For the longest time, we’ve been subjected to archaic rules about how women with dusky skin can’t carry off all, and any, kind of makeup, and should, in fact, opt for subtle colours. But nothing could be further away from the truth. In fact, a dark skin tone can handle pigmented colours like none other. Case in point: actresses like Deepika Padukone, Priyanka Chopra, and Bipasha Basu. Nobody rocks a red lip better than our desi girl PeeCee, a smokey eye better than Bips, and we genuinely have no words for Deepika’s makeup skills.
Also Read Makeup Kits Essentials For Bride-To-Be
While fairer skin may seem like an ideal to achieve, it is not so. Every skin colour is beautiful and instead of trying to change yourself to fit in with society’s twisted standards, you should play to your strengths and enhance what you’ve been blessed with. So, to help you embrace your natural self and achieve enviable makeup looks every single time, we’ve put together a complete guide of makeup tips for women with dark skin.
Tips For Better Makeup Application
Get Your Base Right
Tips For That Perfect Eye Makeup
Tips For The Perfect Pout
Mistakes To Avoid
First Love Yourself
Essential Makeup Tips For Dusky Women
Tips For Better Makeup Application
- CTM as a rule
For people with a deeper complexion, it is important to have a cleansing-toning-moisturizing routine that you follow religiously. This will give you a clean, even surface to work with while applying makeup. Also, if your skin is well moisturised, you’ll get that natural glow-from-within that’s sometimes hard to achieve with makeup for dark skin.
- Use sunscreen
There is a common misconception that people with duskier skin tones do not need sunscreen since they don’t tan as much. But every person, no matter what the skin tone, needs sun protection. You may not tan but ain’t nobody immune to those harmful UV rays.
- Work with your undertones
No matter where you fall on the skin tone spectrum, it is very important that you correctly recognise your undertones. They are the key to finding correct makeup products, especially if you’re dusky. There are three types of undertones: warm (yellow or golden undertones), cool (pink, red or blue undertones) and neutral (a balance between the two). Here’s how you can recognise which tone do you have:
(a) The white vs cream test: Take two items of clothing - one white, one cream - and check which complements your skin better while wearing no makeup. If it’s white, you have warm undertones, and if cream looks better on you, you have cool undertones. If both of them flatter your skin tone, you’re neutral, and frankly, really blessed.
(b) The vein test: Look at the veins in your wrists in the sunlight. If they seem green, you’re warm and if they’re blue, you’ve got cool undertones. For people with neutral undertones, you’ll see veins in both colours.
(c) The jewellery test: What looks better on you - gold jewellery or silver? If it’s gold, you’re warm, and if it’s silver, you’re cool as a cucumber.
Tips To Get Your Base Right
The foundation, true to its name, is the base of your makeup for dark skin. If you get the base right, more than half your task is done. So here are some tips to look flawless.
- Choose your foundation brand correctly
People with a dusky skin tone know that the biggest struggle is finding a brand that has an extensive range of shades. Do immense research before heading out to the market to buy one. And even if you need to invest a little extra in a good brand, know that it is going to be worth it in the end.
- The correct shade makes all the difference
Instead of swatching the foundation on your neck or arm, swatch it on your jaw. Choosing a lighter one will make your skin look uneven and patchy. If you have a lighter foundation and you want to match it to your skin tone, you can always buy a foundation mixer.
- The texture of your skin matters too
If your skin is too oily, a mattifying or water-based foundation will suit you best. But if your skin is dry, use a cream-based product.
- Blend well
Blend your foundation well, and make sure you take it down to your neck too. Another trick a lot of makeup artists use is to apply a foundation that’s one shade lighter than the skin tone on the inner areas of the face and a shade closest to the skin tone on the outer areas. This prevents your face from looking flat in pictures and also makes you look brighter. Bonus: you don’t really need to contour after this step!
- Check for oxidation
A lot of foundations tend to oxidise through the day. This happens because of a chemical reaction between the formula and oxygen, and as it oxidises, it becomes darker. Before you buy a foundation, check to see if it darkens over time. If you pick up an exact match of a formula that deepens during the day, it will make you look duskier after some time. In such a case, you should buy a formula that is a few tones lighter than your skin colour.
- Colour correcting can seem daunting
Colour correcting may seem a little difficult for duskier women if you’ve watched a million YouTube videos of fairer girls using some five shades- from green to lavender - to even out their skin. But for dusky women, you’re in luck, since the only correcting shades you need to worry about are red and orange. They’ll cover all your issues from pigmentation to discolouration to dark spots!
- Using powder is a must
It is true that using too much powder can make you look cakey, and give flashback in pictures, but that shouldn’t stop you from using it, especially if you have oily skin. Use a powder closer to your skin tone to bake and set as, for most dusky people, translucent powder washes them out. If you do choose translucent powder, try and use as little as possible though.
