Are All Olive Skin Tones Dark? Light Olive Skin Makeup for Pale Skin
“My complexion’s pretty pale. Can I still have olive skin?”
We get asked this question often. But the answer might surprise you.
It’s actually very possible to have really pale, light olive skin. In fact, many light olive women struggle to find matching foundation – sometimes even more than darker olive girls!
But aren’t all olive skin tones naturally tanned?
Not even close. The misconception that olive skin has to be a dark or medium tan is a pretty common myth. If you read our article defining what olive skin is, you’ll remember it’s all about the natural green pigment visible slightly beneath the skin’s surface.
The problem? It’s so difficult to pin down. That green pigment doesn’t exactly stand out on some complexions. And this problem is only complicated by the popular belief that olive skin should look naturally tanned. Really, there are many shades of olive!
Let’s demystify light olive skin.
We’ll take a look at what it is and how to tell if you have it. Then, we’ll show you how much easier it can be to find light olive skin makeup that works once you know what to look for. And because buying the right foundation, concealer, or blush can be tough, we’ll recommend our top light olive skin makeup picks – based on suggestions from thousands of women with complexions like yours.
So, How Pale Is Light Olive Skin?
It’s so easy to confuse olive skin with anything but, until you wonder why none of your makeup looks flattering.
The fact is, you can be deeply tanned or incredibly fair and still have that natural green pigment unique to olive women. It doesn’t matter if your skin is just shy of tan or pretty darn pale. If you think you have olive skin and it’s difficult to match foundations, you probably do!
Consider the following…
- Despite being pale, does your skin still radiate color? If you have light skin, your complexion may glow a slight pink. But light olive women also have a yellow-green tint mixed with that same red or pink pigment, just visible beneath the surface of the skin.
- Can’t decide if your veins are blue or green? You already know skin has cool, warm, or neutral undertones (if not, check out our skin undertone comparison article for a refresher). Olive skin typically falls within the neutral category. So while pale or light olive complexions often lean more cool than warm, you’re still likely to have blue (cool) and yellow (warm) undertones beneath green, red, and yellow pigment.
- Do you tan easier than your fair-skinned friends? Sure, light olive skin may burn faster than medium or dark olive complexions (yes, your skin is still sensitive to the sun!). But when that sunburn fades, a beautiful tan often takes its place. If you’re light olive, your skin likely has more melanin content than other fair-skinned women. You should still protect your complexion with sunscreen though (we recommend an SPF of 15 or higher).
- Does dry weather make your skin look ashen? This skin tone can appear unnaturally yellow or sallow without light olive skin makeup. And if you’re prone to dry skin, the yellow-green tint unique to olive complexions can leave you looking ashen or grey – especially in the dead of winter!
You might have red hair or brown, grey eyes or green. Olive skin doesn’t discriminate.
I know I said this before, but it’s worth repeating: What sets olive women apart is the natural green pigment visible beneath the surface of the skin. Ultimately, that’s the deciding factor of whether you have olive skin or you don’t.
By now, you should feel pretty confident about your skin. Still, those elusive olive undertones can make finding light olive skin makeup tricky. In the next section, we’ll talk about ways you can really start feeling comfortable in your skin with light olive skin makeup that’ll help you look your best.
What’s More Flattering? A Complete Guide to Light Olive Skin Makeup
It’s hard enough finding makeup that complements olive skin. But pale and olive?
That natural green pigment can cause a heck of a lot of trouble in the makeup aisle. A foundation that matches perfectly fine on another pale-skinned girl may look completely off on your complexion. And those pretty pastel eyeshadows? Well, it’s better you look the opposite direction.
Many companies simply don’t consider olive skin when formulating products for light complexions. And those that do often create foundations and concealers with warm undertones. So if you have olive skin that leans cool neutral, you’re out of luck.
We developed the following tips with pale and light olive skin in mind. We want you to look and feel good about your skin, so we took the best light olive skin makeup recommendations and combined them into one massive guide.
Try them out. See what works. But most importantly, have fun!
The Perfect Foundation Match
Foundation evens out your complexion, fading away blemishes, discoloration, and redness. It also provides a blank canvas for all of your light olive skin makeup (like blush and bronzer). And some foundations even offer sun protection!
But if you have light olive skin, finding the right foundation to do the job is more than a little tough – particularly when you’re pale!
A lot of foundations just turn your complexion pink or orange. And many yellow-based formulas aren’t the greatest match either. So when you’re lacking options, what do you do?
You’re not completely out of luck. Though not many light foundations cater to olive skin, a few still do.
