Why ONE Foundation May Not Cut It for Women of Color

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So foundation. We’ve talked about this A LOT on the blog and if you need a refresher, my foundation posts are here for the reading. We also talked about highlighting and contouring and I explained why I do it every time I do my makeup (no, I’m not being dramatic…lol read the post to see why) and this post has a lot of those same principles in it, but a good ole update/refresher is good for the soul. Here I’m going to explain why ONE foundation may not cut it for women of color.

Here’s the thing about many of us women of color: many of us are more than one shade on our face alone. A lot of times we’re darker around the perimeter of our face and lighter in the center. This can make the already very arduous task of finding a good foundation even more difficult. But there’s one thing I really want you all to understand—sometimes ONE foundation shade won’t cut it for us. Think about it—you’re either matching the foundation to the darker perimeter or the light center or even your neck or your chest. But often times once we finish applying foundation with whatever shade we chose, we wind up looking flat and one-dimensional. Womp womp.

We’ll get a more natural looking makeup application if we mimic the natural coloring of our skin—this is why I highlight and contour—the highlight happens in areas where my skin is naturally lighter in the center and the contour happens in areas where my skin is naturally darker around the perimeter of my face and then I add a little to contour my nose—nothing drastic but it evens out the dimensions of my face.

Look at this photo for example:

no makeup vs one dimensional foundation

On the left I have no makeup on and you can see how I’m lighter in the center and darker in the perimeter. On the right I’m just wearing foundation (something I reviewed a while ago but I don’t remember which one since the pic was an older one). You can see how the foundation evened out my skin but how I look one-dimensional because I’m all one color. I would follow up with highlighting and contouring to add more dimension to my face and to look more like my natural coloring.

Adding dimension via highlighting and contouring

highlight contour dark skin

Read more about highlighting and contouring here

Highlighting and contouring isn’t the only way to bring dimension back to the face. Another thing I like to do is warm the perimeter of my face with bronzer. Some of my fave bronzers for my skin tone include Guerlain Terracotta Bronzing Powder in Ebony #8 (see swatches here), Covergirl Queen Collection Natural Hue Bronzer in Ebony Bronze (the Guerlain is slightly darker, has less shimmer, and is much more silky smooth—I prefer the Guerlain, but if you’re on a budget the CG Queen bronzer is still very good), and now I also use Cover FX Pressed Mineral Foundation in P125 which is a deep chocolate brown with red undertones and is one of the new shades they launched a few weeks ago that works as a bronzer for me because of the amount of warmth in it.

Also by virtue of “completing” your makeup look adds dimension. You wouldn’t just wear your foundation and go—yeah your skin will look more even but you may not look “finished.” Things like blush, highlight/strobing, mascara/lashes, and brows applied after foundation help to bring the dimension back to your face.

Another reason having one foundation shade in your look just won’t do is that sometimes folks can’t find an exact match. Yes, it’s annoying but if you want to look your best, sometimes it’s necessary to buy two different shades. I don’t tan much during the summer, but if I’m traveling to some tropical location (like Trinidad or Grenada), I’ll definitely tan—but while I may get a little darker I mostly get more red in undertone. You guys might remember this when I came back from Trinidad Carnival and had a hard time matching to the BECCA Ultimate Coverage Foundation because of the tan I had.

the style and beauty doctor
Photo: Nasilele Photography

So that’s that. Foundation isn’t always an easy product for women of color, but when you get it right, it’s SOOOOO right. I’m planning on doing an updated makeup routine video for my Youtube channel along with some new tricks and techniques I picked up from my makeup artist pal Andi Yancey (she did my makeup in the pic above)—subscribe to my channel and stay tuned :)

Read more foundation reviews and posts here

Armani Luminous Silk Foundation review and swatches here.

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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, Allure.com, 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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