September 17, 2014

It's Not Easy Being Green, or The Struggle of Olive Skin Tones: How to Identify Olive Skin and Find Colors That Work

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I've been dealing with #thestruggle of identifying my skin's undertone for a decade. More than a decade, even - I can distinctly remember sitting in the middle school library with my friend, reading Seventeen magazine. They had an article about how to wear the perfect colors to compliment your skin tone which would subsequently get all the boys to notice you or something like that. My friend, also a white girl but blond and blue eyed, easily identified herself as fair but we had a tougher time with me. It was like I fit multiple skin tones on the white girl spectrum at once. "You're tan but not tan?" was the conclusion we came to. I didn't fit any of the profiles and never learned what colors worked for me.

That last line is not hyperbole - I really have been struggling to find what colors work for me ever since. It was only about a year ago when I discovered that my "tan" but very obviously not tan skin is actually olive skin and incredibly frustrating to have when you're obsessed with beauty products. Your skin's undertone is arguably one of the most important things to be in the know about if you like experimenting with makeup. It determines everything from what blush or eyeshadows look best to the crucial question of what foundation you'll wear every day.

My struggle with this skin tone has hit me in every makeup arena. I have a huge aversion to blush because it's so hard to find a color that doesn't look like over the top clown makeup. I wore a foundation that was about 4 shades too dark for me for, oh, nine years? Nine years! From the moment I began wearing foundation up until a week before my 22nd birthday (and yes, I remember specifically when I made the switch because it was LIFE CHANGING) I wore the wrong color foundation. And it showed. I was orange and not even in a fun, Jersey kind of way. My face was just orange in a "that girl didn't blend in her unmatching foundation, at all" kind of way. It wasn't just my fault either - I've always avoided getting professionally color matched, even in the time when I was beginning to suspect my foundation looked a mess, because I'm always matched with a mid toned tan color. Olive skin is confusing like that and can pull the wool over Sephora employees' eyes. It disguises itself as a deep yellow and sits back and lets you run with it. In actuality, the secret ingredient to olive skin is a green undertone, meaning you're like the real life version of Liz Lemon when she says the Clinique lady told her she had "witch undertones".

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That green undertone can be very hard to pin down and you'll misinterpret your skin as golden or tan instead. In reality, the green undertone is actually very noticeable - it's the thing that's making all of your makeup all wrong. It's this great little thing that can go totally unnoticed until the moment it doesn't. Foundation, eyeshadow, blush, lip color, it doesn't discriminate. Olive skin will do a number on all of them. Wear a color that isn't friendly with that green undertone and sure, you certainly don't look awful. You just look a little... off. People will ask you if you're coming down with something. Just something looks wrong with the way you look but they can't put their finger on it. For me, it's that green undertone every time.

The first step to fixing anything is admitting you have the problem in the first place, right? Even that can be hard with olive skin. You may not even know that you have it. You hear a lot of things about determining your undertone when you're versed in the beauty community. Check your veins. Are they blue or green? Do you look better in gold or silver jewelry? Generally, those are supposed to be the questions you answer to lock yourself into one of two categories: yellow undertones (warm) or pink undertones (cool). Cool toned people have blue veins and look better in silver jewelry and colors like blue and pink. Gold jewelry is supposed to compliment people with warm skin, the ones who have green veins. Chances are, if you have olive skin you've heard all this and it's provided most questions than answers. Like, okay, my veins are both blue AND green and silver doesn't look amazing on me but gold can look pretty weird too. In fact, yellow as a whole is something I steer clear of because it makes my skin look florescent or like I'm jaundiced and dying of liver failure. Still, I definitely don't have that porcelain doll kind of skin that looks so good with pink.

Give one of those Facebook newsfeed style quizzes on whether I'm warm or cool and my answers would be pretty evenly split. Yes, my complexion looks sallow and awful next to a white sheet of paper (warm) but I'll get a peeling, painful sunburn f you sit me on the beach for 20 minutes (cool). A lot of times olive skin is misinterpreted as simply "warm" or "yellow" - hey, you're obviously not pink toned so you must be yellow, right? - which ends up being a huge mistake. You'll purchase the recommended items for warm skin, totally unaware that you don't have it, and end up confused when something like orange blush looks fucking awful. You're ignoring a huge component of your skin, that sneaky green tone that makes your skin slightly cool in addition to being warm. It's like being both undertones and then some.

What was particularly problematic to me was being pale in addition to being olive. I had a very hard time accepting how pale I was for the longest time and not because I had any kind of aversion to paleness. It was just because my skin had so much fucking color in it, how could I be pale? I'm like an in real life Lucian Freud painting. The olive tone is incredibly visible despite the fact that I'm too pale to shop for foundation in drugstores. Pale skin is a weird kind of pissing contest in the beauty community. People really trip over themselves to out pale one other. "I'm white as a sheet!" "Well, I'm transparent!" It makes you feel like you're taking crazy pills when you see such strong color to your skin in addition to your paleness. Plus, my skin doesn't respond to the sun in a traditional pale girl kind of way. Sure, I know and have accepted that if I go to the beach that I'm coming home with a sunburn. My skin is pale and pale skin is prone to burning. However, that sunburn fades to a nice tan which has pretty good staying power - another olive skin hallmark. This was all hard for me to compute at first but olive and pale - it's a thing, particularly for Eastern European bitches like me.

So, how do you figure out that you have olive skin without standard methods? An incredibly helpful clue in determining whether or not you have olive skin is knowledge about your heritage. Unfortunately, this isn't possible for everyone - maybe you're adopted and don't know much about your birth parents or just don't have a family that keeps track of their lineage or any other number of possibilities. That being said, olive skin can be a pretty common thing for non Western/Northern European people. A lot of groups that were previously referred to as "white ethnics" like Italians, Greeks, Armenians, Slavs and Jews have skin that's olive, sometimes even very deep tones. A good example of this is Mila Kunis who is Ukrainian. I've seen people on places like Tumblr and even legitimate magazines describe as a person of color which is pretty flagrantly untrue. Ukrainians are generally white people. We're in the news a pretty good amount lately and I've yet to see a fellow Uke who isn't pale as a motherfucker cross the screen. Likewise, Mila Kunis is white and not perpetually tan or golden or a "person of color". Mila Kunis is white with olive skin. Also, incredibly gorgeous and I'm convinced I was a serial killer in my past life because that's the only reason that I'm Ukrainian and DON'T look like her, right?

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I'm a cocktail of paleness from my mom (Irish, Scottish and Dutch to name a few) but my dad is Ukrainian and his genes were pretty aggressive. Even after two nosejobs I'm very identifiable as Ukrainian. I get asked for directions to the Russian Embassy here in DC all the time with the lost tourist occasionally speaking to me in some kind of Slavic language. I feel like the mixture of olive and pale skin is to blame for a lot of that. Olive tones are very probable if you know your looks heavily favor one part of your heritage. It's no surprise to me that I see a fair amount of girls with similar skin tones in places like New York or New Jersey where there's a huge concentration of people without WASPy or Irish roots.

Another incredibly helpful tool is to have friends or any kind of people in your life. Comparing your skin to other people can really bring out your green tones. Hold your arm up to someone with a real warm, yellow undertone and your olive skin tone starts to get really aggressive and fight for attention. I'd say that this is the most helpful way to determine any undertone, full stop. Study group photos or compare your skin to a friend who has a tan and you'll suddenly start to notice the hints of green that were undetectable when you were by yourself.

