Avoid ashiness: How to create flawless foundation for melanin-rich skin

Avoid ashiness: How to create flawless foundation for melanin-rich skin

You already know your skin isn't black. In fact, 'black' skin is the most colorful in the entire shade spectrum. So how does knowing that help you? Mostly, it helps you understand why you look ashy whenever those who are inexperienced with deeper skin tones apply your foundation.

It took years of research for us to develop a comprehensive system that guarantees a match, which is why those just breaking into the makeup field / only experienced with 'white' skin resort to what works for lighter skin tones (which just doesn't work for your depth of color) . . .

The truth is that matching the melanin rich is complicated and you can't use the same toning cheats you can get away with in lighter foundations. I'm incredibly pale, but I'm also an artist who has a lot of experience looking at color and matching skin tones across the spectrum. That means what my skin looks like doesn't matter when it comes to creating the color true to your skin. It's also why, when I saw the hashtag #ActingWhileBlack is trending, I was inspired to actually get this blog posted!


deep skin beauty


It is incredibly obvious when darker foundation is off, and skin rich in melanin must be built to match more precisely because you don't get to rely on negative toners (balancers) as much as you can with those on the lighter end of the spectrum. Instead, you have to build a color, and you have to nail the measurements every. single. time.


That is why many actresses are frustrated about looking grey as makeup artists try to tone a more generic existing color to match their unique skin. Anything too dark or not colorful enough is gonna look ashy AF. And obviously, no one wants that. Also, because your skin is so colorful, anything too far the opposite of your actual color will dull you and take away your color clarity.



If you've found yourself thinking, "There aren't enough foundation colors out there for medium-dark to deep skin..." ... Well you're right! Also, the truth is that we are all so unique that unless you've got literally thousands of different foundations that are slightly different from one another there is NO way that you could have enough shades.


This is true for every skin, but while a lot of extra-light to medium skins can sometimes find something that works okay, I rarely ever see a good match on the deeper end. It always combines mixing to get something ‘okay’ but usually not perfect.


As a demonstration, I really want to point out some examples on the television shows I’ve been watching, but I also don’t want to be that artist that calls others out. So instead, I’ll just point out that if you don’t feel like you could apply makeup all over without having to go down your neck, or if you think that applying in a spot is out of the question, you need to revisit your match.


beautiful deep skin



Your foundation should not change the color of your skin, instead it should simply even it out. We like to match to your neck in the elea blake studio. That means that when we are striping for color tests, we use the jaw line. It is so common for your face to be either darker or lighter than your neck.



If your face is darker or lighter than your neck, what you want to do is match the part of your face that is the color you want all over. You never want to make your all over color darker than your face or lighter because then you aren’t actually matching your skin and it can make your face look ruddy. It can be common, especially for skins that have uneven complexions, to be surprised at your own color / flatness. DO NOT MAKE YOURSELF DARKER ALL OVER. (Please please please, just don't. It's not as flattering as you think it is.) Instead, you’ll simply want to use a deeper contour color or bronzer and perhaps a blush.




There are quite a few misconceptions about deeper skin colors, but in order to address them I would probably need an entire book. Mostly, what I’d like to point out is that all skin colors are considered orange. While there may the .01% that occupy the ‘red’ or ‘yellow’ space, we’ve yet to see one in 21+ years of operation.


Considering that most people have two different formulas on their own (winter and summer), when it comes to people as a group it’s impossible to know just by looking. Even my twin sister and I have different undertones of colors in our foundations, despite both being pale (excuse my awkwardness below).




If you don’t live in Chattanooga, we typically recommend Skin Twin. Skin Twin is our solution to long distance foundation matching needs! It has our foundations grouped from coolest (most red) to warmest (most yellow).


It’s interesting because a lot of folks will think that they are in the warmest zone if they are deeper in skin tone, but actually end up being in the coolest area. Perhaps the reason is that red-oranges look really warm to the naked eye, but when you compare to yellow-oranges, you can see which one looks like it has more heat.



So for skin rich in melanin, what is often surprising to many makeup artists is that the foundation doesn’t look dark, it actually looks really colorful. When I’m matching people in the medium-dark to deep range I find myself hoping around on the color spectrum a lot.


This means that while me, an extra-light gal is in one zone of color (Strength 417 in our system, aka the most warm) and I’ll use toners like Dainty (purple) and Pure (white) to get my neutralized form, people in the medium-dark to deep range will have at least two of the four (and sometimes one from all four) zones in their foundation. Or at the very least will have only one very colorful toner, versus several.


Robyn (below) has three different skin zones in her foundation match and two different value zones. She had Dramatic, Attractive, Fearless, and Hypnotic in her formula!


beautiful black woman



So you don’t want to match with Skin Twin? Maybe you just want to see if you can find your color right off or you have a pretty good idea of where your skin lives. If that is the case, let me help you find your zone.


First off, don't necessarily think of yourself as being in the deepest zone straight off. A lot of people fall somewhere in the medium to medium-dark range. For those on the slightly deeper range we get to dabble in the darkest arena. If you fall in the medium dark to dark range let us know in the notes of your order and we can customize your zone for Skin Twin, if you go that route. The beauty below is wearing Charismatic, which is a deep and has the coolest skin. 


deep skin beauty


Once you know your zone, select that option/name in our filter foundation system.

So for example, let’s say you are in the dark zone (that isn't dark so much as deep), what you will see is this:


foundation for black skin


Don’t be alarmed that it looks colorful. That is normal. If it looked ‘dark’ you’d end up looking grey. So from this we want to figure out where your unique color lives. If you look like the lady below (even if deeper) you will be in the most yellow (Strength 417). I’m using her as an example because her color is very clearly that one zone, and that is far less common in deeper skins.


If things typically look really orange on you, this is you. You'll want to look at the colors Sage, Vibrant, Corny, Kibitzer, Sprightly, or Clever (depending on value zone). While there are rare exceptions, we almost never have found someone on the deeper end in this one specific zone, but we have seen people have these colors as part of their formula (though also rare).


stunning lady


If you look like the color below, you’ll find that you are in the Strength 45 zone or Strength 21 zone. This is the cooler zone.


If things look really yellow on you, this is your arena. Bertha (below) had some scarring on her face, so that impacted the color, but ultimately her formula was Magnetic (Strength 45) with Spellbinding (Strength 412) so she is on the cooler side, but again, colorful.


beautiful older makeup black woman


As a general rule we like to say that most people fall in the middle area. In our system that means Strength 21 to Strength 412. You can always order samples or travel sizes of our stuff, and give us some insight into what happens when it interacts with your skin (aka how the color changes, lifts, etcetera). Feel free to mix your samples together too. 


I really do recommend ordering Skin Twin though. While we realize it is an investment, the package really helps you find your perfect foundation match, and you can always use the remainder to come up with your concealer matches, contour colors, and/or natural eyeshadows, too. (It can also be something fun to do with girlfriends slumber party style!)


At the end of the day, with Skin Twin or a custom match in our store, you get a formula that is truly unique to you. So even if you aren’t an actress, you can look ready for the big screen any day.


Did we mention that our foundation is also really healthy for your skin?




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