How To Match Colors To Olive-Toned Skin

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Recently we put together an in-depth skin undertone guide that goes over how different colors work with various skin undertones. It talks about warm, cool, and neutral undertones. And if you’ve read it, you may have been wondering – where is my olive undertone? Why isn’t it mentioned?

Some of the common misconceptions about olive skin are:

  • Olive is a skin undertone
  • Those with olive skin fall into the warm undertone category.
  • Those with olive skin always have a tan skin color.

These are all untrue.

Olive skin has everything to do with your skin’s undertone, but it is not a specific undertone. There are three undertones – warm, cool and neutral.

Someone with olive skin can have warm, cool, or neutral undertones and have a skin color that can range from very pale to a deep tan color.

In this article, we are going to go through how to find your undertone, how to tell if you have olive skin, and how to match colors to olive-toned skin.


How Can I Determine My Skin Undertone?

Before we get into how to figure out if you have olive skin and which colors are the best fit for olive skin, you need to figure out what your undertone is. This will make a world of difference when choosing the best colors for you. 

We are going to show you a few different ways to find out. Even if you think you know your undertone, go ahead and try the following.

You may be surprised to find out that you have a different undertone than you thought, especially if you were under the impression your skin had an olive undertone. It doesn’t, because ‘olive’ is not an undertone!

As we mentioned before, there are three skin undertones: cool, warm, and neutral – which one are you?

1. The Vein Test

To determine your skin’s undertone, look at the veins on the underside of your wrist in natural light.

  • If your veins look blue, you have cool-toned skin with pink undertones.
  • You have warm-toned skin with yellow undertones if your veins appear green.
  • If your veins appear both blue and green, you are one of the lucky people that have neutral undertones, which means that almost every color will look great on you.

If it’s hard to tell what color your veins are, or if you can’t see them at all, don’t worry, we have a few more methods to determine your skin undertones, so keep reading.

Even if you are among those whose veins are visible and you think you’ve just figured it out, do the next few tests as well.

One of two things will happen: they will either confirm your suspicions, or you might get different results with different tests.

If that’s the case, you just might find out you have neither warm nor cool undertones, but actually neutral undertones.

2. The Jewelry Test

Hold up silver and gold jewelry next to your face. Regardless of your personal preference, which one looks better next to your skin?

  • Those with warm undertones will look better with gold jewelry.
  • Those with cool undertones will look better with silver jewelry.
  • If you look great in both gold and silver, you most likely have neutral undertones.

3. The White Test

Grab a pure white piece of clothing or even just a piece of white paper. In bright, natural light, hold the item up to your face.

  • You have cool undertones if white makes your skin look pink or rosy.
  • You have warm undertones if your face looks more yellow in comparison. If you think you look better in ivory or off-white, rather than pure white, that’s another indication that you have warm undertones.
  • If you can wear both stark white and off-white without feeling like either color makes you look washed out, you probably have neutral undertones.

4. The Color Test

If you are still not convinced of your undertone yet, try this one…

Go to your closet and grab a bunch of items of clothing in different solid colors.

Now, stand in front of a mirror in a well-lit room. This works a lot better during the day in a room lit with natural sunlight. If you don’t have a very well-lit room, try taking your mirror outside to your patio, backyard, or balcony.

Hold different garments next to your skin to see how the colors make you look.

  • You have cool undertones if cool colors like black, purple, blue, and white seem to be your ‘best colors’.
  • You have warm undertones if warm colors like brown, orange, cream, and peach tend to suit you better.
  • If you think that every color seems to look fantastic on you, then you most likely have neutral undertones.

How Can I Tell If I Have Olive Skin?

If your skin appears more ashen or gray, then you could have olive-toned skin.

