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15 Foundations That Will Look Beautiful on Your Dark Skin

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Photo by Lawrence Busacca / Stringer/Getty Images

Does anything make you feel happier and more complete than finding your perfect match? We aren’t talking about your dating life, but rather, the perfect foundation color to complement your skin tone—a task that seems quite impossible if you have a deeper skin tone. Trying to find the perfect shade of foundation, let alone identify the undertone colors in your complexion, sometimes feels like it requires a lab coat. And the reality is, the quest for the perfect matching shade is all that more difficult when there aren’t enough options. Let’s get real: a couple of tan and brown options just aren’t going to cut it. Women of color often had to mix a variety of shades to come up with the perfect pairing for their complexion, until Rihanna came along and changed the game with her Fenty Beauty line. She offered an array of shade ranges to take the guesswork out of matching your foundation to your skin tone—and with the success of Fenty, other beauty brands began doing the same.

While there’s still more work to be done, foundation options for dark skin have finally expanded, making it easier to find your right shade. That brings us to the importance of the undertone in your complexion. “Undertone plays a big part in selecting a foundation or any makeup product,” says Min Min Ma, celebrity makeup artist for Jane Iredale. Identify whether your complexion has cool undertones or warm undertones and then compliment it with a matching foundation shade. “As a general rule of thumb, cool undertones need a cool undertone foundation and warm undertones work better with warm foundations,” Ma says. If you need help demystifying the undertones that lurk beneath your complexion, you can also check out our trusty guide on identifying your skin’s undertone.

When it comes to trying a new foundation, Ma recommends picking out a few different shades. “Test them out around the jawline and the neckline,” Ma says, instead of the typical “back of the hand” test you usually rely on. “Look at it in the sunlight, indoor lighting and different light settings to see how the foundation shade works with your skin,” Ma says, to eliminate any surprises. Your makeup might look great in your bathroom, but you don’t want to catch a glimpse of yourself outside and be surprised by how off the coloring of your complexion is in the sunlight. “Different foundation sets differently on the skin and not to mention when it’s worn with a face powder,” Ma says. The bottom line? “Test it out a few times before committing to the foundation.”

We’ve rounded up the best foundations for deeper skin tones of all skin types, to take the guesswork out of perfecting your makeup. Read on to find your perfect match.


About the Expert:

Min Min Ma is a celebrity makeup artist that works with Jane Iredale. She’s based in Brooklyn and boasts an impressive roster of clients including Meghan Markle, Hailee Steinfeld, Julia Garner, Zosia Mamet, Troian Bellisario, and more.

BEAUTYBLENDER Bounce Liquid Whip Long Wear Foundation in 4.60 (Deep)
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BEAUTYBLENDER® Bounce Liquid Whip Long Wear Foundation

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Best for dry skin

Looking for a dewy glow? Reach for this lightweight, buildable formula that’s packed with hyaluronic acid to draw moisture into your skin and white birch extract to soothe and brighten, all while prepping your complexion for your makeup application. The long-wearing coverage can last up to 24 hours, keeping your complexion looking fresh when you need it the most. Ipsters love the “weightless” feel and the way it “mimics skin” to create a natural finish. “Thank you for including makeup shades for African-Americans! This shade is perfect and the foundation is long lasting and natural looking,” says one review.

ILLAMASQUA Skin Base Foundation in 15
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ILLAMASQUA Skin Base Foundation in 15

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Best for covering hyperpigmentation

This cult-favorite foundation offers flawless coverage that glides on to conceal redness, breakouts, and hyperpigmentation, leaving you with an even complexion and soft, smooth skin. Dark skin tones with neutral to warm undertones should reach for shade 15 for a perfect match. Ipsters love the high end feel, the way it “covered every blemish,” and the option to customize your application to offer medium coverage or full coverage, depending on the day ahead. “This foundation is great for problematic skin! Does a great job with coverage, tone and smooth appearance,” says one review. “Great coverage over red skin areas,” says another.

M·A·C Studio Fix Powder Foundation in NC50
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M·A·C COSMETICS Studio Fix Powder Foundation

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Best powder foundation

This trailblazing beauty brand was one of the first to offer inclusive shades for all skin tones and their professional-level formula doesn’t disappoint, especially if you’re on the hunt for a buildable powder foundation that won’t streak or slide all day. The beauty of using a powder foundation is that it allows you to customize the amount of coverage you need, thanks to the pigments in the formula. Simply apply with a damp beauty sponge for full coverage or opt for a fluffy foundation brush for a lighter finish. You can also focus on one area if you want to use it to contour or as a bronzer. “Awesome finish and lasts forever,” says one review. “Went on flawlessly. Full coverage that looked so natural,” says another.