Try one of these foundations instead:
The lightest color in the liquid foundation line, shade F100 is the perfect match for light olive girls with sensitive or oily acne-prone skin. Not only is it packaged with a pump, but the foundation is also completely non-comedogenic and free from fragrances (so no pore clogging here!). You get a creamy formula and demi-matte finish that offers light to medium coverage to help conceal blemishes, dark spots, and other imperfections. And the color itself strikes a perfect balance without looking too yellow or peachy – blending smoothly into the skin.
One of the palest yellow-based colors in the Ultra HD Foundation line, shade Marble is a good choice for light olive complexions with warm neutral undertones. Buildable light to medium coverage blends evenly into the skin with a very natural demi-matte finish. The oil-free formula doesn’t dry completely matte (yet it isn’t too luminous either), so it covers imperfections well. A pump is also included to help light olive skin makeup stay bacteria free.
Not a fan of foundations? The Missha M Perfect Cover BB Cream in Light Beige is an excellent all-in-one solution for dry or mature light olive skin. A soft beige with pink undertones, this Korean BB cream is specifically formulated with anti-wrinkle properties to combat premature skin aging. The thick and creamy consistency blends well into the skin, leaving pale olive complexions visibly smoother and dewy with light to medium coverage. It also moisturizes as it protects skin from sun damage – you even get an impressive 42 SPF! But while nourishing, I wouldn’t recommend this light olive skin makeup for oily or acne-prone complexions (it can cause breakouts!).
Prefer powder foundations over liquid? For acne-prone pale olive girls with oily or combination skin, this powder foundation in shade Classic Ivory offers a lightweight sheer to medium coverage that won’t clog pores. An easy-to-blend mineral-based powder with pink undertones, this light olive skin makeup evens out your complexion and stays put during the day. It even includes a little extra sun protection (20 SPF).
A popular choice for pale olive girls with oily or combination skin, Revlon ColorStay Whipped Foundation in Buff is fairly neutral (without leaning too pink or peachy). A creamy formula offers buildable light to medium coverage and a thicker consistency buffs nicely into the skin, drying to a demi-matte finish. Plus, the staying power is amazing – expect this foundation to last all day!
You can add foundation just where you need it or all over the face.
Blend foundation into the skin with a foundation brush. Or, if you need lighter coverage, try a damp makeup sponge instead. The sponge material soaks up excess product for light, more natural coverage.
Keep dabbing thin layers of foundation on top of problem areas (like acne and redness) until your desired coverage. Don’t forget to set foundation and concealer with translucent powder (this will help light olive skin makeup last throughout the day)!
Your Best Concealing Weapon
Hyperpigmentation can still cause trouble on light olive skin. When your skin gets a little bit too much sun exposure or you’ve recently won a battle against acne, dark spots and acne marks can leave your complexion looking blotchy and red.
But armed with the right concealer, no one ever has to know.
Light olive skin makeup that closely matches your complexion will help cover up problem areas like blemishes and hyperpigmentation. To brighten up the face and camouflage dark under-eye circles, try a concealer that’s one or two shades lighter. Color-correcting concealers can also hide discoloration, but we’ll talk about these in another guide.
Many women like to use two different concealers (a skin-matching one for blemishes or redness and a lighter shade for dark under-eye circles) – sometimes three if you include color-correcting concealers.
Give these concealers a shot when you need to disguise blemishes and dark circles:
An excellent spot concealer for acne, Make Up For Ever Full Cover Concealer in Ivory is a good choice for light olive skin with pigmented acne scars and breakouts. This buildable full-coverage concealer hides even the worst hyperpigmentation, acne marks, discoloration, and blemishes. You only need a tiny amount of light olive skin makeup for really good coverage, but blend quickly! The formula sets fast to a matte finish that lasts all day – even withstanding moisture, rain, and humidity. Be careful around the eye area though (the thick consistency can crease under eyes).
Ideal for light olive girls with warm neutral undertones, the Maybelline Dream Lumi Touch Concealer in shade Ivory looks very natural. A thin consistency blends well into foundation, concealing dark circles and redness with light to medium coverage while brightening the eye area – giving your skin a subtle glow. The gel-based, light-diffusing formula in this highlighting pen illuminates without a hint of sparkle. Illuminating properties can highlight any raised blemishes however, so avoid using this concealer on active pimples.
Light olive skin makeup with slight pink undertones, the NARS Creamy Concealer in shade Vanilla looks good on both oily and combination skin tones. Medium to full coverage conceals under-eye circles, redness, blemishes, and dark spots – you can even use this as an eyeshadow primer! And though it sets fairly quickly, the thin creamy texture blends nicely into foundation and dries to a matte finish – lasting throughout the day without caking or creasing.
