I’ll be honest. One of the most challenging issues I face as a makeup artist is hyperpigmentation. Most commonly found in women of South Asian or African descent, hyperpigmentation makes skin appear to be several shades darker – usually around the mouth and eyes.
So here’s the question – Do you match your foundation to the darker areas of the face or the lighter ones?
First – Do not try to use a lighter foundation in an attempt to lighten the dark areas. You will only end up with ashy, grayish looking skin. Also, most women find that if the lighter parts of their faces are darkened, they do not feel like they look like themselves.
In my experience, the best way to go about obtaining that coveted even glow is to compromise. You are who you are, so instead of getting frustrated over something you cannot change, accept that you have skin with personality and cater to it.
Random blemishes and patches of darkness are not what I am talking about. The pigmentation we are discussing here causes a mask-like effect on large portions of the face. The discoloration is significant and widespread enough to make isolating one general skin shade very difficult.
Slight difference in color
If the difference in shades is minimal – one or two shades – look for a foundation that falls in between the lighter and darker shades on your face. Once you have applied your foundation, use a non-shiny bronzer to bring depth back into your complexion. Use bronzer on the cheeks, the bridge of your nose and VERY importantly, along your hairline and jaw. Be careful to blend foundation well into your neckline. The bronzer will help to blend the various colors which will lend a more natural look.
Significant difference in color
If the pigmentation is several shades darker than the rest of your face – the process becomes a bit more complicated. You will have to use more than one foundation. Try to match your cheeks and forehead as closely as possible, but closer to the deeper end of the spectrum. Now for the darker parts – use foundation sparingly. The last thing you want to do is draw attention to those parts of your face by caking on foundation. Get a base that matches the darker areas, but on the lighter side. If you do not suffer from blemishes, you might even want to skip the foundation and use a tinted moisturizer instead. Make sure that your makeup is seamless by blending between the dark and light areas. Again, follow with bronzer in order to homogenize your complexion.
I know it sounds complicated and time-consuming, but if your complexion really bothers you – it might be worth the effort. Go to a store where you have the opportunity to experiment with various foundations and colors. Sephora is a good option. Ask for samples of the best foundation candidates and use them for a few days before making a purchase.
My thoughts on skin lightening creams
There are skin lighteners on the market – specifically, products that contain 2% hydroquinone. I am not a proponent of this because there are potential health risks associated with the long-term use of these products. Also, they work best on smaller areas of pigmentation like small patches of darkness or blemishes. I’d consult a doctor if you were seriously considering lightening your skin. Hydroquinone works, but you have to decide whether or not it is worth the risk to your health. Plant-derived lighteners may be an alternative for those who do not want to use hydroquinone. Again, talk to your dermatologist.