In this tutorial I'll give you some basic information about common undertones and complementary colors for many different multicultural skintones. This will give you a basic foundation of knowledge that you can leapfrog off of and experiment with!
Step 1: History of Makeup for Multicultural Skintones
Before the 1970’s, makeup for women of color was extremely limited. Even makeup that was specifically marketed towards women of color concentrated on skin colors at the lighter end of the spectrum, leaving those with darker skintones or more complex undertones with makeup that would only turn their skin grey or ashy. In 1973, Ebony magazine founder Eunice W. Johnson started the first high-end makeup company created specifically for women of color, Fashion Fair, after years of frustration finding the correct cosmetics for her models. Luckily, today we have a plethora of brands created specifically with women of color in mind, and every major cosmetic line carries a vast range of products suited for any skintone. However, it can still be difficult to choose the correct cosmetic for many women of color, whether due to complex undertones not found in lighter skin colors or finding one of those skin tones that are “in between” shades. In this tutorial I’ll give you some information about features common to different skin tones to help you find the cosmetics best suited to you. Remember, whatever your skin tone and color, you can really wear any color lipstick, eyeshadow, or blush that tickles your fancy, as long as you balance it with the rest of your makeup! Nothing (aside from foundation) is limited to only people of one color or tone. Some brands designed specifically with women of color in mind to check out: Cover Girl Queen, Iman (both found in drugstores), Motives for La La, Mud, Essence, and Fashion Fair.
Step 2: Asian Skintones
People of Asian descent most commonly have a yellow undertone to their skin. Foundations should either be neutral (in the beige range) or have a similar yellow undertone to match. For a classic, natural look, colors in a true neutral (beige undertones as opposed to yellow, pink, blue, or red) or cooler tones are best. Asian women tend to have short, straight eyelashes. A good eyelash curler and lots of mascara (or false lashes, temporary or permanent, if you want to go that route) can give you that full, curly lash look. Or, if you want to forego all of that, a thicker eyeliner, skipping the mascara entirely, can look amazing.
Step 3: Latin and Mediterranean Skintones
People of Latin and Mediterranean descent generally have a shade of olive as their skin’s undertone. The olive is most usually a warm tone, but some have a cool olive undertone to their skin. Generally, neutral foundation colors work best—ivory, wheat, honey—but warm-toned shades with pink undertones may be better for you if you find that a true neutral makes you appear washed out. Intense, clear colors work well for lips and cheeks. Warm-toned or neutral smoky eyes are extremely flattering. Latin and Mediterranean women can tend to have thick, unruly eyebrows. To combat this, brush your eyebrow hairs up using a clean spoolie or eyebrow brush and carefully trim with a pair of small scissors. Brow gel, mascara, or wax can be used to help keep the hairs in place.
Step 4: Dark and African Skintones
Women who are darker shades of brown are often lumped into the same category, but they truly should be a category of their own. Women of African descent range in shades of brown from very light to very dark, with no single common undertone. Some women even have more than one undertone in their skin, making it difficult to find the correct foundation color. If this is your case, you may have to blend two or more foundation colors to match your skin perfectly, or find a foundation that has a neutral (beige) undertone in your shade. Women in the light brown range commonly have yellow undertones to their skin; medium brown, golden yellow undertones; dark brown, red orange undertones, and black brown, blue undertones. Eyebrows can also be thick and hard to tame. Keep them trimmed, use a brow gel, wax, or mascara to keep them in place, and use a dark brown (not black) eyebrow pencil or shadow to shade in brows as pure black will make them look grey. Bright, vibrant hues with a warm or cool undertone to coordinate with your skin look fabulous on cheeks and lips of women with dark skintones. Neutral colors are better on the eye, especially if paired with a rich vibrant lip/cheek. Contouring is not needed on darker skintones, but highlighting can make facial features really stand out.
Remember, these are just guidelines to help you find basic shades that are best for your skin. I encourage you to experiment and go with whatever makes you feel your best!