Really, the best way to pinpoint whether or not you're olive is to get negative. When are you looking your worst, makeup wise? It sounds like you're being a particularly douchey plastic surgeon or something. What do you hate about yourself? But, like I said, olive skin can be that little thing that makes things look wrong. Maybe you've incorrectly identified yourself as warm toned, yet find that gold eyeshadow looks weird or that you never reach for your pumpkin colored blush because you feel like you can't pull it off. Olive skin is frustrating because I find that there's more things that look wrong than things that look right.

There really is a laundry list of things that don't work. I have hazel eyes and brown hair in addition to my olive skin and I feel like a lot of pale olive skinned people probably have similar eye and hair colors. Brown, hazel and green eyes with brown or black hair are most common for people with any kind of olive tones. It all becomes like a beauty formula that is trying to exclude you from things. What works for your eye color + what works for you hair color + the very limiting olive skin tone = pretty unadventurous makeup choices. For me, I've almost entirely crossed off anything that flatters cool, pink skin. Pastels? Absolutely not. Anything gray? Totally awful. Girly, pink blushes? Have to pass. Blue eyeshadow is out, as should be pink but I'm Julia Allison level obsessed with that color and can't help myself.

Conservative is not really a concept I subscribe to in any sense of the word but I definitely lean that way with beauty products. If I had a different skin tone then I would be virtually unemployable because I'd constantly wear Day Glo eyeshadow and pastel pink lipsticks. No kind of office environment would be able to stop me. There's a hefty list of cosmetics that I desperately want but would never purchase because they would clash so badly with greenish yellow skin. Pastels and neons of any color are the worst offenders. Holy shit do I want to wear that stuff but man, it would look so awful.

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Sleek's iDivine Palette in Acid
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NYX Macaron Lippies, where I even passed on the relatively tame Pink and Lavender because pastels transform from pretty to sickening with my coloring
You kind of amass a collection of grandma friendly products by following the rules of what works. Rose, mauve and peach for blush and lip colors are some of the only things that look natural. Even with those guidelines there is a lot of trial and error. Nothing can be too red or too blue or too orange. For eyeshadows, it's neutrals and earth tones with some purples thrown in for the days you really feel like throwing caution to the wind. Weirdly, I find a lot of greens don't look too awful so I don't have to give up on the Boston Celtics or anything extreme like that. This skin tone won't succeed in taking everything I love away from me. Foundations and concealers are the hardest yet, especially if you're pale. Pale skin can limit you enough as is with base colors but cosmetics companies seem pretty confused by the idea of pale people who aren't baby pink. Yellow toned and light foundations usually will force you to make a trip to MAC or Sephora rather than CVS or Rite Aid.

Truly, it's not like there's any kind of laws that say you can't wear whatever you want with olive skin. I have a weird relationship with the word "flattering" in the sense that I just absolutely hate it. It's like the word "moist". It just grosses me out - but in the same way the word "classy" does. Like, who is anyone you encounter in real life to deem something "flattering" on you? What kind of authority do they have to say that? It's if they're saying, "That looks good but only because it works with or conceals your imperfections!" Spare me. I can in no way say you should only wear things that "flatter" olive skin because the end of the day we r who we r. As I showed you above, pink eyeshadow is who I am. I cannot just stand by and watch other people wear pink eyeshadow and not participate. Maybe you have olive skin and gold eyeliner is who you are. Who am I to say? Don't let anyone stand in your way of wearing what you want on your skin, least of all you. But, for me, my olive skin is where I subscribe to the idea of "flattering" about 90% of the time. Eyeshadow is something I'm passionate about so I make a lot of exceptions there. Additionally, I own two different purple lipstick which I suspect don't look the best on me. I wear them anyway and don't worry about it because purple lips just make me happy. I just weigh what will make me the happiest when I make colorful beauty purchases. Yes, a bright pink blush would make me happy to look at but I know I'd always feel it looked wrong on my face so is it worth it to spend $20 on a blush I won't use? That's a thing I'd say no to but it varies like that on a case by case basis. Most of the time I end up feeling my best wearing bland colors that I'm not excited about if they look great with my skin. Maybe you feel the opposite - that's for you to decide. But, if you're looking for things that will pair perfectly with your olive skin, here's my hit list.

MAC Lipstick in Twig
I saw this recommended a little over a week ago as a perfect lipstick for olive tones. I bought it for myself at the first opportunity and it really is perfect. It's a deep, brownish rose that I've been wearing non stop. Perfect for olive skin and perfect for cool, fall weather.
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MAC Blush in Springsheen (for stronger or deeper olive tones)
Like an asshole, I really only bought this blush because the name reminded me of my imaginary boyfriend Bruce Springsteen. I have to use a very light hand with it to prevent it from looking too orange on my face. I suspect it's better suited for deeper olive toned skin.
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NARS Blush in Orgasm and Miss Liberty
Orgasm: This color is on the verge of being wrong. It's gold and orange, general no's for olive skin. It's JUST peach enough to work with olive skin which I'm thrilled about. This color is a bestseller for a reason - it's absolutely gorgeous on a variety of skin tones.
Miss Liberty: This color is meant to be used as a highlight but I prefer to use it as a blush on my paler skin. It's a soft peach that makes my olive skin glow.
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Stila Convertible Color in Peony
As a rule, I find colors that are described as "peony" by makeup companies tend to be a brownish pink rather than so light pink it's almost white color real peonies have. Peony colors are generally a safe bet. This cream color by Stila works as both a blush and a lip color.
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Rimmel Blush in Santa Fe Rose
Another flower themed color that's olive's best friend is rose. Rose will generally be a perfect mix of mauve, brown and pink and compliment the green tones in olive skin. Sadly, I'm not sure where to get this blush in the US. I grabbed it out of a clearance bin in Ulta years ago and haven't seen it around since.
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NARS Dolce Vita Lipstick and Blush
 NARS makes the shade Dolce Vita in both a blush and a lipstick. I only own the lipstick and it's a perfect "my lips but better" color. I've heard rave reviews about the blush as well and many olive skinned beauty addicts consider it a holy grail blush color.
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Make Up For Ever HD Foundation in 117
This foundation is my best friend. I can never see myself betraying it by switching to something else. It's the perfect yellow yet pale color and has a full, buildable coverage. Make Up For Ever is pretty inclusive with their range of foundation and it's likely that darker olive tones could find a match in this line as well. If not, I've heard NARS and Tarte both include yellow toned foundations with great formulas. Additionally, a lot of olive toned people turn to Asian BB creams in lieu of Western products and have a lot of success there.
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Urban Decay's Naked Palette
 I'm not going to take photos because I feel like the Urban Decay Naked Palette is more recognizable than any of the Kardashians at this point. The original Naked has a selection of 12 shadows, almost all of which have a warm tone that compliments olive skin. There's also a handful of bronze and copper colors which are kind of THE colors to wear if you really want your olive skin to look its best. The only dud in the entire palette for olive skin is Gunmetal, a blue toned gray that has been left untouched in my palette, save for my initial swatch.

Hopefully this post can save at least one person with olive skin from mislabeling themselves and wasting a ton of money on products that won't work. Not only that but it was a very real struggle to feel attractive when so much of the makeup I tried looked and felt wrong. Don't feel like you're forced to fit into a cool or a warm skin tone. Those aren't your only options. There's a ton of combinations to make with cool and warm and yellow and pink and neutral and olive. We've been learning that humans come in lots of different colors since elementary school but throw that out the window in favor of just pink or yellow when it comes to makeup. Help yourself out and really consider your undertones and coloring. So you can spend a ton of money on products that make you look gorgeous instead.

