Best foundations for dark skin to suit all skin types and tones

We roadtested the best foundations for dark skin—from flawless matte finishes to glowier vibes

Collage of some of the best foundations for dark skin from e.l.f. Cosmetics, Uoma Beauty and Fenty Beauty
(Image credit: Future/brands pictured)

Those with darker skin tones will be familiar with the struggles of finding the best foundations for dark skin. While things have definitely shifted in the right direction over the past five to 10 years, there is still a long way to go in terms of brands getting it right across the board. 

That said, some makeup brands, like Fenty Beauty, have nailed it from day one, and many others have upped their game in terms of creating complexion products with shade ranges that are both broad AND inclusive. “It’s important to assess if the brand has a range of colors that can cater to dark-skinned women in particular," says professional makeup artist Deji Rachel. "If they do, they have put in thought, detail, and work into the best foundation color that works for you.”

Rachel also stresses not to test shades on the back of your hands, as darker skin types "have different tones all throughout our bodies, therefore, our hand color does not match our face”. She adds that assessing foundations in terms of how they adapt to your undertones is also important, as is “always checking in natural lighting not store light"—an equally good tip to bear in mind when shopping for the best eyeshadows for dark skin too. We’ve tested out the best foundations for dark skin, spanning super affordable formulas to luxurious high-end products.

Meet the experts on foundations for dark skin

  • Deji Rachel (opens in new tab) is a professional makeup artist whose work includes bridal makeup. She has explained to My Imperfect Life readers tips on successfully shopping for a foundation for dark skin. 

How we tested the best foundations for dark skin

When testing contenders for the best foundations for dark skin, our tester took into account the following factors to bring you our edit of the best buys.

  • Number of shades on offer
  • Cost
  • Ease of application
  • Buildability
  • Finish
  • Longevity of wear
  • Packaging 

The best foundations for dark skin as tested by a beauty expert

Uoma Beauty - Say What? foundation

(Image credit: Future)

1. Uoma Beauty Say What?! Foundation

Best foundation for dark skin with hyperpigmentation

Specifications

RRP: $39/£30
Number of shades: 51
Finish: Matte

Reasons to buy

+
Can skip color correcting with hyperpigmentation
+
Full coverage

Reasons to avoid

-
Range of shades could be overwhelming 

If you’re looking for the best foundation for dark skin with an immaculate finish, then look no further. Uoma Beauty’s Say What is truly a contender for one of the best matte finish products ever made. I’ll be honest, with 51 shades on offer, it can take a while to figure out how to match foundation to your skin online but I got there in the end.

This product is perfect if you have hyperpigmentation, as you can actually skip color correcting, and you won’t have to worry about it creasing into any smile lines either. It’s worth noting that the formula is quite runny in consistency, so using a sponge like a beautyblender will give you more control. This foundation will give you full coverage, so if you are after a light BB cream sort of vibe, hold back on the pump or mix with a little moisturizer.

Elf Flawless Finish Foundation

(Image credit: Future)

2. e.l.f. Cosmetics Flawless Satin Foundation

Best budget foundation for dark skin

Specifications

RRP: $10/£9
Number of shades : 40
Finish : Semi-matte

Reasons to buy

+
Very affordable
+
Skin-like finish
+
Good shade range 

Reasons to avoid

-
Can look cakey with lots of build
-
Not long-wearing or transfer proof

Previously known as Flawless Finish Foundation, this buy is a fraction of the price of many of its counterparts. Not only that, it also glides on perfectly, working at its best paired with a primer in order to minimize pores and acne scarring. Due to its lightweight formula it gives a demi-matte coverage, but I found it’s not one for building on as it can leave you a bit cakey. It’s best for a no-makeup makeup look, as it’s not super glowy but still gives you a skin-like finish.

It works fantastically for oily skin as well as dry, whether you prefer to apply foundation or concealer first. It’s not long-wearing, nor is it transfer-proof, but it’s great if you’re going on holiday and want to add a little glam, or if you don't mind reapplying a little throughout the day. And, because it's inexpensive, your budget may even stretch to getting both a winter and summer shade.

NARS Sheer Glow Foundation

(Image credit: Future)

3. NARS Sheer Glow Foundation

Best foundation for dry dark skin

Specifications

RRP: $47/£35
Number of shades: 34
Finish: Satin

Reasons to buy

+
Great for textured skin
+
Ideal for dry or dehydrated skin

Reasons to avoid

-
Can be used for oily skin but you need to set with a powder
-
Doesn't come with a pump

If you want a holy grail foundation that will never let you down, then NARS Sheer Glow has got you. This is a one-of-a-kind formula that makes you look like a bronze goddess even in the winter; it's insane. Of course, this is perfect for dry and dehydrated skin (especially when paired with the best moisturizers for dry skin). Those with oily skin may initially want to run for the hills upon hearing the name of this foundation, but it’s adaptable if you set your skin with powder.

Let’s talk about how perfectly it blends into the skin like butter. Even though it offers full coverage, you can opt for light or medium coverage as it's very blendable. The color match is superb and compliments so many different undertones. It also works great for textured skin, leaving you with no separation, just a beautiful satin finish. NARS gets it so right here—my only quibble is that it doesn’t come with a pump.

Makeup Revolution Conceal & Define Foundation

(Image credit: Future)

4. Revolution Conceal & Define Foundation

Best foundation for dark skin with very high coverage

Specifications

RRP: $12/£10
Number of shades: 50
Finish: Demi-matte

Reasons to buy

+
More control over how much product is used
+
An impressive range of shades
+
Oil-free

Reasons to avoid

-
Very high coverage so warmth has to be brought back to the face

It’s very rare to come across a foundation with a generously sized doe-foot applicator! It’s perfect if you are doing your makeup on the train or in a hurry, in fact, it’s just great if you just need more controlled application. Within this tube bottle lies an alluring matte finish that truly won’t budge. For this foundation, you can definitely get away without needing your trusty TikTok setting spray hack as it sets on the skin marvellously, without leaving your face feeling tight or dry.

The color range is seriously impressive for a high street brand, with 42 shades available. There are definitely shades on offer to cater to everyone’s undertones. It’s perfect for those of us with oily skin, as the staying power is phenomenal. The only thing worth noting is this foundation is so high coverage that you do need bronzer and concealer to bring some warmth and dimension back to your face—try the TikTok bronzer hack

Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Foundation

(Image credit: Future/Fenty Beauty)

5. Fenty Beauty PRO FILT'R Soft Matte Longwear Foundation

Best matte foundation for dark skin

Specifications

RRP: $39/£30
Number of shades: 50
Finish : Matte

Reasons to buy

+
Skin-like feeling 
+
Doesn't require setting spray

Reasons to avoid

-
Dries very quickly so have to work speedily
-
Can oxidize, so worth going down a shade or two  

This is undoubtedly one of the best matte foundations going. Not to mention it seriously caters to all with over 50 shades! Rihanna really did that. You can count on the stunning PRO FILT'R formula to give you a skin-like finish with a subtle glow that never feels heavy. Please note that you’ve got to work speedily, though, as this one dries pretty quickly—but it's perfect if you're looking for the best foundations for oily skin or combination types. 

Because of how fast this dries down, it means a setting spray or face powder is not needed. This also means it won’t transfer on your clothes, a massive pro. Admittedly I found that it oxidizes, so it’s best to go a shade or two down while ensuring you’re staying in your undertone range. This super lightweight foundation gives you a lovely natural finish that’s also buildable.