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Makeup Artist Sam Fine Shares Shopping Tips

When Vanessa Williams, Iman, Halle Berry, Brandy, Beyonce, Veronica Webb, and Tyra Banks have you on speed dial, you know you're good. Such is the case with makeup artist Sam Fine, who's worked with these (among other) celebrities. The Chicago native began his career by working at a cosmetics counter, then worked his way up to be one of the most sought-after makeup artists.

He also maintains his own blog, which provides shade-specific, step-by-step tutorials. In between appearances for MAC, I talked with him about a few makeup tips for women of every color.

On his makeup philosophy:
"Makeup is about personality. I'm not a big rule-maker. If you want to wear red lipstick morning, noon and evening, why not?"

On the most flattering hues for women of color:
"There are a few shades that I don't use as much with women of color, like pink shades. Pink is not in the undertones of women of color, so I use bronzer instead. For me, it's all about the basics: Orange, coral, and golden shades look beautiful. But pinks are tricky, as are really pale colors."

For Sam Fine's tips on choosing color cosmetics and foundation,


His foundation-shopping tips:
"Be savvy; shop around. Nowadays, you have lines like Bobbi Brown and MAC that have more than two or three shades. These lines may not be dedicated to women of color, but they have some wonderful options. You have to go from line to line. It's really trial and error. Don't think it terms of, 'This one line is my everything.' You'll have to pick and choose from different lines. Women of color are always going to have to do more work to find the right foundation color for their skin tones."

On finding the most flattering color cosmetics:
"For women of color, there's already color in the skin, so you need more pigment. Nars, Iman, and Fashion Fair are some lines that have truer colors. What you see in the tube is going to be the same on skin. You have to be careful in your color choice — that's true not just for women of color, but for all women. There's nothing you can't do, but you have to switch up the shade, not the color, to make it complement your complexion. For instance, the right blue for Vanessa Williams might be a different shade than the one that looks right on Patti LaBelle."

Join The Conversation
alexask alexask 7 years
like a lot of people here, i like the advice, but i'm surprised about the no pink info. pink, whether i've been in the mood for it or not, has been the most constant color people say looks best for me. i wonder if he means just with blushes and bronzers or with everything in general. i've never used a particularly pink bronzer before.
Jessiebanana Jessiebanana 8 years
I seriously disagree with the Pink advice. A lot of light skinned women of color have golden undertones, but once you start getting to darker more chocolaty colors you hit women with peach, red, and even the purple undertones. I noticed most of his client, except Brandy, are pretty light. I'm a peach-red, so rosey blushes look great on me. Too many bronzers either wash out or look too shimmery on my skin. "Another tip is that if you are between two shades and it isn't a major difference, you always want to go for the lighter shade. The sebum(oil) in your skin mixes with your foundation as the day wears on and darkens it slightly." I usually go darker (if I don't have the exact color) to more closely match my neck. My inner face can get a washed out yellowish color sometimes if I'm not eating well or stay out of the sun. I always match my face with my jaw color. I also have pretty normal to dry skin so excess oil isn't a problem. Anyways I love MUFE and want to try Becca.
Juicylemon Juicylemon 8 years
Thanks for this article Bella! Yes Prescritptives is great. I use the Virtual Matte foundation in Blue/Red. Their philosophy is that our undertone is define by more than just yellow and pink so they have a very wide range for most skintones.
Kelliegrl Kelliegrl 9 years
Great tips! Prescriptives has a range of foundation shades for everyone.
msdyanelk msdyanelk 9 years
I've loved sam Fine since I was a teen. M.A.C. has a limited edition pink shade called California Dreamin' which does nothing for me. Since it was free, I'll work with it but MUST ADD GLOSS!!!!!
Black-Velveteen Black-Velveteen 9 years
Great article, Bella! Thanks!
halle44 halle44 9 years
wow this is nice. i love the advise!
ChristinaMUFE ChristinaMUFE 9 years
For complexion products, I would definitely try Make Up For Ever. They have great formulas. I love Matte Velvet. Amazing. Another tip is that if you are between two shades and it isn't a major difference, you always want to go for the lighter shade. The sebum(oil) in your skin mixes with your foundation as the day wears on and darkens it slightly. Iman uses two foundation colors. Her skin is more pigmented in the lower portion of her face. Instead of masking it all with one color, she blends it all naturally. I would recommend her book to everyone! I got it while working at Sephora. It's one of my favorites. Anyway, I LOVE SAM FINE!!! HE'S GREAT!
leanneluvsu leanneluvsu 9 years
MAC is really a mediocre cosmetics line. THe prices are reasonable but its not my favorite for women of color. Pastels tend to not look very well on women of color. My best advice is to stick to one color you love and you know works for you. For instance, I look great in jewel tones, so thats what I buy. Also, if you have a crappy color find another way to make it work for you.
nals33 nals33 9 years
roxtarchic - LOL my thoughts exactly! :D
nals33 nals33 9 years
I think most women of almost any ethnicity have some trouble finding the right foundation color. I know I did. For the longest time, the make-up artists would pair me with a foundation that has a pink undertone to it. Thank God I discovered a Nars counter in the corner of the make-up department at Macy's! I stay away from the pinks, though sometimes I wish I could wear them. Pinks look so pretty on some people!
missysugar missysugar 9 years
Thank you Bella. Loved the article.
solstice solstice 9 years
Great article, Bella!
i-am-awesomeness i-am-awesomeness 9 years
Thanks Bella for bringing us advice for everyone! We're all different and need different tips to make us look our personal best :)
mshoney18 mshoney18 9 years
He's right about MAC, the artist that helped me actually used two concealers to fix some blotchiness I had on bad skin day. Another used a pink gloss and lipstick combo that I would have never chosen but it looked great.
MsWalton MsWalton 9 years
I was very excited to see Sam Fine this morning Bella. I don't wear makeup mainly because I don't know what to look for. This has restored my faith that it can be done:)
MissMarisol MissMarisol 9 years
Thanks for sharing!
Meka_suga Meka_suga 9 years
Thanks bella
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 9 years
Great tips. I agree that you have to find the right shade of a color for you. Everyone is going to need a slightly different color depending on hair and skin colors.
mischo-beauty mischo-beauty 9 years
I looooooooooooooooooooooooooove Sam Fine! Thanks for this! :)
bellaressa bellaressa 9 years
Love Sam and his tips. I haven't seem him in awhile.
Stravs-Firebird Stravs-Firebird 9 years
I appreciate his thoughts too. I remember my first trip to the dept store counters, age 12 or 13. The Estee Lauder makeup lady suggested Bright Jungle Orange (or something like that). Hooker clown, totally! And even then, I knew I'd be better off with Black Honey (ah Clinique and your fab sheer colors!). To this day, that's still the color that works best on me.
Beauty Beauty 9 years
Belladande, you are hilarious. "Hooker clown" is going to be in my head all day.
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