Black Opal Foundation Stick Swatches & Review

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Read ALL about my review process including how I take swatches, photos, and more here.

black opal

Black Opal Foundation Stick is hands down one of the best foundation sticks for women of color. They’re a fave of many makeup artists (along with cream formulas) as they can easily be manipulated to give them the coverage and finish they need to beat a face. It’s also something non-makeup artists will like in their stash—you can easily and quickly get coverage and vary how you use it for just about any makeup look. The brand sent over all ten shades for review.

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They have a velvet, natural-matte finish making it perfect for all skin types. The finish isn’t dewy and it isn’t MATTE matte making it a great option in just about any type of weather. You can use it as concealer dotting it only where you need it and then blending in with a foundation brush or my fave beautyblender or even your fingers. You can use it as a full on foundation and you can also vary coverage—sheer it out for a lighter look or layer it if you need more coverage.

Wear is amazing, too. I had mine on for over eight hours on that one unexpected really warm 75 degree day we had this week in NYC and even by the time I got home in the evening, my foundation still looked good.

Here are the ten shades along with my assessment on what the undertones are for each shade:

Kalahari Sand

light beige with neutral undertones

Heavenly Honey

light beige with neutral undertones

Rich Caramel

Tan with golden undertones

Truly Topaz

Deep tan with golden undertones


light brown with yellow undertones


medium brown with reddish undertones

Beautiful Bronze

medium brown with neutral undertones


deep brown with neutral undertones

Black Walnut

dark brown with neutral undertones

Suede Mocha

deep brown with reddish undertones

Update 5/19/16:

I’m getting a lot of comments with people asking what to use to highlight and contour. The basic rule of thumb is to use a shade 1-2 shades lighter than your skin tone for highlighting and a shade 1-2 shades darker than your skin tone for contouring. You can find out more about highlighting and contouring in these posts:

Why I Now Highlight and Contour My Face Every Time I Do My Makeup…
Why ONE Foundation May Not Cut It for Women of Color
My Updated Foundation Routine {Dark Skin}

Because We’re Not All Banana: A Few Highlight Setting Powders for Dark Skin

All Contouring Posts

Video Tutorials on Contouring:
How to Highlight/Contour Dark Skin
My Updated Foundation Routine

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black opal foundation stick kalahari sand heavenly honey swatches on dark skin

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For reference I’m shade Carob and I would use Nutmeg to highlight (for a subtle highlight—if I wanted something more dramatic, I’d go for Truly Topaz) and I’d use Black Walnut to contour. You can see them on me in this post. You can see what shades I wear in other brands here.

Matching these (and any other brand) foundations with MAC shades is tough because 1. not every shade has a MAC equivalent 2. I haven’t seen many of the new shade additions MAC has introduced in the last few years 3. too many people say they’re NW45 or NC45 and I think many are wearing the wrong shade. If you have a foundation that matches you well, look for the one that matches that most in the swatches—that’s more than likely your shade. I also recommend getting a shade or two lighter and a shade or two darker if you like many women of color are lighter in the center of your face and darker around the perimeter—you’ll get a more natural look. There’s also a chart here that might help.

These can also be easily depotted and pressed into a foundation palette or tray.

Price and where to buy: about $9.25 at and select drugstores nationwide.

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About Danielle

A former finance girl, Danielle is a New York City based freelance writer and fashion and beauty expert. She's a Hofstra University and Fashion Institute of Technology grad with an obsession with fashion and beauty which she loves to tell you all about every weekday on her award-winning blog. Think of her as your style and beauty entourage all wrapped up into one bubbly brown package. Danielle's work and expertise can be found in print and across the web in Cosmopolitan for Latinas,, and more! She's also appeared as an on-air style and beauty expert on The Real, CBS New York's "The Couch" and WPIX11's Savvy Shopper segment.
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37 Responses to Black Opal Foundation Stick Swatches & Review

  1. Bonita says:

    I’m Hazelnut and I picked Truly Topaz to try and high light but should I do Rich Caramel? Just scared of looking crazy lol

    • Danielle says:


      I think Truly Topaz is fine for a subtle highlight—like you can tell the area is brighter but it’s subtle. But if you want something more pronounced, you can do Rich Caramel. One good thing about these foundation sticks is that you can blend the colors either on a palette or on the back of your hand so you can actually mix TT and RC together as well for another variation.

      Hope this helps!

  2. I need to pick one of these up. I’ve been wanting to try a foundation stick.

  3. Joanne_ says:

    i loved wearing this foundation a few years back but one day my skin reacted terribly to it and i stopped wearing it, too bad, the finish is lovely.

  4. Lina says:

    I need to try these!! I currently wear Bobbi Brown’s Foundation Stick, and while it is amazeballs, $44 for foundation that only lasts for 4 months = no bueno. I don’t know that it will replace it, but I’m going to give them a try. Have you ever used the Bobbi Brown stick, and if you have, how would you say it compares to that?

    • Danielle says:

      Hey Lina!

      I’ve been meaning to pick up two BB foundation sticks, but only to use for highlighting and contouring. Other than that there isn’t a shade match for me in most BB foundations—they get close to my shade but are either too red or too dark.

  5. Fancie says:

    Have you tried the liquid foundation? It’s a little thick but I love it. I’ll definitely be grabbing a handful of these foundation sticks soon!

