Make Up for Women of Color

Reader Meenu has a query:

I have dusky skin (darker side) and I really couldn't figure out yet as to what color I should use on lips and eyes. I just use same old 2-3 shades to avoid messing up and waste money on unsuccessful experiments.

I really hope you could help me with some useful advice.

Thanks for your question Meenu. You haven’t mentioned what colors you already use, hence I’ll just give you a general recommendation of shades.

There are a number of shades and colors that will make your eyes & lips stand out and complement your skin as well. The most important thing is to choose deeper, more intense high pigment shades of shadow , liner , and blush so that they actually show up and don’t look chalky or fake on your skin.

For the eyes:
  • Indian women's biggest concern seems to be the dark circles under their eyes, and to correct that, they need extra moisture under the eye coupled with a light coverage of an opaque golden-yellow-orange concealer.
  • Most women of color have dark eyes -- deep, dark, smoldering eyes -- and the instinct may be to go neutral, lining them in dark brown or black. In fact, all that really does is play them down. You want to play those eyes up.
  • Line them in a contrasting color that draws attention to their smolderingness. Blue, pink, green or mauve can work well. Try Colorbar for some really lovely greens (moss green), purple (prunella) and even deep blues.
  • Tone it down on the lids, using a neutral eye shadow. Try bronze, gold, mocha, deep shimmery chocolate browns, plums, coppery browns & reds.
  • Stay away from dark-brown matt eye makeup. It can make your eyes look sunken. If you have to use brown, top it off with bronzy highlighter and some shimmer to bring it to life
  • Avoid frosty pastel eyeshdaows with silver shimmer.
For the lips:
  • Dusky women tend to have pigmented lips which can make it difficult at times for the color of the lipstick to show up.
  • To counteract this, always use a lipliner and fill in your entire lips before applying your lipstick.
  • This will form a base for your lipstick making it appear more vibrant & also last longer.
  • You can also just apply a shimmery lipgloss over the lip liner.
  • In general, the darker the skin tone, the darker you can make your lips and still look fabulous.
  • The look to shy away from is a neutral that matches your skin tone. That'll make the bottom of your face blend together.
  • Some colors that you can wear are Plums, Deep Pinks & Berry, Chocolate Browns, Purples (yup, just dab them lightly on your lip & top off with berry colored shimmery lipgloss)
  • Maybelline has a huge range of lipcolors such as Yummy Plummy, Crazy for Coffee, Autumn Rush (a deep berry red with golden shimmer) amongst others that you can check out
  • In Revlon try Grape (a deep purple that looks amazing when topped with a berry gloss with shimmer), Plum, Chocolate, Mauve.
  • If you are going for a simple lip, you can opt for peach brown shades topped with similar gloss.
  • It is better if you use lipsticks with a creamy or glossy texture rather than matt. Matt lipsticks can make you look very dated, always top them with a non shimmery lipbalm to keep it fresh & modern.
  • The current trend is gloss. Your lips will look plump, sexy, sophisticated and can go casual or clubbing. Try lining your lip in a soft color like plum or mauve, and then cover your mouth in clear or shimmery goodness.
  • Some women have a lighter lower lip. To even it out, apply a darker lipstick to the lower lips, and then cover both lips in the same gloss.
For the cheeks:
  • The last thing you want is a stand-out blush color. The goal is to underscore your cheeks, not color them. That makes you just appear made up.
  • Skip the fuchsias and bright pinks and go with neutrals that are just a tad darker than your skin tone, like browns, bronzes or plums. Try Colorbar (Plum Brown & Just Earth) & NYX (they have a lot of brown shades)
  • Lighter skin can get away with a peach or pink.
  • You could even skip blush and just opt for a highlighter or sheer bronzer dusted over your cheekbones for a more natural look. (Bourjois has some nice highlighters/bonzers in their blush range, Revlon too offers highlighters in both liquid & power form)
I hope this helps you Meenu!


  1. I am myself dusky and i love colors u said...lip glosses looks great on dusky woman and i truly swear by this..

    dusky woman can explore so many things..especially in eye make up...brown , green , khaki , pink and gold are some of my fav..:)

  2. my mahagony of a coral brown type..
    n colorbar juicy candy gloss is also a must buy..
    nice usual..

  3. hey I too am dusky. awesome advice. but somehow I love playing with colors....the key is for the eye & lip not to clash. tats all

  4. hey i have tagged u. do come and have a look

  5. @Anamika: I never thought of you as dusky. I always felt that you were pretty fair yourself as you seem so in your pics :)

    @Bhumika: Thks for contributing to the tips :)

    @IMW: Gr8 advice Anju! I am sure girls can look to your blog for lotsa inspiration!

  6. Thanks a ton Tanveer. I am gonna write it down for reference for my “make up” shopping next time ;-).
    I liked the idea of using blue, mauve and purple on eyes but will green and pink look good coz I have, as you said, black eyes and I don’t know why I have a perception that bright colors look good on colored eyes.
    You are right, dark brown spoils all. It happened to me when I wore a brown dress and the make up artist did too brown on me. I had to redo my makeup by myself.
    Thanks again for your wonderful tips.


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