Have really pale olive skin? Try shade Chantilly instead!
The Revlon ColorStay Concealer in shade Fair looks very natural on light olive skin, particularly blemish-prone complexions. Slightly yellow undertones cover up breakouts, brown spots, and redness – especially acne marks – very well. The formula itself has a smooth texture that gives light to medium coverage, blending evenly into the skin and drying to a soft matte finish. Though, this may not be the best solution for dark under-eye circles (it can settle into creases and fine lines).
A good highlighting concealer for oily light olive skin, the Urban Decay Naked Skin Concealer in shade Fair Neutral offers a light creamy consistency and buildable sheer to medium coverage that dries to a demi-matte finish. This light-reflecting formula is enriched with Matrixyl 3000, Japanese green tea, and other skin-healthy ingredients – brightening the complexion as it nourishes the skin. But these same illuminating properties can emphasize blemishes, so avoid using this concealer on raised acne bumps.
Apply concealer after foundation (unless, of course, you’re using powder foundation). Then top light olive skin makeup with translucent setting powder. This prevents creasing and your concealer will last longer!
Remember: A little concealer goes a long way.
Start small and build up your layers. Dab a couple drops onto small areas of discoloration – be sure to blend the concealer into your foundation for a flawless finish. You can also apply a lighter concealer shade directly underneath your eyes (forming an upside-down triangular pattern) to brighten them up and camouflage dark circles.
A Simply Beautiful Flush
Finding the best blush for any skin tone can be challenging. But when you have light olive skin, nearly every blush you apply may seem heavy, harsh, or simply off on your complexion.
While vibrant pink blush might be a bit bright, brown-toned blush often looks muddy. Even orange-colored blush can appear a little warm on pale olive skin. And though darker olive tones can pull off a gorgeous coral blush, many light olive complexions aren’t so lucky.
Blush should add definition to your cheekbones and give your skin a healthy youthful glow. Without light olive skin makeup though, your complexion can look pale and ashy.
A subtle hint of color really does breathe life into an otherwise dull complexion, brightening up your face and making your overall appearance just better. So what shade of blush should you buy?
Your best bet is rose, mauve, and peach-colored blushes. These shades look very natural on light olive complexions. But it’s tricky to find that perfect hue – especially when many shades of blush appear too saturated.
Add a healthy flush to your cheeks with these blush options:
A beautiful peachy pink blush with warm undertones and a matte finish, Bobbie Brown Blush in shade Nectar looks natural on light olive cheeks. The formula is pretty long wearing with a smooth texture that blends nicely into the skin. This powder blush is also very pigmented – you only need a small amount, so be careful not to overdo it! Apply lightly for a subtle flush of color.
NARS Blush in shade Orgasm is a warm medium pink blush with a golden shimmer – a pretty summer shade for a night out. This highly pigmented blush offers just the right balance of sheer pink and peach hues to warm up the complexion. And a subtle hint of glitter gives light olive skin a soft sheen.
Not a fan of sparkles? Try shade Deep Throat instead. While a slightly softer pink, this shade is very similar to Orgasm – without all the shimmer.
A lovely warm rose-pink color with slight peach undertones, NYX Powder Blush in shade Mauve looks very flattering on light olive complexions. The soft texture of this light olive skin makeup blends easily into the skin while sheer rose hues give cheeks a natural flush of color. A nice neutral shade, the matte finish and good staying power make this pressed-powder blush a great choice for everyday wear.
Rimmel London Blush in shade Santa Rose is a pretty neutral peach blush with pink undertones (that doesn’t lean too orange). There’s a slight golden shimmer that looks lovely on pale olive skin – warming cheeks with a subtle sheen and peachy glow. A good everyday natural-looking blush, this light olive skin makeup is easy to blend with a soft formula, buildable pigmentation, and great lasting power.
Formulated with nourishing ingredients that are supposed to help balance combination skin and moisturize dry complexions, the Tarte Amazonian Clay Blush in shade Exposed is a muted dusky rose-mauve color that looks very natural on light olive tones. With a creamy powder formula, buildable color, and soft smooth texture, this everyday neutral matte blush gives light olive skin a subtle rosy flush that lasts throughout the day.
Choosing a flattering color is all well and good. But is your blush the right formula for your skin type?
Though powder blush looks great on oily and combination skin, cream blush will give dry or mature skin a healthy dewy glow. And sure, shimmery blush textures can add a nice sheen to your cheeks. But they can also magnify acne – so if you have acne-prone skin, stick with a matte finish.
You only need a little light olive skin makeup for a youthful natural-looking glow.
Pat a small amount of pigment along your cheekbones, concentrating color on the apples of your cheeks. Be sure to blend the color well with a good blush brush!
