When shopping for the best foundation for dark skin, there are a few factors at play. Aside from deciding if you're after a super-smooth base that will last all day or a full-coverage formula to see you through a Friday night of dancing, landing on the perfect foundation for your desired finish (especially for darker skin) can be both time-consuming and disheartening.
While we might have come a long way since NW45-for-all days (thank you, Rihanna), when it comes to dark-skin-friendly foundations, finding formulas without the dreaded 'too red' or 'vaguely ashy' undertones is still a common issue. A great foundation for dark skin requires brands to have an understanding of deeper skin tones—meaning less pink and yellow undertones and more warm, cool and neutral undertones. It's safe to say, we still have a way to go when it comes to creating foundations that suit darker skin (of all shades) in wearable finishes.
Luckily, if you're looking for the best foundation for dark skin, then you've come to the right place. As a beauty journalist with extensive knowledge on what makes a foundation for dark skin great, I've tested a load of foundations to find the very best on the market right now.
Before scrolling, don't forget to check out the Marie Claire UK guides to the best foundation for acne-prone skin, the best foundation for oily skin and the best foundation for dry skin. If you like a super-smooth base that will last all day, we've also rounded up the best full coverage foundations. For those of you who prefer a more sheer finish, why not check out our guide to the best tinted moisturisers? You are welcome.
1. Sleek In Your Tone 24 Hour Foundation
Sleek In Your Tone 24 Hour Foundation
The OG drugstore foundation option for dark skin girls has had a grown-up makeover. Sleek's newest offering, aptly named 'In Your Tone', is a semi-matte, medium-coverage foundation. I loved this both because of its tonal match and even coverage, when applied with my favourite stippling brush. I found the foundation had more of a natural finish, but in terms of staying power, I would lean towards using this in the day rather than full glam for the night.
2. Armani Luminous Silk Foundation
Armani Luminous Silk Foundation
Being a fan of Armani’s cult beauty concealer is one thing, but trusting that the equally beloved Luminous Silk Foundation would hold up against the undertone test is quite another. However, I am glad I took the plunge. This lightweight and easy-to-build foundation surprised me with its seamless coverage and adaptability—from daily glowy wear to a full date-night out. Despite its dewy nature, this foundation didn’t dramatically slip and settle in my laughter lines or disappear from my fringe-covered brow, making it a newest favourite all-rounder.
3. Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation
Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation
Putting the fanfare of Fenty's extended foundation aside (and I say this lightly as 50 shades are far from something to sniff at), this long-wearing formula is definitely one to believe the hype over—it’s just that good. I love wearing around two pumps of this foundation on those pre-period days when my skin is leaning towards the oilier and more textured side.
4. Pat Mcgrath Sublime Perfection Foundation
Pat Mcgrath Sublime Perfection Foundation
This formula is not for the overzealous, messy make-up appliers amongst us—a fact I discovered after the second squirt across my make-up desk. However, don’t let this unique trait steer you off because this foundation is a dreamy thin base that covers all dark marks and spot scars without an orange hue in sight. I love using a stippling brush to apply my foundation, but when using this formula I opted for a hybrid fingertip and brush approach. After mastering the art of the perfect pump and wearing this foundation for a week, the case for this product joining my daily rotation was made. Full coverage and skin-like? Sign me up.
5. Milk Makeup Flex Foundation Stick
Milk Makeup Flex Foundation Stick
I am normally not a huge fan of stick foundations because, as a serial eye rubber, I like to limit the amount of tugging and pulling I do to my face. However, the ‘glide-ability’ of this creamy stick foundation was enough to make me start to reconsider. I’ve been a big fan of NYC-based brand Milk for years thanks to its Black girl-friendly bronzers and cruelty-free foundations, and the fact that four swipes of this foundation (forehead, chin, both cheeks) is enough to create a medium coverage look that doesn’t cake makes it a winner in my book.
6. Hourglass Ambient Soft Glow Foundation
Hourglass Ambient Soft Glow Foundation
I have to admit, when initially applying this foundation I thought: oh dear, another to add to the reddish hue pile. However, after initial apprehension and a bit of brush blending I was left with a soft-filtered look that lasted all day. I loved this foundation for its flexibility but found it to be especially great as a lone base with bronzer for quick make-up days.