Best Makeup Secrets for Black Women

Best Makeup Secrets for Black Women

Getting started with makeup and developing a complete look can be overwhelming for a lot of women. There are so many options available with such varied purposes, it’s difficult to determine what you need and how to apply it. As black women, we tend to have an added challenge when trying to find the best products and shades because makeup is rarely designed for our skin color. Fortunately, this is changing and more companies, like Mented Cosmetics, are making makeup for women of color more readily available. However, even with these new formulas, there is still a lot to learn if you want to create the best beauty routine for your unique skin and style. We have gathered all the tips and tricks for the best makeup for black women in one comprehensive guide, so you can be confident in every cosmetic decision you make.

Understanding Your Skin

Selecting the best makeup for African American skin has a lot to do with recognizing the unique elements of your skin that result in your exact shade. Going beyond the color of your skin, its distinct shade is determined by two factors: skin tone and undertone. Skin tone is the presence or absence of the pigment known as melanin. The more melanin your skin has, the darker your skin tone will be. Undertone, on the other hand, is the tinting just below the surface of your skin which could range from pink or red to green or yellow. You skin tone could change over time, after sun exposure for example, but your undertone will always remain the same. In addition, two women may actually have the same skin tone, but with different undertones, resulting in distinctly different appearances. Undertones can generally be classified into one of three categories:

  • Warm: Warm undertones include yellow, peachy, or golden colors.
  • Cool: Pink, red, or blue hues are considered cool undertones.  
  • Neutral: A mixture of colors or an apparent lack of them is regarded as neutral undertones.

  • One common mistake that many dark-skinned women make is assuming that they can only have warm undertones, when in reality we can have cool undertones as easily as fair skinned women. There are a few easy ways to help you determine what your undertone might be.

  • The Vein Test. Look at the inside of your wrist or forearm and find the veins right below the surface of your skin. If they appear blue-ish, you probably have cool undertones. If they look more green-ish, you likely have warm undertones. This seems simple enough but sometimes our skin color makes it difficult to determine the color of our veins or even see them in the first place. In that case, try one of the following alternative methods.
  • The White Wall Test. Positioning yourself in front of a white wall should help emphasize the undertone colors of your skin. Make sure you have a clean, fresh face and look into a mirror with the wall behind you, minimizing any other colors in view. If you don’t have a white wall, hanging a white sheet or towel behind should do the trick as well.
  • The Clothing Test. Should all else fail, simply try wearing different colors and note what looks best on you. Warm undertones will look great in yellows, reds, oranges, and browns. Cool undertones tend to look their best in blues, purples, and greens. Jewelry can also help, as gold looks best on warm undertones and silver on cool undertones.

  • Once you have determined both your skin tone and undertone, you are ready to begin selecting your makeup and following a step by step makeup tutorial for dark skin.

    Best Makeup for African American Women

    Building a complete beauty routine as a woman of color can be difficult and challenging, but it doesn’t have to be. Understanding the intricacy of your skin tone and undertone will help you pick out the right beauty products - from contour for dark skin to lipsticks - to create the most flattering look and emphasize your natural beauty. Below are some of our favorite makeup tips for women of color and also a few mistakes to avoid so you can always look and feel your best.

    Pick the Right Base

    Too often, we as black women are forced to choose from lines of foundation that are either too dark or too light, too reddish or too orangey. This often results in having to make our own combinations of multiple makeup brands or else face leaving our otherwise gorgeous skin looking ashy or unnatural.

    Acknowledging your undertones is usually the answer to this problem and can help guide you to your perfect shade. Most makeup brands organize their foundations into shade families and then by undertone, including yellow/orange for warmer skin, red/orange for warm to neutral skin, red tints for neutral to cool, and blue/red tones for cool skin. Being able to differentiate between these undertone groups within a given shade family can help you pick the perfect color.

    When you shop for foundation, try to test a few different shades. Pick a tone family and then select varying undertones to sample. Apply each on different patches of your skin and let them sink in for about five minutes before evaluating their appearance under ample light, natural if possible. Continue this process until you find a shade that seems to blend naturally after sitting on your skin. At Mented, we created a foundation sample pack to help with this process so you can easily test 16 different foundation shades for a very low cost to determine your perfect shade.

