These are the 10 best foundations for dark skin

The best foundations for dark skin will transform your makeup look. Find the perfect match for your skin tone with our selection of game-changing buys...

Three of the best foundations for dark skin in a collage including Urban Decay, Pat McGrath and Hourglass
(Image credit: Future)

The best foundations for dark skin should have an inclusive shade offering but they also need to deliver on other criteria like coverage levels, formulas and value for money.

Historically, shade ranges haven’t been as inclusive as they should and this has made it difficult for people with dark skin to find the best foundation for them. As someone with a darker skin tone, I can attest to the fact that foundation shopping isn’t as daunting as it once used to be, but it's not always easy to know where to start.

To help you find your perfect match, we’ve rounded up the best foundations for dark skin, ranging from the best Black-owned beauty brands to luxury splurges and drugstore options. We've also enlisted the advice of make-up artists and experts who share their insider tips and tricks for finding the best foundation for you.

HOW WE TESTED THE BEST FOUNDATION FOR DARK SKIN 

Why you can trust Woman & Home Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

A selection of the foundations for dark skin we tested for this guide.

(Image credit: Kelle Salle)

To whittle down our edit of the best foundations for dark skin, we tried a variety of different formulas spanning every price point - from the best drugstore foundations to top-rated luxury picks. Each foundation in this edit was applied in the morning and worn for an entire day, without touch-ups, to see how well it performed. 

To score highly, the foundation had to be a good match for our skin tone and cater to all skin types and conditions. We paid close attention to the application process, the finish and whether the foundation oxidized after hours of wear. The products in this roundup all delivered on ease of application, shade offering and staying power, making them, in our opinion, the best foundations to buy in 2023. 

THE BEST FOUNDATION FOR DARK SKIN, AS CHOSEN BY OUR BEAUTY EXPERTS 

L'Oreal True Match Foundation

(Image credit: L'Oreal)

1. L’Oreal True Match Liquid Foundation

The best skincare foundation for dark skin

Specifications

RRP : $13.99 / £9.99
Shades: 48
SPF: Yes
Finish: Natural

Reasons to buy

+
Skin match technology  
+
Natural finish
+
Oil free 

Reasons to avoid

-
Some shade limitations: we weren’t able to find an exact match for dark skin with a yellow undertone.

Available in 48 shades, this foundation from L’Oreal has a light texture that blends into the skin for a natural, radiant finish. It provides full coverage, so you don’t need to apply a lot of product to achieve your desired look. We love that it's infused with hyaluronic acid, which delivers hydration to the skin and keeps it looking brighter, firmer, and plumper for longer. While this foundation hasn’t been formulated with a specific skin type in mind, the inclusion of such an ingredient makes it ideal for all skin types. We also loved how the formula kept our oily/combination skin in check and that we weren’t left with that heavy or cakey feeling that some full-coverage foundations come with.

Overall, we thought this foundation gave our skin a lovely, natural finish and the match was pretty impressive for a budget buy. Even though the foundation has been formulated with 6 different pigments, we weren’t able to find an exact match for dark skin with a yellow undertone. Shade 9N, which is for those with neutral undertones, was as close as we could get but we were happy with how it looked. If you have a cool or warm undertone and struggle to find the right shade, neutral options can work as they provide balanced coloring with no obvious cool or warm tones. 

Still on the fence? See our full L’Oreal True Match Liquid Foundation review 

MAC Studio Radiance Face and Body Radiant Sheer Foundation

(Image credit: MAC)

2. MAC Studio Radiance Face and Body Radiant Sheer Foundation

The best sheer foundation for dark skin

Specifications

RRP: $39 / £30
Shades: 30
SPF: No
Finish: Sheer, radiant

Reasons to buy

+
Long wearing 
+
Doesn’t cause acne 
+
For all skin types

Reasons to avoid

-
Doesn't have a matte finish

If you're a fan of the ‘no makeup’ makeup look, then look no further than the MAC Studio Face and Body Radiant Sheer Foundation. We thought it was a light and lovely base that gave our skin a natural, skin-like finish. Although the foundation took some time to settle, we were happy with the level of coverage it provided. Something to keep in mind if you want to give this foundation a try is that it has a super sheer finish, so it's not ideal if you like a full-coverage foundation. If you are on the hunt for a base that instantly covers imperfections, then we recommend reapplying it over any problem areas as needed.

Although this foundation doesn’t contain any skincare ingredients, it came to life once we applied a full makeup look. While it stayed in place, the key to making it last all day is good skin prep. If you have oily or combination skin, use your best primer before wearing it because it won’t mattify once applied. Like the L’Oreal True Match Foundation, this one caters to cool, warm and neutral undertones but if you aren’t able to find an exact match, it’s worth using a setting powder that’s similar to your skin tone to balance things out. This foundation also made it to our edit of the best waterproof foundations thanks to its impressive staying power. 