Finally, I want to make it clear that I'm white and therefore still have a much wider range of beauty products to choose from than people of color. Whatever your undertone is, us white people are catered to in the beauty world. There are a ton of excuses about how it's just not fiscally possible for companies to cater to every skin color and shit like that but the reality is that it's close to impossible for people of color to find products, especially foundation, to match them without perusing higher end and higher cost options. This article explains that problem far better than I ever could as a white person. Despite the frustrations I've had with color matching, at the end of the day I'm a white girl and cosmetics companies absolutely do cater to me.

75 comments:

  1. All I could think of while reading this article was "Yes! ... Omg YES!!". Some people just don't understand you can be pale & still olive-toned. People associate "olive" with a shade, rather than a tone & it drives me nuts!!
    Btw UD Naked is LIFE! #greenlife

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  2. if you havent already, try the ex1 foundation with me? im about nc 25-35 depending on the season (with warm olive undertones i never knew how to describe until last month) and i couldnt agree more with everything here!

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    1. I recently got the ex1 foundation and I find it still slightly off on me. The lightest shade looks orangey on me and the second one has better undertones but is just a little too dark. I might have to get a foundation lightener to make it work. UD Naked foundation in 4.0 seemed to blend well for me, as have Bobbi Brown ones. I wish someone would come out with a green shade to mix into foundation!

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    2. I bought ex1 foundation and I agree with the comment above! It seemed more orange than green :/ I want to try the UD naked foundation in shade 4.0! I know right! it'd be a life saver! I'm Mediterranean and both my parents are but since moved to the uk I've gotten really pale compared to what I used to be.

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    3. the EX1 foundation in f100 is super orange compared to my pale olive skin!! i used to use the UD naked foundation in 3.0 but even that foundation turned out to be too orange for me and i was even color matched at sephora for it :( im strongly considering just using green food dye to mix in with a pale yellow foundation in order to make my perfect match !

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  3. This has been extremely insightful, thank you so much for posting!! I too am very fair (my father is VERY deep olive and has been mistaken for an Italian gangster many a time lol) and my mother is the exact opposite - with her Celtic/Irish/Scottish heritage she has skin so pale it's almost transparent, so I am smack bang in the middle of the two! I am a MAC NC20 for reference, and it's nigh on impossible trying to find a foundation shade that's not too pink or too orange!

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    1. I totally understand you lol! My mom is Italian and native american while my dad is German and Irish, my skin looks sooooo sick when its pale if i dont wear somr sort of makeup. My cheaper alternative to get the right shade and tone is mix a nuetral foundation (I reccomend L'oreal true match in the right shade) and mix it with a green cream correcter (nyx, elf, city colour all have great ones) and mix it half and half, perfect :)

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  4. If I had read this about $1900 in failed cosmetics ago I would be so much better off! Damn witchy undertones. Being tan but not tan clearly is just the ultimate curve ball. Surely there should be a specific line of cosmetics they can tailor to the pale olive cause. Please cosmetics moguls out there hear this plea! This was a really useful post for me! I had no way of knowing if pale olive was actually a thing until now!

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  5. This is so helpful! I had independently compiled this bizarre list of color rules that were pretty much EXACTLY the things you listed, which is basically ruling out everything except dusty-terracotta-mauve pinks and no extremes toward blue/orange/red. But not ALL of the dusty pinks, only some, and I couldn't nail down why some worked and some didn't. Coral, baby pinks, coppery-orangey earth tones, all out. In accessories, darkened brass/bronze colors can be better than both silver and gold. Jewel tones work pretty consistently for me too, especially rich teals and mulberry.

    I had pretty much given up on makeup for a while though. I also have Eastern European roots, I'm glad this is actually a thing and I'm not secretly colorblind or something. I'm trying to find real foundation like a grownup and not just use BB cream forever, and it's proving a challenge. So far I turned up an ulta one that's close-ish (doesn't make me look orange, yellow or that weird taupey pink) but it's chalky-white and needs more color. I'm pretty sure these recommendations just saved me a ton of money burning through products!

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  6. I feel your pain. Trust me i do. I spent over ten years always working what was wrong with my skin because foundation would never sit right on it. I would always look grey and ill and so i too wore mac foundations 3 to four shades darker because they made me look more human. Im 29 now and only a year ago went on a mission to really do my research and discover the root of the problem and hey ho i found out i had olive skin!!! So there was nothing WRONG with my skin i just didn't understand it.
    I always have to mix two foundation shades as no brand really caters for light olive skin.
    Whats more upsetting is that most of the staff at beauty counters do not understand how olive skin works and so always colour match me wrong so i have colour mixed and matched myself after alot of time effort frustration and samples.
    I mix nars stromboli and gobi
    MUF ultra hd y365 and y225
    Mac face and body c2

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  7. Damn you are so right in this one.
    I have the same problem. I figured it out today!! I keep using yellow based- sometimes orangy foundations and i always hate how different it seem to look in daylight to my neck. I went to mac and totally confused somehow its all too yellow and i look sh*t with orange blush as well . I need to find a foundation right now

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  8. Thank you so much! I have been struggling with this for years. The cool is too pink, the neutral is too pink, the warm is somehow too yellow and not yellow enough and everything is simultaneously too light and too dark. You've saved my face :) I was wondering, do you know the company, alima pure? I have the same skin tone as you and I was wondering what color you would choose for a foundation. I'd love your opinion if you have the time. Here's a link to all the colors: http://www.alimapure.com/collections/face/products/satin-matte-foundation-samples?variant=301446659 Thanks!

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  9. I also have this problem people have always said I look ill with green yellow skin. I struggled being young in school wearing foundations that where way too dark! and people making fun of me for it.. now I'm older I wear much lighter foundation and it looks so much better :) I ended with weird coloured skin with a Moroccan dad and an English mum. I'm happy I came across this as I thought I was the only one who looks green with makeup

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  10. Thank you so much for this!! Today, I decided that it was about time I figured some things out about myself, like my face shape and skin tone, and found that answering the skin tone questionnaires mostly left me baffled. Some things answer cool, some things answer warm, but I'm definitely not neutral, cause man I cannot wear some colors. I have an Italian mother and a white from Iowa (English, German, Swedish) father, so it always baffled me that my mom can wear yellow, but I can't. I had some idea that I was olive (my dad has a story about when I was a baby in the NICU, and there were all these tiny pink preemies, and then I was this regular sized olive baby, so I looked like the Jolly Green Giant next to them), but I never figured out what that really meant, especially since I've gotten much paler as an adult. Anyway, thanks for sharing your story & insights!!

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    1. Emma, we're practically heritage twins and boy, do I understand your frustration with finding good color palettes. Throw in some Native American and other assorted European heritages and you have my background, with pretty much the weirdest tone combos in my family, imaginable. My siblings were all towheads, with the palest of olive skin as kids. I had more gold in my hair than my siblings but even today, it's clear my lightest of olive skin gives the impression that I should be wearing more cool tones, if I dress predominantly warm toned. Yet if I wear too much green, I look green all over.

      It's a headache. Pinkish peaches, brownish roses and purple toned eye shadows seem to work the best and while I do have skin that looks porcelain, it's more like porcelain clay; pre-baked.

      Sometimes the only way to get the light green we need is to mix a light yellow toned and a light blue toned foundation together. It's a way to avoid the tell tale, mask-like foundation look, a sign of wearing a base that's too tan or too pink.

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  11. Yes, this is awesome! I'm a Ukrainian/pale British mix and I feel your struggle.

    There is another beauty blogger, Karima MacKimmie, who has the same skin tone (maybe a just a biiiit darker), and she has great videos!