  6. Drea says:

    Ok so you’ve convinced me to try one of these foundation sticks. Thanks for taking the time to review and swatch them all. Now I just gotta find the perfect match for my skintone…

  7. Pauline says:

    Great review. I have been waiting to see swatches of these sticks as the Black Opal website does not have true swatches.It is amazing to me how these companies miss the boat on providing true color swatches on their websites.

  8. Erica says:

    I’ve wanted to try this for a while but I’m concerned about them transferring. Danielle, did you experience any transfer while wearing? Thanks in advance for any response.

    • Danielle says:

      Hey Erica!

      Yes, but practically all foundations will have some transfer as you go about your day and especially as shine breaks through or you perspire—setting with a powder helps to minimize it, but you’re going to have some transfer regardless. Try to keep your hands away from your face or if you do touch your face, make sure you wash your hands before touching anything else. Then when you hug people, make sure to do it an angle to avoid getting it on them and their clothes.

  9. Jazmine Jade says:

    I am in love with these foundation sticks. They are easy to use, and give amazing coverage!! They have a matte finish but do tend to transfer easier than some of my other foundations.

  10. Candice says:

    I just went back to using these last week. I have pretty oily skin but these sticks are perfect for NY autumns & winters! Thanks for the review :)

  11. kinkykhick says:

    I used to wear Black Opal Foundation in the 90’s. They have beautiful colours and coverage but they have terrible transfer issues. I had to stop wearing them. I think it’s sad that this problem with the foundation as been around for 15 years and they have not corrected it. In fashion and beauty you have to keep up with the times. Young women have other cosmetics line options that don’t have these issues.

  12. malika says:

    I’m using Beautiful Bronze foundation stick, toast liquid concealer and truffle powder for a few months. The makeup artiste are now sayimg i should be using rich mocha with that shade of foundation and concealer beacuse the truffle powder gives a red undertone.
    Which you think is the best combination for foundation concealer and pressed powder?
    Also for loose powder which should i use ?
    Loose or Dark?

    • Danielle says:

      Hi Malika!

      I’m not sure I understand your question or perhaps it’s hard for me to answer since I don’t know what any of this looks like on you. If there’s a makeup artist who saw you wearing the complexion combo and suggested something better for you, it might be best to go with that especially since that person actually saw the makeup on you.

      I also don’t know what you mean by loose or dark? Could you explain?

  13. Meli B. says:

    Nice review. I am thinking of trying out some of their foundations.

  14. jasmine osai says:

    Hi! Nutmeg is my perfect match yeah but I can’t get it anywhere (location problems). Can I substitute with Beautiful Bronze?

  15. Pingback: Review| Black Opal Stick Foundation

  16. Nicole Miller says:

    Good day. I’m using nutmeg can I highlight with tan??? What’s the best to highlight with?

  17. Angel Logan says:

    I’m brand new so don’t kill me. First and foremost, beautiful style of writing. Very concise and informative.

    I love this stick! I’m still working on getting contouring down packed. My face is longer and it seems i always have my under eye highlight too low so they come super closwe. Q1: Do you happen to know where I can get a map for contouring longer faces? I always see round faces

    Q2: What drug store powder do you recommend to set the contour? (I’m about to look through the site so if you said it already I apologize?

    Q3: I was IN LOVE with their hazelnut foundation in the warmer months. Winter came and it was NOTICABLELY red. I have yet to find another foundation in their brand to match my more medium brown golden winter tone(Truly Topaz was too light).Could you do their foundation color swatch? (If you have already, just point me to it :)

    • Danielle says:

      Hi Angel!

      Thanks so much!

      If you’re ever looking for any posts, you can either use my menu bar to browse by topic or use the search button at the top—it’s powered by Google and even I use it when I’m looking for older posts.

      I’m sure you can find info on contouring a longer face on google, pinterest, or even search youtube for a video. I have no idea what your face looks like, but from what you mentioned you should probably try highlighting higher up and you might need to contour more than most depending on your face shape. You’re looking to give visual balance in your face so contouring makes parts look slimmer/shorter/less apparent and highlighting makes things look more apparent/bigger/pronounced. Practice makes perfect so I’m sure you’ll figure out what works best for your face shape.

      There’s a gazillion drugstore powders you can use depending on what works/looks best for you. I would use a powder that is similar in color to your contour—any of the brands like Iman, Black Opal, Black Radiance or even beauty supply store brands are good places to look for one that works for you.

      I tend to get redder in undertone when I tan in the summer so that might be what happened with your foundation. If you haven’t found another foundation in their brand to match you, I’m not sure how a foundation color swatch would help you. You might have to choose another brand—there’s tons of foundation posts here (search by topic via my menu bar) that will help you figure out how to get closer to finding a better match in the colder non-tan months.

      Thanks for reading!

  18. Ebony LeDuff says:

    Which shade should I use to contour if I am in the shade Beautiful Bronze? I’m thinking Black Walnut but that may be too dark.

  19. tilinao misasi says:

    I use mary kay crème to powder bronze 5, what shade can I use of black opal

    • Danielle says:

      Hi Tillinao!

      I’m not familiar with the Mary Kay shades. Please look at the swatches and the descriptions of the shades and see which one matches closest to the shade you wear in MK.

  20. Bernita says:

    I am a true MAC NW45 color match but I want to try the Black Opal liquid or stick foundation. Which one should I use? Thanks in advance!

  21. Ju says:

    Can you please tell me what undertones are
    in the Black Opal concealer Mahogany ?
    Thank you

  22. Bonamia says:

    I am using the shade heavenly honey or kalahari sand please which shade should i use for my highlight and contour

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