See our full MAC Studio Radiance Face and Body Radiant Sheer Foundation review

Urban Decay StayNaked Weightless Liquid Foundation

(Image credit: Urban Decay)

3. Urban Decay StayNaked Weightless Liquid Foundation

The best vegan foundation for dark skin

Specifications

RRP: £31 / $40
Shades: 50
SPF: No
Finish: Matte

Reasons to buy

+
Minimizes the appearance of pores 
+
Second skin finish
+
Waterproof

Reasons to avoid

-
Texture is thick and a little runny

When Fenty Beauty launched and single-handedly revolutionized the beauty industry with a foundation that came in 50 shades, it wasn’t long before other brands took notice and started upping their game. One of those brands was Urban Decay and the result was the Stay Naked Weightless Liquid Foundation. This foundation has been one of our go-to’s for years. It is everything we would want from a foundation and more - from its lightweight, matte finish to its pore-minimizing properties, you can expect nothing less but your best skin yet.

Texture-wise, the foundation is definitely on the runny side, so we recommend shaking the bottle before dispensing the base. Once applied, we found it settled into our skin really well. Like the True Match Foundation, a little bit does truly go a long way. There are nine shade intensities for all skin tones, with built-in master tones and undertones that make finding your shade easy. We were able to find a lovely match that enhanced our complexion. If you find yourself struggling to find the perfect match, you can always use the brand’s Foundation Finder tool.

Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation

(Image credit: Fenty Beauty)

4. Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation

The best matte foundation for dark skin

Specifications

RRP: $39 / £30
Shades : 50
SPF: No
Finish: Soft Matte

Reasons to buy

+
 Humidity-resistant 
+
 Non comedogenic 
+
 Smoothes and diffuses the look of pores 

Reasons to avoid

-
Can be drying 
-
Can oxidize

It would have been impossible to do a round-up of the best foundation for dark skin without mentioning this groundbreaking gem. If you have dark skin and feel like you spend a lifetime searching for the right foundation, Fenty Beauty’s Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation might be the answer to your prayers. There are 50 inclusive shades in this range so there’s something for everyone. We loved the soft, matte finish that this foundation provides. It’s also super light and comes with technology that adapts to the environment your skin is in which is a bonus we never knew we needed. It stayed put all day long and looked as good at 6pm as it did at 9am. It didn’t clog our pores and did a fantastic job of keeping shine at bay - which is what also earned it a place on our edit of the best foundations for oily skin. It ticked all our boxes, so much so that even if you can't find your perfect match and you need to mix two shades together to get the right shade, just do it. It’ll be worth it.

See our full Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation review

Elf Flawless Finish Foundation

(Image credit: E.l.f.)

5. e.l.f. Flawless Finish Foundation

The best budget foundation for dark skin

Specifications

RRP: $10.50 / £9
Shades: 40
SPF: Yes
Finish: Semi Matte

Reasons to buy

+
Buildable 
+
Improves skin tone and texture 
+
Weightless feel

Reasons to avoid

-
Not ideal for those with acne-prone skin

You don’t have to break the bank to find the best foundation for dark skin. There are a lot of budget buys out there that work just as well as the expensive ones like the e.l.f Flawless Finish Foundation. With over 40 shades to choose from covering all bases with offerings for those with fair, light, medium, tan, deep and rich complexions, you’re bound to find your perfect match. We were happy with our shade selection, it really complimented our undertones. It also blended into our skin really nicely, providing a smooth, natural finish with a subtle hint of radiance. It didn’t oxidize, which was a bonus and our skin tone looked more even. 

If you gravitate towards foundations that contain skincare ingredients, then this one might interest you - it contains glycerin, which hydrates and softens skin and it’s also free from parabens and sulfates. For a budget foundation that has been formulated with all skin types in mind and offers a semi-matte finish, we were surprised at how long this lasted - no touch-ups were needed. We recommend applying it with your best foundation brush for the best results. Also, skin prep is important so apply your best primer first. 

Lastly, keep in mind that it offers medium to full coverage so take a less is more approach to the application by focusing on the areas you think need the most coverage and keeping it minimal everywhere else. Overall, this foundation is a great budget buy that’s worth investing in. Bravo e.l.f!

