olive skin tone

Olives will probably remind you of the Mediterranean – lying on the beach, sun-kissed and ready to tan. Slather on some olive oil and you’ll instantly show off your olive skin tone, right? Wrong, actually. While you might achieve the perfect bronze shade, you still wouldn’t get an olive tone — unless you already have one. To see what we mean, read on.

What is olive skin tone?

Skin color

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So, what’s the matter? Why can’t you get this perfect tan? As you might have guessed by now, olive skin has everything to do with genetics, and nothing to do with spending all day in the sun.

In other words, what we mean by olive skin is a unique type of skin that is innate and cannot be acquired. You can’t change the skin you were born with even if you wanted to—unless you’re the King of Pop with vitiligo.

We are not even talking about the black olive color. In fact, this type of skin is not necessarily dark. What is so special about olive skin tone is its underlying green tone that resembles a green olive.

In other words, people born with such skin have a blue or cool undertone and a yellowish undertone. The unique combination results in a somewhat green touch to their skin. Of course, we’re talking subtle green, not Shrek green.

But before we continue, let’s dive a little into the science behind this.

Fitzpatrick scale

Fitzpatrick scale

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Yes, we know we said this has nothing to do with lying in the sun. But the truth is that a little sunshine can help you see things more clearly.

Fitzpatrick’s skin phototype classifies the skin based on its reaction to sunlight. In other words, this scale classifies the skin into the following six groups:

• Type I pigmentation. The skin is pale white — always burning and never darkening.

• Type II pigmentation. The skin is medium white — it burns easily and darkens just a little.

• Type III pigmentation. The skin is darker white — first it burns, then it darkens.

• Type IV pigmentation. The skin is light brown — it tans easily and only burns a little.

• Type V pigmentation. The skin is medium brown — it darkens easily and rarely burns.

• Type VI pigmentation. The skin is dark brown or almost black — it always darkens darkly and never burns.

Olive skin tone can vary from type III to type V on the Fitzpatrick scale. Therefore, it can cover both darker white and light brown or brown skin types. As you can see, this underlying green tone does not depend on skin color per se.

What nationalities have olive skin?

Since olive undertones range from darker white to medium brown skin, does that mean certain ethnicities are more likely to have it? The fact is that people with olive skin can be scattered all over the world. Ranging from India to the Mediterranean to Latin America, their greenish hue adds some color to our black and white world.

However, olive skin is associated with certain ethnic groups. It seems that in Mediterranean countries like Greece, Italy, Spain, Turkey, France and Egypt, people with olive tones will walk more often. They usually belong to type III skin tone, they have a lighter complexion.

On the other hand, slightly darker olive tones can be found in some parts of Latin America and Asia (type IV), while the darkest olive complexion is found in Middle Easterners as well as some people in Africa and the Indian subcontinent (type V).

What determines your skin color?

Skin color

The pigment responsible for the color of your hair, eyes and skin is called melanin. In other words, its presence in your body dictates, among other things, whether you will be born with a light or dark skin color. Of course, when it comes to your innate melanin levels, you can thank your genetics for your unique complexion.

The amount of melanin in your body also determines how your skin reacts to UV rays from the sun. In other words, it’s what puts your skin in one skin type on the Fitzpatrick scale instead of another.

However, you have to differentiate between skin tone, undertone and undertone. Unlike your skin tone, which can change after sun exposure, your undertone always remains intact. In other words, this is the permanent shade of your skin, which can be:

• cool down — blue or pink
• warm — yellow, peach or golden
• neutral — a mixture of the two

In addition, your skin tone is combined with your cool, warm or neutral undertone, giving your skin a finishing touch. For example, if you have warm undertones and pinky undertones, your skin will appear slightly peachy. Or, if your undertone is cool and your undertone is yellowish, what you end up with is an olive skin tone.

How to tell if you have an olive skin tone

How to say

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What makes olive skin so unique is that it is harder to define. As we have already seen, you can have fair or dark skin and still have olive skin. On top of that, your skin can have subtle peachy, golden or blue undertones and still fall under the olive type.

So is there a way to find out if you have it? If you suspect that your skin is olive, do the following tests to be sure.

1. The mirror test

One of the most obvious ways to find out if you have olive skin is to look in the mirror. Pay particular attention to those areas that are not so often exposed to the sun. Do you notice a green or grayish color on your chest or inner thighs? If so, you may be on the right track.

2. Empty the test

This test is the most popular when it comes to determining your skin’s undertone, so go ahead and look at your veins. But first, make sure you’re outside in natural light, because artificial lights can change the color of your veins. Do you see a distinct green or blue? If it’s hard for you to tell, it could be because of your olive skin.

3. The bare lipstick test

Even if you’ve never worn it, try wearing white or nude lipstick. Are you satisfied with it? Or does it look like you’re back in preschool trying on your mom’s makeup? If you feel weird regardless of the exact nude shade, your olive skin may be to blame.