    Can’t find the right match? Unfortunately, many traditional cosmetic companies formulate their darker foundations by simply adding black or brown to their lighter shades. That certainly works to make the product darker, but doesn’t usually create a true match with dark skin. At Mented, we have designed our products to be pigmented specifically for dark skin - not as an afterthought - so you can finally find the perfect foundation for dark skin.

    Make Your Lips Pop

    Our dark skin is able to support rich and bright hues like no one else’s. From vibrant oranges and electric purples to deep reds and berry tones, these makeup colors pop against our skin and can help you create a stylish, sophisticated look, especially when it comes to lip colors. For red lipsticks, in particular, lighter skinned individuals should try opting for a deep orange or salmon color. Deeper skin tones with cool undertones can utilize true reds that are richer in hue, while those with dark skin and warm undertones might look best in a burgundy wine hue. Purples, golds, and chocolate lip colors tend to look good on most black women regardless of their undertone...the perfect opportunity to have fun & experiment with your style! As far as colors to avoid, stay away from silver, gray, and white which tend to make dark skin look ashy.

    To find your perfect everyday nude or red lip color, check out the Mented guide for your best lip colors. We specifically created lip colors for dark skin to match both the shades and undertones to enhance your beauty look.

    Amp Up Your Eyes

    Similar to our ability to flawlessly sport vibrant lip colors, bold eye makeup can add more effortless sophistication to your look. First, it’s key to focus on the brows. Whether you have sparse or more full eyebrows, taking the time to shape and fill them can help frame and emphasize your eyes. Experiment with pencils, liners, and brow powder to find the look you are most comfortable with. If you’re worried about your shape appearing unnatural, a brow stencil can help guide you.

    After creating a strong frame for your eyes with the brows, it’s time to play with the lids! This is where you can really have fun and tune your look based on your style and needs. If you are looking for an everyday look, try blending different combinations of neutrals. Or, if you’re more in the mood to experiment, go for anything from bold colors to shimmering metallics to match your mood. It’s especially easy to have fun with makeup on the eyes because they’re a blank canvas on which you can paint, mix, add and remove, so don’t feel scared to play around to create your look. 

    Highlight Your Natural Beauty

    Despite what some women seem to think, blush, bronzer, and highlighter are not exclusive to fair skinned women. Rather, these beauty products help ensure your face, regardless of color, doesn’t look flat after applying your foundation by enhancing the natural features of your face and making them pop. For women of color, warm brown bronzers or blush works great for neutral and warm undertones, while berry colored blush can help add a warm glow to otherwise cool skin.

    Highlighter is also a fabulous option to accent areas of your face with a lighter color or faint shimmer. Overall, you should try to avoid too much shimmer or glitter because light reflecting pigment on dark skin can inadvertently accentuate rough or uneven skin. However, if applied correctly, a dewy highlight across your cheekbone will look gorgeous and be the perfect finishing touch to your overall look.

    Care For Your Skin

    Properly caring for your skin is one of the most important and effective beauty tips for every woman regardless of skin color. When your skin is clear and even, your makeup will apply more smoothly, amplifying your natural beauty instead of trying to cover up imperfections. If you are new to the world of skincare, start simple and slowly incorporate more products as you become comfortable with your basic routine. The essentials of a complete skincare regimen include a cleanser, toner, and moisturizer. These three steps can help clear your skin of breakouts, prevent future acne, even your skin tone, and address any dryness that may visibly age your skin. Within these categories, you can do a lot of experimenting with ingredients and brands to find what works best for your skin. Later, you might even choose to add in a serum to help target specific skin concerns. Sunscreen is also critical for daily wear, even if it is cloudy, to protect against damage.

    We founded Mented Cosmetics because we believe every dark skinned woman should be able to find herself in the world of beauty. Our products are specifically designed with you in mind and are pigmented to fit your needs as a woman of color. Since our start with just 6 lip shades, we have expanded our lip collection while adding foundations, eyeshadows, and nail colors to help you build a beauty routine that fits you, not the other way around. This is our promise to you: where there once was frustration and anger there can now be joy and relief because we celebrate you with our products and mission!