Kit Basics

The Best Natural Foundations for Darker Skin Tones

Holistic makeup artist and founding member, Sjaniël shares her updated list of natural foundations for darker skin tones for those looking to diversify their kits.


Foundations for Darker Skin Tones

Table of Contents


As makeup artists, having a range of foundations to suit every skin tone is actually far more important than having an option for every finish for just some skin tones. If we are to build a truly diverse – and truly conscious – beauty industry, we need to start having more open and honest discussions where our industry is lacking.

While mainstream brands seem to finally be catering better for deeper skin tones (this doesn’t speak to black-owned businesses, or marketing, that’s another conversation) the natural beauty world still has some catching up to do. It seems we can send people to the moon, but we can’t figure out how to deliver natural, clean foundation formulations that meet the needs of every skin colour!

Admittedly, it’s taking too long for the green beauty world to deliver a truly diverse foundation range for makeup wearers – in all finishes. This is something that has been a major cause of concern to the members of CBU for many years. Founding member, Sjaniël has repurposed and updated an article that she wrote for Eco-Age last year. 


That being said, the clean makeup brands that have been around for the longest now are starting to add more and more colours to their offerings. As makeup artists, we find that most of the darker colours available are still lacking in yellow and golden undertones or appear too ashy on dark skin. Getting very dark – cool-toned foundations is also a challenge.

However, the brands below are getting the undertones right and offer a better selection for darker skin tones, but still not for all of them.

It is also important to understand that no single person has only one tone of colour on their face and one makeup product may not be able to work well with your entire face. 

For Sheer Coverage

Inika is the one brand that has added more yellow undertones right through their entire colour collection. In our experience, the Inika foundation offers a light corrective coverage, that melts into the skin – but confusingly the BB cream seems to offer more coverage. You may have to test it out on your skin to see what works best for you.

This range is a good option for mixed race and Eastern skin colours that need more golden tones rather than the often overdone red tones. Their darkest colour caters for medium to dark brown skin but not for those with deep brown and blue black undertones.

Ilia Skin Tint SPF 30 – This is a new addition to the Ilia range and has not been extensively tested. The sheer lightweight texture resembles a tinted oil – especially in its dropper dispenser format.

Alternatively, some of the Powder foundations (listed below) can offer sheer coverage when only applied lightly.

For Natural Coverage

INIKA Organic BB Cream Foundation – this is a natural coverage foundation that feels really sheer and lovely on the skin, again it caters for those who need very yellow and golden tones in the mid colour tone range. 

ZAO Compact Foundation – with 14 colours to choose from this is a great range of colours for natural makeup. This compact cream foundation gives natural, lightweight coverage and best applied with a foundation brush for a good finish. It is the only natural cream based foundation that offers a blue-black skin tone with it’s darkest colour Mocha. Some of the mid tones may not be quite yellow enough for the majority, but overall a good option for those with the darkest skin tones.  

RMS ‘un-cover’ up – The  latest addition of 6 darker shades to this range  has filled a massive gap in the market and has upped her offering to 16 shades, the darkest colour caters for a deep brown skin tone.  

With just the right amount of yellow in each colour, these tones will stop any ashiness. For additional coverage you could try the newer RMS Uncover  Foundation.

ILIA True Skin Serum Foundation – ILIA brought out this 18 shade collection about a year ago and it has commercial level texture and finish and gives a beautiful glow. The darkest 4 shades cater for medium to deep brown skin tones and have a good amount of yellow for the most part – the darkest brown would work for a deep brown skin with bluer undertones.

For Full Coverage

(M)ANASI 7 Skin Enhancer – The  (M)anasi 7 skin enhancer  is designed to be mixed by the individual so a custom colour is at your fingertips at all times,  it is a great full-coverage option for darker tones.

