Drugstore Foundations for Dark Skin Tones

More and more, we’re seeing major beauty brands extend their shade ranges. Nowadays, brands are offering ranges that include 40+ shades, a huge win for people of color who crave shades that better suit their own individual skin tones.

“These days, I don’t have many challenges choosing the right shade for my clients,” says celebrity makeup artist Camara Aunique. “Many brands now have a wide range of colors, which makes my job easier.” Aunique works with stars like Angela Bassett and Garcelle Beauvais, as well as award-winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay. Working with darker skin tones means accommodating for them, which brands—including those sold at drugstores—are starting to recognize.

What does this mean for those with darker skin? It means more options—and the ability to choose from several brands knowing they’ll have your color match.

Below, discover the best drugstore foundations for dark skin tones.

Best Overall: BLK/OPL True Color Pore Perfecting Liquid Foundation

One word we’d use to describe this foundation: smooth. Its ultra-creamy texture melts into your skin, masking all imperfections and creating an even and natural-looking canvas. Although the formula is buildable, all you need is a small dollop to completely cover your entire face. Pro tip: Apply from the inside of your face outward.

Best Budget: e.l.f. Cosmetics Flawless Finish Foundation

This best-selling liquid has a great shade range—40 shades in total—so finding your color match is less of a frustrating venture. The oil-free formula delivers a semi-matte finish that stays put. Reviewers report that all it takes for full coverage is one pump. You can apply with your fingers, though Aunique recommends a BeautyBlender for a flawless base.

Best Light Coverage: L'Oreal Infallible 24 Hour Fresh Wear Foundation

Looking for natural-looking coverage? This lightweight texture accentuates your natural skin tone while covering up any pesky blemishes or discoloration. Plus, it effectively resists sweat, water, and transfer, which means you can pretty much wear it anywhere. Reviewers love its long-lasting benefits (up to 24 hours) and how comfortable it feels on the skin.

Best Medium Coverage: L.A. Girl Cosmetics Pro Coverage Illuminating Foundation

Reviewers love this foundation for spot treating—the formula teeters the line between thin and thick, so it’s great for major coverage but still feels breathable. Taking a small dime-sized amount, dot the foundation onto areas of concern with your fingers, then blend. Bonus: Antioxidants in the formula not only hydrate the skin but help to improve its overall appearance.

Best Full Coverage: NYX Professional Makeup Can't Stop Won't Stop Foundation

What’s better than a full coverage foundation? A totally waterproof, full coverage foundation. It’ll protect your look from anything like sweat, unexpected downpours, or troublesome humidity. With a creamy texture, this wow- inducing formula provides true-to-skin color and a long-lasting finish.

Best for Combination Skin: Black Radiance Color Perfect Oil-Free Liquid

Formulated specifically for women of color, this velvety formula enhances your skin’s natural beauty. To apply, use the spatula to dot the foundation throughout your face. Aunique reommends the Mented Foundation Brush for blending and buffing.

Best for Oily Skin: Revlon ColorStay Makeup Longwear Liquid Foundation

For oily skin, Aunique recommends a matte formula. “Matte formulas work best because the natural oils in your skin will give you a natural finish.” This formula is equal parts buildable, acne-fighting (thanks to salicylic acid), oil- controlling, and provides an even, matte coverage. We also love that it offers sun protection with a solid SPF 15.

Best for Dry Skin: Maybelline New York SuperStay Full Coverage Foundation

Transform your base with a saturated, pigmented foundation that works just as hard as you do. It glides on smoothly, covering up imperfections, while still allowing your skin to breathe. Although the formula is oil-free, it’s not at all drying—in fact, reviewers love how hydrated their skin felt after application.

Best for Large Pores: CoverGirl TruBlend Matte Made Liquid Foundation

This non-caking texture doesn’t settle into fine lines or pores—instead, the flexi-hold technology molds onto your face, hugging every curve and masking any concerns. While it boasts a matte finish, reviewers report that it’s more semi- matte, as they find their finished look with a slight, natural sheen.

Best Long-Wear: Iman Cosmetics Luxury Concealing Foundation

One of the original makeup brands created specifically for women of color, IMAN Cosmetics delivers high-impact products with gorgeous results—and the foundation is one of her standouts. Skin-tone enhancing ingredients like grapeseed and pomegranate antioxidant extracts work together to smooth your base, while vitamins A and E nourish your skin.

Best Multitasker: Milani Conceal + Perfect 2-in-1 Foundation + Concealer

With this foundation, you can skip concealer—it’s already built right in. This formula offers medium to full coverage, so you can tailor your look to any occasion. It also feels weightless on the face and is resistant to both water and sweat. If you’re doing for a no-makeup makeup look, simply dot this only on areas of concern and blend.

What to Look For in a Foundation

Buildable Coverage

When it comes to liquid foundation you’re going to want a formula that offers enough coverage to even out the skin tone but doesn’t replace the work of a concealer. While most foundations are buildable, the right formula for you comes down to your coverage needs.

Consider Your Skin Type

While plenty of liquid foundations are meant for all skin types, you can get hyper-specific when shopping nowadays. There are plenty of oil-free foundations or hydrating formulas on the market to target your specific concerns and skin type.


Every foundation formula is different — some contain SPF, some are infused with vitamins and antioxidants, and some are water and sweat-resistant. Create a high-level list of things that matter to you in a foundation, and keep them in mind when scanning the ingredients list.

While there’s no “wrong” way to apply foundation (plenty of people dab it on with their fingers) using a liquid foundation with a foundation brush is the most common application technique. For less coverage, you can sheer it out with a makeup sponge.

Depending on what formula you choose, your foundation can last anywhere from 8-24 hours without sweating or transferring. If you want extra staying power, prep your skin with a primer and then top your foundation off with a setting powder or spray.

Try your best to match your underlying skin color exactly! Choosing a shade that’s two darker or lighter is simply a thing of the past.

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