Makeup Tips for All Skin Tones

Amy Julian

Too often, fashion magazines and beauty blogs only give tips on what makeup works best for an ethnically narrow audience. It can be frustrating when you want to look your best but are clueless on the best products fro for your skin tone. Here’s a quick guide at to looking your best, based on your unique skin tone.


Common problems: Often times, Asian women try to undo their skin’s natural undertones and come off looking either too orange or too flushed. They may also have difficultly with getting achieving standout eyes.

What to look for: The best bet for a foundation is something with a yellow-golden undertone, which will enhance the your natural Asian undertones of the skin. Assessing the crease of your eyes will give you a better idea of how to apply eyeliner and shadow. General rule of thumb: If you have a lot of fold above the eye, you can get away with more dramatic and smokey eyes; less fold you have, try to stick with bronze, lilac, or other understated, shimmery shadows to avoid looking like a raccoon. For the lips, try and stick with a neutral tone, with an understated pink. A light gloss always works, because it doesn’t overpower the face.

What to avoid: Products, primarily foundations, concealers and blushes, with pink undertones. Avoid too-pink blush or you will look too flushed. Don’t go too heavy on the shadow. Even with dramatic folds above the eye, too much shadow takes away from the delicate facial structure of Asian women. Don’t go with scarlet red or dark merlot-colored lipsticks.

Suggested Products: id i.d. Bare bareMinerals Foundation in Fairly Light, $25.00; Physicians Formula Concealer Stick in Yellow, $5.49; ULTA Silky Wear Lip Color in Sunlit Sand, $8.00; L’Oreal Lineur Intense Liner, $7.99.


Common Problems: Finding the right shade to complement your skin tone can often pose a problem, depending on how dark or light your complexion is. Staying on top of skin care by cleansing and using a mild toner can help with shiny or oily patches, and finding an eye shadow that you can see on the skin can also be frustrating.

What to look for: This depends on how rich your skin tone is; if you have dark, ebony skin, you probably want to find a foundation with a bluish-purple undertone, and for caramel skin, look for a foundation with a golden, caramel undertone to highlight your glowing complexion. Finding eye shadow can often be difficult, especially if you are looking for dramatic eyes. Using black eyeliner is always a safe standby to outline the eyes. A shimmery shadow, rather than a matte shadow, will make your eyes pop. Purples, greens, and golds look great on African darker skin tones and make eyes stand out! Gloss your lips with a tinted gloss one shade darker than your lip color. You are better off going a shade darker and looking sultry than looking like your lips are galactic.

What to avoid: Avoid a foundation that is lighter than your skin tone. If you have more oily skin, try to stick with a water-based, liquid foundation; a powder can “find” the oil and make you look cakey. Try to sStick with shimmery, translucent shadows instead of paint-like shadows to avoid looking too done updone-up or matte shadows that don’t show up on your skin. A rich eye shadow will make your whole look come together. Try not to go too dark on the lips if you have a lighter skin tone, and vice versa for dark skin; the point of lip color is to simulate a natural (or could-be natural) look.

Suggested Products: IMAN Cosmetics Second to None Foundation in Clay 3, $13.99; Smashbox Photo Finish Lipstick in Extravaganza, $22.00; L’Oreal HIP Shocking Shadow Pigments in Visionary, $10.99; Urban Decay Sparkly, Sweet Body Powder, $26.00.


Common Problems: Just like African-American skin, people who are Hispanic often have a range of skin tones, from light to nearly black,. Sso it can often be difficult to find the right foundation. Big lips are hard to highlight without tons of lip liner, which can look overdone.

What to look for: If your skin is lighter, look for a bare, almost transparent loose powder. Look for foundations with golden undertones if you have a caramel complexion. Smokey eyes can play up your dark features. Hispanic skin tones are the ones that can best pull off scarlet red lips, but only for special events and at night. You can also look for a purple-undertone lip color, to compliment complement your dark eyes. A quick brush of blush in a light rose on your cheekbones, upwards towards your temple, and blended with your fingers, will complete your look.

What to avoid: Try not to use too much powdered foundation, ; it’ll look cakey. Don’t choose a pink- or silver-toned lip color, as it’ll look way too bright against your skin. Avoid too much bronzer, as it’ll make your natural tone appear orange and artificial. Avoid white and silver eye shadows, as they will often wash out your appearance. Too many rainbow colors (i.e.: greens, pinks, purples) will often look too clownish, so stick to neutrals on the eyes, including navy, gold, and blacks.

Suggested Products: Neutrogena Skin Clearing Oil Oil-Free Makeup in Softest Goal, $10.29; Elizabeth Arden Smokey Eyes Powder Pencil in Smokey Black, $16.00; Bare bareEssentials Buxom Lips lip color, $18.00; L’Oreal Wear Infinite Eye Shadow Quad in The Blue Eye, $6.89.


Common Problems: Caucasian women face a number of issues from redness to dryness to uneven skin tones. It’s also difficult to find the right shades of lip and eye makeup for your specific shade of skin. Looking pale and washed out can also pose a problem, so knowing which makeup to use is crucial.

What to look for: Look for tinted moisturizers and concealers with some sort of moisturizersmoisturizer in it, especially in the winter. Sticking to a liquid or semi-liquid foundation can help smooth over problem areas and create a flawless finish. Banish red by using a foundation specifically formulated to combat rosacea, a probable cause of red pigmentation. If you have fair skin, you should try light pinks and purples for your eyes. Darker skin can tolerate more diversity in pigment-rich colors. Be sure to apply a lengthening and volumizing mascara to make eyes jump out, matching the color of the mascara as close to your lash color as possible. One up up-and and-coming trend from many makeup artists is the use of navy liner and mascara in lieu of black; it doesn’t look as harsh, but still makes a bold statement. If wearing blush, look for a blush with peach undertone rather than a rosy -pink. Choose lipsticks with coral undertones, and if you’re not sure what shade lip color to get, remember that when going heavy on the eyes, go light with the lips and vice versa.

What to avoid: If you are looking for a more bronzed look, avoid harsh orange bronzers that look fake; stick with a bronzing moisturizer that gives you gradual color. Nothing looks worse than unnatural orange skin! Avoid looking too drab by applying some mascara, even if that’s all. Don’t force a look that isn’t you-if you are light light-skinned and have a delicate complexion, don’t go too heavy on the merlot lip stain or smokey eyes. As always, avoid looking too overdone.

Suggested Products: MAC Eye shadow in Expensive Pink, $14.00; Revlon Custom Creations Foundation, $10.99; Cover Girl Fantastic Lash Mascara in Black, $6.99; Sephora Gloss Lipstick in Sheer Rose, $6.00.

Have fun with your makeup and be creative. If you want to wear something, do it! It’s all about using your face as a palette for your own unique look. And remember that with or without makeup, you look fabulous!