That Holy Grail Eyeshadow
Do pretty pastel colors wash you out? Have a hard time pulling off gold eyeshadow?
When you’re light olive, it might seem like colors constantly clash with your skin. Soft blues and pinks, greys, yellows, oranges – you could have a hard time wearing some or all of these shades, with bright colors and pastel shadows the worst offenders.
It’s enough to turn you off from non-neutral eyeshadow palettes altogether!
But no worries. You can still rock color – you just have to discover light olive skin makeup shades that flatter your complexion.
Instead of reaching for that pretty sky blue eyeliner, try a rich navy blue or teal. Skip the bright orange and gold eyeshadow in favor of shimmery copper or bronze. And rather than soft yellow loose pigments, opt for golden brown.
The richer and more saturated the eyeshadow, the better it will appear on light olive skin. A deep taupe might look better than grey. Dark plum and mauve eyeshadows always look lovely. So do forest green.
Sure, it’s easy to pull off neutral browns and earth tones. But a pop of color can still look sexy – without turning you into a ghastly corpse.
Try these single eyeshadows and complete eyeshadow palettes:
A popular neutral eyeshadow palette for light olive skin, the Lorac Pro Eyeshadow Palette contains a gorgeous collection of 16 everyday shades that look stunning – whether you’re getting ready for work, school, or a special event. And these shadows are pretty good quality. Completely saturated with pigment, the smooth formula and soft buttery texture blend wonderfully into the skin and last all day.
This versatile palette includes a flattering combination of warm base, contour, and highlight shades – with stable colors ranging from warm brown and taupe to deep purple and mauve. You also get a good selection of matte and shimmer shadows (with half matte, one sparkle, and the rest shimmer).
L’Oréal’s Infallible Eyeshadows feature very pigmented shadows with a range of colors, textures, and finishes. Single eyeshadows come in a variety of colors that looks absolutely beautiful on light olive skin, from everyday taupe to rich purple and deep blue. In fact, there are 24 vibrant shades to choose from with a gorgeous collection of shimmer, glitter, metallic, and matte finishes – so you can create countless light olive skin makeup looks for both day and night (though, the matte selection is limited).
For drugstore makeup, these eyeshadows are pretty high quality too. A unique hybrid consistency falls between a powder and a cream, with a soft buttery texture that glides onto the skin. Waterproof and crease resistant, these loosely-packed pigments don’t smudge and are pretty long wearing – even on oily eyelids.
For more pigmented color, apply these eyeshadows with your fingertips (or a sponge-tip applicator). The powder-cream consistency can make the pigment tough to pick up with a flat eye shader brush. But once on the skin, a fluffy dome-shaped brush works well to blend.
Perpetual Purple, Smoldering Plum, Midnight Blue, Bronzed Taupe, Golden Emerald
Featuring 12 quads in the Color Plush collection, Maybelline’s Silk Eyeshadow Quads include 4 very shimmery shades that make great day or night looks (so if you don’t like a lot of shimmer, you might want to try another quad). Color combinations look lovely blended together on the eyelid while a creamy soft formula offers good pigmentation for light olive skin.
Try creating subtle morning looks with the lighter shades. Then, revamp your light olive skin makeup for the evening by adding on darker colors.
Be careful though: There can be glitter fallout. Make sure to apply foundation after eyeshadow! Color can also fade throughout the day so don’t forget your eyeshadow primer.
Inspired by the original Chocolate Bar Eyeshadow Palette, the Semi-Sweet Chocolate Bar Palette by Too Faced offers a deeper selection of warm-toned shadows with a nice balance of matte and shimmer finishes. Neutral browns and creams are mixed with warm copper and bronze – with a pop of blue color added in that looks really gorgeous on pale olive skin.
Very pigmented and easy to blend, 16 beautiful shades are all packaged in a chocolate-bar-shaped palette. The creamy, sweet chocolate-smelling formula is even infused with cocoa powder and antioxidants – taking that chocolate bar theme up a level.
Create a variety of light olive skin makeup looks, from natural to dramatic. Try smudging shade Blueberry Swirl across the bottom lid or layer Pink Sugar on top of a darker brown. You can even get bold with a sultry smokey eye.
The go-to neutral palette for a variety of skin tones, Urban Decay’s Naked Palette looks particularly pretty on light olive complexions. Packed with a selection of 12 beautifully pigmented neutral shadows, this eyeshadow palette features a flattering mix of warm-toned shades (including bronze, copper, and champagne). The soft smooth formula blends easily into the skin and lasts throughout the day.