I’ve heard a lot of times that women with a dusky complexion should not use bronzers. Excuse me, who doesn’t love a just-off-a-vacay, sun-kissed glow? For a tanned look, pick up a neutral bronzer that’ll give your skin a lit-from-within glow. Apply it to your temples, cheekbones, and jawline in a number ‘3’ shape to look like you’ve just come back from the beach.
- Blush a little (or lot!)
Unlike fair people, who cannot dabble with deeper blush shades like berry, pink, red or coral, dusky women can totally pick up darker blushes. In fact, these blushes will give you a very natural flush. So, don’t be intimidated of colours - imagine applying a wine blush to your cheekbones, wouldn’t that look gorgeous?
ProTip: For evenings, shimmer blushes with gold tones are a must have!
Just like all other products, the perfect highlighter is dependent on your skin, so swatch the product on your face and not your arm or finger. For deep skin tones, highlighters with golden undertones work much better than silver and pink ones, which can make you look chalky. Just apply the highlighter to the high points of your face, complementing it with a bronzer, and you’re ready to shine bright like a diamond!
Tips For That Perfect Eye Makeup For Dark Skin
- Undertones matter here too!
Just like with your foundation, your undertones matter when it comes to your eyeshadows too! After determining whether you’re warm, cool or neutral, use a similar palette of colours for your eye makeup. However, the rule is that on dark skin tones, a gold shimmer pops better, and brighter, than a silver one. Remember that tones of white, beige or any other light colours can make you look darker than you really are.
- Always use a primer and a concealer
Generally, women with a dusky skin tone tend to have oilier skin. So start with a primer to make your eyelids smooth, help intensify colour, and prevent creasing over time.
Also, before you start applying your eyeshadow, use a lighter eyeshadow or a concealer so that the eyeshadow has something to stick to. This is because colours, even the brightest ones, do not show up that well on a duskier base. A cream base though, like a jumbo eye pencil, a paint pot or even a white creamy eyeshadow, will make the colours pop, and look more vibrant.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment
Did you know that a smokey eye looks especially good on darker skin? You lucky thing, it is almost every girl’s favourite makeup look after all! Just make sure the shades you’re using for dusky skin tone makeup–one lighter one and one darker one–are from the same colour family, and blend them well.
Also, a dusky skin tone pairs beautifully with deep colours so don’t be afraid to pick up shades that you’ve been intimidated by in the past. Plums, taupes, bronze, copper, brown, green or gold - they’ll all complement your complexion and eye colour so very well!
- Brow Power
Gone are the days of thin brows; today it’s all about thick, defined eyebrows, and no one can rock them better than a dusky girl. Trust us, they look the best with your skin tone - you could give Cara Delevingne a run for her money. Use this quick trick to accentuate them: just dab a bit of white eyeshadow under the arch to make them look more defined and dramatic.
- Eyeliner and mascaras can change your look!
As I said, Bipasha Basu’s cat-eye look is iconic, and she carries it so well. If you’re dusky, using a black or brown eyeliner and mascara will immediately open up and brighten your eyes. You can even add falsies if you’re feeling extra glam.
And, if you heed our advice, and decide to experiment, you can always try a coloured eyeliner. Just keep the eyeshadow colours basic, and you’ll light up the club like nobody else!
Tips For The Perfect Pout
- Moisturise well
This isn’t just for women with a dusky complexion. Always moisturise your lips well. No lip shade will look good on you if your lips are chapped and dry.
- Choose the matte life
Ladies, you’re in luck! While most people shy away from mattes, they look gorgeous on you. Not to say you shouldn’t wear glossy lip colours too. However, frosted shades can make you look a little washed out so you’d do well to avoid them!
- Apply foundation on your lips
Just like eyeshadows, lip colours may not pop on your lips if they are dark. Dab on a little foundation on your lips too when doing your base and then glide that lipstick on for the perfect pout.
- Red all the way!
Red lipstick was made for women with dusky skin! They look the best on you because they add colour, and drama, without making the rest of your face look super-pale. Whether it’s an orangey-red or a brick-red, you can rock this hot shade like no one else.
- Lead a colourful life
Don’t shy away from other colours. From nudes to deep shades, most shades will beautifully complement your makeup, and skin tone. Some amazing shades you can carry off are chocolate, dark red, maroon, berry, orangey-red or even wine. Corals, nudes, and mocha shades would also beautifully complement makeup for skin tone. Going simple and just sticking with a clear lip gloss is a good way to make your gorgeous skin stand out. Again, steer clear of shades like a light, matte pinks or really light browns to avoid looking pale and washed out.
Mistakes To Avoid
- Applying makeup in the wrong lighting
If you apply makeup in the wrong light, the whole exercise will be counterproductive. You may end up using the wrong shades or being too heavy-handed with your makeup. Make sure you check your makeup in natural lighting once before you leave your house. You don’t want to end up looking like Betty Midler in Hocus Pocus!
