The best make up brands for darker skin tones

It’s surprising that this is even still a topic for discussion considering the how advanced modern cosmetics have become. But unfortunately it is still find hard to find darker shades of foundation for some women of colour.

So, here are some of the best make up brands that actually cater to darker skin tones…

Fashion Fair

The Story 

The story of Fashion Fair starts, as the name suggests, with the glitz and glamour of the runway. Mrs Eunice W. Johnson and her husband John H. Johnson, publisher of Ebony and Jet magazine, noticed that models in the Ebony Fashion Fair show were mixing foundations together to get a perfect match to their skin tones, as a full range of colours was simply not available.

After recognising this problem, Eunice decided to approach existing cosmetic brands, asking them to cater to the needs of black women, and when they didn’t listen, she and John decided to take the DIY concoctions the models had mixed to the lab and get them mass produced. Their mail order Capsule Collection launched in 1969 to great success and Fashion Fair was born in 1973, retaining the name of the fashion show.

Product Range

Today, Fashion Fair’s huge product range reflects the pioneering spirit of Eunice and John. With 18 medium to dark shades available just in their Mineral Foundation, Fashion Fair is an firm favourite for many. The Creative Director is also a celebrity make up artist Sam Fine, who shares his tips for using Fashion Fair make up and why he loves it so much here.

Fashion Fair foundations range from £12 for lipsticks to £40 for capsule collections.


Fashion Fair make up and skincare products are available in the UK from selected Debenhams and Boots stores and online as well as Sai Pharma in East Ham, James Shelby on Holloway Road, Morleys on Brixton High Road, Ridgeway Chemist on Walworth Road, Juliet’s Afro in Peckham and Perfumania in Walthamstow.

“I find it hard to find products for my shade, they are either too dark or make my skin look ashy, but Fashion Fair is perfect for my skin tone.” Jay, Twitter user.

Bobbi Brown


The Story

Successful make up artist Bobbi Brown, like many other founders, discovered a gap in the market and decided to do something about it. Finding all the products available to her artificial and not at all natural looking, Bobbi decided to create a lipstick that didn’t smell, wasn’t dry or greasy, and actually looked like a natural pair of lips, only better.

With the help of a chemist, Bobbi created a range of 10 brown based lipstick shades, selling 100 lipsticks in one day at the Bergdorf Goodman in 1991.

Bobbi’s love of the natural look might seem common now, but at the time women weren’t able to find make up which didn’t make them look artificial. Bobbi’s yellow based foundations revolutionised the beauty industry and created a huge buzz, leading to its acquisition by Estée Lauder in 1995. Bobbi retains creative control.

Product Range 

Bobbi Brown offers 20 shades in their basic long wearing foundation which range from Alabaster to Expresso. As well as a number of tinted moisturisers, colour correctors and powders. Prices range from £18.50 to £37 for foundations.


Bobbi Brown products can be purchased from Duty Free outlets, Selfridges, Bentalls, House of Fraser, Peter Jones, Fenwick and John Lewis.



The Story

MAC started with a young hairdresser called Angelo and his friend Toskan. Like so many other founders, the brand came into being from a frustration with commercial cosmetics. Toskan enlisted the help of his future brother in law Vic Casale and they worked on a range of lipsticks, eye pencils and powders.

The products started out being distributed among friends in the fashion industry. Word soon got out about the product though, with the dense pigment, non-oily finish and, most importantly, the vast range of colours. Toskan and Angelo decided to put some serious money behind the brand and take MAC out of the kitchen and into a 10,000- foot manufacturing plant.

Product Range

The popular Mineralise Foundation comes in 18 different shades at £27/30ml. One of the reasons this brand is so popular is because of it’s celebrity make-up lines (including Nicki Minaj) and because like Bobbi Brown, some of the colours are yellow based, and some pink.


MAC can be purchased from House of Fraser, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, Harrods, Morleys in Brixton, Fenwick, Bentalls, Heathrow Airport and exclusive MAC stores.

“I like MAC and Sleek because of the variety of shades for black skin and the way it feels on my skin.” Grace, retail assistant.

Mary Kay


The Story

Unlike most of the other founders featured in this piece, the story behind Mary Kay cosmetics starts with the end of a career. Mary Kay Ash retired from a successful career in direct sales in 1963 and decided to a write book based on her experiences, which was designed to help women survive in the business world.

As part of her book, Mary made two lists: one contained all the things the businesses she had worked for over the time had done right, and the second contained all the things they had done wrong, and so the direct selling business was born. Mary Kay now operates as with more than 2.5 million Independent Beauty Consultants, and offers more than 200 premium products in more than 35 countries around the world.

Product Range 

Mary Kay offers 21 different shades in its Timewise Matte-Wear Liquid Foundation and neatly avoids linking skin tones to cliched food stuffs such as honey, chocolate and coffee by using only 3 terms: Ivory 1-5, Beige 1-8 and Bronze 1-8 at £16/29ml.


Mary Kay operates a direct selling model where sellers work on a commission basis and sell the products to their friends and work colleagues via a catalogue.

Mary Kay products are also available at

Be inspired by the latest beauty trends in this Pinterest board.

What’s your favourite foundation? Let me know in the comments section below.

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