It’s finally starting to feel like people of colour are truly proud of their skin, whether lighter or deeper in complexion. And aren’t we here for it? Today, we’re going to look at some of the ten most common shades of brown skin out there, which should also help you select the right makeup.
Before you give us the side eye, let’s start by saying we know that there are more than ten shades of brown skin. We’re just listing some of the most common shades available to help give you a starting point when looking for foundations in most brands. And we’ve even made sure to point you to which Prettykind Dark & Pretty Stick Foundation would be your closest match in each shade.
So, let’s jump right in!
The 10 Shades of Brown Skin Are:
This is one of the lighter shades that people of colour have. It’s a few shades darker than a true/classic beige or sand shade. Honey has warm, golden tones and falls on the lighter side of the medium shade range.
Bronze is a slightly deeper shade than honey, which is also in the medium category, but the undertone leans red. So, someone in this category may appear slightly orange.
We love the name of this shade! When you think of caramel, you’re close to knowing what skin shade this describes.
Caramel describes skin shades that are a few shades deeper than bronze with either radiant yellowy gold tones or a neutral or slightly cool undertone.
Nutmeg is a true medium-depth shade that largely leans warm, i.e., it’s yellowy with a hint of orange. Nutmeg can be neutral or lean slightly on the warm side.
We know you are probably wondering about this one, but brown is the most common shade range people refer to when they say “so and so had brown skin.” Some brands also refer to this shade by names such as deep bronze, toffee, etc.
Brown is a darker medium shade with slightly red undertones.
Sounds luxurious, right? And it is! Truffle is in the deep shade range with a neutral-slightly cool undertone.
By the way, we’re thinking about chocolate truffles here, not black truffles.
Do you know when you get a cappuccino and look at the designs in the frothy bits on top? That brown? Yes, that’s what we’re thinking about with this one. Cappuccino is a gorgeous medium-deep shade with a neutral-warm undertone.
Pecan is a warm shade in the deep category. Typically, the skin leans more yellow in this shade.
Walnut is a stunning intense shade with a gold or yellow undertone.
Reminiscent of the hardwood tree, ebony is a deep shade with a neutral-cool undertone.
Because many makeup brands have just recently worked on including darker shades, there aren’t a set of generally accepted names for foundations in this range, but you’ll often sit within the last three foundation shades in a given line.
How to Match Foundation to Your Brown Skin Shade
Now that you have an idea of your shade of brown skin, you can go ahead and start shopping for makeup that suits your shade. But if you still have questions on how to do the whole thing, especially when you’re shopping online, we’ll be taking you step by step to help you identify your shade of brown skin and your foundation shade.
- If You Haven’t Already, Identify Your Skin’s Undertone
Your undertone is the secondary colour that shows on your skin, affecting everything from what colours and jewelry look good on you to which foundation won’t make you look ashy. There are three undertones: warm, cool, and neutral.
Warm undertones mean that the person has a yellow or golden tint to the skin. Having a cool undertone means that you have a red or blue tint to the skin. Finally, neutral undertones have an olive/green (blue and yellow combine to make green) or orange (yellow + red) tint to their skin.
With this definition, it probably seems that it should be easy to figure this out, but it isn’t always that simple. You must first train your eye to see undertones, especially when you’re new to makeup or colour theory; this skill must be acquired.
Luckily, there are tests out there that can be used to point out which undertone someone has, e.g. the jewelry test.
You’ll want to have silver and gold jewelry for the jewelry test. Wear gold jewelry and observe in the mirror whether or not the colour makes you look radiant and healthy. Then take them off, try the silver jewelery, and note how vibrant it makes you look. If you look better in silver, you’re likely a cool undertone, while if you look better in gold, you’re likely warm. If you look equally good in both metals, you’re likely neutral.
Another test is to check the colour of the veins inside your wrist. If the veins look green, then you’re likely a warm undertone. You're probably a cool undertone if your veins look blue or purple.
Also, pay attention to some of the descriptions friends and family have given you. For example, your skin may have been described as blue-black (cool-toned), or you have previously been described as very yellow (warm-toned), et cetera.
Pro tip: A little-known method we love to use is a colour picker app. Install a fairly detailed colour picker app on your smartphone that also breaks down what combination of colours makes up a specific colour. Stand in good lighting and use the app to pick up on the shades of different skin parts like your face, chest and neck.
You’ll be able to see what colour contributes the most to your skin tone, which is usually a good indication of your skin tone. For example, if your exact colour is Watusi, the app may point out that you’re red with almost a similar amount of yellow. Therefore, you can work out that you lean orange and would be neutral.
- Identify a Complexion Family
About 3 (sometimes 4) categories are used to categorize different skin complexion depths. The most popular categories are fair, medium, deep, and sometimes very deep.
Once you can fit yourself into one of these categories, that drastically narrows down the possible shade matches you must choose from. Some brands will specify which complexion family each foundation falls into.