The darkest colour is literal brown (Jamocha) and a great colour for dark brown skin. Add a few dabs of the yellow tone (Beechwood) and you can easily mix and match to your perfect skin tone. You would need both the yellow and brown for mid, mixed-race or light brown tones, but that is where the beauty of this product lies – the blending is in your hands. If you want it to have a sheerer finish, simply add a few drops of your moisturiser to thin out the texture

JANE IREDALE Purepressed Base Mineral Foundation SPF20 – probably the largest selection of foundation colours on offer in natural makeup with 26 colours.

Not only do these mineral powders offer amazing coverage and beautifully soft looking finish, they cater for so many different skin tones – colours are divided up into yellow, pink and neutral undertones and the darkest colours cater for those with deep brown skin. Best applied with a kabuki brush for maximum effectiveness.

Alternatively you can use a light layer of this to set and intensify your chosen cream or liquid foundation.

KJAER WEIS Cream Foundation – Kjaer Weis have also added a set of darker shades to their selection in the last year and they have become a favourite for many.

Because this cream foundation gives great coverage whilst still achieving glow and a natural looking finish and feel it is a great option for those who love their skin to look flawless. The darkest tones have great amounts of yellow undertones to once again avoid any ashy finish though it is still lacking in the deepest and blue black tones.

Alima Pure Satin Matte Powder Foundation – is a buildable loose powder foundation with a soft matte finish. The beauty of this 36 shade range is that it has been conveniently organised in undertones to help you make your colour selection – and being a certified B corp is a bonus for this brand.

As with the pressed foundation, loose foundation powder offers buildable coverage or a way to make a sheer liquid foundation more opaque when layered on top. It is best used with a kabuki style brush, and looks most natural after the skin has time for the natural oils to blend in.

Blac Minerals Mineral Foundation was specifically designed for darker skin tones and has been carefully crafted to avoid an ashy effect.

Also organised by undertone, this brand caters for a wide variety of dark skin tones with a range of undertones.  Once again, a kabuki brush to build coverage is the best way to apply the product.

At the time of writing we have not had a chance to try the brand – but it shows great promise.

INIKA Loose Mineral Powder Foundation SPF25  As with their liquid foundation selection, these mineral powders have great yellow undertone options right throughout and the darkest colours cater for dark and deep brown skin. It is always easier to get a better selection with mineral powders because the formulation of liquids can be challenging as mineral pigments do not blend or dissolve in water or oil bases. This powder will give you long lasting wear and a good amount of coverage whilst also doubling up as a setting powder. Don’t forget that you can use a liquid base that might be a little too light and always darken it up by setting it with a powder that is a shade darker.


The cream foundations mentioned above (RMS, KJAER WEIS and ZAO) all double up as great concealers. The trick with these is to apply the cream with a foundation brush for a sheer finish all over the face if you want it to act as foundation.

When using it as a concealer, dab your ring finger into the pot and then dab it into the under eye area or over spots for maximum coverage, by dabbing you can build up coverage without inadvertently wiping layers off again.

ILIA True Skin Serum Concealer – this is one of the largest ranges of concealers on the natural beauty front at present (outside of the cream options above). There are 4 dark shades to choose from with a silky, cream based finish that gives medium coverage – perfect for smoothing out the under eye area.

Absolution Cosmetics expanded their liquid concealer range last year to include 2 deeper tones. This smooth formula is a makeup artist favourite and could be easily used on its own toblend away any imperfections.

Blac Minerals offers a great range of yellow and orange based concealers as well as corrector sticks, perfect for color correcting under eyes or scars on darker skin.


Although the selection is not as large as with some mainstream brands, the options are improving and we should acknowledge that so brands keep working to improve their offerings.

Finding the correct shade for you or your client can be tricky. The images on a computer may not indicate the true colour of the product and it is always best to try a foundation or concealer in daylight in real life. 

Most of these brands are sold online, and it can be difficult to find a bricks and mortar store nearby.  

So to try before you buy, contact retailers and brands and ask if they have sample services, or can help you choose and test a shade before you commit to spending on the full-size product. Many have shade selector tools, or even live chat and online/telephone customer support.

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