Foundation Techniques for Women of Color


At the International Makeup Artist Trade Show (IMATS) Los Angeles this past weekend, Emmy award winning makeup artist Eve Pearl (the woman responsible for reality singer Susan Boyle's makeover!) demonstrated her tips and tricks for a flawless finish on women of color. 

Eve Pearl on Flawless Skin for Women of Color...

"The market for women of color is the largest growing sector in global beauty," starts Eve. "As a makeup artist, you will have a darker client. It's essential to understand their complexion's shades and undertones. Women of color don't all have the same skin. Skin tones range from lighter and golden (Halle Berry) to deep and rich (Naomi Campbell). Always have at least three shades ready in your kit: Tan/Golden, Chocolate Brown, and Espresso.

On darker skin, opaque anti-shine primers show up as a weird halo glow in photos. Look at your client's skin tone and choose two colors in your foundation palette that you think will work. Test them on the jawline to make sure the undertones match. Apply foundation with a flat foundation brush or a double sided sponge. Pick up a shade on one side of your foundation applicator, then pick up the other shade on the other side. That way, you can quickly even out the complexion without the hassle of switching brushes.

Concealer and foundation should have a similar texture. Thickness and opacity don't necessarily make a concealer better. The difference is in the undertones. Women of color tend to have blue discoloration under and around the eyes, around the lips, and on the lower temples. Counteract this with a salmon-toned concealer in the same range as your foundation (if you're using a tan foundation, use a tan concealer with peachy/salmon undertones).

Darkness around the lower temples sometimes translates into a beard-like shadow. When women of color contour and highlight their skin with the standard technique (highlighting the t-zone and contouring the cheekbones), this actually worsens the effect. To even out the area, they should reverse contour. It sounds weird, but if you switch around where you highlight and contour, your skin will look so much better. Apply the darker shade of your foundation on the forehead, nose, and t-zone, while applying the lighter shade on the bottom half of your face."

Eve Pearl on Artistry Tips...

  • Don't be afraid to share your insights and skills with other artists. You're adding to the general level of expertise, not competing.
  • Every time you touch someone's face, you touch their lives. Don't underestimate the power of your work.
  • The real skill of a makeup artist emerges when they transform real women. It's easy to make a young model look gorgeous on the runway. Get noticed by working on real people that need real solutions.
  • Don't blend anything on the back of your hand—it's not hygienic on clients! Instead, use a metal palette to mix your colors.
  • Bad brows can ruin a whole face. Have a sharp shaving razor on hand for last-minute brow touch-ups. Always make sure your client's brows are perfect before you even begin the makeup.
  • There is no reason to take two hours on a makeup unless it's a complicated special effects project. I can do a full face—with lashes!—in 15-20 minutes, and so can you.
  • In the makeup industry, I've never been chi-chi frou-frou or fabulous but I've always been consistent. There are no off days. You need to be dependable and reliable with your work so people will trust your skills at any given time.