What Is Olive Skin Tone? (Skin Care & Makeup Tips)

If you’ve been told you have an olive skin tone, consider yourself lucky. It’s one of the most exotic, radiant skin tones with lots of benefits to offer. But olive skin tones are easy to misunderstand as well, which can lead to poor skincare and makeup choices. 

While your skin tone may play a more important role in makeup, skincare may also depend on certain aspects of your skin tone. Some skin problems may be more common with a certain skin tone, which can actually help you choose the right products. 

I, for one, love olive skin tone as it combines the best of the spectrum of skin tones we have. So in this article, I will talk about all things related to this complexion and empower you with some tips to get your skincare and makeup right.

Key Takeaways

In a hurry? here are the key points regarding olive skin tone:

  • Olive-toned skin ranges from dark to slightly dark tones with a green tint. 
  • It lies somewhere between Type 3 and Type 5 on the Fitzpatrick pigmentation scale. 
  • This skin color is common in many ethnicities, including the Mediterranean, northern Middle Easterns, Indian Americans, South Asians, and Malays. 
  • People with olive skin are less prone to sunburns and damage from the sun, but still, protection is necessary. 
  • Olive skin is typically oily, so it requires oil-controlling products to prevent blackheads and pimples. 
  • Light as well as bright colors like pink, peach, yellow, bronze, and gold pair well with this skin tone. 

What is Olive Skin Tone? 

Olive skin tone is moderately tanned skin with mild undertones of yellow, green, or golden. These neutral undertones give the skin a greenish tint, hence the name olive. This skin tone is particular to certain regions and ethnicities in the world, which makes it unique. 

Since olive skin tones are slightly darker, it naturally has more melanin than pale skin tones like porcelain or even ivory. 

A common misconception about olive skin is that it’s just a lighter version of dark skin. It’s essentially a category of complexion in its own right because of that green-tinted skin pigment. Understandably, it may be hard to determine if one has this skin tone. 

The green undertones are super subtle and almost invisible to the naked eye, which is why it’s easier to confuse olive skin with other brown skin tones. 

Which Ethnicities Have Olive Skin Tones? 

Now, this is what makes olive skin tone so special as it’s not as common as white or black skin tones. At the same time, it’s not specific to one geographical region. You can find olive skin people in many parts of the world. However, particularly, it’s common in warm places. 

Here are the main ethnicities with olive skin tones:


I personally think grouping different ethnicities found along the Mediterranean coast is generalizing, but for many intents and purposes, Caucasian races and ethnicities found around the Mediterranean coast have usually been termed the Mediterranean ethnicity. 

This includes people mainly from southern Europe as well as North Africa, including countries like Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Turkey, Tunisia, Morocco, and even Southern France. 

While people with olive skin tone have colored eyes, Mediterraneans mostly have dark eyes and hair. 

Middle Eastern

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Middle east, despite the many assumptions, rather misconceptions, comprises of different ethnicities and skin tones. In Syria, you’ll find more people with fairer skin tones and as you move down towards the equator in places like Yemen or Oman, you’ll find darker skin tones. However, olive skin is also predominant in this region. 

Most commonly, olive skin people are from countries in the northern parts of the Middle East like Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, and Iran. 

Native Americans

Native Americans or Indian Americans also have olive skin tones along with both fairer and darker tones. Since Native Americans originated in Asia, light brown and brown shades of skin are more common. 

Latin Americans

Some ethnicities in Latin America also have predominantly olive skin tones with warm undertones. The indigenous ethnic group Amerindians found in central South America, mainly Bolivia, have this skin tone. Other native ethnicities in the region also have a similar complexion. 

South Asians

South Asia mostly has darker skin tones, but it’s not uncommon to see olive skin tones, especially in regions farther from the equator like Pakistan, Northern India, and Nepal. 

In this region, skin tones also tend to vary by ethnolinguistic groups. Thanks to decades of inter-ethnolinguistic relations, green-tinted complexion like olive is becoming even more common. 


The Malay race lives predominantly in Malaysia but is also present in neighboring Singapore and Indonesia. Again, like Indians, the Malay race also has a wide range of skin tones, including olive, which falls somewhere between their clear and dark brown skin tones. 

How to Find Out If You Have Olive Skin Tone? 

Olive skin is particularly hard to define in terms of the pigmentation scale. For instance, the Fitzpatrick Scale has six distinct pigmentation phototype categories, with Type 1 being the fairest and Type 6 being the darkest. 

Olive skin could fall in Type 3 and Type 4 easily. And some may even classify Type 5 skin tones with cool undertones as olive skin color. 

If your skin pigment falls in these types and you belong to or have ancestors from the ethnicities above, you likely have an olive skin tone. 

But you can also talk with a dermatologist who is an expert in the field to determine exactly which skin tone you have. Even in olive skin tone, you may be on the lighter side or darker side, so knowing the exact sub-type would help a lot when it’s time to choose makeup colors. 

