The Skin Tone Nobody is Talking About

I’ve been wanting to talk about this subject for a very long time – the skin tone (or undertone) that nobody is talking about. I want to share a bit about my journey to finding my skin tone. It took me a lot longer than most people to find my skin tone because it seemed nobody talked about it, and so I’m really hoping this raises some awareness and helps someone else out if they’re also struggling to find their undertones.

I’ve not paid attention to skin tones and undertones until I became interested in makeup. Up until then, I wore whatever I liked the look of and generally most colours seemed to suit me. This made me think I had a neutral skin tone when first learning about this.


Generally, skin tones are split into warm toned, cool toned and neutral toned. Those with warm skin tones will suit warmer colours such as browns, gold and oranges. Those with cool tones will suit cooler colours such as blues, greens and silver. And finally, those with neutral tones are fortunate to suit pretty much all colours.

However, each skin tone then has undertones – these are the more subtle shades that come from underneath the skin. For example, someone with warm toned skin may have yellow undertones, meaning their skin has a slightly yellow shade to it. Cool toned skins may have pink undertones, so skin can have a slightly pink colour. Neutral skin tones can have either yellow or pink undertones, but they will be more muted and less obvious which is what makes it work well with all colours.


But having said all that, my skin didn’t seem to fit into these categories. I can wear both silver and gold, the colour of my veins isn’t all that obvious (these are some ways you can find out what your skin tone is) and my undertones seemed to be green more than anything else. I spent a long time googling this obsessively until I finally found one article hidden on page 6 of google results – this article suggested another skin tone, olive skin with green undertones.

Now I knew of olive skin tone, my dad and sister are both olive skinned. But I was always of the impression that olive skin equated medium tones, slightly darker than the very pale skin I seemed to have. However, the more I experimented the more it became obvious that my undertones were definitely green.

So that’s how I finally found my skin tone and undertone: I have fair olive skin with green undertones. I burn slightly, but nowhere near as badly as most people with skin as fair as mine, and when I tan I get significantly more golden and darker. But why did it take me nearly 2 years to discover this?

Photo credit – Pinterest

The more I researched the more I found that olive skin is very rarely mentioned in articles that help you find your skin tone. And I only found one article about fair olive skin! Having done a more recent search of this I now found a few more, but still only a very small fraction compared to articles discussing warm/cool/neutral tones. It seems that even with makeup and colour matching becoming more accessible, awareness of fair olive skin seems to be nearly non-existent even among professionals who do this for a living.

There has been a long standing misconception that olive skin can’t be fair, and it seems that there is no attention being drawn to this. This results in very few makeup brands creating foundations to match golden-green undertones, especially in lighter shades.

Finding foundation to work for olive skin tones is already difficult – most brands create foundations with yellow, pink or neutral undertones. I have come across foundations from Dior that cater specifically to fair olive skin, and there are probably a few others out there that I’m not aware of, but generally speaking they are quite rare.



So what’s the solution? Well, neutral toned foundation or golden toned foundation seems to work best for olive skin. If you are like me and have fair olive skin, I would strongly suggest getting samples of foundations before committing, because you want to test out the shades in different lighting to make sure it works for you. If your foundation of choice doesn’t come in a shade made for olive skin, go for a shade with yellow undertones – this will be closer to your green undertones than one with pink undertones, and will match your skin’s warmth.

I tried the olive toned foundation from Dior recently, and I think it would work very well for me in the summer when I tan but it’s still too dark for my current fairness. So it still doesn’t quite cater to fair olive skin, but it’s closer than many other brands. I’m hoping that this is a sign that there is increasing awareness of the struggles those of us with fair olive skin have, and I really hope to see more brands catering to this with actual shades made for us, not just ones that “will do.”

Until next time xo

10 thoughts on “The Skin Tone Nobody is Talking About

  1. You’re undertone journey sounds a lot like my own! Any luck on foundations matches? So far the best color match for me has been the Lancome teint idole ultra in 100N but I’m always looking for something better (oily skin to boot)!


    1. I find a few shades from Dior work for me, also YSL and Charlotte Tilbury! I personally prefer Dior but all of them do foundations for different skin types so you should be able to find one that works for you. The closest I found from Dior is shade N20 and although it’s very close to my real shade, it’s still not a perfect match…


  2. I’m also a lighter olive too . I’m a bit kore experimental with what colors I wear but yeah it does surprise people when you say light olive . My Dad is hispanic and lives in Mexico . His tone is super light compared to others .


  3. There are a lot more light olive foundations now than there used to be. Urban Decay Stay Naked 30CG is one, Koh Gen Do 213, Smashbox 1.05, NARS Gobi (for very fair olive). Go to to find other olive skinned people looking for makeup. 🙂


  4. People tell you to put a white piece of paper next to your skin; then you can see the blue or gold. Like you, I got green. My veins are teal (blue green). I am also very fair. I think Jen Thoden has some info on this on Pinterest. I definitely look better in cool colors, but not super cool.

    Thanks for posting this.


  5. Someone mention jen thoden I agree it has been her thought that olive skin is cool i believe her she has typed me a soft cool and deep the key word is cool most make up counters always try to put me in a makeup with a lot of yellow undertones it’s horrible I did read an article that urban decay did have a foundation for olive skin light to dark with covid I have not had a chance GREAT ARTICLE


  6. I have been color analyzed repeatedly. I have been told twice that I am a summer and once a spring in the 4 color system, once a clear spring, once a light spring and twice a soft summer in the 12 color system. I have yet to find my perfect colors and feel so discouraged. I guess that the definition of insanity is to keep trying the same thing and expect a different outcome. I am light medium in skin tone and cannot tell from my veins what I am. When in Greece i concluded that i was light olive


    1. …me too! Drives me nuts that I can’t get a handle on which season I belong to, and what colours to add to my wardrobe. As a very very light olive, my green / hazel eyes have me typed as autumn but put anything remotely orange near me and I look Ill, never mind the warm blushes the MUA try to plaster all over me. Slightly cool colours are best, not too cool, including lipstick….MAC faux should be perfect but looks dreadful, ever so slightly warm lippie is best- MAC peach blossom, Revlon wink for pink…that little bit of pearl lights the face up….


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