If you’re in the process of fully transitioning back to office life, or even just *normal-ish* life, you may be looking for a way to freshen up your fall makeup looks. Sure, maybe your makeup bag gathered a little dust over the past year, but this is a judgment-free zone where we dwell fully in the now. It’s time to bring the focus back to that foundation you forgot about (but always loved) and crisp, new eye shadow looks.
There’s just one problem. Finding killer fall inspo—specifically for Black and Brown skin tones—can be difficult. Yes, I see people of color sprinkled throughout fall makeup inspiration boards, but I’m greedy and want to see more full-blown dedicated archives.
That’s why I tapped celebrity makeup artist Sam Fine for a full brief on this topic. Having worked with the likes of Cynthia Erivo, Gina Torres, Vanessa Williams, Gabrielle Union, Iman, and even Mary J. Blige, I knew his advice would reign supreme for us Brown folks. If you’re in need of some simple, yet stunning fall makeup looks for Black and Brown skin tones, read on for what Fine had to share.
Before diving fully into Fine’s favorite fall makeup looks, he first wants to make sure your base is on-point. “I know that a lot of people are used to hearing the terms contouring, highlighting, and concealing, but I don’t think that always speaks to the consumer’s needs,” he says. “You first have to decide if you prefer things like a cream-to-powder [foundation], stick foundation, or liquid one.”
He also recognizes that not everyone may have a professional on hand to shade match or give advice on what particular product to use for your skin type. That’s when you become your own professional. “Read the fine print, understand how the products are being marketed, and what finish it’s going to provide. One of my favorites is stick foundation,” Fine adds.
What does Fine always carry in his kit, no matter what? Fashion Fair’s Crème to Powder Skin Foundation ($37) and SkinFlex Stick Foundation ($37). They were his go-to products for the Met Gala, Emmys, and Venice Film Festival this year. “I love sticks because they give me the opportunity to do [quick] spot coverage,” he shares. He’s even given a stick to Cynthia Erivo for its ease of use. These base products truly give people of color the coverage they need as the shade nuances and pigmentation level is just right, according to Fine. Switching between darker and lighter shades is also something he does often, so don’t be afraid to mix, folks. This will create a flawless base for the rest of your look and is the exact way Fine gets every red carpet look started.
Now that your base is all set, it’s time to go for a sultry lip. Fine loves a dark, juicy color for fall on Black and Brown skin tones because it adds a layer of richness. “I look at color and lipstick as an accessory, whether you are choosing to do a darker nail this season or a darker lip, I think it’s really fun to play with,” he reports. “It’s just magical, it becomes everything and nothing. You don’t have to know eye shadow or put on false lashes. That lip, so perfectly placed, is the greatest accessory—it’s so elegant to me.”
Even if you’re not comfortable going for a deep, bold color right away, you can still apply it and blot it to your liking. Fine recommends adding a coordinating golden or rose gloss to open it up and add more dimension if a plain dark lip is too flat for you.
Browns and neutrals never leave Fine’s kit, period. He has many favorites, but Pat McGrath’s eye shadow palettes top his list. “[She] has such a beautiful range of rich, electric shades, he shares. “But she also has palettes that are matte, brown, and wearable every day.” It’s easy to get swept up in the latest and greatest, but Fine says you’d be shocked by what a simple brown, neutral palette can do for Black and Brown skin tones.
“The things I wind up using most often are browns, beiges, and blacks. Those [allow] me to sculpt an eye and help it look so effortless. That’s what I did for Cynthia at the Met Gala this year,” he adds. Browns and neutrals create such a classic look that never goes out of style.
Because even a good neutral look deserves a little highlight, Fine always reaches for a gem from Makeup By Mario. He stresses that you really only need a bit on the outer perimeter of your face near the cheeks. He skips the nose and other high points, but says that keeping it to the outer eye area adds a ton of dimension. Makeup By Mario highlighters are also A-1 for him because they aren’t overly glittery and mix well with a blush. “[Together] they have the pigment, luster, and the color that’s really going to show up on rich, beautiful skin.”
A dark smoky eye with a handful of glitter is everything to Fine. He’s convinced that matte black will always be your best friend since you can use it to carve out the eye. “Whether you’re going in to the office and just doing a smoky liner or you’re using it to pull that liner out and into the crease of the eye, it adds the perfect amount of wonder and awe.”
He wouldn’t be a makeup artist if he ever forgot a little extra sparkle. He loves a good MAC glitter pigment. “It always feels so appropriate and elegant” he shares. He even added a drop to Patina Miller’s 2021 Tony Awards look for extra flair.
How are you going to achieve this immaculately smoked out look? The right brushes, of course. According to Fine, highlighter brushes work great on the lid and brow bone to open up the eye. Pro tip: he even loves brushes from art stores, they work just as well. Another brush brand he swears by is Hakuhodo.
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