- Identify How Deep Your Skin is in That Range
Within each complexion family, there’ll be a range of depths. So, you’ll want to look for influencers or celebrities who fall into the range and compare your complexion with theirs. Though take care to compare your photos to photos taken of them in similar lighting.
This will help you determine if you’re on the lighter or darker side of the group or if you fall somewhere in the middle. You may also get a friend or family member to compare your skin shade to the colours in the shade range.
- When in Doubt, Pick the Lighter Shade
The steps above should help you narrow your options to 1-3 possible foundations in the brand. And when in doubt, a good rule of thumb is to go with one of the lighter shades. Turning something deeper is always easier, but not the other way around.
Note: If the brand offers a sample size. Try one of those to get time to play with the foundation and confirm that it’s the right fit for you before taking the plunge on a full-sized bottle.
- Use a Shade Matcher/Chart
Brands often have a comparison chart (here’s ours, for reference) or a shade-matching tool. Try and use those to narrow down on shades or crosscheck a prospective choice. This method works best when you know your shade matches other brands.
Note: Even after using these methods, there’s still a chance you might not pick the right shade on the first go. So, shop at stores with flexible return policies. That way, it doesn’t end up being a complete write-off.
Which reminds us, although we hinted at it in the intro, if you’re new or haven’t been here in a while, you might not know that we launched a foundation line: The Dark & Pretty Stick Foundation, and you can read all about it in the next section.
Here's A Little Bit About Our Dark & Pretty Stick Foundation
We formulated the Dark & Pretty Foundation with busy women in mind. Women, just like our founder, Toyin, who enjoy looking good but want to spend only a little bit of time getting themselves together in the morning. And didn't want to throw in hundreds of dollars to have a makeup closet of 50 products that completely changes how they look.
The Dark & Pretty Stick Foundation is an excellent option if you still want to look like yourself but just more polished and feel prettier without tons of steps or products.
The Dark & Pretty Stick foundation:
- Is lightweight, so it doesn't sit on the skin and makes you yearn for the moment you'll get home so you can let your skin breathe.
- Has buildable coverage so you can have a light and natural application one day and a full face beat for your event this weekend.
- Has a natural, soft matte finish so that you have the right balance between not looking shiny and looking *ahem* dry.
- Is a 2-in-1: a foundation and a concealer. So, you can use it to touch up on the go and to cover up dark spots and hyperpigmentation. You can also easily use it to highlight and contour your face. And who doesn't like to know that their highlight and contour will easily blend with the rest of the makeup?
- Is cruelty-free, paraben-free and vegan just like all our other products; and
- Is fragrance-free, making it more sensitive-skin-friendly than most foundations out there. Most people don’t have any reactions to fragrance, but for some, fragrance can cause irritation and could lead to an acne flare.
How to Choose the Right Dark & Pretty Foundation (H2)
Following the steps on how to pick a foundation will help you pick your Dark & Pretty foundation match.
But just in case you’re still struggling with that, here’s a comparison chart showing the most likely shade matches in Fenty Pro FIlt’r, MAC Studio Fix Fluid, NARS Radiant, Skin by Mented, Black Opal Foundation Stick, and Maybelline Fit Me foundations.
If you’re still trying to find your match in another brand that’s not in this chart, use sites like Findation to find out what foundations you would most likely use in either of these six brands and then use that to cross reference.
That said, if you know what shade of brown skin you are, we can use that to match you to the Dark & Pretty foundation that would be the best/closest match to your skin. So here we go:
- For Honey skin, the best Dark & Pretty match would be Savvy. Savvy is a light-medium shade with yellow, and golden tones.
- If you’re a Bronze lady looking for a match in our foundation, try Lucky. Lucky is a beautiful, light-medium shade with a red undertone.
- If you’re Caramel, our suggested D&P match would be Courageous. Courageous is a slightly cool, medium shade. It can also work for women with a neutral undertone.
- For Nutmeg skin, your Prettykind match would be Blessed: a neutral-cool, medium shade.
- If you have Brown skin, check out our Dark & Pretty stick in the shade “Serene.” Serene is a medium shade with a neutral-cool undertone.
- For Truffle skin, does your Prettykind shade match? Try “Favoured,” a deep shade with a sumptuous red undertone.
- If you’re someone with Cappucino skin and you’re wondering which D&P foundation would suit you, we suggest you look at Audacious. Audacious is also a mid-deep shade with rich gold undertones.
- For Pecan skin, the best D&P shade match for you would be Joyful, a deep shade with a golden undertone.
- If you’re a Walnut yourself, then your best shade in the Dark & Pretty line would be Brilliant, which is in the deep family with warm undertones.
- For Ebony skin, Generous would be your best shade match. Generous is an intense shade with a slight red undertone.
I hope you’re as excited about the Dark & Pretty Foundation Sticks as we are. You can check them out here.
Until next time,Stay Pretty. Stay Kind.