Best Natural Foundations For Dark Skin Tones

Holistic make-up artist Sjaniël Turrell shares her favourite natural and organic foundations and concealers for darker skin tones.


Now that the mainstream make-up market seems to finally be catering well for women with dark skin, the natural beauty world still has some catching up to do. It is a formulating challenge to create the myriad of darker skin tones that are out there and even more so if you are limited to using only a selected number of ingredients and pigments. That being said, the clean make-up brands that have been around for the longest are now starting to add more and more colours to their offerings.

As a makeup artist, I find that most of the darker colours available are still lacking in yellow and golden undertones or appear too ashy on dark skin. The brands below are getting the undertones right and offer a better selection for darker skin tones, but still not for all of them. It is also important to understand that no one person has only one tone of colour on their face, but when you have darker skin these differences become more visible and one colour may not be able to work well with your entire face. Either find a colour that matches mid way between your forehead and cheeks or find two colours that you can use both separately and mix together. There are of course more brands with options for darker tones, but most include only one or two darker colours or may not have enough yellow undertones to work for the majority and that is why I have not included them here.

INIKA Organic Liquid Foundation

Inika is the one brand that has added more yellow undertones right through their entire colour way. It is an especially good option for mixed race and Eastern skin colours that need more golden tones rather than the often overdone red tones. Their darkest colour caters for medium to dark brown skin but not for those with deep brown and blue black tones.

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INIKA Organic BB Cream Foundation

This is a natural coverage foundation that feels really sheer and lovely on the skin, again it caters for those who need very yellow and golden tones in the mid colour tone range.

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ZAO Compact Foundation

With 14 colours to choose from this is a great range of colours for natural makeup. This compact cream foundation gives natural, lightweight coverage and best applied with a foundation brush for a good finish. It is the only natural cream based foundation that offers a blue-black skin tone with it’s darkest colour Mocha. Some of the mid tones may not be quite yellow enough for the majority, but overall a good option for those with the darkest skin tones.

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RMS ‘un-cover’ up

I love every colour that Rose Marie Swift creates – she simply gets the undertones right. Her latest addition of 6 darker shades has filled a massive gap in the market and has upped her offering to 16 shades, the darkest colour caters for a deep brown skin tone. With just the right amount of yellow in each colour you won’t end up with that awful ashy look on your skin if you use RMS.

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ILIA True Skin Serum Foundation

ILIA brought out this 18 shade collection about a year ago and it has commercial level texture and finish and gives a beautiful glow. The darkest 4 shades cater for medium to deep brown skin tones and have a good amount of yellow for the most part – the darkest brown would work for a deep brown skin with bluer undertones.

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(M)ANASI 7 Skin Enhancer

Because (M)anasi 7 is designed to be mixed by the individual it is a great full-coverage option for darker tones. The darkest colour is literal brown (Jamocha) and a great colour for dark brown skin. Add a few dabs of the yellow tone (Beechwood) and you can easily mix and match to your perfect skin tone. You would need both the yellow and brown for mid, mixed race or light brown tones, but that is where the beauty of this product lies – the blending is in your hands. If you want it to have a sheerer finish, simply add a few drops of your moisturiser to thin out the texture.

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JANE IREDALE Purepressed Base Mineral Foundation SPF20

Probably the largest selection of foundation colours on offer in natural makeup with 26 colours. Not only do these mineral powders offer amazing coverage and beautifully soft looking finish, they cater for so many different skin tones – colours are divided up into yellow, pink and neutral undertones and the darkest colours cater for those with deep brown skin. Best applied with a kabuki brush for maximum effectiveness. Alternatively you can use a light layer of this to set and intensify your chosen cream or liquid foundation.

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INIKA Loose Mineral Powder Foundation SPF25

As with their liquid foundation selection, these mineral powders have great yellow undertoned options right throughout and the darkest colours cater for dark and deep brown skin. It is always easier to get a better selection with powders, because the formulation of liquids can be challenging since mineral pigments do not blend or dissolve in water or oil. This powder will give you long lasting wear and a good amount of coverage whilst also doubling up as a setting powder. Don’t forget that you can use a liquid base that might be a little too light and always darken it up with by setting it with a powder that is a shade darker.

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KJAER WEIS Cream Foundation

Kjaer Weis have also added a set of darker shades to their selection in the last year and they have become a favourite for many. Because this cream foundation gives great coverage whilst still achieving glow and a natural looking finish and feel it is a great option for those who love their skin to look flawless. The darkest tones have great amounts of yellow undertones to once again avoid any ashy finish though it is still lacking in the deepest and blue black tones.

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The cream foundations mentioned above (RMS, KJAER WEIS and ZAO) all double up as great concealers. The trick with these is to apply the cream with a foundation brush for a sheer finish all over the face if you want it to act as foundation. When using it as a concealer, dab your ring finger into the pot and then dab it into the under eye area or over spots for maximum coverage, by dabbing you can build up coverage without inadvertently wiping layers off again.

ILIA True Skin Serum Concealer

This is one of the largest ranges of concealers on the natural beauty front at present (outside of the cream options above). There are 4 dark shades to choose from with a silky, cream based finish that gives medium coverage – perfect for smoothing out the under eye area.

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The editorial is a passion project marrying a feel of modern romance with a vintage aesthetic. It was important to us to shoot this editorial not only with clean and organic beauty products, but also to style it as sustainably as possible.  We used vintage jewellery and hired items from the National Theatre Costumery. Mother of Pearl generously loaned us their Suzie Ivory wedding dress, a stunning showcase of sustainable fashion.  

Credits for the editorial as follows: 
Concept, Makeup, Hair and Styling: Sjaniël Turrell 
Photography: Kass Bruni @kassphotography 
Model: Jennifer Malengele at Profile Model Management Ltd  @jennifermalen 

Makeup used:
Twelve Beauty Ideal Moisture Level Serum
Ere Perez Oat Milk Foundation in Mocha 
Zao Compact Foundation in Bronze
Jane Iredale PurePressed Base in Butternut
Zao and Couleur Caramel for eyeshadows and brows
INIKA Loose Mineral Blush in Red Apple
Kjaer Weis Cream Blush in Blossoming 
RMS Beauty Master Mixer
Jillian Dempsey Khol Eyeliner in Deep Burgundy
AiNSEL Official Lipsticks in Camel Coat and White Tee
Absolution Cosmetics Mascara Black


Whether you have oily or dry skin here is Sjaniël’s ultimate guide to natural and organic foundations for all skin types.

For more beauty inspiration, see Sjaniël’s Top 10 Natural and Organic Mascaras and Liz McCarthy‘s Natural Beauty Heroes