Zao Compact Foundation (Darker Skin Tones)

As I have mentioned (many, many times) before I, like many of you, find the lack of shades at the darker end of the skin tone spectrum in terms of base products incredibly frustrating; it has been a bugbear of mine from the start of my green beauty journey. 

I am constantly on the hunt for natural and organic foundations which fit the bill for the work I do. In my mind, the perfect combination of finish, texture and shade options is still a way off, but there are some viable options out there.

I promised I would write about the Zao Compact foundations in a post earlier in the year (my Top Five foundations for darker skin tones) and so finally here we are – apologies for the delay!

Zao Compact foundations (£30.50/£17.00) were the first full range of cream foundations for darker skin tones that I felt I could confidently incorporate into my kit and they are a popular choice with many of the green Make-up Artist’s that I know.

A build-able cream foundation (it can go from sheer to full coverage in a matter of brush strokes), it has a smooth velvety texture which has a mattifying finish. Personally I don’t find the finish totally matte (which is a blessing), I would conducer it more a satin finish. The foundation can be applied with either fingers or a brush (they can be applied with a sponge but I don’t feel you get the best out of them like this) and can be blended out easily.

Now to the shade range…

Whilst I’m not sold on the whole Ethnic Range tag (their words not mine), Zao have to be praised for the extensive range of shades in their compact foundation collection. There are six shades (numbered 736-741*) which are designed for a range of darker tone of skin and they have a mixture of red, yellow and neutral undertones – which is a real plus.

The foundations break down as follows:

  • 736 suits those with darker complexions and yellow undertones
  • 737 suits those with dark complexions and warm, orange/red undertones
  • 738 suits those with dark complexions and neutral/cool undertones
  • 739 suits those with dark complexions and a yellow undertone
  • 740 suits those with very dark complexions and a a warm/red undertone
  • 741 suits those with very dark complexions and a neutral/cool undertone

*The eagle eyed amongst you may have noticed I have snuck an extra one in to my palette  – 735 suits those with darker complexions and neutral undertones.

I have found that these shades mix and match well and so I frequently blend two or three shades together or use more than one shade on a face in order to get the desired outcome.

My only issue with these foundations is that they can look a little ashy on some skins and there seems to be no obvious rhyme or reason to it, so is very much a case of trial and error. Zao do offer a sample service and include their compact foundation in this (£1.50) so it may be worth trying one or two of these before investing in a full sized product.

True to the Zao ethos, the foundations are housed in a simple refillable bamboo compact. The refills are great value for money so make sure you hang onto your compact wen you’ve finished it! For Make-up Artists they are perfect for popping in a palette (such as the Zao one above).

I would love to see this range expanded even further and encompass even more shades however the current collection is certainly not to be sniffed at.

Have you tried the Zao foundations?


Ingredients list:
(*denotes ingredients from organic farming)
Oleyl Oleate, Squalane, Silica, Polyglyceryl-10, Apricot Kernelate, Phyllostachis Bambusoides Rhizome Extract*, Orbignya Oleifera Seed Oil (Orbignya Oleifera (Babassu) Seed Oil*, Hydrogenated olive Oil Stearyl Esters, Laurel Livate, Copernica Cerifera Cera (Carnuba) WAX)*, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil*, Tocopheral, Perfume, Bambusa Arundinacea Stem Powder, CI77820 (Silver)
May Contain +/-: CI 77891 (Titanium Dioxide), CI 77491 (Iron Oxides), CI 77492 (Iron Oxides), CI 77499 (Iron Oxides), CI 77742 (Manganese Violet).
ECOCERT Certified
Percentage of natural ingredients: 100%.
Percentage of organic ingredients: 20% minimum.


Images: (1, 2) LJS – OMUA

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