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  12. AWESOME article! I've never read a better description of what my skin tone also looks like. I have to say however that I love my skin tone. Now that I have come to better understand it (after years of admittedly struggling to figure it out), I'm happy with it, since it has unlocked an even deeper connection between me and my heritage. Great article! Thanks for suggesting makeup products for us olivey gals

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  13. I just found this page when I searched for why I look like crap in my green shirt today on St. Patrick's Day. I think it's hilarious the first blush you mention is the only blush I seem to be able to wear, and I've had to seek it out when I visited the distant big city that had a MAC. I'm half Serbian, and those genes seem to have won out in most regards.

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  14. I just found this page when I searched for why I look like crap in my green shirt today on St. Patrick's Day. I think it's hilarious the first blush you mention is the only blush I seem to be able to wear, and I've had to seek it out when I visited the distant big city that had a MAC. I'm half Serbian, and those genes seem to have won out in most regards.

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  15. If you're looking to get away with gold eye shaddow, I've had good luck with a green/brown/gold combo

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  16. If you're looking to get away with gold eye shaddow, I've had good luck with a green/brown/gold combo

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  17. I feel that I belong to a tribe now! Pale olive! It's real, I'm not crazy! Thank you for this! I really wish makeup companies would help us greenies out. Maybe one day.

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  18. Thank you for the article! I've been searching make up for pale olive skin for about a year or so, but still have always been unsure of my skin tone. Just thought that if pink, neutral, yellow or beige don't work, I have to be olive. I can totally relate to almost everything on the article, except that I don't tan. At all. And I just realized that I have 3 different foundations and they are all wrong and exactly the same shade... :D have to check out the mufe. I can recommend the lipstick mango (velvet) from Joe blasco, it changes a lot (from Orange to almost pink) on my lips but has the subtle green to it, so it works perfectly.

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  19. Oh my.... Oh my god. This is me, exactly me!
    Looking of those pictures of your arm with the makeup was like looking to at my own skin.

    No one can ever identify it. Half my hairdressers say I'm cool, half say I'm warm. Im EXTREAMLY pale. As are my step sisters. But they are bright pinky pale, and in the sun they turn to lobsters while I get a mildly pink nose and shoulders.

    I have the hardest time with colors. It's all neutrals for me. Bright colors wash me out completely, clothing and makeup. Pink nail polishes make me look like I have corpse hands.

    The other day one of my male customers at work described us as "Us olive people.." And I was shocked. I told him, no one has EVER identified me as olive before! That got me to doing more research about what colors compliment me and here I am. Us small group of people with very pale, olive skin. I'm happy to be a part of this club! Can we start a Facebook group or something, where we help eachother pick clothes and makeup that don't make us appear dead? ^_^

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  20. The struggle is seriously so real! If you haven't already, try the Koh Gen Do aqua foundation in 120. It's a huge splurge but honestly the greenest pale foundation I've ever found! It's seriously amazing! The ONLY foundation that matches my skin!

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  21. The struggle is seriously so real! If you haven't already, try the Koh Gen Do aqua foundation in 120. It's a huge splurge but honestly the greenest pale foundation I've ever found! It's seriously amazing! The ONLY foundation that matches my skin!

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    1. Do you mean 213? I LOVE that shade except that it's one shade too light for me so I mix it with the "olive" shades that are all too dark on my not-going-outside-lately skin. I'm surprised no brand seems to cater to olive skin at all. It's so frustrating!

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  22. Oh count me in! We need more green based foundations

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  23. Mila Kunis is gorgeous, but ethnically she is not Ukrainian. She is Jewish on both sides, which genetically is not related to Ukrainian heritage. Great article!!!

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  24. Oh dear this is so me!! I HATE those articles about skintones because I can pull off both silver and gold hardware. I haven't found a foundation that does not look too orange on me yet. Every single one of the foundations I've tried has turned into this yellow-orange kind of hue and I just can't find a foundation that is green enough. My olive tone is really strong even if I'm not tanned at all but when I get a great tan.. I look green. Like seriously green. Oh and it is just impossible to have green skin and red lipstick. I have just accepted the fact that I am never going to wear a red lipstick.

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  25. I managed to get all the weirdest traits from my parents. I have pale skin with some strange mixture of Native American red undertones AND Italian olive tones. In terms of undertones, I sit right in the middle between my mother's red skin and my father's olive, and I got the pale Irish/British skin too. I have no idea how to classify my skin tone. I'm fairly certain that there aren't many people with a skin tone like mine out there. That's why I pretty much just don't wear makeup anymore. I gave up. It's impossible to find even a close match for my skin tone.

    I also got the benefit of inheriting my father's curly hair and my mother's extremely fine hair. So most of the time my hair attempts to defy gravity.

    Thanks a lot, genetics! :'( But I'm unique, that's for sure!

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  26. Yes! This is me! I am Maltese and Polish on my dads side, and Welsh and Cherokee on my moms. My hair is naturally extremely ashy dark blonde- it looks green and sheens gold in the sun. My eyes are green with flecks of yellow. My skin is extremely pale with green based yellow undertones (a pale, cool yellow- sounds like a total oxymoron I know lol, i KNOW you all understand though!). All green-yellow, cool yellow everything!

    I get hot really easily and sweat easily, and turn red easily, my skin is really sensitive, i flake easily....finding makeup has been SO hard!

    Clothes/hair/eyeshadow-Pinky purples/purpley pinks, and browns with the same undertones work best for me. And suprisingly a deep marigold yellow and irish grass green to wear for clothes- but only when my hair is colored jet black, which it has been the most part of the past 12 years. But when I used to tan, i looked great in bright, bold turquoise. Never any warm pinks or warm reds, no orange, sage green, NO blue or grey, white, cream, off white, beige...ever.

    For eyeshadow, muted Rose Golds, Mauves, and any purpley pink/pinky purple color/undertone usually work out the best. My eyes are my favorite feature so I usually leave my lips natural. I have never worn a bold or dark lip out in public ever, i really don't know why- when i play around at home (with deep, purpley burgundy/cold blood colors) i like it on myself, but for some reason I just don't feel comfortable enough to wear it out. I just never have and it is stepping outside my comfort zone.

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    1. For foundation, I have found the PERFECT mix! I have tried everything from MUFE to MA to FA to RCMA to Nars to MAC and everything in between, and the perfect foundation for me- not just color wise but also coverage, sensitivity, and dryness wise, is using Loreal True Match in W1 and N1. It is perfect! All my fellow pale olives, try it out! It is often buy one get one half off too at Ulta and most drug stores too, ranging normally from $10-12 per glass bottle.

      W1 is yellow based, but a cooler yellow. Not a warm, orangey/peachy yellow or a saturated yellow. And it is tge lightest shade they have. N1 is not orangey, pinky, peachy, or overly warm, cool, brown, or saturated. It is a really good pale neutral. It is slightly darker than W1 - a neutral will always appear darker than a W because there is more pigment in it and more color that our eyes can see, as yoy need both warm and cool colors, ideally in a balance like this one. It is seriously just like the color of my skin just minus the enhanced yellow/green undertones. So mixing it with W1, it makes the most perfect green based yellow neutral pale foundation. For my highlight areas I use W1, and for the rest of my face I mix the two. I dab some on with my finger then blend with a slightly damp beauty blender (to help it from absorbing too much makeup or moisture from my skin). It gives a really natural, naturally dewy finish. For primer I use Dermalogica Clearing Mattifier and Paula's Choice Antioxidant serums. I have been playing around with mixing either/both of those in with my foundation, if my skin is extra dry ir i have textural issues going on, or if I want to sheer it out a bit more, and it has been working out SO well. I have used Paula's Choice Facial Oil too, but I like using the Dermalogica Mattifier and PC Antioxidant Serums the best. Sometimes I mix Becca Backlight Primer in with them too.

