Black Makeup Artists Share Their Tips For Deep Skin Tones


black makeup tips

Learning how to slay a flawless beat takes time and a lot of practice. Whether you prefer to watch YouTube tutorials or read tips from celeb MUAs, there’s no denying it’s a learning curve. However, a lot of the information, or even the products out there, don’t always cater to the beautiful range of skin tones that we see in the world around us. So, we spoke to four incredible celeb MUAs who work with supermodels like Adut Akech Bior and Winnie Harlow, as well as stars like Taraji P. Henson and Nicki Minaj. They spilled all of their need-to-know tips for deep skin tones while sharing their fave products along the way.

How to Find the Perfect Foundation Match

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A post shared by Keita Moore (@kilprity)

Finding the perfect foundation shade is a mission for most, but it’s a task that’s especially difficult for those with deeper complexions. And although brands are finally developing wider shade ranges, finding a flawless match still requires time and effort. Here are the MUA-approved tips for finding your ride-or-die foundation…

Identify Your Undertone

Keita Moore, who works with goddesses like Adut Akech Bior and Halima Aden, warns, “You’re probably never going to find the perfect foundation the first time, sometimes it takes trial and error.” However, he notes, “The first thing you want to do is identify your undertone.” Do you have a red, golden, or neutral undertone? Once you know your undertone, Keita recommends matching your cheek or jaw area… More on that below!

Prioritize Finding a Real Skin Match

Porsche Cooper, whose celebrity clientele includes Mary J. Blige and our current girl crush, Elaine Welteroth, says, “because our complexions are made up of more than one color, finding a foundation that perfectly matches can be daunting.” Therefore, she insists it’s important to find a shade that “seamlessly matches your neckline and décolleté, so it looks believable” rather than finding a shade to brighten, warm, or deepen your complexion. Porsche adds that brightening or warming your complexion should be achieved “with additional products to mimic a natural appearance.”

Porsche also adds that when buying a new foundation, you should always prioritize finding the right shade because the finish (dewy, matte or natural) can be manipulated. For example, mix your foundation with a drop of a liquid highlighter for a dewy finish, or for a matte finish, complete the look with a dusting of setting powder.

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Use the Three Swatch Technique

Ashunta Sheriff-Kendricks, AKA Taraji P. Henson’s go-to MUA, says the easiest shade-matching method is the three-swatch technique. “You swipe the shade you believe will work and two other shades that you feel are close as matches. Whichever one disappears or melts into the skin is the one that matches the skin perfectly. It works every time.” She says that even with her years of experience in the industry, “I still use this technique to shade match for all complexion.”

Match the Jawline

Alana Wright agrees with Ashunta on the three-swatch technique and also suggests that to ensure the complexion doesn’t look flat and one-dimensional, “I match the jawline with my foundation color with a blended swipe and match my concealer (or secondary foundation/or foundation and concealer hybrid) with my décolleté area.” Alana says, “This will ensure that there are no large color variances between the face, neck, and ears.”

How to Contour Deep Skin Tones

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A post shared by Keita Moore (@kilprity)

Contouring helps to add depth and dimension, and there are two popular ways to do this: reverse contouring, which focuses on highlighting the high planes of the face, and the ‘traditional’ contouring technique, which adds warmth to the cheekbones and outer areas of the face.

Focus on Adding Warmth

Keita Moore said that he contours his A-list clientele to add warmth for a sculpted, sun-kissed finish. “For deeper skin tones, I usually always go warmer around the perimeter of the face and into the contours. This gives dimension and that sun-kissed look as if the warmth from the sun is hugging the contour.”

Porsche agrees with Keita and outlines her go-to contouring method. “My preference is to apply a neutral cream foundation along with the desired contoured areas, blend, then set with a warmer shade of bronzer for multi-dimensional shading.” Porsche says for this technique she swears by the Fenty Beauty Sun Stalk’r Instant Warmth Bronzer, $34, as it has a great shade range.

Pick the Right Shade

Screen Shot 2Source: Ashunta Sheriff-Kendricks

As with any complexion hack, Ashunta said it’s essential to find the right shade, “My contouring tip is to pick a shade three shades deeper than your complexion that’s also warm in undertone. This helps to create the depth and richness needed in areas so that the face is sculpted and shaped properly.”

Reverse Contour

Porsche Cooper says for a quick sculpted finish, reverse contouring is a great and easy option. She explains, “For a quick reverse contour look, after you’ve applied foundation, apply the lighter shade of concealer normally used under your eyes to the bridge of your nose, inner forehead area, and under your cheekbones to naturally highlight the contours of your face.” She adds that for this technique, you must “Take the time to properly blend all lines to guarantee a seamless finish.”

