Sometimes it seems as though many beauty products aren’t created with deeper skintones in mind. See: every beige-pink lipstick called a “nude,” foundation ranges that fail to go beyond tan, and highlighters that look like grey dust when applied on melanin-rich skin. Eyeshadow, as it turns out, is one of the trickiest things to get right.
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That’s why we turned to makeup artist Amanda Wilson to help us hunt for palettes that perform well on deeper skin. Highly pigmented enough to really show, Wilson put them to the test, creating fun looks modeled by ELLE.com’s very own.
“I find that jewel-toned and strong colors are always so beautiful on deep skin tones,” Wilson says. “Find pigments that have a lot of payoff with the color so you’re not having to apply 500 layers for a tint of color.”
Wilson also suggests “manipulating” the products. To get more of an intense color payoff, wet the shadows with Make Up For Ever Mist & Fix or rose water. “If you want the color to be super strong and not move all day, I love using a mixing medium like Make Up For Ever’s Aqua Seal, which is waterproof,” she explains.
Now that you’ve got the techniques down, here are six eyeshadow palettes Wilson loves.
“The color payoff is amazing,” Wilson says of why she loves this palette. “I find that you can make color more metallic by adding a mixing medium. This is a great way to play with color and metallics that won’t turn ashy on you when used properly. Stick to the warmer tones.”
“I love all of Pat McGrath’s palettes. Pigment payoff is always major,” Wilson says of this creative look on ELLE.com Style Director Nikki Ogunnaike. “I think this one is great as it has a nice mix of beautifully crafted mattes and warmer shimmers. It [has] very versatile palette plums, pinks, and purples.”
“I am beyond obsessed with this palette. It’s a dream,” Wilson shares of the hues used on ELLE.com Market Editor Justine Carreon. “All of the eyeshadows are jewel-toned and a little goes a long way with the pigment payoff. [It’s] a must-have for a girl not afraid of color and shine.”
“I find most of the colors in this palette are super beautiful and warm so they don’t make you look ashy,” Wilson says of the palette used on ELLE.com Photo Editor Mariel Tyler. “You can easily do an everyday look and switch it to a night look real quick.”
“I actually was pleasantly surprised by this palette—the color payoff was great. It’s great for deeper skin as its really balanced with shade color and texture,” Wilson says, “I love that there are matte bright colors done well and will not turn ashy! Then you have your classic browns and golds which you can never go wrong.”
“Most of the palette is full of these beautiful warm orange and gold tone hues which is perfect for darker skin tone,” Wilson says of the Beauty Bakerie Do It For the Graham palette—so good it sold out. But, the brand thankfully has similar pigmented offerings.