      I have really been struggling with blush though. When I was younger and tan, i used to wear MAC Raizin. Its a redxgold brown- which sounds horrific for our skin lol, but it was my favorite blush ever. I am far too pale now though, and the paler I am the more noticeable the grren is, so i dont think it'll work anymore. I fo flush really easily though and it looks horrible, so i want a blush that is just really natural looking on me. I do not want anything too pink/rose/mauve/plum, but at the same time I dont want anything that just looks like brown, like a contour color. I have been scouring swatches online, but i am so happy i found this! I am going to look into all the ones you mentioned, they look great!


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  27. LOVE This article! I am also a "Green Goddess". ha! I discovered the cosmetics company out of Australia called Prestige years ago and the color "Wheat" in their pressed wet/dry powder to be a perfect match! No blending necessary. Then, to my dismay they quit selling it in the U.S. :( I now use Mary Kay's Ivory #7 and find it to be pretty spot on for my tone. I am also a mixed background of Native American, Italian Northern European and Nordic. Life's not easy being green.

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    1. Thanks for the suggestions! I find "Ivory" often works for me, too. I have a very similar heritage (deeper coloring coming from Italian and Native American, mixed with very fair coloring from Germanic, Scandinavian heritage). It's been a nightmare forever to find makeup colors that fit with this kind of very fair, olive coloring.

      While I know women of more color have a much harder time looking for the right makeup tones in most markets and I shouldn't complain, I feel like I share many similar makeup woes of girls who have a mixture of white/Black heritage or Asian/ White heritage. Just the having coloring from opposite ends of the spectrum that sometimes come together in shades of light green or grayish white.

      Taupe is another safe, neutral color to use on light olive skin.

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  28. Omg.. This has made me feel so much better about my skin tone. I'm only 17 but I LOVE makeup and since I was little I had trouble deciding what my coloring was. And it was hard because my ENTIRE family consists of cool tones/blue eyes/dark blonde hair/ and freckles. Ugh damn recessive traits. Basically my entire family is a fluke and I'm the only normal one and IM the one not fitting in. I have pale skin with green undertones, very dark brown hair and medium/coppery brown eyes. This article has been so helpful and I really enjoyed it. Thank you!!

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  29. Those of you that are having trouble finding a the right foundation shade; try Nyx Invincible in Light Medium hues... they have ones that are not orange and go well with fair olive skin. I wear INF5 and matches perfect to my neck. Tried all major pro brands and didnt find the right match. Even Mac had me looking like a tanned freak. I have fair olive skin with some pink... just a plain weird off the charts color.

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  30. I have found two more foundations that match! Two! I had to share! Josie Maran Vibrancy Foundation in G15 (Cosmic) and Hourglass Immaculate Liquid Powder Foundation in Shell! JM is sheer to med coverage, super easy to use, no Beauty blender or brush needed! And very hydrating and great for the skin! New HG! Hourglass is full coverage and waterproof and totally sweat proof!

    Becca Under Eye is the perfect under eye concealer for me too! Camouflages and color corrects perfectly despite it looking uber pink in the jar!

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  31. GOD BLESS YOU CHILD lol for serious though I have been struggling with this problem for YEARS. I started getting into makeup and as I did I grew more and more frustrated that so much just looked either a. absolutely terrible or b. just off enough to make me want to rage around the house throwing out every makeup product I own. I'm still struggling trying to find the perfect foundation, but I'm getting closer!! I also plan to try out the products you mentioned because you are SO spot on with everything I've been thinking! Additionally I totally hear you with feeling like you cant try out any fun colors that so many other beauty gurus go on and on about because as soon as you see them you're like oh no. That's not happening lol I've been wearing the same eye shadow for the last....10 years (repurchases obviously lol) but it's because no matter what else I try out I feel like NOTHING ever looks as good and thats both helpful because I have a fallback but also a huge bummer because it sound so lame! Anyway, THANK YOU so much for this!!

    Also, I just heard a review for the Koh Gen Do Aqua foundation in the shade 213. I have yet to buy something so pricey, but the review went like this: "I liked the product, the coloring wasn't quite for me because it had some olive undertones to it (this is where my ears perked up lol) and after I put it on I noticed that it made my skin look a little green..." At which point I was like STOP THE PRESSES I MUST TRY THIS PRODUCT. So I thought I'd share :D

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  32. How funny! The Rimmel rose color blush in your picture is one I picked up a longgg time ago and found to be absolutely perfect... while I usually stay away from wearing hardly any makeup at all because I find it doesn't usually look natural..or I feel like I look better without much at all.. Foundations usually just look "off" like you said. Also, so on point about the Asian BB creams..after years of never wearing foundation because it always looked wrong, I tried a Dr. Jart bb cream and fell in love.. I recently went to Estee Lauder to get matched, and they were baffled saying I definitely wasn't pink toned... but the neutral color was looking super yellow on my face.. They ended up putting me in cool bone as the closest match although they said I wasn't cool toned..? I find it looks pretty natural because I wear it sparingly like a tinted moisturizer.. it's the nude wear foundation. So yeah..the struggle is real. It just crossed my mind yesterday that maybe I'm olive like my mom, and that's how I found your blog. Great info! I also have people tell me I look Russian or European a lot. And super pale, but never burned horribly..just didn't tan that easily either. Also get a pink burn that fades into a nice tan.

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  33. This article is so relatable. I'm shade 117 too and just cracked up... you really know the struggle

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  34. Koh Gen Do Aqua foundation in 213. It's my life. It looks like skin on, has decent coverage, lasts all day, and is the perfect light olive undertone. Now to find a concealer!

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  35. I used to get frustrated with my skin colour in the winter...
    Though I'm a medium olive, neutral to golden make up as in-between shades works perfectly. Try Bareminerals and I'm sure you'll find a pale tone to match. From top of my mind I think Bare Ivory shade is very pale, neutral plus a little gold.
    I don't think green undertone foundation will do us any favor, peachy and bit of goldens makes us healthy and glowy.
    I have dark undereye circles and concealers with peachy undertones work beautiful and because that area unmatches the rest of my skin face then a neutral with little yellow foundation gives me an healthy completion.
    I do have freckles and that hads a bit more warmth to my face so I try not to hide them with full make up.
    I think if our skin isn't too bad a CC cream is the best, coz it still shows your true skin underneath, blends and gives the extra glow we need. Then a concealer applied to more critical areas should work without pasting all our faces.
    Now for blushes...if you can't find one that suits you a matching bronzer to your skin works wonders in the place of blush! Trust me...
    I found that a peach, apricot, red,pink or orange blush that have a brown Base(for you pale girls a sandy base) mixed with those look great on olives. Anyway, we can use all colours, the thing is we have to wear the right shade or hues.
    There are shades of greys that look lovely on olives. There are the dusty pinks, the forest greens, black looks beautiful on us while the warmer types can't say the same.
    We are like chameleons and patterns of colours that vanish into each others favour us too.
    Very soft yellow, mustard yellow...muted colours.
    Very dark blue, deep grayish blue, warm red, true red, bronze ,copper...oh my God, there's so many colours that look great on us! ��
    Then your hair colour is important too.
    So I'm red/coppery head, orangey red and terracota look great, if golden/brown hair bronzers work nice, black hair, mauves, reds, berry blushes and colours.
    One thing I noticed, except for some blues and grey blues that go well with us, stuff with blue undertones is a killer...a no no!

