How to Apply Makeup for Dark Indian Skin

Three Parts:Putting on Your FaceComplementing Your EyesAdding Lip Color

Applying makeup when you have darker skin can sometimes be tricky, since many makeup companies cater to lighter skin tones. However, dark skin has the advantage of pulling off a much greater range of colors than lighter shades. People with light-to-medium skin often have to shy away from more intense colors, but bold and bright colors look amazing on dark skin. These colors blend into darker skin much more naturally, giving you a beautiful and sophisticated look.[1]

Part 1
Putting on Your Face

  1. Image titled Apply Makeup for Dark Indian Skin Step 1
    Keep your skin moisturized. Darker skin tends to take on an "ashy" look when not properly moisturized. To keep from taking on an unhealthy-looking gray cast, always apply a moisturizer to your face after your daily shower.
    • If you have dry skin, you may want to use a liquid or cream foundation. For added hydration, you can mix a few drops of moisturizer into your foundation before you apply.
  2. Image titled Apply Makeup for Dark Indian Skin Step 2
    Match your foundation to your skin tone perfectly. If you choose to make foundation a part of your beauty routine, it's important to find a product that's as close as possible to your natural skin tone.
    • Never use a foundation lighter than your skin tone. This can make your skin look patchy and your makeup caked on.
    • When shopping for foundation, swatch it against your forehead or jawline. It's common for people with darker skin tones to be a little lighter at the face, so using your hand may not give you an accurate match.[2]
    • Foundation shopping is often trickier for people with darker skin. Try researching which locally-available brands work best on darker skin to narrow down your choices.[3]
    • You can also go to a local beauty shop or the makeup counter at a department store and ask for help there. These businesses often employ skilled makeup artists who might be better able to find the perfect match. Many will also offer a free makeover with your potential new foundation to help you decide.
    • You should make sure the foundation you're thinking about buying is perfect in all lights, not just under the ones in the store. Try shopping without foundation or concealer on your face when trying out new foundations. Go outside and use a hand mirror to make sure the product blends in perfectly in the sun.
  3. Image titled Apply Makeup for Dark Indian Skin Step 3
    Conceal dark under eye circles. Dark under eye circles are common in people of Indian descent. They are caused by an excess amount of melanin being deposited in the skin, which is a process controlled by genetic predisposition. [4] If you have these dark under eye circles, you may want to take extra care to cover them, as an even skin tone will give you a more youthful, vibrant look. Pick a concealer that is the same shade as your natural skin tone but with a slightly warmer undertone.
    • To apply, swipe the concealer under your eyes and blend at the edges.[5]
    • If your under eye circles are still a problem, try applying orange color-correcting concealer under your skin-tone concealer. Orange concealer is applied the same way as conventional concealer and helps make under eye circles disappear. In addition, it is a great all-around color corrector for blemishes on darker skin.[6]
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    Use bold blushes. Many blushes that look too bright to be used in everyday makeup actually blend beautifully into darker skin. Bright oranges are especially great for adding a touch of color to your cheeks.
    • More subdued colors like rose and coral also complement darker skin nicely. These are great choices for daytime looks.
    • For nighttime makeup, consider using deep, rich colors like plum, wine, and bronze. The metallic in bronze blush is particularly great for creating a healthy glow.
    • Avoid neutral browns and beiges. These tend to make already brown skin look dull.[7]
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    Finish your routine with a setting powder. You can use a powder that matches your skin tone or one that is translucent and matte. Setting powder will both help your makeup last longer and reduce shine. This step is especially important if you have oily skin.[8][9]
    • Be cautious when using illuminating powders or "illuminators." Make sure it has been especially formulated with darker skin in mind. These contain warm gold tones that will prevent the ashiness that other illuminators can give to dark skin.[10]
  6. Image titled Apply Makeup for Dark Indian Skin Step 6
    Consider skin lightening treatments if you want lighter skin. While tanning is the trend in Western cultures, skin "bleaching" treatments are incredibly popular in India, especially among women with darker skin. It's best to stick to natural methods of lightening your skin, as many pharmaceutical products can have dangerous side-effects.
    • Examples of natural skin lighteners that some people find effective are lemon juice, turmeric, and dairy products.
    • The best way to make your skin a little lighter is to avoid sun exposure and to apply sunscreen when you can't.[11]
    • Bleaching your skin is by no means necessary. Dark skin is beautiful in its natural state. Don't lighten your skin to conform to some beauty standard. Only do so if it's your own personal preference.[12]

