Expert tips for finding the right foundation to match your skin tone

Professional makeup artist Johnatha Camp knows a thing or two about beauty.

Celebrity makeup artist Johnatha Camp has showcased her talents on a variety of platforms including Essence Magazine, VH1, Forbes, and ABC World News among others.

Choosing the right foundation to match your skin tone can be tricky. It can be particularly difficult for women of color, being that there is such a limited selection of products available for us on the market.

Professional makeup artist Johnatha Camp is no stranger to working with different skin tones. Since 2010, Camp has showcased her talents on major platforms such as VH1, Essence Magazine, Forbes, and ABC World News among others.

I recently caught up with Camp when she was working as the makeup artist for a local wedding. I got a chance to see her in action as she tailored her makeup techniques to a variety of skin tones. She also gave me a few pointers on finding the right products for black skin and how to avoid being that girl whose foundation is several shades lighter than the rest of her skin.

Tip 1: Shop the right brands.

The world of makeup is progressing with more cosmetic lines offering a wider selection of shades for darker skin tones. For makeup brands with a variety of shades, Camp recommends buying an African-American makeup line. Her “go to” makeup lines are Black Opal, Mac Cosmetics, NYX, and Cover FX – in that order. She also suggests the Matchmaster foundation by Mac as a great foundation to try for first time users.

Johnatha Camp working her magic at a local wedding.

Tip 2: Match your jawbone.

When it comes to matching foundation, Camp explains that the skin on our face tends to have many shades, typically lighter in areas where natural light hits, such as the forehead and cheekbones. Therefore, she recommends the jawbone as the most accurate area to match your foundation. The jawbone bridges the gap between the neck and chest area and the rest of the face. If your foundation matches around the jawbone, this will help tremendously in making sure your makeup application is seamless.

Tip 3: Know the difference between shade and undertone.

Choosing the right foundation is not just about matching the shade of your skin. You also have to consider your undertone. The shade of your skin refers to the amount of pigment, or melanin you have. Undertone refers to the underlying pigment within your skin. The undertone is sort of like a secondary color within your skin. It is possible that two individuals may be the same shade of brown with different undertones. Undertones can typically be described as warm, cool, or neutral. If you’ve ever heard a person of color described as “yellow bone” or “red bone” this actually refers to undertones.

When it comes to a seamless makeup application, Camp says the key is to “blend, blend, blend.”

Tip 4: Mix it up.

Some of makeup brands are prepackaged. It’s important to note that when purchasing prepackaged foundations, you should consider purchasing two shades that you believe closely match your skin tone, and then test them out at home. If you find that one is too dark and the other too light, try mixing the shades. If the products don’t work, take them back. It’s likely that particular makeup brand does not cater to your skin tone. I have found that many larger retailers will accept returns within reason.

Tip 5: Have the basic staples.

Camp says every woman should have a good foundation, eyeliner, mascara, blush, lipgloss and a brow kit. She says a nice brow is like a man getting his hairline “edged up.” She also recommends avoiding black eyebrow gels and pencils because they are too harsh. Instead, she says go with brown. She said the key to applying your makeup is to “blend, blend, blend.”

Tip 6: Embrace color.

“Don’t be afraid to try color,” says Camp. “You can look good in anything if you blend it well. I recommend products in the berry, eggplant and cranberry family, browns, golds, burgundy, and earth tones. Try to avoid powdery shades such as pastel pinks and blue and foundation that is too light for your skin tone—these can tend to make you look ashy. If you prefer a lighter lip color, using a skin-toned lip liner is key.”

Don’t be afraid to experiment with color. Products in the berry, eggplant and cranberry family, browns, golds, burgundy, and earth tones work well on darker skin. Camp says powdery shades and pastels can make you appear ashy.

If you still you need help finding the perfect match for foundation and other makeup products, you may be interested in the fun and interactive service  that Camp offers. She goes on makeup field trips to Target and Wal-Mart with a group of girl friends to offer her personal assistance with selecting those perfect matches. You can view more of her work and contact her via Instagram @jcampmua.

Also share with me your makeup experiences and get in touch with questions and story ideas at

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