4. Pastel clothing test

Who hasn’t filled their closet with pastel-colored clothes for the upcoming summer? However, you may be storing your new pastel tops there just until you can get a tan. In fact, it doesn’t matter whether your complexion is fair or dark. If pastel colors don’t suit you, they might just blend in with similar shades of your olive skin.

5. Basic test

Do you have a hard time finding the perfect shade of foundation? Do you always end up turning yellow, orange or even pink when you put it on? The culprit could be your olive skin tone. Next time try to look for gray or green tones in the foundation and you will be more satisfied with the result.

6. Jewelry test

Do both silver and gold pieces of jewelry bring out the best in you? Can you pull off the rose gold too? If so, it may be thanks to the uniqueness of your olive skin that goes well with any jewelry. Moreover, these two shades seem to complement each other perfectly.

In case the tests above helped you notice your olive complexion, you might be dying to learn how to properly care for your unique skin.

Advantages and disadvantages of olive skin

You may not yet be aware of the uniqueness of your skin, given that you are new to finding out your tone. However, only when you know the needs of your skin, you can give it proper care.

When it comes to the benefits of olive skin, you may be aware that melanin is your best friend. As we already mentioned, olive skin is probably richer in this pigment, which is why you can get a perfect tan without burning.

However, your olive skin can also give you a lot of problems. Especially with higher melanin levels, your skin may overreact in some way. They will try to show their unique defense mechanisms at even the slightest irritation, leaving you with excess oil, blemishes and dark spots.

How to take care of olive skin


Below we offer you some tips on how to take care of olive skin.

1. Wash your face with water

Remember to always wash your face with water only immediately after waking up. During the night, your olive skin is likely to get even oilier than usual. To avoid clogging your pores, rinse the oil off your face. However, stay away from soap as it will only dry out your skin. And don’t forget to repeat this before going to bed at night.

2. Cleanse the skin with tonic

Since olive skin is notorious for overproducing oil, you’ll need to pay special attention to the areas around your nose and forehead. Putting some toner on a cotton ball will help you remove excess oil from these areas. This way your skin will be safe from acne, but will still have its natural olive glow.

3. Use a moisturizer

Moisturizer is still important even if you have oily skin. After cleansing your face, be sure to use a moisturizer to keep it healthy and hydrated, especially at night. The cream will help your skin maintain elasticity and shine.

4. Don’t forget to exfoliate

Oily olive skin doesn’t mean you don’t have to worry about dead skin cells. Exfoliation helps break the bonds that keep dead cells attached to the surface of your skin. As a result, your young cells come and have some fun on stage. Then your natural olive tone should be even more visible.

5. Always use sunscreen

By now you must know this by heart — high concentrations of melanin mean high resistance to sunburn, right? However, don’t forget to put at least some sunscreen on your face before exposing it to sunlight.

Sunscreens protect your skin from strong UV rays that could otherwise damage your skin. Therefore, check which type of pigmentation on the Fitzpatrick scale your olive skin belongs to and apply sunscreen accordingly.

Olive skin care products

Since you will not be able to properly care for your olive skin without the right care products, we offer you a few ideas below:

• Neutrogena face water against acne without oil. This cleanser contains 2 percent salicylic acid, which clears your skin of blackheads and acne by opening pores.

• Aveeno Clear Complexion cleansing foam. In addition to containing salicylic acid, this product also evens out your skin tone with the help of soy.

• L’Oréal Paris pure sugar scrub. This cream contains three different types of sugar, which help exfoliate olive skin and give it a perfect natural glow.

• Differin daily deep cleanser. This cleanser is perfect for oily skin because it contains 5 percent benzoyl peroxide that penetrates deep into pores, unclogging them and removing excess oil.

• Acure Brightening Face Scrub. You’ll love this product because it contains clay that helps purify your skin and give it a natural glow.

• Aquaholic night water mask. This cream will help your skin stay hydrated overnight and make it soft and shiny in the morning.

What makeup to use for olive skin

In addition to proper care, your special skin type also deserves a little color. Our advice is to avoid fatty products. Also, stay away from inadequate foundation that makes you look pink or yellow. Instead, try using a lighter powder foundation to achieve a matte effect. However, don’t forget to apply an appropriate shade of concealer to cover blemishes.

When it comes to giving the final touch to the whole look, you can always experiment. Pastel eyeshadows will look natural on you. In addition, earthy and natural shades will perfectly complement your skin tone. To make your cheekbones stand out, try using a coral blush instead of pink. This shade will work wonders when blended with your unique skin tones.

Final thoughts

As you already understood, even if you lie in the sun all day, you will not be able to achieve a perfect olive skin tone. This unique skin type is innate, so unless you already have it, you can’t just get it.

People with olive skin have a blue undertone and a yellow undertone, which makes their complexion appear greenish on the surface. If you have it, we hope the products and tips we offer will make your skin glow even brighter than before.

By Chavez

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