I often hear from bellas with deep skintones, who say they’re afraid of wearing the trendier colors of makeup. Heck, I think quite a few of us brown skinned beauties tend to play it safe when it comes to makeup. Here in Chicago I tend to see lots of golds, deep browns, and berry lips — which are all gorgeous, to be certain. But sometimes the same ol’ same ol’ gets predictable.

So my latest post for Vogue Black focused on the needs of my sisters with dark skin.

Anyone who’s been reading this blog for a while knows how much I love and admire Alek Wek, so it was a no brainer to highlight her beauty. And I reached out to phenomenal makeup artist to the stars — my friend Tia Dantzler — for tips on enhancing the natural beauty of women who share Alek’s stunning complexion.

Click here to read the whole post, where Tia recommends tinted foundation and velvety lips. And cosign what she says — “Perfectly groomed brows make you look powerful.” When my brows are in a mess, I feel less prepared to go out into the world. It’s true.

So if you’re looking for the kind of makeup Tia refers to, here are my recommendations.

Tinted moisturizer in dark shades can be hard to find. If you can’t find a shade dark enough to perfectly match you, I recommend you try a foundation by MAC, Make Up For Ever or a drugstore brand like Black Opal — which really does come in a remarkable range of shades — and mix it with your favorite moisturizer to the sheerness of coverage you desire. I really really love RX for Brown Skin‘s Ultra Gentle Moisturizer for soothing hydration, and it’s the perfect consistency to DIY tinted moisturizer. Or you can always check out Three Custom to customize your perfect skin match.

For lips, Tia recommends velvety matte, and I am majorly crushing on NARS Velvet Matte Pencil. Calliope or Marina might be close to a nude for dark skin, so you may want to consider Pop Life if you’re seeking color impact. But I definitely recommend going to your local department store and trying these colors out first before you buy — playing with my money is like playing with my emotions! Fashion Fair actually has some great lip colors in matte or creamy finishes. They’ve got LOTS of purples and purples are my favorites!

I absolutely love dark skin and a bold POW look at me eye. Recently I had the opportunity to review the makeup from Sugarpill Cosmetics, and WOW. The colors are so intense. You get great bang for your buck from the loose eyeshadows, which come in some truly unique shades. In the pot, Lumi is white, but if you put it on it’s iridescent blue with hints of green – gorgeous like the wings of a butterfly. L-O-V-E.

So those are my product picks paired with Tia’s words of wisdom. My ebony skinned bellas, let me hear from you! What are your favorite makeup brands?


