The Violet Files presents our foolproof guide to finding foundation for darker skin tones.
The key to a glowing, even complexion? Finding the perfect foundation. And when it comes to darker skin tones, it might mean finding two or three of them. As makeup artist Carola Gonzalez (who keeps Kerry Washington looking luminous) advises, women with deeper complexions often fare best when using two or more shades of foundation for different parts of the face, since dark complexions tend to be less uniform.
Also essential to acheiving foundation synergy is understanding the color that lies just beneath your skin—AKA your undertone. Below, Gonzalez, along with fellow makeup artists Autumn Moultrie, who keeps Viola Davis in fine finish, Vera Steinberg, the secret to Zoe Saldana’s radiant red carpet looks, and Christopher Miles, VIOLET GREY makeup artist, explains how to find your undertone—and in turn, a flawless foundation arsenal.
UNDERTONE, DEFINED [CUT TITLE]
The color that lies beneath the skin. (Essentially it’s the color of your veins.) You can rest assured that with your undertone in mind, foundation will emulate skin versus acting as a secondary layer. Because when not properly matched, your makeup may emerge too orange or too copper, too pink or too rosy. And while your complexion can change due to environmental elements, (a rigorous boot camp session; an afternoon at the beach) the undertone never does.
FIND YOUR TRUE HUE [CUT TITLE]
For darker complexions, you may need to use two to three colors to ensure even tone. “When applying foundation to darker skin tones make sure it has full coverage,” says Gonzalez. “Darker skin usually has various tones on different parts of their complexion and you have to be able to conceal the darker areas with a full coverage foundation.” Gonzalez also recommends testing the shade on your neck and chest since your face is usually a different shade.
WHAT’S YOUR UNDERTONE? [CUT TITLE]
If the base tone of your skin is pink, red or blue and the veins on the inside of your wrist appear blue...You have cool undertones. See below our picks for cool undertones.
If you have a mix of cool and warm undertones, and it’s difficult to tell whether the veins on your inner wrist are blue or green...You have neutral undertones. See below our picks for neutral undertones.
If the base tone of your skin is yellow or gold and the veins on the inside of your wrist look green...You have warm undertones. See below our picks for warmer undertones.
MIX & MATCH [CUT TITLE]
“With darker skin tones, it’s very important to not use one color for the entire face,” Moultrie emphasizes. “The color underneath the eyes, for example, can be different than the color on the chin.” Miles suggests using multiple shades and matching the inner part of the face with one foundation, then match the outer portion with another, blending the two together where they meet using your hands or a Beautyblender. For those with a relatively even complexions, he recommends using a corrective brightening product on the outer edge of the face in lieu of a second foundation. “The Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer is perfect because it provides extra coverage for spot treating,” notes Miles.
SKIN FOR ALL SEASONS [CUT TITLE]
Women with darker skin tones should use a different shade of face makeup when the warmer months come around, because if you don’t switch out your foundation during the summer your makeup will appear ashy. Also, Steimberg suggests prepping with skin care whether its winter or summer so that your foundation appears smoother, lighter and softer. “You can mix the foundation with a moisturizer and use less of a color so it makes it look more natural,” she adds.
The Violet Files chats with Angela Bassett about red carpet rituals and the secret to her pristine complexion.