How To Shop For Foundation As A Swarthy Lass

Shopping for foundation for the first time is often a hair-rippingly frustrating experience that becomes even moreso if you’re not some shade of pale to medium beige.
Publish date:
November 22, 2013
foundation, beauty, skin tones

If you are interested in shopping for or discussing foundations for the very pale, please refer to the article on that topic!

Shopping for foundation for the first time is often a hair-rippingly frustrating experience that becomes even moreso if you’re not some shade of pale to medium beige. For the scores and scores of various shades of beige, most makeup brands seem to phone it in with one honey-brown shade, if that, as though this barest minimum will placate all of us with darker skin.

Many of us decide not to wear makeup at all, because there’s no point in spending money on a company that begrudgingly accommodates us only to look ghastly as a result. Times will arise, however, when foundation makeup is a necessity. How do you even begin looking?

Having semi-recently been in this exact same situation, I have a few tips to help ease the quest of finding the perfect brown for your skin.

Get thine deep brown ass out of the damn drug store.

It’s common knowledge that the average drug stores rarely have anything in stock that’s darker than John Bohener’s spray tan, and I’ll tell you why: drug store franchise owners (and a few companies, as well,) are actually deathly allergic to black buying dollars. It’s such a serious allergy that even the sight of a deep-brown woman advancing toward them with money in her outstretched hands sends them into anaphylactic convulsions.

When staring at the makeup in the cosmetics aisle at your local drug store, think of the children you’ll orphan and the spouses you’ll widow. Keep your deadly, deadly brown lady dollars to yourself, and go elsewhere.

Like Sephora!

Sephora is an amazing resource both for seasoned makeup professionals and those interested in trying out makeup for the first time in a low-stress environment that’s not driven by brand loyalty or commissions. I’m looking at you, average department store cosmetics department.

The staff at Sephora are extremely knowledgeable and helpful both to people who know exactly what they’re looking for and the lost souls just recently forbidden from purchasing anything from the drug store, so flag someone down if you need assistance.

More than anything, though, Sephora is a wonderland of brown makeup for brown ladies. Every brand that I perused had browns in a diverse range of depths and temperatures, and all the brands there are of excellent quality. As per suggested in another brown lady product recommendation post, I tried Bobbi Brown’s foundation sticks ($42) and never, ever looked back.

Were I not so irrevocably beholden to the perfection that is Bobbi Brown, however, I would also be tempted to give Clinique a try as well. Their foundations run in a diverse range of medium to deep browns, all with varying temperatures for different undertones, as both liquid and pressed powder foundations.

That’s nice and everything, but I’m broke as a joke.

Don’t fret! There are still options, even for those of us with the emptiest of wallets.

The best thing to do when on a tight budget is to look for kits. Sephora has a number high-quality kits that dip into the deep browns of our complexions, and some come with brushes, primer, and even carrying cases. Sephora also has testers available to try out the foundations before purchasing, which is always an added bonus. Trying on different brands will be incredibly useful in finding out if you have copper, olive or blue undertones, which helps narrow down which brands will work best for you.

The Bare Minerals Get Started Kit in Golden Deep ($68) is a good place to start for deep skinned ladies. Their deepest shades (obviously) run golden, which is perfect for those of us with olive undertones. In addition to its two foundations, concealer, and tinted moisturizer, it also comes with three application brushes, primer, and a travel bag. Everything you need to get started is perfectly bundled and ready to go!

The Makeup For Ever HD Complexion Starter Kit ($79) is another great kit for the budget first-time makeup shopper. In this kit is their HD microfinish Powder, a kabiki brush, HD Microperfecting Primer, and HD Invisible Cover Foundation. One of the great things about this kit is that there’s a lot more diversity of undertones for the foundations than with Bare Minerals, which makes getting a perfect match much easier. The products are also of a luxuriant quality that looks seamless when sealed with powder.

…$79? You have a really weird definition of “emptiest of wallets”.

Ok, fair.

Where do you start if you’re BROKE broke, then? Keep avoiding the drug store and hit up Target, if you have one in your city, and especially if said Target is in a swarthier neighborhood. Many of the same brands that offered nothing but a sea of beige in the drug stores will suddenly, magically, have deep brown options as well.

Iman Cosmetics were founded by the supermodel Iman in 1994. Sick of every brand being so deathly allergic to her money, Iman used her influence in the fashion industry to create her own line of makeup, solely for women of medium to dark hues. Each shade has multiple formulations for different undertones. Her line can be found at Target and is of wonderful quality, and it’s a must for every deep brown lady to try.

I’m partial to foundation sticks over other forms of foundation due to their ease of use, and Iman has a collection of them in all our beautiful hues.

After glaring at the Covergirl section at the local drug store, I was blown away by the breadth of browns to be found in their Queen collection. They offer foundation in both liquid and pressed powder, at a price point that even the strongest wallet-vacuum can’t scoff at.

There are a couple of other brands that have one or two brown shades that I’m choosing not to name, because brown ladies like ourselves come in far more than one or two shades. While it can be a nice start, it’s still not nearly enough to congratulate with monetary support.

What are your favorite brands for brown foundation?