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  36. I used to get frustrated with my skin colour in the winter...
    Though I'm a medium olive, neutral to golden make up as in-between shades works perfectly. Try Bareminerals and I'm sure you'll find a pale tone to match. From top of my mind I think Bare Ivory shade is very pale, neutral plus a little gold.
    I don't think green undertone foundation will do us any favor, peachy and bit of goldens makes us healthy and glowy.
    I have dark undereye circles and concealers with peachy undertones work beautiful and because that area unmatches the rest of my skin face then a neutral with little yellow foundation gives me an healthy completion.
    I do have freckles and that hads a bit more warmth to my face so I try not to hide them with full make up.
    I think if our skin isn't too bad a CC cream is the best, coz it still shows your true skin underneath, blends and gives the extra glow we need. Then a concealer applied to more critical areas should work without pasting all our faces.
    Now for blushes...if you can't find one that suits you a matching bronzer to your skin works wonders in the place of blush! Trust me...
    I found that a peach, apricot, red,pink or orange blush that have a brown Base(for you pale girls a sandy base) mixed with those look great on olives. Anyway, we can use all colours, the thing is we have to wear the right shade or hues.
    There are shades of greys that look lovely on olives. There are the dusty pinks, the forest greens, black looks beautiful on us while the warmer types can't say the same.
    We are like chameleons and patterns of colours that vanish into each others favour us too.
    Very soft yellow, mustard yellow...muted colours.
    Very dark blue, deep grayish blue, warm red, true red, bronze ,copper...oh my God, there's so many colours that look great on us! ��
    Then your hair colour is important too.
    So I'm red/coppery head, orangey red and terracota look great, if golden/brown hair bronzers work nice, black hair, mauves, reds, berry blushes and colours.
    One thing I noticed, except for some blues and grey blues that go well with us, stuff with blue undertones is a killer...a no no!

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  38. I wonder if this is me... I have five foundations now- well, only two are non bb or cc creams. I blend to get something normal. My dad can tan until he looks like an Italian. My mom is pale pale pink. Me and my siblings range in between. Both my parents are Scottish and German. My Dad also has French though, and Scottish traveler/ gypsy.
    I'm pale, ghostly so in the winter, but everything is either too pink or too dark!

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  40. I just stumbled on this post after searching for "pale olive skin makeup" because I'm nearing 30 and fed-up with still have a hodge podge makeup collection that does nothing for me. You sound like my skin sister! I'm half English, half Spanish, and makeup "pros" have always either jazzed me up in frosty pinks to try and counteract the sallow green thing I have going on, or pick up on the yellow and make me all gold and sick looking. When I tan I definitely look Spanish, but because I try to stay out of the sun (and because I live in the PNW) I definitely sport the pale olive confusion for most of the year. I'm rambling, but thank you for this post! Super helpful and I'm excited to venture into the colors you mentioned to see how they look :)

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  41. I am so excited to read someone else reporting the yellow-fluorescence thing!! I have this mustard sweater I love...I bought it after six months in Scotland when I was very pale and it looked fine, but a year or so after coming back to Canada and the stronger Canadian sun I put it on and I looked SO ILL. My mother was shocked, she thought I was super sick. I always struggled with undertone so I figured I was a weird neutral, but it's nice to know I'm actually a "real" undertone! I can wear most higher-end yellow-neutral foundations, so I don't think I'm as olive as other people here - or maybe being I'm much lighter than people on this thread that I don't have the same issue. My perfect foundation match is Urban Decay Naked Skin in 2.0 - I was wearing 1.0 for a while and oh man, not the right undertone at all. My father's family is Estonian and my mother's is British, so I got the lightness of my mother's family with the tones (and skin type) of my father's. Dark hair, pale blue eyes, pale olive skin that's very oily and somewhat acne-prone. I don't really tan, I burn and blister but if I am out a little every day and remember SPF I can pick up a little colour. And I've got the facial shading, the dark pigment around the eyes and mouth. That's always fun trying to cover up lol.

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  42. So I may have just realised I have an olive undertone, after I've been classifying myself as warm... I realised this when I wore red-orange lipstick that didn't really look good on me, blues look awful, I look better in gold than silver, dusty roses look best on me, and rose-mauve lipsticks tend to be the perfect my-lips-but-better lipstick colours. I look great in warm dark red lipsticks (such as Colourpop's Avenue)and blue-red lipsticks (such as NYX liquid suede in kitten heels) also look good, but the best red shade so far has been Milani Matte Confident... it's not too cool, or too warm, it just balances out to create this beautiful flattering red shade.
    A list of drugstore products that may look good on someone who feels like they are pale yellow-olive undertones:
    Milani Luminoso blush (peach-gold)
    Milani Matte Confident (neutral red lipstick)
    Milani Beloved lip creme (brown-rose)
    Essence peach me up matt touch blush (rosy peach - pinkier than Luminoso)
    Max Factor Burnt Caramel (medium warm rosy brown)
    Maybelline Fit Me Matte and Poreless Foundation in 115 is a perfect colour match for me

    Goodluck! :)

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  43. That's exactly me ! My father is native american with very dark reddish skin and black eyes/hair and my mother is the typical white,blue eyed blonde irish and i have dark brown hair with light brown eyes and very light olive skin that burn easily but tans after with a reddish hint ! I found that foundation with NEUTRAL tone work good since they are not too pink or too yellow and blush/lipstick that says BERRY or PLUM give me a glow ! Depending on the season,if i'm tan or not. I have to neutralize the yellow or the red in my skin and these colors work perfect for me !

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  44. Everything you describe is exactly me. Thanks for all the great info and laughs. I wish I could wear MUFE in 117. It's the right depth of color in terms of my paleness, but alas much, much too pink.

    I have a very strong lime undertone but also some cool yellow. No pink whatsoever. I seriously look for foundations on a daily basis �� The closest I have come is Mac face and body in C1 but it is still so peachy and pink on me.

    Do you have any suggestions?

    I'm Greek btw. My family all have a nice golden undertone or at least the olive ones are darker so can find foundation more easily. It's the combo of green and pale which is so hard to accommodate, I guess...,

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  45. Some lippie suggestions:
    - Tarte LipSurgence in Envy (plummy darker nude)
    - Revlon Matte Balm in Sultry (almost exactly like Envy, but a smidge warmer and darker)
    - Nyx soft matte lip cream in Cannes (coral-mauve nude)
    - Nyx soft matte lip cream in Rome (greige-y red nude)
    - Clinique chubby stick balm in Chunky Cherry (sheer red balm with lots of color)
    - Covergirl Outlast Lip Stain in Mauve (sheer warm/earthy pink, I use it under different colors a lot)

    Still looking for foundation though, sadly the MUFE 117 did not work at all for me. It had a pretty strong golden/yellow cast, so I'm probably a bit more toward the cool/pinky side. Right now I'm using Maybelline Dream Fresh BB in Light/Medium, which has been sheer but decent, with a little powder to take off the sunscreeny shine.

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  46. I don't agree with you that this is a particular issue for pale skin - I'm medium/golden, part black and part white, and am just now realizing I have olive skin, i just have the inverse problem from you. People assume that if you are black, you must have WARM skin, and everyone leaves it at that. (plus stereotyping black people as liking BOLD colors because none of us can possibly be shy, of course.) Like I've always tried to find the right red lipstick for me but there's a lot of advice that says "you have to get this orange-red!" And then you can't figure out why the orange-red makes you look sallow and assume you are just ugly lol.

