Skin with naturally higher amounts of melanin has long been considered the healthiest looking skin. Not only is it more resistant to the harmful effects of sun exposure, but it often has a good amount of natural moisture that prevents faster ageing.
It’s worth mentioning, too, that when it comes to makeup, darker-skinned women can do with less most of the time. Darker skin does not need a lot of makeup, especially to get colours to pop.
Deeper skin tones provide a gorgeous base for hues to look vibrant, especially with jewel and metallic tones. So, there’s always a better colour pay-off with makeup when you have darker skin. This is one of the reasons why a lot of naturally fair women like to get a tan first just to get more playful with makeup.
However, having darker skin presents a few makeup challenges, as well — it’s not a perfect world, after all. First off, there’s discolouration. Typically, those with a much deeper skin tone can have discolouration under the eyes and around the mouth. Also, those who shave, do not get enough sleep, and are going through hormonal changes are candidates for discolouration.
Secondly, some dark-skinned women deal with a textural problem due to their skin’s excessive production of sebum. At times, it’s not big acne formations but small bumps or oil seeds that just prevent skin from looking flawless.
Thirdly, a prominent complaint of dark-skinned women is how a lot of the biggest makeup houses do not carry their specific concealer and foundation colour. But, this is slowly changing. It’s not just the exclusive professional makeup lines that have all-inclusive ranges now. Mainstream brands (albeit, luxury) are adding more shades to cater to women of colour adequately.
And lastly, it can be a struggle to strike a balance when working with colour. Those who are new at makeup tend to find bright colours intimidating, while some colours can look too dark due to the deeper skin tone.
Not knowing how to balance these colours out creates what people of colour (POC) call unintentionally ethnic or retro-heavy looks. Thus, they are driven to limit the use of their colour palettes to neutral hues.
Fortunately, all such makeup issues have solutions. Listed below are professional makeup artist tips to effectively outwork these problems, as well as ensure that makeup on dark skin looks great.
Even dark skin can have different undertones. Here’s an easy trick to determining if you have a yellow, red, or combination undertone: If you look better with gold jewellery, your undertone is most probably yellow.
If silver jewellery looks better against your skin, you definitely have a red undertone. And if both metals look good on you, you have neutral or combination undertone.
Once you know what your undertone is, it will be so much easier to choose your concealer and foundation because the reality is that dark is never just dark with makeup.
If your beautiful dark skin has milia or oilseeds, start exfoliating every day. Do not use chemical exfoliants, though; instead, opt for gentle scrubs like Dermalogica’s Charcoal Scrub or Charcoal Masque, which detoxifies the skin, ridding it of sebum and other impurities. Not only that, but these two products also lightly scrub away dull, dry, and dead skin that traps oil in the pores.
Over time, you will see fewer bumps on your skin and other textural issues because your other skincare products are allowed to really penetrate the skin instead of just sitting on top of dead skin. Plus, with smoother, healthier-looking skin, makeup will apply better and look much more beautiful.
Facial hair on dark skin can cast a shadow, so for a flawless application of makeup, it’s better to work with a hairless canvas. But, to avoid discolouration, opt-out of shaving. It’s better to wax since most wax hair removal systems these days come with nourishing ingredients to protect delicate skin.
However, the best option is electrolysis, which is the only permanent hair removal system that works on all skin and hair colours. Not only does this get rid of hair permanently, but it also does not cause any skin problems such as discolouration and scarring.
Quite often, highlighted skin with a lot of melanin can look forced. So, to give it a more natural glow from within look, apply a cream highlighter after primer and before foundation.
But where do you put the highlight? Start from the top of your cheekbone, then dab it onto your temple (either using your finger or a flat highlighter brush), and extend it above your eyebrows. According to an editorial freelance makeup artist in Dubai, this makes highlighting less tricky, especially for women with textured skin.
Moisture is rarely a problem for people with deep skin. Thus, it’s better to avoid oil-based foundation and concealer, which can break down quickly when applied to moist skin. Born This Way foundations and concealers by Too Faced have fantastic formulas. They are lightweight, oil-free and long-wearing, and contain hyaluronic acid to keep skin looking healthy.
Using a lightweight formula can keep your base from looking cakey after a while. Plus, it spreads and diffuses the product more efficiently. This is a big plus for people who do not really have skin problems to conceal and just need a smooth and polished finish.
To create a skin-like finish, use both a stippling brush and makeup sponge. The stippling brush will stipple and buff in the foundation beautifully to conceal pores and texture problems.
Meanwhile, the sponge will spread the product further, sheer it out, and create a natural skin-like finish.
It’s always a smart decision to support those products that people who truly understand you have made. So, if you belong to a particular ethnicity — say, you’re of Indian descent, finding the perfect match of foundations and concealers will be easier with brands that know your skin type and tone.
For instance, with Tom Ford’s Traceless Foundation Stick, he got women of colour to work with him to create an excellent range of shades. Fenty is another high-end brand that boasts a large variety of colours that you can combine if you find yourself in-between shades.
If you want your contour to look more seamless, make sure to blend your contour first before your brightening concealer. This technique removes harsh lines and creates a lovely transition of colour.
More importantly, with this makeup application method, the face will look sculpted, yet everything looks soft and not drawn on.
For eyeshadows to stay true to their colour on the pan, make sure to prime the eyes properly. A flesh-tone concealer will do the trick. It will make the colours pop and ensure longevity.
Also, to get the best colour pay-off with just a little eyeshadow powder or cream, stamp the product with a flat brush. The flat brush will pick up enough colour and lay it on your eyelids better. A fluffy brush will feather out the edges for a gradient effect.
If you want your lipsticks to stay true to their colour, apply the foundation to your lips, too. This technique will make any lip colour pop — even those that are not often as opaque when applied.
Also, if you want to increase the longevity of your creamy lipstick, this application method works for the same purpose.
And, do not forget to achieve seamlessness with a sweep of setting powder. Do not bother with baking, though. Just get a large fluffy brush to set the face with powder. Doing this will make everything look more blended
So there — all the essentials in ensuring makeup look fantastic on darker skin. These are just a few technical tweaks that can make a significant difference in both the process and result.
Toni Malt is the Middle East’s leading international editorial makeup artist and the woman behind the highly anticipated Toni Malt Makeup Academy in the heart of Dubai, now training the next generation of key makeup artists. From minimalistic looks to freestyle artistic creations, Toni’s creative work has been published in top international fashion magazines around the world including VOGUE, ELLE, L’Officiel, Marie Claire, Harper’s BAZAAR, Grazia and Cosmopolitan.