Say No To Ashy Flashback In Your Photos: A Guide To Under-Eye Highlighters For Women of Color

We’ve all been there: You’re scrolling through Instagram or Facebook, looking at photos from a party or get-together and gasp! You catch a site of something so ungodly you almost wonder if it is humanely possible for someone’s eyes to look like they are slowly migrating off their face. Why does she have the ghost glow? Why is her under-eye area screaming Halle Berry when you know her true skin tone is a solid Viola Davis? Although the phase of women of color using the dreaded Ben Nye Banana powder as an under-eye setting powder has somewhat died down, there’s still quite a bit of misinformation on how women of color can make their highlighting pop without getting an ashy flashback.

1. Focus on using the correct under-eye concealer: Make sure you prep your eyes first. Always start with a good eye primer or one of these best organic eye creams to set your eyes before applying makeup. A lot of people are under the impression that in order to achieve a bright under-eye look, you must use a concealer that is two to three shades lighter than your skin tone. And then on top of that, add an even brighter setting powder to set it to keep it from creasing. Unless it’s Halloween and you’re going for the two-toned wonder look, you are better off with correcting your dark under-eye circles with a concealer that is the same color as your skin tone. Then, to get the highlighted or brightened look, you can layer a concealer that is one to two shades lighter than your skin tone. Finally, you then set the concealer with a powder so that it lasts all day or all night.

2. Leave that Ben Nye’s “Banana” Powder alone! If you have been blessed with the gift of melanin, more often than not, using the popular Ben Nye Banana powder as an under-eye setting powder will most likely cause you to have an ashy flashback in your photos. This is because the Ben Nye Banana powder has an intense yellow undertone,  so if you have a neutral undertone or a red undertone and you use this powder as an under-eye setting powder, you will be battling to unite two colors on your face. This is a battle you will surely loose. Thankfully, Ben Nye powders come in many different shades and the Ben Nye Translucent powder in Topaz, Sienna, or Chestnut are great substitutes for the Ben Nye Banana powder for WoC. It’s also cheaper ($7) because they are less in demand than the Banana color, and a whole jar can last you multiple years!

Photo via Pinterest

3. Remember that you define how you use your makeup: You should be in full control of how you want to use your makeup. Makeup is not explicitly defined by what the manufacturer tells you to use it for. It is okay to use a face powder as an under-eye powder. For example, if you use L’Oreal’s True Match powder foundation as a face setting powder, you can use the same product that is one to two shades lighter than your skin tone as an under-eye setting powder—you don’t have to go out an explicitly purchase an under-eye setting powder to use for that purpose. For example, I use L’Oreal True match in the color C8 cocoa and my favorite under-eye setting powder is the L’Oreal True Match face powder in N7. It’s lighter than my skin tone but it not too light and so it serves as the perfect everyday under-eye setting powder when you’re looking for just a bit of brightness. Moreover, you don’t have to use a concealer to first cover your dark circles; you can also use a foundation as a concealer. This will be quite convenient for those of you who have either bought or been gifted a foundation that’s a bit too light to use as a base.

4: Baking is not necessary but blending is: If you’re going for a bold look and thus begin the process of packing on your under-eye setting powder, letting it sit there and “bake” while you do your other makeup, feel free to do so; but remember that baking does not really add anything to your under-eye highlighting routine other than maybe contributing to an ashy flashback. If you’re using a setting powder that has enough pigment in it, then there is no need to have to let the powder “bake” on your face for a prolong period of time in order to achieve the color payoff that the powder should have had in the first place.


Because you’re going for a bold look and thus are probably using a concealer that is two to three shades lighter than your face to brighten your under-eye, blending is essential to make sure your face functions as one united entity. The last thing you want is a clear line of demarcation of where your highlight begins and where your skin tone foundation begins. You can avoid this by either using a beauty blender or a foundation brush to go over the border of where the highlighting ends and where the foundation begins. Lastly, make sure you give yourself a healthy coat of a face setting powder that is your skin tone to balance out all the colors and further blur out all the lines of demarcation that you may have missed.


5. Understand what your goal is: There’s a bit of misconception regarding what exactly highlighting means as it relates to under-eyes. I think it can be easily categorized into two boxes —

  • If you are looking for an everyday look and you’re only trying to correct dark circles or blur under-eye bags, then you most likely should focus on using a concealer that is the same shade as your skin tone to cover the darkness and then set that concealer with a powder that is one shade lighter than your skin tone.
  • If you are looking for a bold going-out look, then you can pull out the concealers that are up to three shades lighter than your skin tone, followed by a setting powder that matches your undertone.
Featured Image via Pinterest

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