amber says:
April 8, 2010, 2:43 pm
I've actually never really worn makeup simply because 1)super hard to find my shade and 2) i always feared i would look clownish and ridiculous trying on the latest shades so i mostly just focused on skin care...but lately i really want to try the new funky shades mostly with eyeshadow the single best "tip" i've had was to use a primer
CoCoDivalicious says:
April 8, 2010, 3:28 pm
Thank you so much for this article. As a dark skinned woman, I have often been afraid of makeup and the idea of looking clownish. Slowly but surely, I have been experimenting with Mac and Maybelline products. I now know I can experiment with greens, blues, different shades of pink and purple. I am still leery about venturing into the red department though... I am always searching for more tips and more information to add to my repertoire. Do you have any other suggestions?
Chandra says:
April 8, 2010, 3:34 pm
MAC products all the way, baby! I tend to keep my lips nude, but there's no color I won't try on my eyes :-)
Naeems says:
April 8, 2010, 3:44 pm
I jumped on the makeup bandwagon three weeks ago and bought Bare Minerals in medium dark along with MAC eyeshadow. I could never seem to match skin tone in the drustore so this seemed like the best option.I thought I got a pretty good deal considering everything the kit comes with. So far I like it since it doesn't look cakey under the light or even in pictures, but after reading this I wonder if I made a mistake. Any suggestions?
crystal g. says:
April 8, 2010, 5:12 pm
all the high end (except mac's eyeshadow)and drug store makeups (mac, clinique, lancome, estee lauder, bobbi brown, Nars, Revlon, black opal and many others)looked muddy on my skin. The only makeup brand that blends well with my caramel skin and my friends deep chocolate skin is 'Cover Girl Queen Collection'. I discovered it has a yellow base that works well with all deeper skin complexions. Iman says all her foundations and concealers have a yellow base. while i have never tried any of her products, if they work anything like 'Cover Girl Queen Collection' it's the next best thing.
Marley says:
April 8, 2010, 10:27 pm
H-IP, MAC, and urban decay generally are great eye shadows that I use regularly. Generally Blues and Greens are my "out-of-the box" colors. I have found that the best foundation for my complexion is the Iman foundation stick. It provides great coverage in just a few dabs. lol
warrior11209 says:
April 9, 2010, 11:45 am
Thanks for the post - I stopped wearing makeup because I could not find the right colors for my dark skin. Between your post and the comments from the 'bellas - I have a few new foundations to try. Thanks - I LUV this blog...even as an aging bella :-)
thecla says:
April 9, 2010, 12:24 pm
i agree with crystal yellow based foundations are the best
sandra says:
April 9, 2010, 1:11 pm
thanks Afrobella. Did you see the model Ajak on vogue black and what bright colors do for her face... Here is the link... http://www.vogue.it/en/vogue-black/new-faces/2010/04/ajak
Kimberly Keyosha says:
April 9, 2010, 1:37 pm
This is a great article! I have been waiting for someone to cover makeup-tips for darker skinned women. I just recently started wearing makeup, and I went with MAC. I love the MAC foundation, as well as the MAC lip gloss.
LBell says:
April 9, 2010, 11:47 pm
Thanks for looking out for us dark sistas! :)
DeeDee says:
April 11, 2010, 1:51 am
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Roxanne says:
April 11, 2010, 5:47 pm
Thanks for sharing this article. I was never much of a makeup person, but in the last year I've started to wear it more. As a dark-skinned woman I often skipped foundation b/c I could never find a foundation color that matched my skin tone. Right now I'm using Mary Kay Full-Coverage Foundation in the Bronze 808 shade. Works well for me. I also like the HiP line for bold eye colors.
nyc/caribbean ragazza says:
April 12, 2010, 7:50 am
I love Bobbi Brown and Trish McEvoy. They have great colors and the quality is outstanding. I'm trying to be a little more bold with my lipstick. I usually wear a sheerish gloss. I'm in search of a great red.
Melissa J says:
April 13, 2010, 1:03 pm
Hi Bella Hi Ladies! Please help a sister who longs to wear skirts, dresses, shorts and even a bathing suit!. My legs are so scaly and always so dry. I have tried exfoliating and i am thinking about getting a chemical peel or maybe even microdermabrasion on them PLEASE HELP i don't know what else to possibly do, I NEVER look forward to the summer because i am all ways so conscious of my legs
amin says:
April 14, 2010, 9:48 am
I’ve actually never really worn makeup simply because 1)super hard to find my shade and 2) i always feared i would look clownish and ridiculous trying on the latest shades so i mostly just focused on skin care…but lately i really want to try the new funky shades mostly with eyeshadow the single best “tip” i’ve had was to use a primer
rasil says:
April 14, 2010, 4:31 pm
I have tried almost every product on the market and find they are either too red or too light. I have been wearing Iman and I absolutely love the Cream to Powder. Fabulous shades that match my skin tone and is applied with a sponge. I use several of them in both Clay and Earth. Earth really looks best. I never look oily and simply touch up around mid-day. My colleagues always say that I look pretty and that my skin looks flawless. I am an older Afrobella, deep brown and loving every moment of it.
Martamique Ajoku says:
April 16, 2010, 11:08 am
thank you so much for this post. I am a deep chocolate brown and its very hard to find a shade. im not too big on makeup but for special occasians its nice to have a little bit on. thank you
Melissa says:
June 25, 2010, 10:00 am
To Melissa J, do you have exzema (sorry if I spelled that wrong), you might need to go to a dermatologist to get your skin looked at. In the mean time, exfoliate your body with an exfoliating body wash. Caress has one with cocoa butter and shea butter. Then moisterize your skin with a heavier moisterizer. The original keri lotion works well for me because it a little bit heavier than other body lotions, but it keeps my skin hydrated. Since you have dry skin, remoisterize during the day if you have to. You should be enjoying the summer lady! :)
Lisa says:
June 25, 2010, 10:17 am
Dark skin sisters, I think we can wear any color we want as long as it is the right shade. Do not be afraid, start of with a tinted moisterizer, lipgloss and mascara...or just lipgloss. We can wear the pinks, reds and oranges. We can wear blushes. I had problems finding the right foundation but I realized that I don't need it because I take care of my skin and people ask me all the time, "what foundation color you have on", when I don't wear any. I focused on having a good skincare regimen with good skincare products. If I decide to wear foundation, then it would be for a special occasion but most of the time in my oppinion, dark skin women do not need it. But if you are looking for a good foundation for your skin, Fashion Fair continues to have many colors for us. Clinique and Iman are good. I also like Becca cosmetics. People do not talk about Becca but to me, it carries the best colors for dark skin. It is pricey but sign up online with them to get a coupon. I know MAC is very popular but you can find a lot of dupe lip colors through NYX cosmetics and Sinful colors in the beauty supply store. Save your money and start off with the drugstore brands or get a makeover at a beauty counter for makeup tips. A good makeup artist will listen to your concerns on makeup.
melo hagan says:
October 14, 2010, 3:38 pm
yes my love becos they are beautiful i love them vry much................evene if u will allow me to love i will look after u vry well
Alline Emge says:
June 20, 2011, 5:05 pm
Have you ever thought about including a little bit more than just your articles? I mean, what you say is fundamental and everything. However think about if you added some great graphics or video clips to give your posts more, "pop"! Your content is excellent but with pics and clips, this site could undeniably be one of the best in its field. Excellent blog!
Nicholle says:
September 21, 2011, 4:03 pm
Fashion Fair is hands down the best makeup for black women. It was designed for us and by us when all of the "other" cosmetics companies shunned black women. Personally, Fashion Fair blends exceptionally well with my skin and my weird undertones. I recently rediscovered Black Opal cosmetics, and it is a wonderful line with a fabulous foundation stick. I wear the Beautiful Bronze and Hazelnut. Try the Black Opal Invisible Oil Blocking Pressed Powder if you are oily or have a oily T-zone. It is fabulous. Unfortunately, Bobbi Brown and Iman are too yellow for my skin. Forget Estee Lauder,Clinique, Origins, and all of the other lines out there who do not cater to black women. They are too light or too ashy for my skin tone. I have used MAC Studiofix in NW45, but by mid day, the powder oxidizes. Lancome has nothing for us or Chanel. None of them have us in mind. Have any of you noticed on the Home Shopping Channels that sell makeup, and they have a "Dark" shade that is supposed to look good on all black women. Like we all look alike???? The dearly departed Prescriptives was a great alternative to Fashion Fair when I wanted to try something different. Now that I have ranted and raved, Fashion Fair and Black Opal are my go to products now since PX is in cosmetic heaven. Please Estee Lauder company bring back PX.
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