Funmi Fetto On: Foundations For Darker Skin Tones

If I were writing this a few years ago, my biggest issue would be finding brands that actually make foundations to suit darker skin tones. Instead, as I sit at my desk typing, I am surrounded by foundations that run the gamut from the palest of pales to the darkest of darks, which is exciting to me. Of course within this there are still badly formulated foundations – there’s no point for instance in bragging about an 100+ shade range if they have all been created with the same undertones. Some retrograde brands still have not read the memo. Yes I’m throwing shade (pun absolutely intended). They know who they are so we’ll just leave it at that. Nevertheless, despite the wealth of all-inclusive ranges, (decision fatigue threatens to weigh me down) the omnipresent question remains ‘what’s the best foundation?’.

Finding the right foundation can feel like a never-ending pilgrimage. Even when you think you’ve discovered your holy-grail base you can suddenly look in the mirror and wonder why it looks like it no longer belongs on your face (this was me last week). Well, this can happen for numerous reasons. When a foundation is exposed to intense light, heat and/or air, its quality will always be diminished somewhat; which is why something that once looked like the perfect shade of brown now makes your face look fire orange (uh huh, again, that was me). A change in skincare also has an impact. If you have recently switched to a liquid exfoliator or incorporated a vitamin C into your skincare regime, the good news is your skin will look brighter. On the flip side, the foundation you thought was working for you now looks too dark on the fresh skin that was lying dormant under all those dead skin cells (again, I’ve lived this). Hormones, stress levels, diet, lack of sleep etc are all elements that affect the quality of your skin which then affects the way your foundation interacts with your skin.

And then, of course, there’s the change of climate. Which is why I always maintain that for all the all-singing all-dancing glut of brands, shade extensions and finishes, there really is no such thing as the perfect foundation. So 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.

There is a ton of newness that I am currently enamoured with. Estée Lauder’s Double Wear foundation now has another iteration of sorts. The range recently extended to 60+ shades, however if you still cannot find something that is perfect for you, their new bespoke service in Debenhams will develop your own personalised foundation. They do this by initially scanning your face to pick up all your numerous shades and tones. These form the basis of your base. (When you think about it, it makes total sense; our skin hues are multi-dimensional – I mean not even dead people are a block colour.) This information is then inputted into a machine which makes up your foundation for you. The best thing is that it costs exactly the same as it would if you bought it off the shelf.

Laura Mercier’s Flawless Lumiere Radiance Perfecting Foundation is a lovely formulation that gives a luminous (but not oily) finish. It has medium to high coverage and has the addition of vitamin C to boost your radiance over time. The cleverest thing for me however is that all the foundations are created with undertones in mind – which is brilliant because two people can be the same colour but have completely different undertones and therefore require completely different foundations.

While I get the portability and ease of use with Hourglass’s Vanish foundation stick, it is something I would only really use to touch up as opposed to it being ‘the foundation’. For anyone who feels the same way, (or not) I think you’ll absolutely love the new liquid version: Seamless Finish Liquid Foundation. The formulation is epic. It comes in a 32-strong shade range, is highly pigmented, and you don’t need very much at all to get full coverage. And when they say full, they mean it; it covers everything – discoloration, pigmentation, imperfections etc – and yet it does not look heavy at all. Instead it leaves a skin-like finish (not exactly your normal skin, but the skin of your dreams) and it feels completely weightless. It is also transfer-proof – you’d have to purposely rub it for it to come off on clothes – sweat- and water-proof, and you don’t need to use a primer under it for it to stay put. I love the fact the finish is a velvety-dewy-matt hybrid because it really works on all skin types. The newer foundations are moving away from old-school matt finishes and thank God for that – not only can those make you look dry, they also make you look comatose.

If you are on the hunt for a foundation that is not quite full coverage but has a bit more oomph and pigment than a bog standard tinted moisturiser, there is also the Hourglass Illusion Hyaluronic Skin Tint, however the shade range is very limited. Clarins Skin Illusion’s colour range on the other hand is more extensive, as is Lancôme’s Teint Idole Wear Nude.

The added benefit of all these formulations is that they include skin-loving ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and SPF. Other foundations that have been around a while which I still highly recommend include Becca Ultimate Coverage 24 Hour Foundation. This is still one of the very best liquid foundations – it is incredibly pigmented (21 per cent) and totally breathable, so it is good for oily and congested skin and gives you an airbrushed finish. Nars Natural Radiant LongWear Foundation is utterly beautiful and has an impressive shade range. It is rare to find a quality longwear high coverage foundation that is also dewy, but Nars has totally nailed it with this. It really gives you the most glorious finish. As does YSL Touche Éclat All In One Glow Foundation. I use shade B90 and yes, it could absolutely do with a shade extension in both directions. On a positive, however, it is a hydrating, medium-coverage foundation that makes you look unbelievably sunkissed, especially when you add a tiny drop of liquid highlighter. It is so effective and effortless that there are days I wear no other make-up but this. I simply apply it like you would a serum, and boom, I look human. Perfect for days when the idea of applying a full face of make-up feels tiresome. A lazy girl’s dream.


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