Celebrities with Olive Skin Tone

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Although I would never recommend comparing skin or body with celebrities, just for the purpose of identifying your skin tone, you can take a look at celebrities with an olive complexion. Here are some celebrities with this green tint skin tone:

  • Salma Hayek
  • Zoe Kravitz
  • Alessandra Ambrosio
  • Meghan Markle
  • Olivia Munn
  • Freida Pinto

Benefits of Olive Skin

Olive complexions come with a unique set of benefits that other complexions may not necessarily enjoy. The biggest benefit of this kind of skin tone is that it’s not as prone to UV damage as its fairer counterparts. 

The presence of more melanin allows for more absorption of solar radiation. Therefore, such a skin color prevents photodamage and is not as prone to sunburn either, as evidenced by research. However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t need sunscreen at all, as UV rays are bad for skin, in general. 

Another common trend in olive skin is that many people with this complexion have oily skin. Now, you may see oily skin as a curse, but it has its own advantages. The sebum in the dermis can also have a protective effect on the skin, saving it from environmental damage. 

One study that looked at the aging process of different ethnicities confirmed that ethnicities with more melanin in their skin age rather slowly than those with lighter skin tones. 

So, if you have an olive complexion, consider yourself lucky!

Challenges of Olive Skin

Of course, not everything is hunky-dory if you have an olive skin tone. Depending on your skin type, you may have certain skin issues. 

As I mentioned earlier, most people with olive skin tone have oily skin, which is susceptible to clogged pores, blackheads, and acne

Also, when irritated, olive skin can produce even more melanin which can lead to hyperpigmentation

And as much as this complexion is resistant to UV rays, it’s not entirely immune to the damage. Because olive skin can get tanned easily, prolonged sun exposure can cause uneven skin tone. 

Olive Skin Tone: Best Skincare and Makeup Practices

Ok, so olive skin is great, but in order to keep it that way, you have to take care of it. While skin needs can vary from person to person, I’ll give you some tips to keep your skin and olive complexion healthy. 

Cleanse Religiously

As you likely have oily skin, cleansing is extremely important for you. All that oil traps impurities on the surface of the skin, and those impurities can get into your pores, wreaking havoc on your skin. 

You may want to incorporate a cleanser with salicylic acid, as it also has exfoliating benefits. 

Choose the right cleanser for oily skin. You can also use two different cleansers (double cleansing) if you want to go for deep cleansing once a day. 

Avoid Oil-based Moisturizers and Makeup

Oil-based moisturizers are usually better suited for dry skin, which is common on either end of the pigmentation scale (very light and very dark). Brown skin, including olive skin, usually has better natural moisturization. 

However, it still needs moisturization. So choose lighter, non-oil-based moisturizers that don’t leave a greasy film on the skin. 

The same goes for makeup products like foundation, concealers, and primers. 

Choose the Right Makeup

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Thanks to more inclusivity of people of color in the cosmetic industry, there is finally an ample variety of products designed for skin tones like olive. It goes without saying that you have to choose makeup colors that complement your skin tone. So here’s a brief but helpful guide:


Go for foundations that match your skin tone and have neutral undertones. Most foundations have cool or warm undertones, but those are suited for fair skin type better. For olive skin, choose the same shade or one shade lighter if you want to also use a concealer.


You’ll find that most colors in blush work well with olive complexions. However, warm tones of blush will look particularly great on this type of skin tone. Also, some bronze and shimmer can add more glow, so don’t shy away from using it to enhance your glowy skin. 


This is another makeup essential where you’ll find that most colors work well for your olive skin. However, nude colors may not look that flattering. Generally, choose colors that balance those green undertones. 

Berry, light pink, plum, brown, and chocolate will compliment your skin tone. 

Best Products for Olive Skin Tones

1. Best Cleanser: No products found.

The CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser contains salicylic acid, which is a great exfoliator to get rid of dead skin cells and give a fresh, smooth surface. Of course, you also get the goodness of the proprietary three essential ceramides, which are lipids that enhance the skin barrier. 

This cleaner is best for oily skin, so by extension, it’s also ideal for olive skin tone and will help keep its natural glow alive. And the best part is, it’s super affordable. 

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2. Best Moisturizer: No products found.

This La Roche-Posay Toleriane Moisturizer is perfect for dark skin types, especially those with oily skin. Its lightweight texture absorbs really well. More importantly, the hydration effect lasts long, so you’re good for the whole day. 

It contains selenium, niacinamide, and ceramides, which are all-powerful yet compatible ingredients for your skin. It’s also non-comedogenic, so no clogged pores. 

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3. Best Foundation: No products found.

The Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay in Place Makeup foundation is loved by many for a number of reasons. It’s one of the most long-lasting foundations, perfect for both day and evening use. Plus, it contains SPF 10 that can add some protection from the sun. 

The best part is there’s a lot of variety in terms of shade, so you can find the exact tone that suits your olive complexion. Desert Beige, Dusk, Wheat, and Tawny Warm should complement the olive skin tone. 

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Olive skin is highly sought-after because of its natural glow, resistance to photodamage, and less susceptibility to dryness. And we all know how difficult dry skin can be!

If you have this skin color, own it proudly and make sure to take good care of your skin. The more care you give, the fewer problems you’ll have. 

Also, in terms of makeup, don’t go too overboard and let your skin’s natural complexion and glow come through. Remember, makeup should help bring out your natural beauty.

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