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How To Navigate The Makeup World When You’re Dark-Skinned

So, young people of colour, you want to start wearing makeup? Well, sorry to break it to you but if you’re darker than Beyoncé you’re going to have a hard time finding a shade for you. It seems that beauty brands forget that white people aren’t the only ones that wear makeup.

Colourism and the beauty industry are pretty much best friends, seeing as we still have to remind them of the need for diversity beyond multiple shades of pale. You would think they would have gotten the message by now but evidently not.

Although many brands aren’t as diverse as they should be, there are some that actually try, like Fenty, L’Oreal, and Nars for example, unlike some *cough* Tarte Cosmetics *cough*. Who would think that three dark shades are enough?

This past summer, Too Faced Cosmetics partnered up with youtuber Jackie Aina to expand their Born This Way foundation range. Jackie Aina is outspoken about the lack of diversity in the makeup industry and continuously advocates for brands to be more inclusive

Photo via @cocoswatches on Instagram

Nyx Cosmetics joins Too Faced in brands that have reached out to black women to be more inclusive. Nyx partnered up with Youtuber Alissa Ashley to create 45 shades of their new Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Foundation Range.

Photo via

A wide shade range is nice, but I’m still baffled by the need to name the darker shades after food. I’m talking about the Cocoas, Caramels and Mochas. If you can’t be creative, just stick to numbers. And when brands are marketing their products, how are we supposed to know that you have shades for us if you don’t advertise them, Marketing 101 people!

Lack of foundation shades aren’t the only the problem in the makeup industry; bronzers for darker skinned are almost non-existent, so my tip to you is to use a warm brown eyeshadow or blush made for darker skin instead.

The Saharan Blush Palette Volume I
Photo via

If you’re a darker complexion, you probably have been told that you should stay away from bright colours, I’m telling you that’s a lie, and you can wear whatever colour you please. Whether you want to experiment with loud lipsticks, bright eyeshadows or stick to a simple nude day look, you should do whatever makes you feel good.

Looking for the right nude lipstick is a trademark dark-skinned issues as a lot of the time they end up looking ashy, I say you can buy whatever nude colour wants but always use a dark lip liner to soften the look same goes burnt oranges colours. Dark reds, purples and even blues looking amazing on dark-skin and is definitely worth trying. For nudes, I recommend Maybelline SuperStay Ink Liquid Lipstick  and as for bright Crayola’s Lip & Cheek Crayon

Courtesy of ASOS via Byrdie UK

For inspiration or you’re worried about how certain colours may look on you, you can look to darker skinned beauty bloggers such as Nyma Tang, Shaniah Bell, MonicaStyleMuse, IAmEloho, Ronkerajii to name a few

Buying complexion products, for the first time, (especially foundation) I suggest getting shade matched first otherwise you’d be walking around several shades lighter or darker than you are and that’s not cute. Also be sure of what your undertones are too, here are you’ll find tips on how to find yours.

Bring a friend with you so you can get a second opinion, and also because some of these women at the counters don’t know what they’re doing. I suggest you start off using drugstore products, as they’re far cheaper so if you do end up buying a product that you don’t like you can have peace of mind knowing that you didn’t waste too much money.

Other complexion product like translucent setting powder can be a struggle too as a lot of the time they’re not even translucent and they leave a white cast or can even be too pink, your best bet is to go for a yellow-tinted setting power such as the Beauty Bakerie Flour Powder or Revolution Luxury Banana Powder

Photo via Beauty Bakerie

Photo via Revolution Beauty

Buying in-store is easier as you have the chance you use the testers and see what works and what doesn’t, like the formula or texture. Buying online can be hit or miss, so it’s best to start off in-store.

Navigating the makeup world is hard, especially if you’re a dark-skinned POC. All I can say is have patience and hope companies screw their heads on correctly.

Photo via

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Written By

A lover of makeup and movies; I'll watch anything with aliens, robots or robot aliens; comedies, comic book movies and spy flicks too. I also dabble in social and political issues․

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