What Is Olive Skin? The #1 Factor that Sets Olive Skin Apart

what is olive skin: example

Knowing exactly what type of skin you have not only can help at the makeup counter. It can help you find the right products specifically for your skin tone.

But what if you’re not sure?

It’s not uncommon to confuse olive skin with golden tan. And not all medium-brown skin tones possess that green tinge unique to olive-skinned beauties.

So then, what is olive skin? Does the term include all women with naturally-tanned complexions? Where do you draw the line?

Exactly, What Is Olive Skin? Do I Have It?

Olive skin can include light brown skin tones between pale and dark – but not always. Where light olive skin may have cream to beige tones, dark olive complexions can vary from moderate brown.

What really sets olive skin apart is the natural green pigment (mixed with shades of red and yellow) slightly visible on the surface of the skin. For some women, these olive hues can give the skin an almost gray or ashen appearance.

What is olive skin? To answer this, let’s take a closer look at the undertones beneath the surface.

Skin Undertones and What They Mean for Olive Skin

Stand in the cosmetics aisle and you’ll find foundations and concealerseven blush – categorized based on your skin’s undertones (whether cool, warm, or neutral). Where does olive skin fall in?

what is olive skin image

Most olive women have neutral undertones (a special mixture of warm and cool) beneath a blend of green, red, and yellow pigment. But because the pigment has a slight green tint to it (unique to olive skin), it may be difficult to find the right foundation to match.

Not sure what skin undertones are? Read all about skin undertones here. When you’re done, find out which underlying colors your skin has in this guide (coming soon).

What About the Fitzpatrick Scale?

When you think of olive skin, you probably picture a bronzed complexion. But did you know there are actually many different shades of olive?

It all depends on the amount of color-enhancing melanin your body produces.

Olive skin typically falls in the Type IV and Type V range on the Fitzpatrick Scale – an effective way to classify your skin based on genetic attributes and your skin’s reaction to sunlight. But while olive skin can tan reasonably well, it often runs into hyperpigmentation problems (we talk about these in another guide).

The Fitzpatrick Scale is an excellent tool to determine how best to care for your unique skin type – even if you’re not olive! Read more about the Fitzpatrick Scale here (coming soon).

So, I Have Olive Skin. How Does It Affect Me?

We’ve talked about what olive skin is and characteristics of women who have it. But olive skin does come with its own sets of problems, from oily skin to discoloration.

In this article (coming soon), we dive into more detail while giving you useful advice to prevent common skin care issues.

What Else Should I Know About Olive Skin?

It can be tough finding the right cosmetics amidst a sea of pricey concealers, mineral makeup, and facial cleansers – especially when you have olive skin.

what is olive skin beauty image

On Olive Skin Beauty, we’ll help you…

  • Unleash your natural beauty, eliminate acne, and erase dark blemishes with best skin care practices and routines designed specifically for olive skin.
  • Find the right foundation, concealer, and blush to flatter your complexion (and learn about which cosmetics to stay far away from).
  • Bring out the natural colors of your eyes with advanced eyeshadow techniques and eye-popping makeup shades you can apply day or night.
  • Discover dozens of sultry lip shades, from glosses to lipsticks and lip liner pencils, and learn how best to apply them.
  • Complement your personal style with professional nail design tutorials you can do from home.

Hopefully now you have a better idea of what olive skin is and how it affects you.

What about you? Do you love the skin you’re in? How do you care for your olive skin? Share your experiences in the comment section below!

Author: Christina Crowe

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26 Comments

  1. I have olive skin. I am 59 years old.
    I would like to have some makeup tips.

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Teresa,

      Thanks for visiting the site. We’ll be publishing more makeup tutorials in the coming weeks. In the meantime, what do you need help with? I’m always happy to answer any questions you may have. If there are any topics you’re interested in having us cover in future articles, let me know!