There aren’t any hard-and-fast rules for determining if your skin is olive, but you may have an olive skin tone if you answer ‘yes’ to some of the following statements:

  • You notice a green or greyish tinge to your skin.
  • You tend to have trouble finding a foundation that’s right for you. Foundations often end up looking the wrong color on your skin, even if the color in the bottle matches the color of your skin.
  • If you have very light skin, but you tan well and don’t burn as fast as your other pale-skinned friends.
  • Your veins are not distinctly green or blue.
  • You look amazing in rich, saturated jewel tones, but cold blues, yellow and soft, muted greens make you look ashy, pasty, or sickly.
  • Very light shades of lipstick do not suit you.
  • You look good in both gold and silver jewelry.
  • It’s hard for you to find true red lipstick – they always seem to look more pink than red on you.

How To Match Colors To Olive-Toned Skin

Okay so now that you know your undertone and think you have olive skin, we’re going to go through the colors that will best suit an olive skin tone.

Olive skin looks best in shades that are either brighter or darker than the natural skin tone because there is more contrast.

1. Magenta

Photo by Becerra Govea, Pexels

Whether you call it magenta or fuchsia, any deep, saturated pink that leans either toward red or purple looks fantastic on olive-colored skin.

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2. Orange

Photo by Jonathan Borba, Pexels

Orange is a bright, sunny, happy color that looks amazing on olive skin with cool and neutral undertones. But it may not be the best color for everyone with olive skin because it has a lot of yellow in it.

If you have warm undertoned skin, orange can sometimes make you look a little sickly. 

The best way to tell if orange works for you is to hold it up against your skin in natural light in front of a mirror. You will be able to tell right away whether or not this is a good color for you.

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3. Dark Teal and Emerald Green

Credit: Instagram / walkinwonderland

Now you’ll hear people say green is great for olive skin and others say green is a color you should avoid if you have olive skin.

To be honest, it can go both ways, depending on your skin’s undertones and what color green you’re talking about!

Of course, there are so many different shades of green out there. Most dark, saturated jewel tones (like dark teal green and emerald green) will look good on olive skin.

But when it comes to other colors and shades of green, like orange, the best way to tell if any particular green looks good on you, is to look at it in natural light against your skin.

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4. Golden Yellow

Photo by Honey Yanibel Minaya Cruz on Unsplash

Most yellows should actually be avoided by those with olive skin, especially warm-toned olive skin. This is because it will pull out the yellow undertones in warm olive skin and just make you look like you have jaundice.

That said, a rich, golden yellow can look really good on some people with olive skin and neutral undertones.

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5. Deep Purple

Photo by Rajesh Kumar Verma, Pexels

Any deep, dark purples will look fantastic on olive skin.

This is one of those saturated, dark jewel tones that should work with any olive skin no matter what your undertones.

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5. Red

Photo by bardia Hashemirad on Unsplash

A deep dark red looks fantastic on people with olive skin and dark hair.

If you have neutral undertones, you can either go for warm or cool reds. Those with olive skin mostly tend to have neutral undertones. But if you have either distinctly warm or cool undertones, match the red to your undertones.

Choose a warm red for warm undertones and a cool red for cool undertones.

Choose a warm red for warm undertones and a cool red for cool undertones.

Are you among those that find that red lipstick ends up looking more pink than red? Here’s the solution: when choosing a darker red lipstick, opt for something that has a bit of brown in it, like  Maybelline New York Super Stay Matte Ink Liquid Lipstick  in Ground Breaker.

Otherwise, stick to lighter warm reds that are a little more on the orangey side.

These were only six of the best colors for olive skin. You may also want to try dark chocolate brown. But on the same token, avoid lighter browns and earth tones that are too close in color and/or shade to your skin color.


Conclusion

It can be tricky to figure out how to match colors to olive-toned skin because not everyone who has olive skin has the same undertones.

A color that works on one person may not be the best choice for another, even if they both have olive skin.

The easiest way to find out if any color matches your skin tone and undertones is to hold that color up next to your face in a mirror in natural light. 

Disregard anything you’ve read about which colors are best for you or which ones to avoid. If you look at a color against your skin and you look amazing, then go for it – it’s your color!

If it doesn’t make you look fabulous, it’s not your color.

Written by Kayla Young

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