    I love rose and mauve colors though and I love that mauve-brown colors are so trendy right now because they are my favorite color family for makeup. Thanks for writing this informative article about olive undertones <3

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  47. Another pale olive here who has been stuck in makeup purgatory for years. But I've started splurging on higher end products and had some luck, so hang on to your wallets for these following suggestions: NARS sheer glow in Gobi brightens my complexion in winter, and Ceylan works in the summer. CoverFX in G20 and Tarte Maracuja concealer in Light Sand also work if applied with a light hand and blended well. Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche in Pepper, Marc Jacobs in Slow Burn and Infamous, and NARS Audacious in Vanessa are decent medium lip colors on me. Bobbi Brown Rose Petal and Bare Pink are good nude lips, and the only red I feel comfortable in is Aveda's Cerise, which is a plummy brown red. As for blush, Bobbi Brown's Desert Pink and Nectar both give me a natural flush if I use a light hand. RMS's Living Luminizer or Marc Jacob's Beauty Glow Stick work as highlighters. I haven't found any colors that work as a contour. Just, yuck. Like others here, deep neutral browns, greens, purples, and teals work for eyeliner, as does navy. A dark sparkly grey can also work as a contrast against my amber brown eyes, but nudes are obviously more popular right now. I avoid, at all costs, bronzers, black, primary colors, pastels, brights, and oranges. Roses, mauves, and dusty pinks are the most flattering. Also, I'm just warning my fellow pale olives here, I'm past 30 and starting to struggle with sun spots. We might burn into a tan, but over the years that will turn into hyper-pigmentation if we don't watch it. Wear sunscreen and reapply in the Afternoons. It's worth the hassle.

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  48. I think this post just change my entire life. I'm Hungarian! Cannot wait to go make up shopping. THANK YOU !!!

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  49. I was recommended Revlon colourstay foundation in Buff. Unfortunately, it's too pale for me but can see how it could be a good match for lighter olives. Anyone know of a foundation similar to this in hue but ever so slightlty darker?
    I think olive is a gorgeous skin tone, shame it's so damned impossible to find the right make up. THANK YOU FOR THIS POST THOUGH

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    1. THANK YOU for this! I bought some Revlon Colourstay Foundation in Buff after you made this comment and it's a GREAT match for me right now in the winter months. I am completely amazed. Fantastic!

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    2. Yey! I'm so happy it works for you. I'm currently mixing it to get it a tad darker as it gives really great coverage and truly does stay. I'm actually very impressed by it, I was looking at super expensive (to me anyway) foundations in my light olive quest and yet even though this is considerably cheaper it's great quality - win win! I'm thinking of getting one of their darker shades to mix it with.
      Glad you like it in the winter, I'll keep you updated with my finds as they may be useful for you in the summer :)

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  50. This sounds like the story of my life, but I refused to accept my pale green skin years ago and haven't looked back haha.

    As a lifelong super pale olive, I grew up being called horrible names for my skin tone - which usually looks either pale yellow or grey...if I show up without makeup on, everyone thinks I'm sick (awesome!)

    I have ambiguously 'exotic' facial features, almost black hair, jet black eyebrows and honey brown eyes. Basically, my natural skin tone doesn't match the rest of the package. (Irish, Scottish, English and PALE Spanish ancestry + a touch of Central American = super ambiguous appearance)

    So I found personally, that it just didn't work for me at all, trying to go with my natural skin tone, and really didn't allow for a lot of experimentation with makeup.

    Sooooo my recommendation to those of you who are frustrated with your skin tone is to ignore it altogether! (ok, well, you'll still be working with it a little).

    If I want to go with 'naked' skin, I wear a TON of bronzing powder (Bronze from MAC is great for our skin tone). We can totally get away with it because our skin is insanely pale and also has the green tinge, you will NOT look orange or dark, just healthy. I use it all over my entire face, ears, neck, and any bit of chest that is showing. For special events in the winter, I also put bronzer on my hands, shoulders, etc, but they hold onto my summer tan for a long time.

    MAC Face & Body Foundation in C2 is my holy grail, along with MAC Studio Finish concealer in NC30. Again, go with some bronzer, as the foundation will make your skin a little more yellow than green already.

    NARS Orgasm is great, as well as some of the peachy colors from their face sets.

    For undereye coverup, YSL's Touche Éclat comes in really pale colors that match my skin tone perfectly, but I might actually prefer the dupe, Maybelline's Dream Lumi Touch, which even comes in shades too light for me - Ivory and Nude are both definitely not pink.

    Laura Mercier's Tinted Moisturizer is awesome for closet pale olives, as it isn't heavy coverage, but brings the slightest bit of orange, cutting down on the need for bronzer. (and it's spf 20!)

    Then you can mostly go with whatever makeup you can wear with warmer skin tones, you can totally pull off more than you think! I still look like a ghost next to pretty much any blonde person, but look way more healthy than when I try to embrace the pale.

    Also you can totally wear clothes in most colors if you go this route! I can't go shopping without makeup on because there's no way I'll get a real idea of whether or not. Things that look terrible without makeup are like MY color once I have my makeup done.

    Also can I ask you ladies, IS IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR YOU TO FIND NUDE HEELS?

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    1. Oh dear, that was really long! Sorry!!

      If it's too long to read, my burning question is: IS IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR YOU TO FIND NUDE HEELS?

      This has to be a problem for other pale olives!

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    2. YES. Nude heels are impossible!!!!' I thought it was just me!

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  51. I know this post is a few years old, but I have to comment because HAVE FOUND MY PEOPLE.

    In the spirit of Sharing is Caring, I'll add a tip for my fellow pale olive ladies with ~~sensitive~~ skin!

    I wear "physical" (zinc) sunscreen on my face because the chemical stuff gives my delicate epidermis the vapours. (I live on a subtropical coast, so SPF is not negotiable.) Unfortunately, this stuff leaves a somewhat noticeable white cast, even on my pale AF skin, because of the whole olive undertone thing.

    The fix? A dusting of neutral-warm bronzing powder. Not that orange stuff, and definitely not the cool-toned stuff either. We're not talking contouring here, just enough color to bring your face back from the dead.

    My favorite right now is NARS Laguna, which is basically the bronzer version of NARS Orgasm (looks good on a comparatively wide range of skin shades).

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  52. I am glad that there is more people like me :D Thank you for your post. It was very informative for me as I am not a much fancy girl. I just wanted to look alive ! OMG thanks :D

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  53. Bless you for this article! I just entered my 30s and apart from a high school experimentation with eyeshadow I have never worn makeup. I am half Italian and half English and I am green! When I was younger I would just try to get a little sun to keep a slight tan. As I have gotten older I feel so green grey and blotchy in the winter I know I need makeup but it looks so bad when I try to do it. This article made the struggle make sense. You have saved me from embarrassment and frustration for sure.

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  54. Oh I enjoyed being able to relate to someone with my exact same issues. I laughed out loud over your neon and bright color makeup comments. The money I've wasted because I have color envy and am tired of purple eyeshadow. Thanks for sharing your struggles. It helped me feel like I wasn't the only one out there asking themselves what is wrong with my makeup and color choices.