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  2. I appreciate someone taking the time to write an update on the truth about olive skin and try to properly inform people that there are different levels to olive skin (fair, medium, dark/tan) that people only see on the surface. But I find it extremely frustrating when people do decide to write an article about it they use darker complexion women as picture examples and don’t bother to even focus or shed light on pale/fair skinned olive. We do exist and if you’re going to write an article about those of us with olive skin, then please consider including more picture examples for those who think that olive skin has to have a darker complexion.

    Post a Reply
    • Thank you so much for your suggestion, Anon! Admittedly, this article doesn’t include many examples of light olive skin – I agree. We’ve actually received a number of questions about light olive skin, so we decided to create a guide on the subject here. We’d love to hear your thoughts. And if you have anything more to share, please do!

      We do plan to revamp this article in the next couple of weeks though, so we’ll definitely add more light olive examples. Let us know if you have any more suggestions! I have light medium olive skin myself (that isn’t exactly pale but it’s not really dark either), and it’s always awesome to chat with others who have pale olive complexions.

      Post a Reply
  3. I have very pale skin with green undertones. It is impossible to find foundation. It looks like pink or orange paint on my skin when I test foundations. Any tips on which brands I should look for? I am 34, slightly oily, occasional acne, with a few light acne scars on my cheeks. I would like a foundation that I can wear by itself with concealer that won’t make me look old, cakey, or oily, but will give me the coverage I need. In other words, magic in a bottle. Lol

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Amy! I’m sorry you’ve been having foundation trouble – I know finding foundation is particularly challenging for light olive complexions. EX1 Cosmetics does offer a lot of great foundations for olive skin, though, and many light olive women have found shade F100 to match really well with their skin. You can also try MUFE Ultra HD Foundation in shade Marble or Revlon ColorStay Whipped Foundation in Buff if you like liquid foundations. Many Asian BB creams also tend to match well.

      Since we’ve been getting a lot of questions about light olive skin, we created a guide that might help give you some makeup suggestions. Let us know if you have any more trouble!

      Post a Reply
    • Hi, try Bareminerals, they have a great range of colours and they are great for oily skin prone to blemishes.
      There is loose mineral foundation, compact one (not so good as per reviews), liquid which is good for skins on the dryer side, and a gel tinted cream which I love for day to day.plus they have a blemish loose mineral foundation that is great per reviews.
      They have cools, neutrals and in-between shades. Me being medium olive skin with a slight yellow undertone use ginger06 on tinted cream which is a perfect match compared to neutral which I could get away with…

      Then on liquid foundation I wear a bare beige 08 which is a medium neutral to golden tone.
      Watch their videos and then go to a place you can try them on.

      Well, another thing:
      You know you’re a olive skin if sunbed is not for you… I get grayish dark tan by sunbed lol opposite sun tan where I get that natural sun kissed golden tone.

      Does that happens with you ladies?

      All bareminerals foundations are buildable and if you need more coverage one can apply some more without caking it. They have spf and there’s no harmful chemicals.

      Post a Reply
  4. Hi. I have trouble finding makeup products that blend well with my complection. My skin is very fair, but it has a quite prominent green and yellow tint to it. (I am pale and Scandinavian, but people actually mistake me for having Middleeastern/Asian origin because of my skin tone). It seems impossible to find the right shades of foundations and concealers – they are all either too pink or too orange or too dark to fit me. Could you recommend any spesific brands of makeup that are available in greenish fair tints?

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Connie – thanks so much for reading! I’m sorry you’re having trouble. Many companies don’t take olive skin into account when formulating foundations for light or pale skin. So many people struggle with finding a matching foundation. EX1 Cosmetics does offer a good selection of foundations though and many have had great results with shade F100. I’ve heard good things about Make Up For Ever’s Ultra HD Foundation line and Revlon ColorStay Whipped Foundation in Buff as well.

      Let me know if you still have trouble! We actually just recently published a guide for light olive complexions that you might find helpful.

