Darker Skin Tone? The Most Common Make-Up Mistakes You’re Making & How To Fix Them

by Selen Hurer
30th Apr 2019

READER QUESTION 1: Why does my skin look ashy?
This is a common problem for people with dark skin, but it’s easily fixed. The simple reason why it occurs is that the skin is too dry. Moisturising thoroughly will solve this.

READER QUESTION 2: My skin is dark so I don’t need to use suncream, right?
Wrong. Just because you have a darker complexion it doesn’t mean you don’t need to protect your skin from the harmful UV Rays. This is a common mistake that many people make, but you’re leaving yourself vulnerable to premature aging, not to mention skin cancer (melanoma) and other illnesses related to exposure. Choose a sunscreen that suits your skin type. I recommend opting for a tinted non-clogging sunscreen like Demaquest Sheer Zinc Tinted Sunscreen SPF30 (£48). A great shade would be Sunkissed as it wont leave the skin looking ashy.

READER QUESTION 3: I want to try bolder colours but don’t know how.
Don’t be scared to wear bold colours, but avoid cooler tones or frosty textures. Colours that are on the warmer and deeper side of the spectrum will be most flattering for your skin tone and colour.  The same applies to lip colours, eye shadows etc.

READER QUESTION 4: The product my friends use to set their make-up just isn’t working for me. They say it’s fool-proof. Am I doing something wrong?
Don’t listen to what people say. There’s no such thing as the perfect product or one-suits suits all when setting your make-up. The best advice is to choose a tinted translucent powder similar to your skin tone. I recommend Ben Nye Luxury Loose Setting Powder (£14.95). It comes in a variety of shades to suit all skin tones and the corn and rice starch formula is finely milled, leaving your skin feeling smooth without that horrible chalky and cakey finish.

READER QUESTION 5:  What’s the best type of eye-shadow for dark skin?
Eye-shadows that are rich in pigment show up best on dark skin, others tend to get lost. Loose powder shadows are a good option – they’re easier to apply and have more pigment then pressed powders, as well as being brighter, deeper and true to colour thanks to the fact that they aren’t made from the same binder that holds regular eye-shadow together. I’m a huge fan of NYX Pigments (£6, available in 24 shades).

Mix the NYX Multi-tasker Mixing Medium (£8) with the pigment to create a liquid eyeliner or highlights on the face.

READER QUESTION 6: Why does my skin look different in patches? Will correct correcting help, and what’s the best way to do it?

The darker the skin the more pigmentation is visible.  As pigment tends to be stronger around the forehead, the mouth and chin area, these areas often need colour correcting to even out skin-tone. One shade of foundation won’t always cut it and can leave skin looking ashy. Another reason why colour correcting is so important for people with darker skin types is that they’re prone to scarring due to the fact that their skin’s outer epidermis naturally produces more melanin. When new skin develops in the form of scars, the amount of melanin involved in the process is different than the rest of the surface skin. It tends to be much darker than the surrounding surface (hyperpigmentation), or in some cases lighter (hypopigmentation).

Orange, peach and red toned colour correctors will help lift the skin and counteract dark circles, marks and blemishes. Apply the corrector in the affected areas before your concealer and foundation. I recommend Mac Conceal and Correct Palette (£30), which includes 4 concealer shades and 2 corrector shades.

READER QUESTION 7: What’s the best way to pick the right foundation shade and tone?
Skin tone / shade and undertone are not the same thing.  You can pick a base that seems to be the right shade, but when you get home it can be too yellow or red for your skin. Everybody’s skin has either a cool, warm or neutral undertone; knowing this is the first step to finding the shade of foundation you need.

One of the easiest ways to determine which undertone you are is to perform the vein test.  Look at your veins on the side of your wrist and arm. Are they green, blue-purple, or blue-green?

  • Green veins means you have warm undertones.
  • Blue-purple veins means you have cool undertones.
  • Blue-green veins means you have neutral undertones.

I love Fenty Pro Filt‘r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation (£27, available in 50 shades). Its oil-free, breathable formula is sweat- and humidity-resistant so won’t clog your pores. It leaves skin feeling smooth and looks very natural whist giving you buildable coverage.

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