The 11 Best Drugstore Foundations for Dark Skin Tones

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Byrdie / Danie Drankwalter

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

Black Opal Even True Flawless Skin Liquid Foundation

Courtesy of Walmart

What We Like
  • Blurs pores

  • Lightweight

  • Goes on streak-free

What We Don't Like
  • Could be longer-lasting

What do buyers say? 87% of 500+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.

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.

Coverage: Light | Shade Range: 12 | Finish: Matte | Size: 1 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Budget

e.l.f. Cosmetics Flawless Satin Foundation

e.l.f. Cosmetics Flawless Finish Foundation

Courtesy of Target

What We Like
  • Wide shade range

  • A little goes a long way

  • Inexpensive

What We Don't Like
  • Shades can appear slightly different online

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.

Coverage: Light | Shade Range: 40 | Finish: Satin | Size: 0.7 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Light Coverage

L'Oreal Infallible 24 Hour Fresh Wear Foundation

5
L'Oreal Paris Infallible 24 Hour Fresh Wear Foundation

Walmart

What We Like
  • Holds up in heat and humidity

  • Long-wearing

  • Wide shade range

What We Don't Like
  • Contains BHT

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.

Coverage: Medium to full | Shade Range: 39 | Finish: Natural matte | Size: 1 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Medium Coverage

L.A. Girl Cosmetics Pro Coverage Illuminating Foundation

la girl pro coverage hd foundation

Courtesy of La Girl

What We Like
  • Contains antioxidants

  • Goes on smoothly

  • Gives skin a glow

What We Don't Like
  • Can feel a little greasy

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.

Coverage: Medium to full | Shade Range: 9 | Finish: Luminous | Size: 1 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Full Coverage

NYX Professional Makeup Can't Stop Won't Stop Foundation

NYX

 Ulta

What We Like
  • Waterproof

  • Wide shade range

  • Long-wearing

What We Don't Like
  • Pricier than other options

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.

Coverage: Full | Shade Range: 37 | Finish: Matte | Size: 1 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Combination Skin

Black Radiance Color Perfect Oil-Free Liquid

Black Radiance Color Perfect Oil-Free Liquid Make-Up

 Courtesy of Walgreens

What We Like
  • Includes spatula applicator

  • Goes on smoothly

  • Covers breakouts

What We Don't Like
  • Shade matching can be difficult

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.

Coverage: Full | Shade Range: 23 | Finish: Natural | Size: 1 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Oily Skin

Revlon ColorStay Makeup Longwear Liquid Foundation

revlon ColorStay Makeup Longwear Liquid Foundation
What We Like
  • Helps treat and prevent acne

  • Buildable without caking

  • Has SPF 15

What We Don't Like
  • Shade range could be expanded

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.

Coverage: Medium to full | Shade Range: 16 | Finish: Matte | Size: 1 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Dry Skin

Maybelline New York SuperStay Full Coverage Foundation

4.8
Maybelline New York Super Stay Full Coverage Liquid Foundation Makeup
What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Easy to blend

  • Matte without looking too dry

What We Don't Like
  • Contains parabens

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.

Coverage: Full | Shade Range: 24 | Finish: Natural matte | Size: 1 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Best for Large Pores

CoverGirl TruBlend Matte Made Liquid Foundation

CoverGirl TruBlend Matte Made Liquid Foundation

 Courtesy of Ulta

What We Like
  • Wide shade range

  • Buildable without caking

  • Long-wearing

What We Don't Like
  • A little thick

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.

Coverage: Light to medium | Shade Range: 12 | Finish: Matte | Size: 1 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

Best Long-Wear

IMAN Cosmetics Luxury Concealing Foundation

Iman Luxury Concealing Foundation

 Courtesy of Walmart

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

3.7
Milani Conceal + Perfect 2-in-1 Foundation + Concealer

Ulta Beauty

What We Like
  • Multipurpose

  • Good value

  • Easy to blend

What We Don't Like
  • Can oxidize

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.

Coverage: Medium to full | Shade Range: 24 | Finish: Natural matte | Size: 1 fl. oz. | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: No

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. 


Ingredients 


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.

FAQ
  • How do you apply liquid foundation?

    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.

  • How long does liquid foundation stay put?

    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.

  • Should your foundation shade be lighter or darker than your skin?

    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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