Covering Bases: My Foundation Stash + Equivalents for NW45/47 Skin

foundations for dark skin

But anyway, I was looking at my stash the other day (just realized I forgot to include my Tom Ford Traceless Stick Foundation, but I don’t put it into rotation much because TOM FORD himself autographed it for me) and figured it’d make for a nice post to share my indulgence in hopes of it helping someone looking for foundation for dark skin with the same coloring as me OR perhaps there are other foundation junkies like me of all shades and this post finds them solace. Most of these I’ve already reviewed on the blog, so if you want more info click on the pink hyperlinks :)

For reference, my skin is dark brown with neutral undertones which sometimes works out to be an NW45/47 in MAC foundations which I don’t wear really but that’s the standard in internet beauty speak. ***Make sure you check out Dark MAC Foundation Swatches and Why MAC Isn’t a Foundation Guide*** SOMETIMES I can wear a foundation that leans a little bit away from being neutral, but it depends on the formula—as you can see from the swatches some of these look different, but they all wind up matching me. I also sometimes need to mix in a deeper foundation or use a deeper shade in the summer depending on how dark I get.

Read why you CAN’T use MAC as a foundation guide



I go through phases with foundation as I do with most of my makeup where I use some stuff all the time and then switch when I find something new. I recently did a huge purge before the holidays so I could see everything better and use more of my stash and buy less. I also have to change foundations as the seasons here in NYC change—although sometimes I have to play it day by day because it can be super cold one day and then mild the next.

Also I don’t tend to buy/use drugstore foundation often because not being able to open things up before I buy drives me NUTS but I have reviewed a ton—just check out my drugstore makeup tag.

Anyway, onto the loot…

Cover FX Total Cover Cream Foundations in N100, N110, N120 (I’ll tell you how I use these below)



Diorskin Nude #70
Dolce & Gabbana Perfect Matte #170
Make Up For Ever HD 178
Clinique Perfectly Real 48(P)


BECCA Radiant Skin in Mink (this is more my match but if I tan a bit, I’ll mix a bit of Mahogany in it)
BECCA Matte Skin Shine Proof Mahogany (it’s common for different formulas within a brand to not have exact shade matches—this happens also in Laura Mercier’s Tinted Moisturizer in the regular and oil-free version)
Make Up For Ever Face & Body 46



Armani Maestro #11.5 & 12 (I use 11.5 on its own in the winter, but in the summer I mix a little 12 in it)
Koh Gen Do Moisture Foundation 303
Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer (I use 12 to highlight and 16 to contour)




Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Ultra Definition Liquid Makeup in Shade 12 (I sometimes use Shade 11 to slightly highlight under my eyes and the center of my forehead)

8/18/14: edited to add Cover FX Total Cover Cream Foundation in N70 and N80


I started using these for highlighting because I was going through the Cover FX concealers so fast. I use N70 when I want a “brighter” highlighter and N80 when I want something more subtle but even when I use N70 I still use N80 under my brow bone area.

Concealers & Powders

Cover FX Cream Concealer (I use N-Deep to highlight, N X-Deep to cover elsewhere)


Bobbi Brown Creamy Concealer Kit in Almond (to brighten under the eyes)
NARS Concealer in Dark 1 Cafe (to cover spots on the face aside from eyes)
Estee Lauder Double Wear Concealer in Extra Deep (to cover dark spots under eyes and all over)


MUFE Pro Finish in 178 and 180 (because the finish on this is so great, it can look a bit “overdone” so I use 180 along the perimeter of my face for a more natural look)
Cover FX Pressed Mineral Foundation in N110 and N120 (I use N110 to set my foundation when I’m doing a simple foundation look [no highlight/contour] or on its own with concealer and N120 to set my contour)


Ben Nye Coco Tan (to set my highlight)
Ben Nye Ebony (to set my contour—but since it’s the same shade as Cover FX N120, I use the Cover FX more often since it’s a compact)
Make Up For Ever Super Matte Loose in Caramel 56 (to set all over when I do a simple foundation look)
Make Up For Ever Duo Mat 218 Chocolate


