the basis of any makeup look, so finding the right shade match is crucial. Here are some tips for choosing a foundation for dark skin:

  • Test shades in natural lighting whenever possible.
  • Focus on undertones – does your skin have warm golden/olive undertones or cool pink/red ones?
  • Don’t be afraid to mix two shades to get your perfect match.
  • Look for formulas made specifically for darker skin, like Fenty Beauty’s Pro Filt’r line.
  • Try cream/liquid formulas, which blend better than powder ones.

Some great shade ranges for dark skin include:

  • Fenty Beauty – shades from 150 to 490
  • Lancôme – shades Suede N, Saskia N, and D ‘Ivoire N
  • MAC – shades NW43 to NW58
  • Maybelline – shades Cocoa and Caramel
  • Black Opal – shades Hazelnut, Walnut, and Ebony Brown

Choosing the Right Concealer

After foundation, concealer is essential for highlighting and concealing. For dark skin, look for the following in a concealer:

  • A shade 2-3 tones lighter than your foundation
  • A creamy thick formula that won’t look ashy or gray
  • Peachy/salmon shades to conceal dark under eyes
  • High coverage to conceal blemishes and hyperpigmentation

Some great concealer options include:

Brand Best Shades for Dark Skin
NARS Amande, Cafe
Maybelline Caramel, Chestnut
Fenty Beauty 385, 390
LA Girl Toast, Beautiful Bronze
MAC NC45, NW40, NW43

Choosing the Right Powder

Powder products like bronzer, blush, and eyeshadow should complement your skin’s undertones:

  • Warm undertones – coppery or terracotta bronzers, peach and coral blushes, gold/bronze eyeshadows
  • Cool undertones – ashier bronzers, pinky-plum blushes, silver/grey eyeshadows

Look for powders with a touch of sheen rather than shimmer or glitter. Matte powders can sometimes look chalky on darker skin. Some great options include:

Product Type Best Shades for Dark Skin
Bronzer Too Faced Chocolate Soleil, Bobbi Brown Bronzing Powder in Deep
Blush NARS Gina, Mac Raizin
Eyeshadow L’Oreal Amber Rush, Maybelline Bad to the Bronze

Choosing the Right Lip Shades

The right lip colors can make the teeth appear whiter and really flatter dark skin. Aim for these shades:

  • Browns – from soft nude to deep chocolate brown
  • Corals – try burnt orange, terra-cotta, peach
  • Reds – blue-based true reds, deep burgundies
  • Purples – rich plums, mauves, eggplants

Stay away from pastels, neons, and frosted shades. Cream or satin finishes will suit dark skin best. Great lipstick lines include:

  • Black Radiance
  • Black Up
  • Fenty Mattemoiselle Plush Matte Lipsticks
  • Sephora Collection Cream Lip Stains
  • NYX Suede Matte Lipsticks

How Lighting Affects Makeup Choices

Lighting can really impact how makeup looks on dark skin. Here’s how to pick shades based on lighting:

Lighting Situation Best Makeup Choices
Daytime/Natural Light Lighter, more neutral shades
Indoor Incandescent Light Warmer golden/bronze shades
Flash Photography Avoid shimmer, choose matte finishes
Candlelight Deeper, more pigmented shades

Test makeup looks in different lighting before going out. What looks great indoors may need adjusting for daylight.

Choosing Makeup Brands for Dark Skin

Mainstream makeup brands have really expanded their shade ranges in recent years. But you can also check out brands created specifically for women of color including:

  • Black Opal – Diverse foundation and powder shades
  • Black Radiance – Flattering lip and eye colors
  • The Lip Bar – Vegan liquid lipsticks in black-owned shades
  • Juvia’s Place – Vibrant, intensely pigmented eyeshadow palettes
  • Sacha Cosmetics – Professional theater makeup in deep tones

Makeup Tips for Dark Skin

Here are some more handy makeup tips to bring out the beauty in dark skin:

  • Use color correctors to neutralize under eye circles and discoloration
  • Contour with cool ash-toned powders to mimic shadows
  • Choose warm blushes with a hint of shimmer
  • Use highlighters with gold, coppery sheens
  • Line lips with a brown pencil before applying lipstick
  • Try sheer washes of color on eyes rather than heavy pigment
  • Define brows with a brow pencil just a shade lighter than your hair color

Celebrities Showcasing Beautiful Dark Skin Tones

For makeup shade inspiration, look no further than these gorgeous celebrities with darker skin:

Celebrity Skin Tone Best Makeup Shades
Rihanna Deep complexion with warm undertones Shimmering champagne eyeshadows, orangey nude lipsticks
Beyonce Medium-deep complexion with golden undertones Bronzed smoky eyes, peachy nude lips
Lupita Nyong’o Very dark with cool undertones Purples, deep plums, true reds
Janelle Monae Medium complexion with neutral undertones Browns, taupes, soft pinks
Tracee Ellis Ross Deep complexion with warm golden undertones Shimmery copper eyes, terra cotta lips


With so many incredible makeup options today in shades that truly complement darker skin tones, you can enhance your natural beauty and express your personal style. It may take testing out products to find your perfect colors, but with an understanding of undertones, finishes, and formulas that work best for deeper skin, you can build stunning makeup looks.

The key is to have fun with makeup and revel in your gorgeous glow. Dark skin is beautiful – use cosmetics to accentuate and celebrate its richness. With the right colors and products, your complexion can shine brighter than ever before.