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  55. I just found this post and wanted to say I relate to this so much! I can even relate to being approached in Slavic languages and being told I have "Slavic features" (but not sure if I've got family from the region or not, my last name is Irish). I read my mother's book when I was a kid, "Color Me Beautiful", and have always been confused about whether I'm a winter or an autumn because I never felt like I completely fit either category. I've got brown hair, brown eyes, and fairly light skin, but I've never felt too pale because I had more color and could tan better than my blonde haired, blue eyed friends. Also, I could never find the right foundation and concealer colors, they either look too pink or too orange on me. I've been living in Asia for 10 years and only used BB and spot corrector because I couldn't find the right shade of foundation that was light enough, but not pink or orange. My veins are greenish blue, and I look ok in both yellow gold and silver. Neither really do it for me, but I discovered rose gold looks pretty good on my skin. I've always kind of thought maybe I've got olive skin, but I thought only Asians and more tanned complexions were olive. Recently, being 30 and tired of my makeup looking funky, I finally googled, "Can pale women have olive skin tones?" It all started to make sense! I was finally able to figure out what kind of foundation I need, and confirm what I had always suspected about my coloring. I wish I had googled and found this and other blog posts like this sooner!

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    1. Oh my gosh, my mother had that "Color Me Beautiful" book too! When I was really little my mother would say maybe I was a Summer...or maybe a Winter...but sort of Spring...but no, many orange shades look good on you so I don't know...

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  56. Great article. I am half Italian and half British -- very pale olive skin, hazel-blue eyes, auburn hair, and black eyebrows! Most foundations are too dark for me and the ones that are light enough usually have the wrong undertones. I was closest to MAC NC10-15 years ago. Being "color typed" with the Color Me Beautiful system multiple times with multiple results (I have been typed as every season!), has resultd in me wearing basically dark blue, charcoal grey, black, and soft white with the occasional purple (makes my eyes "pop" into a bright green) and aqua (makes my eyes look aqua). Everything with warm undertones makes me look like I have liver failure, and everything with cool undertones makes me look wrong. I have never been able to find a red, brown or yellow that works for me and, other than the occasional bluish-green, I can't wear any types of green or "earth tones". I sometimes wonder if my coloring is just some type of cruel joke...

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  57. Thank you for posting this. I finally figured out last year that I am fair olive. You've got some great suggestions here - appreciate it! Alima Pure actually makes fair olive powder foundations (I like Olive 0 and Olive 1) that have been a life saver. They also offer small sample sizes so you can try a range of colors without spending a fortune. For liquid or stick, I agree the Make-Up Forever, HD 117 is a good choice.

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  58. loving your post! I can totally relate to all you said for being an olive girl, though I'm full Chinese. pretty sure I'm a light warm olive to be exact. I match nicely to MUFE HD Liquid Foundation in Y225(117) and also EX1 Invisiwear Liquid Foundation 2.0
    As for powder foundation I've only found MAC studio fix powder plus foundation in C3 so far (have never tried their liquid yet).
    My journey to find more foundation match will never end, but for now I'm gonna hunt down the perfect nude lip colour, which seems impossible.

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    1. If you find a perfect nude, please post about it! I'm pale olive (cover FX G20) and currently mixing Tulbury's Nude Kate and Pillow Talk. I would love to find a one swipe nude.

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  59. i know this is an old post of yours, but i stumbled upon it just now because i've been struggling (and seriously obsessing) over new makeup lately and reading this was eye-opening. i suspected i had an olive undertone but went along with whatever artists at Mac and Sephora told me about being warm/tan/yellow because i'm not great with makeup so thought "what do i know?". and then i saw your photo in this post for the swatch for Stila Convertible Color in Peony and noticed your veins look exactly like mine. i know it's still going to be a struggle (thanks for the recs here btw) but it's so damn good to know i'm not crazy or a complete idiot when it comes to makeup!

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  60. Fairly light Asians can have olive skin, too. This great blog post describes it thoroughly: http://musicalhouses.blogspot.com/2010/01/undertones-for-asians-how-to-tell-if.html

    I've always had the hardest time getting makeup to work on me. I thought it was because I'm Asian born in the US. It's probably mostly that, but it's also because I have an olive undertone. My skin tone is light-medium, I'm freckled, and I've been described as peachy. I do have a slight olive or grayish/ashy cast to my skin if you look closely. My veins are blue-green and cranberry-purple.

    Though I've tried so hard with makeup for years, it often makes me look worse, not better. I've never found a foundation match; that's why I usually don't wear foundation. I haven't had extensive experience with Asian brands, but I haven't found one that matched me, either. Only Korea and Japan makes makeup sold to the US, and I do believe they have a slightly different skin tone than Chinese/Taiwanese people like me. I do believe we are more likely to be olive-skinned than Korean or Japanese people.

    Makeup artists sometimes choose foundations that are too dark and yellow for me. They think that since I'm Asian, I have medium-toned, yellow skin. I have to tell them I'm actually neutral and more fair, and then they swatch it on me and agree. Stereotypes!

    When I see articles about pale white people with olive skin, some of their makeup suggestions work for me, and others don't. Dolce Vita lipstick is a holy grail for me. Red has always been ugly as hell on me. I remember when my mom put her bright red lipstick on me when I was about 5 years old and performing in a school dance. It was so ugly on me, while red has always looked great on her. Someone said "Asians can really rock red lipstick," but I've never been able to rock it at all. Coral is a fabulous color on me, but it has to be a pinkish coral, and not a straight-on orange. Rose colors are great - nudes have to be rosey, not a beige color. I can also wear bright pink/fuschia/magenta lipsticks, though I haven't seen that mentioned in white olive posts. Also, it's so hard to get a lipcolor that works, so I really love those lipsticks and blushes that automatically change to the best color for whoever's wearing it. They fell out of fashion a few years ago, but they're still around. Physician's Formula's pH Matchmaker pH Powered lip glosses in Natural and Pink are holy grail for me. I believe they're still being sold.

    Blushes suggested for olive skin, like NARS Madly and Deep Throat, are great on me. I see articles saying that neutral shadows are best for olive skin, but they don't tend to work too well on my Asian skin. Shimmery, brighter colors, like blue-greens, silvers, golds, pinks, and shimmery bronze/browns work best on Asian skin. That's why Korean eye makeup has lots of those colors.

    White olives supposedly don't look good in pastels, but they're okay on me as an Asian olive.

    There should be more blog and forum posts about makeup, clothing, and jewelry colors for East Asian olives.

    Gold jewelry doesn't look good on my skin. If I wear gold jewelry, it would have to lie on top of clothes, like a necklace. Silver looks much better on me and other Asians; it shows up better. Rose gold doesn't look good on my skin; it blends in too much. I have some surface yellowness and a neutral olive undertone.

    I never understood the part about tanning and burning. Sure, I do burn, but it will take a lot longer than a redhead. I only burn if I'm out in the sun for hours. I'm not sure if I tan or anything. Tanning and being dark has never been part of my life. I don't think the burn/tan thing applies to Asians as much.

    A lot of things in life really don't apply to me as an Asian in America, and it's not just makeup. As someone said, "Being Asian American is a creative act."

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  61. Wow. Just wow. I'm so happy to have found this, like all the other ladies. I am Portuguese with that pale/medium green/yellow skin, as sallow as the day is long. Foundation has been a struggle all my life as warm shades run orange, neutral run pink or ashy and yellow shades run alien somehow. I have been using Estee Lauder Double Wear Light in intensity 3 for years but I know this runs on the orange side although it sheers out and I can get away with it. I recently tried Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation in shade 6 and it was like, wow, this is closer to my skin but still not perfect. It definitely picks on on those witchy undertones but it's so neutral it manages to look ok in some lights and positively grey in others. I am tempted to add a touch of peachy coloured foundation to it to warm it up a notch. What do you guys do when your green foundations are just to witchy for comfort but still the closest match to your skin? I don't want to go back to orange land but I also don't want to feel like I'm having liver problems :)

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