MAC Mineralize Foundation Loose in Dark Deep
BECCA Fine Loose Finishing Powder in Nutmeg [discontinued] Diorskin Airflash Matte Touch (translucent—to set everything)


(not pictured)

Sleek MakeUP BB Cream (Deep)
Iman BB Creme (Earth Medium)
black | UP CC Cream (probably shade 4—click on review)
NARS Trinidad (in most formulations)
YSL Touche Eclat Foundation B80
YSL Touche Eclat #4

My Current Routine

Right now—right this second as I’m writing this post—I use Cover FX Total Cover Cream in N100, N110, and N120 (N100 matches the center of my face, N110 usually matches all over depending on the time of year—but sometimes I mix the two together, and then N120 as a contour), Cover FX Cream Concealer in N Deep to highlight, N X-Deep if I need to conceal anywhere else which I typically don’t because Total Cover Cream usually gets it all, and then I set with Ben Nye Coco Tan Powder to set my highlight, Cover FX Pressed Mineral Foundation in N120 to set my contour, and Dior Airflash Matte Touch to set everything. You can see this in action in the looks below:

mac-hug-me-lipstick-and-sleek-makeup-au-natural-palette-on-dark-skin the style and beauty doctor
See what else I’m wearing here

cover fx n 110, n 120, n 80 danielle gray the style and beauty doctor
See what else I’m wearing here

See what else I’m wearing here

anastasia tinted brow gel espresso on dark skin
See what else I’m wearing here

See prices and where to buy products mentioned in this post in the widget below:

How many foundations do YOU own? Which ones? Have questions? Leave me comments below ;)



  1. Traci Johnson
    January 21, 2014 / 1:56 pm

    Thanks for doing the leg work! It helps that I’m nw45 as well. Will definitely flag this for reference.

    • Danielle
      January 21, 2014 / 2:27 pm

      You’re welcome!!! Glad I could help :)

  2. Candy
    January 21, 2014 / 2:48 pm

    You look gorgeous! I too wear similar shades: NW45, Dior #70, Bobbi Brown #7.

    • Danielle
      January 21, 2014 / 6:01 pm

      Thanks, skin twin :)

  3. Bukky
    January 21, 2014 / 4:01 pm

    Giving us Breaking Bad Jesse realness with the knit cap and beat face. :-)

    I’ve been on the quest for the perfect foundation too!

    MAC NW 50 and Matchmaster 9.0 have been my trusty go to’s but I’ve been looking for a more matte finish. I thought I finally got it with MUFE 180 but something I’m doing with it is turning my face red after a few hours of wear I don’t know if it’s my primer or my brush had other foundation on it but I was so disappointed. :-(

    I’m loving my CG Queen 3 in 1 and I’ve tried to find Cover FX here in town but my Sephora doesn’t carry it in store and I need to sample before I buy.

    • Danielle
      January 21, 2014 / 6:10 pm

      HAHA!!!! @ the BB reference. I need to watch the show fro start to finish ASAP.

      Hmm—I haven’t seen MUFE 180 in person (I’ll have to check my makeup kit later and see if I have it—I think I might have 185 not sure—but when I looked 180 up, it said for dark skin with peach undertones—perhaps that’s what’s causing it to turn red if you don’t have peachy undertones. I use 178 and have neutral undertones and it doesn’t oxidize on me. Try it without the primer and the brush and see what happens—I hate when a foundation doesn’t work out :(

      The CG Queen 3 in 1 is awesome! I just wish they had descriptions of the shades on the packaging—I reviewed it here but if it weren’t for CG sending me the shades, I’d have to waste packaging to figure out a shade. The deepest Cover FX has now is N110—they discontinued the N120 shade—I kinda want to keep showing mine so maybe they’ll bring it back—it’s a great contour shade and it’s perfect for anyone who needs a shade deeper than NW55. Perhaps they’ll put some in between shades in soon between N110 and the N120. Their foundations are too awesome for someone to not be able to try it :)

    • Anonymous
      March 25, 2015 / 10:16 am

      Bukky, if you’re NW 50, which I also am, try a matchmaster shade of 8.5. The 9.0 is more reddish once it oxidizes on your skin. I went to the store and thought the 9.0 was my skin shade, but after 2.5 hours walking around the mall, my face was brown red. I also have the MUFE 180, which darkens over the hour, so i just mix it with my NW50 studio fix foundation. Not sure if this helps.