Part 2
Complementing Your Eyes

  1. Image titled Apply Makeup for Dark Indian Skin Step 7
    Highlight your brow with a dab of white eyeshadow. Using an eyeshadow brush, apply just a bit of white eyeshadow under the arc of each of your eyebrows. This will create the illusion of a more dramatic brow and bigger eyes. This trick is especially effective on dark Indian skin.[13][14]
  2. Image titled Apply Makeup for Dark Indian Skin Step 8
    Try a base of white eyeshadow during day. While not usually thought of as a traditional look in India, shimmery white eyeshadow used as a base on the lids make a great everyday makeup choice for dark skin. When properly blended, white eyeshadow can look natural on darker skin while highlighting the eyes.
    • A touch of white eyeshadow by your tear ducts can also make your eyes look brighter without covering the entire lid.
    • Remember that darker complexions can pull of all colors. Feel free to explore any eyeshadow that suits your tastes.[15]
  3. Image titled Apply Makeup for Dark Indian Skin Step 9
    Use kajal to make your eyes pop. Lining the lower eyelids with kajal (either from homemade powder or a commercial stick) is a ubiquitous look in India. This tradition began with a belief in kajal's medicinal properties, but many people around the world now use kajal for purely aesthetic reasons.[16]
    • You can also use kajal to give yourself smoky eyes. Smoky eye makeup is another classic choice for Indian skin of all shades, but it is especially stunning when paired with dark skin.
    • Heavy black eyeliner looks much less stark and more flattering on dark skin. People with lighter skin have more difficulty pulling off this look, especially when lining their lower eyelids.
    • Liquid eyeliner is another staple of Indian fashion, both in India and among people of Indian descent living abroad, that looks great with dark skin.[17]

Part 3
Adding Lip Color

  1. Image titled Apply Makeup for Dark Indian Skin Step 10
    Apply some foundation first to make your lip color pop. Simply spread on a layer of foundation the same way you use it on the rest of your skin. This trick helps when applying brighter lip colors to darker lips. Otherwise, these colors may not show up very well.[18]
    • Foundation will also help your lip color to last longer.
    • You can also use concealer or lip primer instead of foundation.[19]
  2. Image titled Apply Makeup for Dark Indian Skin Step 11
    Use burgundy lip colors as a go-to. This deep red suits all complexions and is a staple part of many Indian women's makeup regime in India and abroad. It is especially flattering on darker skin, as it is typically not far off from one's natural lip color. Unlike people with paler complexions, if you have darker skin, you can pull off burgundy as an everyday lip color without looking overdone.[20]
  3. Image titled Apply Makeup for Dark Indian Skin Step 12
    Try bright reds when you want to look glamorous. While much more bold and adventurous than burgundy, bright reds also pair well with dark skin.
    • Orangey "fire" red shades are great for bold daytime makeup.
    • Use cooler and more neutral bold reds for a dramatic nighttime look.[21]
  4. Image titled Apply Makeup for Dark Indian Skin Step 13
    Stay away from pale and glossy lip colors. While they may look great as blush and eyeshadow, these colors don't work as well when used as lip colors. They can make your skin look dull and lifeless. Lip colors that are very glossy, frosty, and shimmery can cause the same issue.


  • Just keep in mind if you're living in a Western country like the US, going heavy with both eye and lip makeup may look too dramatic. You can compromise by wearing more subtle makeup during the day and pulling out all the stops for evening events.
  • While some western beauty experts insist that you should use bold colors on only the eyes or the lips (never at the same time), the popular Indian aesthetic is to go all out. Feel free to combine smoky eyes with an intense lip color.[22]

Sources and Citations

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Categories: Face Makeup | Makeup