The Good, the Bad, the Ugly: most talked about high end foundation brands for brown complexions

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly: most talked about high end foundation brands for brown complexions

Last year, Rihanna's beauty brand, Fenty Beauty, accomplished something amazing. Reminiscent of MAC's brand launch in the 80s, Fenty came through for US with an impactful beauty campaign that not only made many feel included but also celebrated our differences.


Fenty Beauty came. Fenty Beauty Saw. Fenty Beauty Conquered. Fenty Beauty gave us life. 

Fenty Beauty's launch was less about a marketing ploy that attempted to scream "Hey, we're diverse too!," and more of a statement on their brand DNA: diversity would now and forever be embedded in who they are. Rih and her brand are living, breathing use cases of leading by example. 

Consequently, many other brands began to chirp about how they too, also had an inclusive shade range. While this is definitely true, the difference in many of these other cases is the way in which the shades, and at the end of the day, the people that represented those shades, were portrayed.

This interesting phenomenon reminded me that a compilation of high end brands with extensive shade ranges was long overdue (much like the list we previously created of drugstore brands.)

Let's take a look at some of the other brands out there that *seemingly* have something out there for us - the good, the bad, and the ugly. 


LANCÔME's Teinte Idole Ultra Longwear Foundation is one of my all time faves. After launching in 2012, this 40 shade foundation is currently the brand's most extensive. 

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NARS' luxe, minimal aesthetic has made this brand a staple for many, myself included. However, their shade range wasn't really poppin' like that until the launch of their latest formula - Natural Radiant Longwear. With a total of 30 shades, this foundation now has the brand's most diverse shade range.

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While seemingly good intentioned, Black Up has come under some serious scrutiny. Many people have boycotted this brand because of rumors that that business was essentially stolen from the original black male founder Fabrice Mahabo. As devastating as that is to hear, I know that this French brand might be one of few options for darker complexions internationally. It's an unfortunate truth: many of the brands that cater to darker skintones may not *actually* have genuine intentions. 



Cover FX is one of the only brands that helps us out by categorizing their extensive range by undertone. Once you determine whether you have a pink, neutral, or golden undertone, it's easy to find something that will suit you. With 40 shades, their Natural Finish Foundation is their most diverse.


HUDA Beauty

When Huda Beauty first launched her foundation, it was immediately compared to Fenty's. I honestly think it was just the timing. While I don't believe Huda Beauty was trying to *compete* or "top" Fenty Beauty with their launch (they are shy 10 shades anyways,) I can understand why some were hesitant to endorse this foundation. Huda has come under fire the lack of inclusivity and sensitivity on her Instagram page, and thus, this foundation launch appeared disingenuous. That being said, the brand launched their first complexion product with 30 shades meant to suit a range of skintones. 

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Make Up For Ever is one of those brands that didn't even try to hide the fact that they wanted to throw shade at the Fenty launch. Their "high and mighty" stance made them look petty and out of touch. Despite the fact that the brand does indeed carry 40 shades of their Ultra HD foundation (another fave formula of mine), they've been around since the 80s and didn't expand their shade range until 2015. I find that statistic to be more telling. Additionally, upon further research, the foundation swatches from the brand look NOTHING like how they actually appear in real life..and they are mislabeled. It's extremely misleading and further justifies feelings of insincerity. I really loved their HD foundation and most of their products, but this brand has been taking a lot of L's for me as of late.

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As if Danessa Myricks' amazing artistry wasn't enough, she had to hit us with her own makeup line. Her extremely full coverage foundation can double as concealer and comes in a RANGE of shades for darker skin tones. She also has about 5 shades that are meant to alter, lighten, and add undertones to her existing shades. As an artist herself, she knows what works and what other MUAs might need in their kits. 


Bobbi Brown

Bobbi Brown is one of those brands that has probably had a large shade range for a minute but it isn't talked about as much as some of the other brands on this list. Maybe that will change with the launch of their latest formula, the Skin Long-Wear Weightless Foundation. Other than MAC, Bobbi Brown is one of the few brands that consistently launches new foundation formulas with range. Both the Skin Foundation and Stick Foundation also come with about 30 shades.

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Estée Lauder

Estée Lauder is more of an "old school" brand but their Double Wear foundation is a staple for many who have oily skin. It comes in 38 shades.

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Hourglass Cosmetics

Hourglass shook sh*t up when they launched their Vanish™ Seamless Foundation Stick. In addition to having a relatively good shade range, the triangle shape of the stick made this product a game changer.

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MAC Cosmetics is a brand that many of us probably started out using because they have been creating inclusive complexion products since their inception. There has always been a bunch of different foundation and concealer formulas to choose from. 

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Fenty Beauty

Last but not least we have Fenty Beauty. Beauty lovers are now defining their skin tone with their Pro Filt'r Foundation shade # (430 over here!), because Fenty Beauty has set a new precedent, a new standard. I'm very excited to see what complexion products Rih hits us with next. 

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Did your favorite foundation make this list? Which one have you used? Let us know in the comments!