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A post shared by PORSCHE COOPER (@porschefabulous) on

Focus on Highlighting

Instead of contouring, Alana Wright also opts for highlighting, “I prefer highlighting deeper skin tones to create more dimension than heavy contouring. It looks more natural and creates an effortlessly radiant-looking complexion.”

For this technique, she recommends using a cream highlighter that has a sheen. “Take a pearl-sized amount and warm it up with the palms of your hands and press into the high planes throughout the face.” If you want a more targeted highlight, Alana says, “I enjoy using fluffy, domed brushes typically used for shadow blending as the bristles of the brush do all of the work for you.” However, she warns, “Be sure not to oversaturate the bristles.”

Eyeshadow Tips for Deep Skin Tones

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A post shared by Alana Wright (@alanawrightmakeup) on

Since 2022 is all about the eyes, there’s no better time to master your eyeshadow technique, and who better to learn from than the pros?

Always use a Primer

Before you even pick up your eyeshadow palette, Ashunta recommends using an eyeshadow primer.“I believe using an eye shadow primer helps tremendously because darker skin tones typically have oily eyelids, therefore, eyeshadow can fade or disappear.” The Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion, $25, is our go-to as it allows for seamless application and ensures the eyeshadow lasts all day long.

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A post shared by Keita Moore (@kilprity)

Create a Long-Lasting Base

For a long-lasting look, Alana suggests creating a base using pencil eyeliner. “Different shades of brown, plum, and navy pencil liners are great neutral-looking eyeshadow bases. It helps create a great base for powdered shadow and adds more depth on deeper skin tones without looking too dramatic.”

Don’t Limit Your Color Palette 

Porsche insists that when it comes to picking an eyeshadow shade, there are no rules! “Opposed to what many have been taught, deeper skin tones can wear ANY color under the sun, and placement is dependent on the level of comfort and confidence of the wearer.” However, with that said, when using icy tones like pastels, Porsche recommends “balancing them with darker colors or eyeliner to give dimension that contours the eye.”

Go Bright!

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A post shared by Alana Wright (@alanawrightmakeup) on

Porsche says that while you can make any eyeshadow color work for deep skin tones, her go-to is bright, neon hues. She even spilled her two go-to neon looks…“A fresh approach is to highlight the inner corner of your eyes with shades of orange, pink, purple, blue, or green for a pop of color.”

Another easy hack that Porsche swears by is transforming a vibrant eyeshadow into a neon liner. “Transform bold eyeshadows into eyeliner that hugs the perimeter of the eyes by using a brush with a flat edge to apply the pigment as close to the lash line as possible, then follow with loads of mascara or a false lash.”

Lipstick Tips for Deeper Skin Tones

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No makeup look is complete without a lip – it brings everything together! Whether you keep it simple with a clear gloss or slay a fierce lip, here are five need-to-know application hacks.

Moisturize your Lips

“Chapped lips are never sexy and hydrated lips are always key to killing any lip look. Ensure your lips are smooth and well moisturized. Especially for matte lip lovers in colder temperatures, apply lip balm and blot off the excess before application,” says Porsche. Check out this post for our fave new lip balms.

Keep the Edges Clean

Slaying a bold lip requires precision! Porsche confirms, “A clean edge for bold lipstick colors is key, so remember to clean up any mistakes along the perimeter with a concealer that matches your skin tone or with mini Q-tips and makeup remover kept close by.”

Slay a 90s Lip

There’s no denying the classic 90s lip has made a major comeback. Keita Moore outlines how to he slays the look, “I’ve been lining heavy with deep brown liners and taking it outside the lip line to give a fuller appearance and then filling the center with a shade two to three shades lighter.” We LOVE this look below using a gloss to add a sexy shine to perfectly contoured lips.

Use Your Lipstick as Blush

Just because a cream product doesn’t distinguish itself as a multi-tasking lip and cheek combo, that doesn’t mean it can’t double down as a cream blusher and lipstick color. According to Porsche, “Deep pink and coral lipsticks double as gorgeous cream blush when in a pinch.” Porsche recommends to “Warm the product on the back of your hand and apply with your middle fingertips to the high planes of your cheekbones for an instant lift of color.”

Use an Eyeliner as Lipliner

Alana Wright revealed that to add definition to her pout, she relies on eyeliners instead of traditional lip liners. “Some brown eyeliners are great to use as lip liner on deep skin tones. Especially brown shades that don’t have a red base like the MAC Cosmetics Eye Pencil, $17, in Coffee.”

For more amazing makeup tips, check out 14 eyeshadow tips that’ll take you from beginner to pro.

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