Morphe Filter Effect Soft-Focus Foundation

(Image credit: Morphe)

6. Morphe Filter Effect Soft-Focus Foundation

The best filter foundation for dark skin

Specifications

RRP : $20 / £18
Shades : 40
SPF : No
Finish : Natural

Reasons to buy

+
Fragrance free
+
Contains skincare ingredients
+
Sweatproof

Reasons to avoid

-
Not long-lasting

Filter-effect foundations are proving to be popular at the moment and this one from Morphe is no exception. If you like the filter-effect look but don’t want an unnatural finish, give this one a try. In our opinion, the effect is elite. We loved the elevated second-skin finish and how it diffused the look of imperfections - even though we weren’t having the best skin day when we tested it, it did a great job of smoothing things out. Compared to Charlotte Tilbury’s Airbrush Flawless Foundation, we thought that the filter effect was subtle and complemented our skin’s texture. It's also half the price, so it's a great dupe for anyone who's on a budget.

While it doesn’t provide a matte finish, the formula is oil-free making it one of the best lightweight foundations we've tried. If you have oily/combination skin, it can be difficult to find a foundation that nourishes the complexion while minimizing shine and that’s what this one did for us. The only complaint we have about this foundation is that we did need to blot our T-zone after a few hours of wear and when we did, a little bit of makeup came off. The formula can still qualify as long-wearing because it was fine everywhere else. The color accuracy is also really good. It comes in 40 shades and the brand has covered all bases with offerings for those with light, medium, tan, rich and deep complexions. We do think that this could be better reflected in the imagery on the brand’s website, however.

Dior Forever Matte Foundation

(Image credit: Dior)

7. Dior Forever Matte Foundation

The best glow enhancing foundation for dark skin

Specifications

RRP: $54 / £45
Shades : 42
SPF: Yes
Finish: Matte

Reasons to buy

+
Contains skincare ingredients
+
Minimises shine
+
Evens out skin tone

Reasons to avoid

-
Took a long time to settle

Just because dark skin reflects light well, it doesn’t mean we should steer clear of foundations with a radiant finish. If anything, they can give dark skin a gorgeous glow that accentuates the features we love the most. The Dior Forever Matte Foundation comes in six iconic Dior Forever undertones and provides a matte finish with radiance. The base is quite thick, so we expected it to look heavy once applied but it didn’t. Like MAC’s foundation, it takes a while to settle, so we thought our complexion looked a little lighter at first. If you have hyperpigmentation, you might want to give it a miss as we don’t think it did a very good job at concealing dark spots. Once the foundation settled, the finish looked good. It stayed in place all day and didn’t transfer which is definitely one of the main things we look for in a foundation. 

The shade offering isn’t as good as it could be which is a little disappointing and there are only four shades for darker skin tones. We thought that the cool shades were far too orange and the warm shades were far too red for our yellow undertone. Additionally, the foundation oxidized later in the day, which wasn’t great. We recommend applying it with a buffing brush and in conjunction with the brand’s primer. Overall, we felt this foundation was a little on the pricey side for what it was, so if you are thinking about adding it to your makeup collection, maybe wear it on special occasions.

See our full Dior Forever Matte Foundation review 

Pat McGrath Labs Skin Fetish: Sublime Perfection Foundation

(Image credit: Pat McGrath)

8. Pat McGrath Labs Skin Fetish: Sublime Perfection Foundation

The best luxury foundation for dark skin

Specifications

RRP : $68 / £60
Shades: 36
SPF: No
Finish: Satin

Reasons to buy

+
Ideal for all skin types 
+
Weightless 
+
Non comedogenic 

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

When legendary makeup artist Pat McGrath launched her own line of beauty products in 2015, it wasn’t long before she garnered a loyal customer base and once we tried the Skin Fetish: Sublime Perfection Foundation, it was clear to see why. Not only is it weightless, but it has also been formulated with all skin types in mind. We loved the lightweight formula and the lovely satin finish. We thought the foundation diffused the look of imperfections while providing subtle hints of radiance in all the right places. We love a non-comedogenic foundation that lets our skin breathe and this one does just that - making it a great foundation if you like a natural makeup look.

As far as the application process is concerned, we found it to be light in texture and slightly watery. Even though we gave the bottle a little shake beforehand, the texture was still watery. We recommend applying it with a foundation brush as we feel that a sponge would just absorb the product and not provide the best finish. Overall, it’s a really lovely, long-lasting foundation with inclusive shade variations and the medium coverage it offers makes it perfect for those who are looking for something that works for day and nighttime wear. Like the Dior Matte Forever Foundation, it is on the pricey side so you might want to reserve it for long days or night outs with the girls. 

Hourglass Ambient Soft Glow Foundation

(Image credit: Hourglass)

9. Hourglass Ambient Soft Glow Foundation

The best second-skin foundation for dark skin

Specifications

RRP: $58 / £56
Shades: 32
SPF: No
Finish: Natural, soft-glow

Reasons to buy

+
Blue light protection 
+
Minimises pores
+
Reduces the appearance of lines and wrinkles

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited shade selection

If you want glowing skin but don’t want to use a highlighter or illuminator, then why not opt for a foundation with glow-enhancing properties instead? Prior to testing this foundation from Hourglass, we had heard good things about the brand so our hopes were high. In spite of the limited shade selection (there are just a few for darker skin), we were happy with our chosen shade. If it had been a little bit darker, it would have been perfect. 