HONEY JARRET Clean Cover Cushion Foundation in Tan Cocoa
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HONEY JARRET Clean Cover Cushion Foundation

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Best cushion compact foundation

If you’re looking for a convenient compact to toss in your gym bag or your beach bag look no further than this cushion foundation that’s so easy for on-the-go application. The buildable formula also serves up anti-aging and antibacterial properties, which makes it safe for all complexions, (including sensitive skin and acne-prone skin). “I really like the way it’s dispensed, the feel of it, and how smooth it looks on,” says one review. “Loving this cushion foundation! The coverage is buildable which is always a plus. It glides on smoothly and looks natural. I wore it to Downtown Disney in 90 degree weather and it stayed on! I was pleasantly surprised by this,” says another.

YENSA BEAUTY Skin on Skin BC Foundation in Tan Neutral
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YENSA BEAUTY Skin on Skin BC Foundation

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Best lightweight formula

If you want to cut down your morning skincare routine, reach for this major multitasker that serves up sunscreen and coverage in one. It works like a BB cream, CC cream, and foundation to even out skin tone, reduce redness, and smooth texture. Ipsters love the lightweight feel and the way it holds up in tough situations. “Funeral tested. Held up flawlessly,” says one review. “Great alternative to using foundation, especially during quarantine when a full makeup regimen wasn't needed,” says another.

WANDER BEAUTY Nude Illusion Liquid Foundation in Rich Deep
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WANDER BEAUTY Nude Illusion Liquid Foundation

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Best for brightening

Looking for a foundation that can do it all? Look no further than this good-for-you formula that can brighten and moisturize over time. It’s made with a potent combination of hyaluronic acid and niacinamide that work together to draw in moisture, shrink pores, and smooth fine lines, leaving you with a plump, dewy complexion. Not only does it improve the health of your skin, but it also smooths over your complexion and evens your skin tone for a flawless, glowing finish. “This is my new favorite foundation! It covers flawlessly for me & my acne prone skin. It goes on smoothly & blends really easily. I love it,” says one review. “Goes on great and makes my skin look amazing,” says another.

PÜR Love Your Selfie™ Foundation in DG6 Dark Almond
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PÜR Love Your Selfie™ Foundation

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Best to protect against blue light

If you sit in front of a computer screen all day you’re going to want to reach for this makeup-and-skincare multitasker that offers buildable coverage and protection against blue light rays that can cause premature signs of aging. It blurs out imperfections to give you selfie-worthy skin IRL, all while serving up a healthy cocktail of vitamins and minerals, (including green tea, ginseng, and vitamin B), to protect and nourish your skin. Ipsters love the long-wearing formula and the texture of the foundation. “It takes almost nothing for complete coverage that lasts not only all day but underwater, as well,” says one review. “Phenomenal coverage without feeling caked,” says another.

IT COSMETICS Bye Bye Foundation Full Coverage Moisturizer™ with SPF 50+ in Tan
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IT COSMETICS Bye Bye Foundation Full Coverage Moisturizer™ with SPF 50+

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Best foundation with SPF

Part moisturizer, part sunscreen, part makeup—this multitasking skin savior does it all. Not only does it serve up SPF 50, but the lightweight formula conceals redness, pores, dark spots, and wrinkles, leaving you with a flawless finish and keeping your skin hydrated all day. If you really want to simplify your routine, swipe it over your lids and use it as a primer before applying eyeshadow. Ipsters love the sun protection it offers and how well it stays put without creasing or transferring. “Perfect foundation for when you're going to be out in the sun for a while. High SPF for a foundation which would make someone think that the foundation is going to be oily but it's not! Apply with a damp beauty blender for a dewy look or apply with a brush for a more solid/heavy coverage. Either way, applies great and lasts all day,” says one review.

TARTE Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Full Coverage Foundation SPF 15 in Deep Honey
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TARTE™ Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Full Coverage Foundation SPF 15

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Best oil-free foundation

If you have oily skin and are prone to breakouts, this matte-finish foundation is going to become the hero in your makeup routine. Not only does it even out skin tone, but the oil-free formula employs Amazonian clay to balance your complexion and control oil production for up to 12 hours. There’s no need to blot mid-day when you’re wearing this mattifying foundation. It also serves up SPF 15 to protect against UVA and UVB rays and is vegan, cruelty-free, paraben-free, gluten-free, and phthalate-free. “Great, great product! I love the shade and the product stays on my face all day and it really is full coverage. It covered all my blemishes and left a smooth complexion,” says one review. “Ride or die. True love for oily skin,” says another.

