How to choose the right makeup for olive skin

With its greenish undertone, olive skin can pose a challenge when it comes to finding the right base.

Olive skin is the “most underrepresented” skin undertone in the beauty world, according to Brisbane makeup artist Tanielle Jai.

“I’d love to see more olive-toned foundations on the market,” Tanielle says.

“Traditionally there’s three major skin undertones in make-up, but I personally believe there are four: warm, cool, neutral and olive.

“A few brands have recognised this and that’s why I keep going back to those foundation ranges.”

Do you have olive skin?

The best way to determine your true undertone is the vein test.

With clean skin that’s free of any fake tan, look at your wrist and observe the colour of your veins.

If they lean blue, your skin tone is cool, if they lean green then you have a warm undertone and if they’re somewhere in the middle and difficult to decipher, then you’re most likely neutral.

Similar to warm undertones, if you have yellow-green veins, then you have an olive undertone.

“Olive skin is equally cool and equally warm, but it is not the same as neutral skin,” Tanielle explains. “Neutral is equally cool and warm, but on the top end of the colour wheel – where red (warm) meets purple (cool). Olive is where yellow (warm) meets green (warm).”

Tanielle points to a few celebrities as case examples for undertones.

  • Scarlett Johansen: Neutral (peachy skin and blonde neutral hair)
  • Nicole Kidman: Neutral swaying warm (peachy skin and strawberry blonder hair)
  • Alexis Bledel: Neutral swaying cool (beige/taupe skin + ashy brown hair)

Finding the right foundation for olive skin

According to Tanielle, if a foundation shade is the wrong undertone, no amount of bronzer or blush is going to correct it.

“Don’t try and fix a foundation colour; if it doesn’t match, take it off,” she says.

“If you’re determined to use a particular foundation, colour correctors can help to either warm up, cool down or neutralise your base.

“Understanding the basics of colour theory also helps to nail your makeup because you become familiar with what’s contrasting and complimentary to your skin tone.”

Makeup artist Hong Le says olive-skinned clients sometimes require different foundations mixed together to achieve a true match.

“I tend to mix my foundations to get the undertone that I want for my clients as I like to customise the shades depending on what they want,” she says.

“I also colour correct under concealer and foundation if my client has a lot of discolouration.”

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Written by Charlotte Brundrett.