      Post a Reply
      • Oh and for concealer I found myself more effective not one matching the shade yellowish of the foundation. I got one for under eyes which has peachy undertones, after all blended it’s perfect.
        Coz the yellowish under eye concealer would turn my dark circles greenish and so still visible.
        Peachy tone looks so natural and refreshing!
        That is if you have dark circles like me off course!

        Post a Reply
        • Great recommendations, Filly! I find peach tones counteract the blue and grey in under-eye circles, so your suggestion to try peach-toned concealer is right on!

          Thanks so much for sharing!

          Post a Reply
  5. I’m 67 half catAlona (spanish) and I need to change my makeup I’m light olive skined

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Brenda – we published a guide that might help. In the article, we list some of our top suggestions for foundation, concealer, blush, eyeshadow, and lipstick that are based on tips from many other light olive women. Let me know if they help! Or if you have anything to add, I’m happy to hear your suggestions as well. 🙂

      Thanks for reading!

      Post a Reply
  6. Too many people associate olive skin with tanned skin. You can be fair and be olive. I have very light skin (often wearing the second lightest shade in a foundation line), and it is hard to find foundation. My ethic heritage is Southern European (ie Italian Spanish, Portuguese).

    Many warm foundation shades may work better for olive skin than neutrals because olive tends to be a bit more yellow (with little pink), which is what many warm shades tend towards, yet some neutrals are too pink. Olive is GREEN, so it is technically yellow+blue (with more yellow). Red is basically the opposite, yet most makeup has some pink.

    For me, foundations tend to be too pink (neutrals with slight, even yellow & pink tones) or too orange (warm with lots of yellow and some pink) on me. A very true neutral can look “flat”, on me, as it is still missing the olive tone. Yet, the more true the olive tone, the darker the foundation tends to be, making it way too dark for me.

    I recommend the lightest foundation shades that Korean makeup brands make if you have pale olive skin. Their colors tend to be true olive or golden without being tanned.

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks for the awesome tips! I agree – finding the right foundation can be tough. I have light medium olive skin, and I definitely struggle with many neutral foundations. Often they do end up looking too orange or pink on my complexion. Which Korean makeup brands have worked for you?

      Post a Reply
  7. I enjoyed this and found it very helpful

    Post a Reply
  8. Hello! Aside from EX1 cosmetics, who have recently released new fair shades, what other companies make foundations for fair/olive skinned ladies? For reference I’m in the 15-20 saturation range in MAC either NC or C depending on foundation formula. (MAC foundations don’t exactly ‘match’ me, but I get by.) In photo’s taken in sunlight… you can literally see a green glow to my skin, even though it’s so pale! Crazy. Any tips you can offer on possibly mixing a home brew foundation is welcome too!

    Post a Reply
    • Besides shade F100 in EX1 Cosmetic’s line of liquid foundations, both MUFE Ultra HD Foundation in Marble and Revlon ColorStay Whipped Foundation in Buff are supposed to be really good for light olive skin. You can also try a BB cream for the lighter coverage (since it might be easier to match). And many Asian BB creams tend to match well to olive complexions.

      I know how challenging finding the right foundation can be. We actually recently published an article on light olive skin with some makeup suggestions you might find useful. And if you’re looking for more foundation suggestions, I’ve also found this Reddit thread to be very helpful – it might be worth browsing through the comments too.

      I hope I was able to help!

      Post a Reply
  9. Hi, can you please share the link of olive skin makeup tutorial.

    Post a Reply
  10. Can dark skinned people get olive skin and is it achieved by lightening their skin?

    Post a Reply
    • Hi there! Olive complexions have a natural green pigment slightly visible under the skin’s surface. And for some olive complexions, there’s a noticeable yellow-green tint without makeup. So no, you can’t give yourself olive skin exactly. But dark complexions can still have olive skin (if the skin has that green tinge).

      I hope I helped!

      Post a Reply
  11. I have oliv skin and looks more yellow soo foundation usally i use nr3 medium sun bage or sand beige my eyes color is blue grey i still have trubble with eye shades what is the best on me
    Thank you

    Post a Reply

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