Olive Skin Tone Explained - What colors look good
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Olive Skin Tone Explained

Olive Skin Tone Explained

Olive skin tone is a unique and gorgeous complexion that many people envy. In this blog post, we'll dive into what olive skin tone is, whether olive skin tone is warm or cool, what colors are best for olive skin, and what colors to avoid. So, let's get started!

Your Complete Guide to Olive Skin Tone


People with olive skin tone

What is olive skin tone?

Olive skin tone refers to a complexion characterized by a subtle greenish or yellowish undertone, reminiscent of the color of olives. Individuals with olive skin typically have a neutral undertone, allowing them to tan easily and rarely burn under the sun. This skin tone often appears to have a natural, warm glow and may vary in depth from light olive to medium or deep olive. Olive toned skin is common among people with Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and South Asian ancestry, though it can be found in diverse populations worldwide.

How to know if you have olive skin tone?

You may have olive skin tone if you appear golden in photos and tan well. But, warm colors like golden yellow and warm greens do not flatter you. If you are confused as to why warm colors don't suit you and yet your skin appears warm or yellow, then you likely have olive skin. Olive toned skin can also appear greenish especially when compared to another person's skin tone.

Discover Your Best Colors to Wear With Your Olive Skin

Your Color Style is the leading expert in color analysis for olive skin tones. We can quickly perform an accurate online color analysis and tell you your best color palette. Learn more about our Done With You Color Analysis Service.

Is olive skin warm or cool?

Olive skin tone can be confusing when trying to figure out your undertones. Olive skin tone can have a dominant green or yellow hue. You may be incorrectly typed with warm undertones because of the yellow in your skin. But the yellow is not a golden yellow and is not necessarily warm undertones. Watch this video to hear Jen's explanation of undertones for olive skin tone.

You may also like The Color Theory Behind Olive Skin Tone and Undertones

The Color Theory Behind Olive Toned Skin, Warm Undertones and Cool Undertones

This video explains how our skin tone interacts with our undertones, creating an olive skin tone. This is an explanation I gave my color consultants in my color analysis certification program. I've edited down to the info I believe you will find most valuable. Understanding the color theory behind undertones and skin tone can truly help you understand if you actually have olive toned skin. Plus, I explain the concept of neutral undertones.

For individuals that do not have olive skin tone, they will lean warm or cool even if they appear neutral. You may not have obvious golden tones if you have warm undertones and you may not be noticeably cool if you have cool undertones. But, no matter how you appear, you will look best in a warm color type or a cool color type, but not both. 

When you have olive toned skin, you have neutral undertones. This does not mean that you can wear the full rainbow of colors. This means that you are neither golden with warm undertones or cool with cool undertones. You have a greenish undertone which is a combination of blue and yellow - warm and cool together. 

Having olive skin tone requires a different way of thinking about undertones so that you can have a color palette that truly flatters you. Take a look at the next section to understand what colors look good on you.

Color Analysis Quiz for Olive Skin Tone

What does olive skin look like?

Olive skin has a greenish hue to it. It have a dominant green cast to it or even a dominant yellow cast to it. An olive complexion can be misperceived as warm because of the dominant yellow tones.

Regardless of your undertones, when you're dominantly green, wearing colors that are similar are going to enhance that color and make you look more green or more yellow, and that may not be desirable.

The Best Colors For Olive Skin Tone

People with olive toned skin tend to have a greenish cast to their skin and sometimes a dominant yellow overtone. This can make finding flattering colors and color types confusing because some colors just don't seem feel right. This video explains what colors you may want to avoid wearing with your olive complexion and what colors you may want to try wearing.

Discover Your Best Colors to Wear With Your Olive Skin

Your Color Style is the leading expert in color analysis for olive skin tones. We can quickly perform an accurate online color analysis and tell you your best color palette. Learn more about our Done With You Color Analysis Service.

Colors to Avoid for Olive Skin Tone

Best Color Palette For Olive Skin Tones

After all of this explanation, you may be wondering what the best clothing colors for olive skin tone are. You want to know your best color palette. I recommend that you look at the cool color types in Your Color Style. Specifically the bright and cool color types. Even if you believe you have warm undertones, the typical warm colors may not feel right on you. When you remove those from your color palette, you are left with most of the colors in the cool color palettes. If you have pale olive skin, then I recommend the Bright Cool and Light color palette. If you have very dark hair and eyes, I recommend the Bright Cool and Deep color palette.

Color Analysis Case Study: Pale Olive Skin Tone

I did an online color analysis of a woman with light olive skin tone and describes her skin as being dominantly yellow. She is a Style Masters member and has given me permission to use her photo for this video because this type of skin can be very confusing when trying to figure out your color palette. 

Color Analysis Case Study: Olive Complexion With Dark Brown Hair and Dark Eyes

She has olive skin tone, dark brown eyes and dark brown hair.

Watch the video to learn her color type.