    • Seun
      March 25, 2015 / 10:18 am

      Bukky, if you’re NW 50, which I also am, try a matchmaster shade of 8.5. The 9.0 is more reddish once it oxidizes on your skin. I went to the store and thought the 9.0 was my skin shade, but after 2.5 hours walking around the mall, my face was brown red. I also have the MUFE 180, which darkens over the hour, so i just mix it with my NW50 studio fix foundation. Not sure if this helps.

  4. January 21, 2014 / 6:43 pm

    Great post! I’ve been living in my Stila foundation this past year and I wanted to try some new things in 2014.

  5. Janella Hinds via Facebook
    January 21, 2014 / 8:00 pm

    Taking this with me next time I go to sephora… Thanks!

  6. Farah Fields via Facebook
    January 21, 2014 / 9:04 pm

    We are practically the same complexion! Thank you LAWD for this post!

  7. January 21, 2014 / 10:02 pm

    My go-to guide for me when I get beyond drug store makeup. Almost fed my foundation habit when I saw a foundation I wanted to try today…I backed off ..

  8. January 22, 2014 / 11:47 pm

    I only have …what…three shades of cover girl queen in liquid foundation..three in the long-wearing, a cream to powder in cg queen and Iman (which I should break out in this cold temperature), sleek bb cream in dark, and an Iman stick foundation. Was gonna try revlon’s true match in cocoa…buy one get another half off. It’s s

  9. Meka
    January 26, 2014 / 1:21 pm

    I’m definitely giving two of these foundations at the next sephora sale, probably the Dion Nude and MUFE Duo Mat. I’m one shade down from you generally and will just pick up one shade down from your selections. THanks for sharing!

  10. Mahoganie
    June 5, 2014 / 6:13 pm

    Omg I love you! I have been looking for help in finding the correct shade of products for my nw47 skin time forever. It’s been like searching for a needle in a haystack. You are freaking awesome! Thanks for this post. You don’t know just how Much I appreciate it!

    • Danielle
      June 5, 2014 / 11:27 pm

      aww yay!!! glad I could help :)

  11. Orb
    July 12, 2014 / 3:20 pm

    This posting was extremely helpful. I am a nw 45 for reference. MAC foundation and I just do not get along. I have been on the hunt for the perfect foundation and its tough. I am a Bobbi Brown makeup artist and I have used many of the foundations, but I find that I still always have to play around and blend multiple colors because foundations in my shade are always too red. I dont need alot of coverage so I think Make Up Forever face and body is my choice.

  12. Orb
    July 12, 2014 / 3:25 pm

    Also my chest is about 2 shades lighter than my face. I hate it. It does not show on pictures but I see it. I may have to do what you do and use a shade in the center of my face and another shade around the perimeter. Anyway, THANKS AGAIN. This is probabaly one of the best postings that I have come across in reference to dark skin foundations.

  13. Emma Flowers
    November 21, 2014 / 10:10 am

    Hi,Danielle I like to know can I use Ben bye face powder as foundation/w my concealer under my eyes Thank You,

    • Danielle
      November 21, 2014 / 9:33 pm

      Hey Emma!

      Want to make sure I understand what you’re asking—so you want to just have concealer under your eyes and then set all over with Ben Nye? If that’s what you mean—yes! You don’t have to apply a coverage product everywhere if you don’t need it or if you just want a quick natural look. Hope this helps! If you meant something else, let me know :)

  14. kris
    November 29, 2014 / 9:08 pm

    Thank You!!!!!!! There is not enough information or points of reference on the internet for darker skin tones. This was so amazingly helpful, thank you for loving makeup and for all of your hard work<333333333333 xoxox

    • Danielle
      November 30, 2014 / 12:23 pm

      Hey Kris!

