Best foundations for darker skin tones 2021

T3’s roundup of the top 5 must-have foundations for darker skin tones

(Image credit: Getty)

It wasn’t long ago when it was difficult to find brands that had an all-inclusive range for every single person of our population, whereas today, there are a plethora of brands on the market that offer foundations for darker skin tones, extending their ranges to cater to darker skin and its varied skin undertones, unlike the past few years. 

However, just because there are so many ranges available for darker skin tones does not mean the fight is over, it’s still difficult to find a product from a brand that is right for you. 

For instance, there is no point purchasing a shade you think that might suit you if the undertone is not right, and a lot of beauty brands are known for getting the shade(s) right but the undertones wrong.

As always, you first need to understand what type of skin you have, i.e. dry, oily or combination, what are your skin concerns, i.e. do you need something light coverage or full coverage? 

You need to ask yourself these questions before you go ahead and purchase a foundation. It’s always important to note that when the foundation is exposed to light/heat and even air, the product itself can oxidize – meaning it will go a shade darker – so it’s key to try out different shades, test them, request samples before you set the date to go out and purchase your foundation. 

As eloquently put, Funmi Fetto, Vogue’s beauty editor states there is no such thing as the ‘perfect foundation’ considering the constant change of our climate. “I tell everyone to have what I call a ‘Foundation Wardrobe’ - a repertoire of bases you use in rotation. I personally have between five and six on the go at any one time. 

"Yes, of course, it’s over-indulgent (please forgive me, I’m a beauty editor) but you know something? It works. I always have one that is slightly darker, one slightly lighter, one a little matt, one a little more sheer, one full-coverage, one dewy… It’s the ultimate closet of bases for your many faces.“

Here is a summary of the best 5 foundations for darker skin tones.

The 5 best foundations for darker skin tones

best foundation for dark skin: Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation

(Image credit: Fenty)

1. Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation

The best foundation range with over 50 shades

Reasons to buy
+Full coverage foundation up to 50 shades available +Easy to apply 
Reasons to avoid
-Dries very quickly -Might not be suitable for those with dry skin

The Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Soft Matte was designed by Rhianna for women/men of colour who felt they were never represented within the beauty industry and struggled to find their perfect shade. This range shook up the beauty industry when it launched with 40 shades (now available in 50) with a whole range of shades for darker skin tones. This foundation is a hydrating, medium to full coverage foundation that has skin softeners such a sodium hyaluronate and grapeseed oil that allows you to have a long-lasting wear for all skin types. 

This foundation dries very quickly so you have to work fast with it in order to blend it into the skin properly and that is the only downside to it. This foundation also oxidizes (goes a shade darker when applied onto the skin) so it might be worth getting a shade up or down depending on your preference, or alternatively, the best option is to try out the samples first and see how it works on your skin. If you’re not a fan of a matte finish, the hydrating longwear foundation is also available if you’re looking for a dewier finish.

best foundation for dark skin: Nars Natural Radiant Longwear Foundation

(Image credit: Nars)

2. Nars Natural Radiant Longwear Foundation

Perfect foundation for beginners and for those looking for a HD finish

Reasons to buy
+Weightless coverage, medium-full coverage+Breathable formula
Reasons to avoid
-Product can oxidize -Can highlight texture on the skin even further 

The Nars foundation range is one of the most loved foundations for those of darker skin tones as the shade options are endless, and the undertone for the foundations are spot-on for those of darker skin tones. The foundation is long-wearing, fade-resistant and is enhanced with specialised skin-matching technology. This foundation is not drying at all and is enriched with watermelon, raspberry and apple extracts that supports the skin’s elastic fibres to help improve skin texture over time.

best foundation for dark skin: Dior Forever Foundation Matte

(Image credit: Dior)

3. Dior Forever Foundation Matte

Ideal for those looking for a 2-in-1 skincare infused foundation

Reasons to buy
+Full coverage and extensive skin shade range +Infused with skincare ingredients
Reasons to avoid
-Not always crease-proof -Quite pricey 

The Dior Forever foundation has a velvety matte finish on the skin and lasts for up to 24 hours, available in multiple shades and has a good range for darker skin tones. This foundation is also enriched with skincare ingredients, i.e. protective rose-hip extract which helps protect the quality of skin from environmental aggressors as well as reducing the appearance of pores. Not only does this foundation give excellent coverage, but it also refines the skin’s texture at the same time with an added SPF 35 Broad Spectrum Sunscreen to protect the skin. 

best foundation for dark skin: MAC Studio Fix Fluid SPF 15 Foundation

(Image credit: MAC)

4. MAC Studio Fix Fluid SPF 15 Foundation

A stable foundation must have

Reasons to buy
+Full coverage concealer, all shades and all skin types +Perfect if you’re looking for a flawless base
Reasons to avoid
-A very thick consistency -Can feel heavy on the skin

The MAC Studio Fix foundation is a stable in most people’s makeup kit as it has always boasted of an inclusive range of colours for all different types of skin whether that is oily, dry or combination skin. The shade range offered means that nobody gets left out. This foundation is known for its oil-control component that reduces the appearance of sweat and excess shine and is quite good for those with oily skin, and even if you do not have oily skin you can still achieve a natural or dewy base with this product or other types of foundations that MAC offers.

best foundation for dark skin: Huda Beauty Faux Filter Foundation

(Image credit: Huba Beauty)

5. Huda Beauty Faux Filter Foundation

Most popular concealer

Reasons to buy
+Full coverage foundation available in 30 shades +Covers all blemishes and gives the face an airbrushed finish
Reasons to avoid
-Smells like perfume and can irritable skin  -Can be drying at times

The Huda Beauty Faux Filter foundation offers an incredibly seamless full-coverage matte HD finish that lasts throughout the day and night. It’s proven to be water-resistant, budge-proof and is rich in Argan oil to help nourish the skin at the same time. The only negative reviews you will see about this foundation is the petal-esque perfume scent that it has, which many people find quite irritating especially on sensitive skin. 

Aside from that, this foundation is so heavily pigmented that it not only covers scars and dark spots, but also covers tattoos and can therefore be used all over the body. This foundation is available in sample sizes, which you can pick up at any of the stores that sell Huda Beauty products so you can really get a good feel for the product before you purchase. This foundation is available in 30 shades and has a good range of options for darker skin tones looking for the perfect match.

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Farhiya Ali
Farhiya Ali

Farhiya Ali is a freelance journalist, writer and researcher. She covers beauty, fragrance and grooming products for T3.