The Challenges of Pale vs. Dark Skin Makeup

Compare and Contrast of White & Black Beauty

By Lucia Rossi

Every makeup lover, no matter what skin tone or type, deals with different types of beauty challenges. The makeup industry may not always accommodate these differences very well, but the first step is always awareness.

This compare and contrast of beauty tips for both skin tones, may reveal what common ground there is while, hopefully, reducing the biases in the beauty world and build understanding among all makeup lovers.

After all, in the end, we all want the same thing–to look, feel and be beautiful.

In the makeup, beauty and fashion industries, white, pale skin usually takes precedence, but living with that skin type has its perks and pitfalls. One of the most obvious dangers being the sun and looking like a lobster, so SPF is a must.

Dewy skin always looks best and using too much powder can make pale skin look cakey. However, if the person has oily skin,  its best to use a light moisturizer or a BB cream.

Too much black mascara and eyeliner can look chalky on pale skin types. For a more natural, safe, daytime look, try using brown mascara and eyeliner instead. The switch is subtle but makes a difference.

When it comes to eyeshadow looks, most pale tones tend to gravitate towards soft or natural shades of greys, pinks, browns, and beiges. Bright colored eyeshadows tend to wash out the face, so make sure to warm up the skin with some bronzer. Remember that when it comes to bronzer, it’s all about getting that “natural glow,” not looking unrealistically tanned.

Choosing the right blush is crucial because depending if it is matte, or shimmery, powder, cream, dark, light, it’s all about where you place it and how much you put on. On pale skin types, you can go from zero to 60, real quick with blush. Apply soft peach tones with a gentle hand and you can’t go wrong.

Typically light colored lips compliment light colored skin tones, like pinks, nudes, and peachy shades. However, bright colored lips are so much fun and can look awesome too. Makeup professionals would suggest if you’re going with a bold lip, but instead pair it with minimal, simple eye makeup.

The biggest issue among women with dark skin is finding the right foundation. Women with darker tones tend to deal with hyperpigmentation or uneven skin tone. It’s difficult to find the right shades that fit, especially in a world where there aren’t many shades made available to them by popular brands.

Some brands make themselves specifically available with darker options like Covergirl Queen, Black Opal, Revlon, Lancome, Clinique, Black Radiance, and Shea Moisture. When picking the right shade, be sure to go slightly lighter than normal but nothing too light or too matte otherwise it will make the skin look ashy.

Sam Fine, a professional makeup artist for Queen Latifah says, “I always tell women to think about the formula first and the color second.” Meaning, treating your skin type, oily, dry, or combination, is more important than treating your color.

Women of color tend to deal with oily skin. To keep it under control, use oil-control cleansers with salicylic acid, blotting papers, primers, pore minimizers, and powders.

Dark-skinned women can have more fun with bright colors when it comes to blush. Red and orange shades tend to look best. Bold color choices also work great for dark eyes because on light skin it may look like too much. Women with a dark complexion should play with deep colors, smokey eye looks, and gold tones. Professional MUA Gabriel Almodovar told Cosmopolitan that golds “are the most flattering and neutral.”

Almodovar also recommends that dark women should use golden bronzers as well because “the best shades are ones that are warm.”

When it comes to lips, women of color shouldn’t bother with nude colors. They should definitely embrace their dark shades and go for classic reds, berry purples, and deep browns.

Everyone should have a foundation that will even out their skin tone. If you’re unsure of your shade you can go to Sephora where they have an electronic system that can color match you. No more guessing if you have a warm, cool, pink, yellow or neutral undertone.

No matter what skin type or color, everyone should pay attention to their eyebrows, apply face products with brushes or sponges, clean those brushes and sponges, use primers, use transparent lip gloss, exfoliate their faces once a week, sleep on silk pillowcases, and continuously apply products with SPF.

The most important thing is that we as people do not discriminate or isolate different ideas of beauty just because they face other obstacles. Let’s find strength and beauty in diversity and color.

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