MAKE UP FOR EVER Ultra HD Liquid Foundation In Y505
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MAKE UP FOR EVER Ultra HD Liquid Foundation

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Best for a dewy glow

If you’re looking for a your-skin-but-better finish, reach for this skin-perfecting formula that will leave you with a long-lasting, natural-looking complexion that won’t ever feel heavy or get cakey. The breathable, lightweight formula builds and blends easily so you can customize your coverage level. “I can hardly even tell when I'm wearing it, my skin just looks like better skin,” says one review. “It lasts all day and covers like you don’t have foundation on at all,” says another.

SMASHBOX COSMETICS Studio Skin 24 Hour Wear Hydrating Foundation in 4.3 Neutral
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SMASHBOX COSMETICS Studio Skin 24 Hour Wear Hydrating Foundation

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Best for combination skin

Trying to find foundation for combination skin is frustrating enough without having to find the perfect shade to match your skin tone, but luckily this high-performing foundation checks all the boxes. It’s long-wearing, transfer-proof, and delivers buildable coverage and a matte finish that lasts for up to 24 hours. The oil-free foundation is safe for oily T-zones and is made with flexible, breathable polymers to ensure it won’t settle into fine lines or pores. The result? It’s love at first swipe for anyone who deals with combination skin. “Stays put, doesn't sink into pores and lines, LOVE IT,” says one review. “My skin did not feel very oily and it usually does. This did not crease in my fine lines and lasted long,” says another.

MARC JACOBS BEAUTY Shameless Youthful-Look 24H Foundation SPF 25 in Deep Y500
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MARC JACOBS BEAUTY Shameless Youthful-Look 24H Foundation SPF 25

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Best anti-aging foundation

This long-wearing foundation offers buildable coverage that lasts up to 24 hours without settling into fine lines and wrinkles so you can bid farewell to touch-ups once and for all. Not only does it deliver flawless coverage, but it’s infused with blue daisy extract to protect against pollutants and snow mushroom to plump and moisturize your skin. It also has SPF 25 to ensure your skin is protected against sun damage, (which is the number one culprit for premature signs of aging). “The coverage and the beauty of this foundation is flawless,” says one review. “I love lightweight coverage. I have wrinkles and this product did not sink in to accentuate the wrinkles. 50 yr old skin has a love hate relationship with foundations,” says another.

CLĒ COSMETICS CCC Cream in Deep
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CLĒ COSMETICS CCC Cream

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Best for medium coverage

For those days when you don’t need full coverage, reach for this CC cream that will smooth your skin and blur out imperfections without feeling heavy. It works as skincare, foundation, and primer all in one to simplify your morning routine and leave your skin with a radiant glow, plus it has SPF protection. “Blends beautifully and has a nice medium coverage,” says one review. “Good combination as a moisturizer and base product,” says another.

PURLISSE BEAUTY Perfect Glow BB Cream SPF 30 in Deep
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PURLISSE BEAUTY Perfect Glow BB Cream SPF 30

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Best for acne-prone skin

If you’re prone to breakouts, reach for this skin-soothing BB cream that will conceal pimples and calm acne flare-ups, thanks to a potent combination of chamomile and artemisia. “Love this shade. It went on smooth, great coverage. No break-outs,” says one review. “The matte formula is perfect for my oily skin, but it's not too matte so the skin still looks natural,” adds another.

ESTÉE LAUDER Double Wear Makeup To Go Liquid Compact in Shade 5N1 Rich Ginger
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ESTÉE LAUDER Double Wear Makeup To Go Liquid Compact

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Best on-the-go foundation

Looking for a foundation that can keep up with your busy day? If you love the convenience of a stick foundation but wish it delivered more even coverage, you’re going to love this easy-to-store compact. It delivers liquid foundation-level coverage for up to 8 hours and won’t transfer onto your neckline. Bonus: You can also use it as a concealer on days when you want to simplify your routine.

While it might take a few swatches before you discover "the one," finding the right foundation, in the right shade, for your skin will transform your complexion and cut down your makeup routine.

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About the author
Katrina-Mitzeliotis-headshot
Katrina Mitzeliotis Lanza
Katrina is a freelance writer and on-air correspondent with over a decade of experience covering beauty, fashion, and entertainment. When she isn't freelancing, you can catch her on QVC or chasing after her two-year-old son.
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Article Last Updated January 29, 2021 12:00 AM