The second-skin finish was subtle and the glow was radiant. We also have to hype up the diffusion effect - our skin looked flawless! Out of all the foundations we have tested for this edit, this one was the most blendable. Even though it has a thick texture, it settled into our skin really nicely, didn’t sink into our fine lines and stayed put for the whole day. If you have hyperpigmentation and you are looking for something that will cover your scars and dark spots in one application, then this foundation might not be for you. We noticed that it didn’t fully cover a dark spot we had, so we added an extra layer of foundation, hoping it would do the trick, but it was still visible. 

However, if you have oily skin, you might not like the glow effect, particularly around the t-zone area. If you are able to find your perfect match and you find it bothers you, then just touch it up with some powder or blot the shine away with your best blotting paper. We would say it’s pretty underrated for a foundation that gives such an awesome lit-from-within glow. If the brand is able to extend its foundation offering (undertone-wise), then this will definitely become one of our go-tos. Yes, it's another pricey one - but it truly is special. 

NARS Sheer Glow Foundation

(Image credit: NARS)

10. NARS Sheer Glow Foundation

The best natural foundation for dark skin

Specifications

RRP - £37/$47: £37 / $47
Shades - 40: 40
SPF - No: No
Finish - Natural: Natural

Reasons to buy

+
Buildable 
+
Contains skincare ingredients
+
Improves skin tone

Reasons to avoid

-
Pump sold separately

We are huge fans of NARS and this cult classic is no exception. When the Sheer Glow Foundation launched in 2009, it became a bestseller and when we tested it, we could see why. The best foundation for dark skin also has good coverage and this is especially important if hyperpigmentation is an issue for you - the perfect base will conceal imperfections with minimal effort required. Our skin tone was evened out in just one application. The finish was natural, radiant and felt really nice on our skin. While we acknowledge that this foundation is all about the glow, it can work for all skin types. If you have oily or combination skin, you just need to ensure you apply a bit of loose powder after application. We also loved the staying power of this foundation.

For those who are familiar with NARS, you’ll know that its founder, Francois Nars, recommends using your fingers to apply foundation. We personally thought it looked better when applied with a makeup brush, that way we’d be able to determine the coverage levels and ensure it complemented our complexion. This didn’t affect the overall look as we still had that natural second-skin finish NARS products are known for. When it comes to shade offerings, we do think that NARS could do better. There are only two shades for deep skin (Iguacu and Zambie). Despite the limited shade offering, we'd still recommend this product however, as the quality is unrivaled. It’s worth mixing two shades together or balancing things out with a loose powder to make it work for you.

See our full NARS Sheer Flow Foundation review

How to choose the best foundation for dark skin

Much like choosing any other foundation, the best one for you will largely depend on your skin type and tone, as well as the level of coverage you need. 


“Determining your undertone is important when looking for a foundation as you want it to compliment your skin tone and blend seamlessly,” says celebrity facialist Ada Ooi. Her top tip for determining your undertone? “Check your veins under natural light. Blue-green veins suggest a warm undertone and blue-purple veins suggest a cool undertone (which can be less common in dark skin). If you see both, you probably have a neutral undertone,” she explains. 

Once you’ve determined your undertone, you’re ready to find a match. When searching for a foundation, you’ll need to choose something that’s been formulated with your skin type in mind. According to Ooi, dark skin has a strong barrier to prevent water loss, which means it tends to reflect light very well, giving it a natural glow, so she recommends avoiding foundations that have a shiny or dewy finish. “A foundation with a semi-matte texture will look better on skin and you’ll also have the option of building on your glow with highlighter as needed,” she adds. 

One of the most common issues in dark skin is hyperpigmentation, so if you have spots or scars that you want your base to cover, then Rachael Divers, Resident Make-up Artist at Face The Future recommends looking for a “highly pigmented, full coverage foundation.” 

Once you’ve found the right foundation, it’s worth checking the ingredient list before you part with your money as certain ingredients can cause oxidation. “When foundation oxidizes, it changes to a darker color once it mixes with the natural oils on your skin and exposure to air,” Divers explains. When checking the ingredient list, look out for aluminum oxide, iron oxide, titanium dioxide and zinc as they are likely to cause oxidation. 

“All of these have added SPF and can be responsible for the white cast or flashback you see across your face in flash photography. They can also be the reason why your foundation looks ashy,” Divers adds.