- Not swatching makeup before buying
We’ve said this before and we’ll say it again: not swatching your makeup correctly before buying it is a big beauty blunder. Foundations and concealers have too many factors you need to consider before buying them. If you can’t find the perfect shade, instead of picking a wrong shade, try mixing two shades to get a customised one that suits you perfectly. Also, never ever swatch your foundation on the inside of your wrist or arm. Your skin tone varies all over your body, so the only place you can swatch it for a perfect match is your face, that too, preferably on the lightest part of your face or your jaw.
- Using a lighter shade of foundation
Don’t try and lighten your skin tone with a lighter foundation. No matter how much you layer it up, your natural skin tone will show through, and that’ll only make you look ashy and grey. Instead, embrace your golden goddess hue, and wear the slightest amount of foundation to enhance that gorgeous colour!
- Using unflattering shades of eyeshadows and lipsticks
As blessed as women with dusky complexions are, considering the sheer number of shades they can use when it comes to eyeshadows, blushes, and lipsticks, there still are some shades they shouldn’t use. Remember, eyeshadows and lipsticks that are too light do not flatter your skin type. For lipsticks, nudes are the best choice and should be selected according to your undertone.
- Not blending the foundation well
The colour of your face and neck need to be the same. That’s why your foundation should always be blended into your neck. Nothing looks worse than having your face look one colour and your neck another.ProTip: Blend in a little bit of your foundation into your ears as well. They may be barely visible, but they still can’t be a different skin tone.
- Highlighting the under-eye area too much
Using a concealer that’s too light to cover up your dark circles draws even more attention to them. In your mission to hide your under-eye bags, you can’t make them four shades lighter than the rest of your face. Instead, use a colour corrector to cancel out the darkness, and then use as little concealer as possible. Your goal, ultimately, is ‘conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know’ not ‘show me what you got’. :P
- Using too much baking powder
Unlike lighter skin tones, a translucent powder or a really light baking powder (not the eating kind) can cause a white flashback in your images that can look really uncomplimentary. A flashback is a white cast that appears on your skin in pictures. It is especially prominent in people with a dusky complexion. So instead, use a powder closer to your skin tone to set your makeup.
- Filling in your eyebrows incorrectly
Since dusky-skinned people have darker hair, mostly brown or black, they tend to fill in their eyebrows with a colour that’s similar to the colour of their hair. This can make your eyebrows look too bushy, and give you an angry look. Instead, fill them in with a shade lighter, and in soft upward strokes. Concentrate on sparse areas instead of the whole eyebrow for a more natural shape. This will frame your face better, and enhance your features!
It Is Important To Love Yourself
Even though we’re a country of primarily dusky-skinned people, our obsession with light skin has been long documented. From a variety of fairness creams that are endorsed on every billboard to considering only pale as beautiful to constantly being brought up on a daily dose of criticism and tips if you’re dusky, we’ve had our priorities wrong for a while now. But thankfully, things are changing, and people are starting to accept that everyone, no matter what their appearance, is beautiful.
But, the truth of the matter is that acceptance makes everything better. I’m not talking about being accepted by society, but by your own self. If you learn to love yourself for who you are, life becomes easy and beautiful. Not only that, it’ll give you the courage to face small-minded people who see your skin colour as a weakness. Your skin colour isn’t a flaw but a part of who you are. So instead of using makeup to hide parts of you that society may not like, why not use makeup to enhance your natural beauty? Once you see it like that, sitting down to do your makeup will feel empowering more than anything else. That being said, you make your own rules when it comes to your life, so if you disagree with any of the tips mentioned above, feel free to not follow them!
Another thing we’d like to add is that there are a million treatments to lighten your skin - bleaching, laser treatment, injections, chemical peels - but nothing feels as good as self-confidence does. While these expensive treatments may give you lighter skin, they definitely don’t promise self-love. You aren’t going to wake up one day with ‘fair’ skin and no insecurities. That almost never happens. But if you accept yourself for who you are, nothing will stop you from achieving your dreams and goals, especially not a nosy aunty who keeps recommending home remedies to lighten skin colour.
We aren’t saying you shouldn’t try to achieve better skin. But make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons - your happiness. You shouldn’t be doing it for the rishta boy who told you that you’re too dark or because Bollywood songs like ‘Chittiyaan Kalaiyan’ make you feel less than worthy of all things in life. Once you love yourself unconditionally, insecurities and all, everything will seem to fall into place. After that, you won’t need a fairness cream to achieve your dreams, like many television commercials will have you believe!
Featured Image: Priyanka Chopra on Instagram, Bipasha Basu Singh Grover On Instagram
Images: Shutterstock, Giphy
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This story is updated in January 2019.