How to pick the right makeup colours for black skin

Tracy Moore's makeup artist, Tracy Peart, shares her top tips for makeup colour choices for black women.

Tracy Moore’s makeup artist, Tracy Peart, knows that black women struggle with different problems when it comes to makeup and beauty. To help you along the right path, she shared her top tips for your skin, your blush colour, and your lips. Here’s her advice:


One of the biggest problems black women have with their makeup is having their skin appear too ashy. Here’s a couple of reasons why this could be happening:

  1. Someone who has red undertones in their skin is wearing a makeup with yellow in it. This combination will make your skin appear ashy.
  2. Another reason you may look ashy is because you’re applying too much powder. Powder is usually sold with a sponge, but those should only be used for touch ups, not the initial application. When you apply powder with a sponge, you’re going to apply way too much powder, and it’s going to end up looking like an ashy mask. It’s best to use a face brush and sweep on your powder. Let the foundation you put on underneath do all the work of covering up imperfections. Don’t do it with your powder, as you run the risk of putting on too much.

Another big problem with black makeup is having the makeup turn darker as the day goes on. Here’s a couple of reasons why that could be happening:

  1. If you have yellow undertones in your skin and you’re wearing a makeup with too much red undertones, your skin will appear darker than you are.
  2. Black women tend to have oilier skin. When the oils in our skin mix with foundation or powder, the makeup becomes darker throughout the day. So, if you know your skin is very oily, try a foundation that’s one shade lighter than your skin to help balance this out.  You might look a bit lighter than usual for the first hour it’s on, but as the day goes on, it’ll even out. As well, if your skin is oily, don’t keep adding more powder to your face to get rid of the shine. All you’re doing is making a mask of makeup, and the makeup will just get darker and darker. Try buying a blot powder, which doesn’t add any more colour or makeup to your face. They’re just formulated to get rid of shine. It’s a much better option.


If you’re still looking a bit flat, with no warmth to your face, it could be because you’re not wearing any blush. Blush is another way to add warmth to black skin. A lot of black women are afraid of blush because they might think it looks too artificial on our skin, since we don’t naturally have flushed cheeks, but it’s all in the color you use. Stay away from light colours. All they’re going to do is make us look ashy.

We have two choices. We can go with dark colors like burnt orange-y browns or dark berries and plums. Or if you’re darker-skinned like me, go with very bright colors like powerful pinks and bold oranges. I already know I’ve scared some of you, but listen. They might look shocking in the packaging, but you have to remember you’re painting them onto a darker surface and they won’t show up like that on our skin. Believe me. Because they’re so bold, they’re the colours that will show up on our colouring and give the skin life! The key is to build the colour and don’t just slap it on. Don’t fight the bright…it works!


As for lips, almost the same rules applies. Obviously, darker skin tones don’t look great in pale, light lipsticks. Deeper tones are always a safe bet (like wines, deep reds, browns and plums). But I say we can wear the bright reds, pinks & oranges as well, I always just suggest lining the lips first with brown lip liner or lipstick underneath. What that does is help neutralize the bold colour you’re going to put on top, so it’s not as true to colour and won’t be as shocking against our skin, but it’ll still be fun and bright. I do it on Tracy Moore every day! Don’t just go directly on with a bright colour without neutralizing your lips first.

You have to remember when you see a lip colour, it’s going to wear differently on each person, and you have to do the appropriate application of that colour for what works on your colouring. So yes, you can follow the trends, but keep your skin colour in mind when doing your own interpretation of that look!

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How do I know what colour is my undertone?

Please advise

February 08, 2013 at 5:38 pm

I watch city line almost everyday! Its one of my favourite shows! Am so glad that today’s show talked about makeup geared for black skin. Yeah! As a woman of colour, coming from Jamaica and now living here in Canada it hards to find what really works for my skin. My friends have the same issues and unfortunately we don’t live in a big city like Toronto so its even harder. I look forward to see more makeup tips for women of colour.It would be good also to see some tips for natural hair too. Blessings!

February 08, 2013 at 6:36 pm

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