Best hair color for olive skin tone

The best hair color for olive skin tones is your natural hair color. I know, you didn't want to hear that, but mother nature is always right. However, if you are looking for a change, here are some recommendations:

  • Keep your highlights cool not golden
  • If you are coloring grey, keep the same darkness of your eyebrows and keep the color cool vs warm
  • If you want red hair with your olive skin, keep it a cool red vs a warm yellow orange copper red.
  • For a fashion color, magenta pink will look amazing with your olive toned skin.

Olive Skin Tone Female with Magenta Pink Hair

Neutral Undertones Explained

If you are not obviously warm or cool, it may feel that you are neutral. It's common to hear that "I don't seem to lean warm or cool, so I must be neutral!" A misconception about appearing neutral is that you can wear all the colors in the color wheel. This is not the case. Even if you appear neutral, you still have warm or cool undertones, even if it's not obvious.

Jen explains how she sees neutral undertones and why you still may not be completely neutral.


Is olive skin tone neutral?

Olive skin can be considered neutral because it has both warm and cool tones. It is not dominantly cool (blue) because it has yellow. It is is not dominantly warm (yellow) because it has blue. Having a greenish cast to your skin negates the concept of warm and cool undertones. It is almost like you have green undertones. Being neutral doesn't mean you can wear the full spectrum of colors. It means we need to customize your color palette so that your colors suit your unique coloring and tone. 

Can you be pale and have olive skin?

Pale Olive Skin Tone

Yes. Olive skin is commonly medium in tone but it comes in all ranges from light to dark. It is very possible to have pale olive skin.

The woman shown here has very light olive toned skin. Her skin has a greenish cast to it.





What ethnicity has olive skin?

Greece, China, Spain, Italy and Russia.

What colors should olive skin tone avoid?

Olive green, warm greens, mustard yellows and dull earthy browns can enhance the green and yellow tones in the skin and make a person look sallow.

Professional Color Analysis for Olive Skin Tone

Are you struggling to figure out what colors flatter you best? Have Jen Vax and team expertly perform an online color analysis and tell you your color palette.

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Jennifer Vax

Jen Vax is the founder of Your Color Style. She is a best selling author, speaker, artist and entrepreneur. She helps women learn how to wear color in a way that expresses their true nature. Take the FREE color analysis quiz to get started.


  • I feel like I have a live scan I have dark hair dark eyes and I am Hispanic

    - Josie Ernstmeyer
  • Thank you so much for this, Jen! :) This makes so much sense!

    For years, I didn’t even know I could be olive. I had it in my mind that olive was medium to dark brown skin, and I’m more fair. Then, when I realized I was olive, I figured I had to be warm because I had it in my mind that olive = warm and my skin is really yellow-looking.

    I seem to be a chameleon with warm and cool features that shift also between soft and bright, light and medium, depending on the season and my sun exposure. I thought I was a freak, or maybe jaundiced… :)

    I had a very hard time finding my colours. My veins, well that wasn’t helpful as they can appear blue, blue-green or blue-purple, or just skintone. I still have my natural dark blonde/brown hair colour that changes between ashy and coppery with haircuts and sun exposure, and even my eye-colour looks softer and greyish or brighter and clearer, or more green or blue depending on what I’m wearing. My makeup, when I bother to wear it, is minimal and mostly neutral/nude, so that didn’t help either.

    I didn’t understand why I could wear colours from so many seasons. I basically have to Frankenstein my palette because the colours that pop in summer do not suit as well come winter.

    I always thought I was warm because of the dominant yellow in my skin, and I do think gold jewelry suits me better than silver. However, summer colours look ah-freaking-mazing on me, with spring and autumn colours popping when I’m tanned and my hair highlights in the sun. I read that olive tones don’t suit pastels, but I certainly do. They need to be medium-to-light, not icy or greyish, but they look lovely on me.

    I guess my closest match would be soft summer leading into soft autumn, but I can also wear bright warm colours from spring when I’m tanned, and fuschia looks dynamite on me in the winter. Weird, right? That’s like, all the things! lol – it’s been a journey.

    Us chameleon olive ladies need more resources like this! I feel like my light olive skin is difficult to type seasonally because it’s so changeable with the sun. Sometimes I find it easier to focus on the quality of a colour in terms of softness or lightness, rather than warmth or coolness. It’s been a challenge, lol – fair olive ladies, you get me, I know you do!

    Repeat after me: pink is my friend!

    Thank you, Jen! Pretty please, create more resources for olive skin :)

    - Kim
  • Hi, thank You for these great explanations .

    I am wondering two things:

    1. Is it rare that someone with olive skin would be Medium?

    2. Is it always Bright with olive skin although there would be f.e. soft coloured eyes? Can it also be between Bright and Soft?
    Your Color Style replied:

    Someone with olive skin tone can be light, medium or deep. I don’t think it’s rare to be medium. You can be between soft and bright, but what that really means is that you still wear clear chroma colors. They are just slightly softened with white or black. The Soft Cool Medium color palette is a little dusty, so you may want the BCM color palette and just not wear the brightest colors.


    - Tuula

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