Tucked inside of a baby pink compact, was this silky shade of copper that she would smooth onto her seemingly flawless complexion. And on special occasions like my elementary school beauty pageant and piano recitals, my mom would attempt to even out my mocha complexion with the lighter hue.
My encounters with mismatched foundation continued as I grew older and began to experiment with makeup.
I have faced challenges that many women of color can relate to like using products that leave skin dry or ashy, turn your complexion into a weird shade of gray, or lead to unforeseen breakouts.
On the quest for the perfect match, I tapped celebrity makeup artist Sam Fine -- the master behind the glamorous looks of Iman, Mo'Nique, Tyra Banks, Vanessa Williams, and Halle Berry -- for tips on how to free myself from bad coverage.
It's all about trial and error when it comes to finding the right foundation, according to Fine.
"Drugstores are a great place to find foundation for women of color. But unfortunately, there's no testers and no help," he says. "So, you have to do some work! You have to read what Queen Latifah is wearing from the Queen Collection and CoverGirl. You have to read what color Iman is wearing in her ads. You have to read all of that to place yourself within the range of what's being sold at the stores.
And with many drugstores offering a hassle-free return policy on some of Fine's go-to brands including Black Opal, Revlon, Iman, and Queen Collection, the beauty guru recommends selecting at least three foundations to take home and test with more than what you'd normally wear along the jawline in good light. "Don't be afraid to take something back. Even if you buy all three and return two you will have a better chance of finding a match."
Try a liquid, stick or cream-to-powder for a buildable formula if you need more coverage. Tinted moisturizers and oil-free liquid foundations are lighter options and ideal for summer. When scarring and large pores are among your concerns, stay clear of heavy particles that are often found in mineral makeup. You can always get your shimmer fix by strategically sweeping on bronzer or blush.
"Don't be afraid to use two brands or two formulas because that's what makeup artist do," he says.
But before you head to the checkout line, keep in mind these beauty points from Fine.
A major beauty blunder among women of color is that we fail to change our foundation seasonally. "The foundation that you use in the winter is not going to look as warm and beautiful on you once you get a little color in the summer," he says. "So, it's important to switch it up and that may mean buying a different foundation not just for the weight."
The Power of Primer
Primer can do wonders, yet Fine believes that many black women are just discovering it. "If you're going somewhere special and you want to make sure your skin stays beautiful, a primer helps. I call it 'deodorant for the face.'"
With recent advances in cosmetics that have led to the removal of titanium oxide -- the culprit behind turning skin gray or ashy -- that's one less thing to worry about when picking the right foundation. But the makeup pro believes women still lookout for products that contain small amounts of silicone. "It adds a great dry-down and makes it less oily for a lighter effect, but this isn't something for women with mature skin or if you're oily in different areas."
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