Use this palette alone or add a pop of color with purple liner. You can create so many different light olive skin makeup looks, from an understated everyday to a dramatic night out, with a range of textures and finishes from shimmer to glitter and satin to matte.
The quality of each eyeshadow makes this palette worth the price. But if you’re on a budget, the Urban Decay Naked Basics Eyeshadow Palette includes 6 pigmented neutral shadows – all completely matte (with one demi-matte highlight shade).
Finding eyeshadow shades that flatter light olive skin is only half the battle! How you apply your light olive skin makeup matters.
Still using those tiny sponge applicators that come with many drugstore palettes? Toss them for some quality eyeshadow brushes and you’ll see more professional results.
Don’t skip the primer either!
By applying a tinted eyeshadow primer or base (like a cream shadow) across the entire lid, eyeshadow shades will stand out more and last longer without creasing. And to make colors seriously vibrant, try adding a layer of white liner before your eyeshadow. Trust me, it works!
Your Most Seductive Smile
There’s nothing worse than an odd clash of color to sabotage your grin.
Just like eyeshadow, pale and pastel lips don’t exactly do light olive skin justice. And while bright lipstick can overpower the skin, many purple and brown hues will wash the complexion out.
Dark lipstick flatters the lighter tones of pale olive skin best.
Whether you want a neutral everyday lip or a little more color, give yourself a happier smile with these lip shades:
This lip color is gorgeous! A refreshing fall and winter shade, MAC Lipstick in Rebel is a beautiful berry pink color that looks absolutely sultry on light olive complexions. The smooth creamy formula glides easily onto the lips, drying demi-matte with a satin finish. Plus, the vivid color intensity makes this lipstick a great choice for a night out. It even survives meals, leaving a lovely pink stain.
A sophisticated rose with brown undertones, MAC Lipstick in shade Twig complements light olive skin with deep opaque color – particularly in cool fall weather. A creamy formula glides on smoothly while a satin finish adds a slight sheen for plump-looking lips. This pretty understated light olive skin makeup is just muted enough for daytime, subtly flattering your pout while its impressive staying power keeps lips looking fresh between meals.
Like bold sultry lips? You’ll love this lipstick! One of the darkest hues in Maybelline’s Color Sensational Creamy Matte collection, shade Divine Wine is a gorgeously vibrant burgundy red just deep enough for fall. A soft creamy texture applies smoothly onto the lips, lasting throughout the day and leaving behind a pretty red stain that looks very classy on light olive skin. And though this lip color dries to a matte finish, the richly pigmented formula isn’t as drying as some matte lipsticks.
The perfect MLBB (My Lips But Better) color for many light olive beauties, NARS lipstick in shade Dolce Vita enhances lips with a slight sheen and sheer dusty rose color. This everyday pink lip color looks very natural on pale olive complexions, leaving lips moisturized without feeling sticky. And because of the sheer finish, you won’t need a mirror.
Infused with shea, mango, and coconut butter, Revlon’s Matte Balm in shade Sultry is a deep rosey mauve with pink undertones – the perfect everyday winter shade for pale olive complexions. Packaged in a retractable crayon tube (no sharpener needed!), the soft smooth formula and balm-like consistency of this light olive skin makeup dry to a matte finish – flattering lips with a pretty pop of color. There’s also a slight refreshing mint scent that soothes and tingles lips on contact.
Matte and satin finishes can make lips feel dry over time. If your lipstick formula is drying, soften lips with lip balm before adding color.
But don’t forget to prep!
Before trying out lipstick, prep lips first with a lip scrub or exfoliator. Exfoliating your lips will sweep away dry skin, giving light olive skin makeup a clean smoother canvas for color.
And when it comes to bold lipstick shades, lip liner is your friend. Try applying liner all over your lips as a base (a darker shade will add depth). Not only does lining your lips prevent feathering, but it gives your lipstick something to stick to. The result? Vibrant color that lasts longer.
Light Olive Skin Makeup: What Do You Like?
We offered a lot of suggestions here. But while we hope these tips will help you find light olive skin makeup that flatters your complexion – and maybe save a bit of time and money in the long run – there’s no rule that says you have to try any of them.
Instead, use this guide as a starting point. Experiment with different shades, color combinations, and textures until you discover what works for you.
Ultimately, wear makeup that makes you feel good.
If you love the way that bright pink blush captures the light, keep wearing it! Eying that pretty soft blue shadow? Try it on! And if that pale purple lipstick gives you butterflies inside, don’t let me stop you.
You decide what looks best on you. Wear what makes you happy. After all, that’s what counts.
So I challenge you: Find light olive skin makeup that makes you feel attractive and share your recommendations and favorite brands in the comment section below!