      Yay—-glad you found it helpful! Thanks so much for reading :)

  15. zee
    December 19, 2014 / 3:37 pm

    pls i use revlon color stay foundation-cappuccino so am i likely to use nw45 or??

  16. January 14, 2015 / 5:38 am

    Love this post! We’re about the same complexion so this is SUPER helpful. I actually have a couple of the foundations and powders you listed (in the same shades) so I can pretty much use this as a guide the next time I’m makeup shopping for something new. Thank you!!

    • Danielle
      January 14, 2015 / 8:24 am

      Yay! Glad I could be helpful :)

  17. Raina
    February 25, 2015 / 9:29 pm

    I use coverfx N110, so what shade would you suggest for a loose powder foundation from MAC

    • Danielle
      February 26, 2015 / 7:40 am

      Hey! Try Deep Dark or NW45—it’s been so long since I last bought MAC complexion products that I don’t remember what’s labeled as what.

  18. ohsoshy
    March 13, 2015 / 4:01 pm

    Would MUFE Face & Body 46 work on a 50 NW complexion?

    • Danielle
      March 14, 2015 / 12:50 am


      I think shade 48 would be a better match for NW50 ;)

  19. Emma
    March 27, 2015 / 9:07 pm

    I have a NW45 complexion, do you think that MAC MatchMaster concealer 9.0 is a good choice ? I tried it, and it seems to be to light to do a good contouring.

    Thank you in advance

    • Danielle
      March 27, 2015 / 9:33 pm

      Hey Emma!

      I haven’t tried the MAC Matchmaster concealers nor have I even seen them in person so I don’t know what’s what. But I did google swatches and that #9 looks way too light for contouring like you said.

      Try Bobbi Brown foundation stick in Espresso, BECCA foundation in Cacao (I listed the powder in this post as what I use to set my contour), and then Cover FX is bringing some really deep shades soon so they’ll have a number of shades for you to chose from. Also check out this post:

  20. AnnaT
    July 24, 2015 / 5:37 pm

    Just wanted to let you know I stumbled across your post and this is A-MAZING. I am NW 47 most days and this was just what I needed to restock to my haul.

    • Danielle
      July 26, 2015 / 12:45 pm

      Hey AnnaT!

      Thanks so much for your comment! SO happy I could help :)

  21. Lindani
    August 6, 2015 / 10:23 am

    I use Mary Kay, MAC, Black Opal and Milani powder and foundations. So far, the best is MAC NW48 – any advice on the equivalent for this from the Estee Lauder double wear?

    • Danielle
      August 6, 2015 / 11:57 am

      Hi Lindani!

      I’m not familiar with what the NW48 shade looks like at MAC. Find the undertones in the NW48 and find a match in undertone (and of course shade) at Estee Lauder. Your best bet is to go to an Estee Lauder counter and have them match you—this was a huge part of EL’s business model when I worked at a counter so they will be more than happy to match you and give you a sample to try at home. Good luck!

  22. August 17, 2015 / 6:56 pm

    Holy smokes, chica!! I was NOT ready for all the beauty goodness this post had to offer. Googled “Nars Albatross brown skin” and down the rabbit hole I went, ultimately coming across your post. I’m NW45 and this post will be such a handy resource for me! Xx

    • Danielle
      August 19, 2015 / 9:42 pm

      haha! glad you found me and good to know this post helped :)

  23. Anonymous
    August 28, 2015 / 3:41 am

    This is a great post Danielle! Thanks heaps! I thought I was the only one who has to mix 2 shades of foundation to get my correct match. I mix MAC Studio Fix NW55 and MAC Matchmaster 9.0. on the back of my hand, mix with my brush and then apply.

    I’m dark but with yellow undertones which makes it very hard to find a “stand alone” foundation that works and trust me, I’ve tried almost everything!

    • Danielle
      August 28, 2015 / 9:40 am

      thank you! glad I could help :)

  24. October 1, 2015 / 7:40 pm

    very informative , still a reference for me , will try the kevyn aucoin

  25. Gaelle
    October 9, 2015 / 8:55 pm

    Hey, I’m using Mac studio fix fluid nw55 as a powder and liquid too but I want to know if I want cover fx what shade I should take ? The N110 or N120?

