As a woman of colour there is nothing more frustrating than trying on make-up and not seeing anything on your face. You slather and apply and reapply and nothing. Not a damn thing is noticeable on your face. You've read the reviews, "Stays on all day!", "Makes my skin glow!", "So worth the money" but what the hell are they talking about?? Then you realize it, the make-up company did not make this for you, they made this make-up with white faces in mind.
Often times I see make-up ads and I see beautiful porcelain skin painting for the gods and I think, "I could recreate that look" but you know what? I can't. I never will be able to because my skin tone is not like that, my facial features are not molded into an European point. I have high round cheekbones, my skin is darker above my lips and on the sides of my face, and my lids are much more purple than my face. But do you ever read make-up tips about how to counter act that? Hardly. Maybe a "special" on make-up for different ethnicity but even that is inadequate because there is not just one type of black face. In most make-up ads you'll see the same women over and over, Beyonce, Halle Berry, Jennifer Lopez and Queen Latifah, as if in order to be considered beautiful as a brown woman you have to be really fucking famous and rich.
Okay so lets talk tea.
Foundation is tricky, if you are trying to find your colour you will probably have to buy two, one for your dark spots and one for you highlights. Black skin, while high in melanine that keeps us looking so young for so long, also is prone to pigmentation issues. I, for example, have a skin tone is yellowish in the middle of my face and reddish on the rest of it. I have a mix of colours to make up my face, MAC concealer in NW30, MAC Select Cover in NW40, and MAC Studio Fix in C6.
Make-up artist Priscillano shows just how different the shades can be
Foundation is your friend. It is. But you've got to be honest with yourself, it doesn't matter how much concealer you use, you are not white. You may have Native American in you but that was generations ago. Often I see many women who use a completely different foundation than what they need. Work with your skin tone to compliment it, not against it to hide it.
Concealer, as miraculous as it is, is to be used sparingly. Find one that is two shades lighter than your natural skin tone and the same colour temperature than your foundation. Skin tones for people of colour are usually reddish or yellow and if you have darker skin you might even have a blue/purpleish tone to your skin.
Powder is a little tougher, you don't want something that makes you look ashy but you need something that blends into your skin. What many people don't know is how sensitive black skin is. Often times if you have had acne you get scars and these scars don't fade, they stay as dark marks on your skin, this is called hyperpigmentaion and is very common. Some black women will use fade cream but I would think twice about this. Most fade creams have been linked to burns, skin irritation and nonuniform skin pigmentation and can we all talk about how fucked up it is? We live in a world that prefers light skin. Dark skin is linked to all sorts of prejudice and injustices, people believe that dark skin is ugly and unattractive and we carry around these thoughts about our own skin and it turns into self hate. Your skin is your skin and this history of preference for light skin is bullshit that humans made up to exclude a certain group of people. Your skin is just the wrapper for the delicious person you are on the inside, we may not get to decide our wrapper but it doesn't change who we are on the inside.
Instead of using bleach creams or other bullshits try a moisturizer than evens skin tone. I use Ambi moisturizer for several years and it has evened out my skin greatly. The great thing about Ambi is that is is specifically designed for people of colour.
Okay back to powder! Neutral or "colourless" powders often make you look very chalky and ashy. You should find a powder that matches your foundation or your natural skin tone.
Blushes - most white make-up artists will tell you that you should stick to browns and bronze blushes because reds/oranges/pinks look unnatural on brown skin. Bullshit. You can use reds, pinks, oranges, purples, browns but you should just pay attention to your natural tone. If your skin is yellow based avoid anything orange based, if your skin is reddish or blue/purple try a bronze or copper shade. I use a brown blush under my cheekbones as a contour and pink on the apples of my cheek for a glowing look. Tint blushes are also good for just getting a flush of colour and melting into the skin. You see white people use blush to give their skin come sort of colour but you already have colour babe! Blush is not that necessary for your look since your beautiful, naturally tanned skin makes you look healthy and bright.
Eye shadow is hit or miss, most of them are absolute shit. So many of them barely show up or if they do show up, they show up pale or ashy and that's not good. Look for eyeshadows that have pigments in them, for intense pops of colour. I'm going through a make-up book that-shall-not-be-named, that says that bright colours shouldn't be used on brown skin. Ring Ring. Hello? No. The beauty of brown skin is that we can go bright and it complements our deep skin tone. Where as pale skin might look over the top with a bright yellow liner and black mascara, brown girls can pull it off. With neons so popular this season go bright, don't just stick to neutrals. Anyone that says you should stick to neutrals is a hater and should kick rocks with no socks just flip flops.
Here are my recommendations for make-up:
MAC cosmetics - great lipsticks, foundations, concealers, everything!