    • Danielle
      October 9, 2015 / 10:14 pm


      There’s a quiz on the Cover FX site that will help you figure out your right shade here: They recently added more shades so you’ll find what’s right for you :)

  26. Cynthia
    November 14, 2015 / 2:54 pm

    Hi Danielle-

    What’s the difference between Beccas Mink and Mahongny in the matte foundation? Your foundation color choices are pretty spot on with me, and I have both Mink and Mahogony in Beccas matte, but they seem kind of the same to me?

    • Danielle
      November 18, 2015 / 8:52 am

      Hey Cynthia!

      According to the undertone descriptions from the brand, Mink is more neutral while Mahogany is warmer in undertone. You can see swatches here:

      I can sometimes go between a neutral and warmer undertone foundation depending on if I have a tan or if I’m going to be on camera—typically a foundation with a slightly warmer undertone is perfect for me on camera (video and sometimes pics can tend to wash you out so the redness/warmth helps to add radiance) while something more neutral is better for everyday. That might be why both tend to work for you but they are definitely different shades.

  27. Matseke
    November 22, 2015 / 12:21 am

    This post is absolutely amazing. I’m from South Africa and I have to say, I appreciate the effort you put into your posts. Although we aren’t the same shade I like to check out your swatches to get an idea of which brands have a wide range for black women

    • Danielle
      November 22, 2015 / 4:34 pm

      Thank you so much, Matseke!!! Appreciate you for reading :)

  28. Londie
    November 30, 2015 / 12:03 am

    Hi Danielle. Your blog is my go to for all my foundation matches! Thank God for you!! I am in between Tobacco and Sienna in Becca Foundations, kinda NC50 and NW43 in MAC and in MUFE I was 177 (before the new HD). My question is about the MUFE Super Matte Loose Powder in Caramel. The swatch looks really golden brown and I was wondering if it would work for me and what shade would I be in Duo Mat. I’m super oily and after reading ALL of your reviews these seem like they will work for me.

    • Danielle
      November 30, 2015 / 11:24 pm

      Hey Londie!!!

      Thanks so much for reading!!!

      Caramel may work since it doesn’t deposit a ton of color but you’d have to try it to see how it wears on you. I don’t remember the MUFE equivalents but I do believe that either on their site or at Sephora they have a conversion/shade chart to help you figure out your Duo Mat shade (or you could even call a MUFE boutique and maybe they can tell you based on you being 177 in HD).

      Good luck!

  29. Debora joseph
    March 22, 2017 / 2:05 am

    For myself

  30. August 13, 2017 / 3:52 pm

    Hi! I’m NW45. What shade do you use for the Doublewear? Thanks!

    • Danielle
      August 16, 2017 / 10:26 am


      Last time I got matched I was 7N1 Deep Amber.

  31. Mulika
    January 20, 2018 / 8:15 am

    How many years later and this post is still lighting fires in hearts! Thanks for the comprehensive guidance. I have been wearing Marc Jacob Genius Gel for a few years but recent positive sample encounters with mac nw47 (natural neutral skin finish – yep realise I’m late to the game!), bobbi brown skin long wear weightlessness 8.25 (last and lasts!) and YSL all hours b90 (flawless application) have me questioning whether it is time to bring something new in. There just seems to be so much more colour matches that are genuinely on point nowadays that it makes it so hard to choose just one! You have me wanting to check out a couple more options (Iman defo) before I splurge.

    • Danielle
      January 21, 2018 / 9:42 am

      haha! thanks for reading, Mulika!!!

  32. Alicia Gayim
    June 20, 2018 / 10:28 am

    Hey I am currently using mac NW46 and I want the get other brands of foundation and power as well. Plus I’m looking for the right loose power to match my skin, any suggestion…?

  33. Grace
    June 29, 2018 / 7:14 am

    Helpfull post.
    I use nutmeg in black opal. Which matching colour in mac powder plus foundation should I use?

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