A Guide to Olive Skin Tone and the Ethnicities That Have it

Ever come across a product that says, “best for olive skin tone” and wonder exactly what that means?

Maybe you’re wondering YOU have it and don’t even know it?

Well, keep reading and we’ll answer your questions!

Below, we’ll learn exactly what “olive” means and which ethnicities it’s most common in.

Check: Skin Tone Chart

What to Know About Olive Skin Tone

Knowing our skin type is vital to helping us make the best beauty purchases.

This is especially true if you’re shopping for foundation or concealer, but it also matters when choosing everything from eye shadow to blush.

Our skin’s complexion mainly depends on the undertones.

This means for one to have an olive skin tone, there is a blend of neutral undertones with a green-tinted skin pigment that gives that olive tint to your skin.

Like all skin colors, however, even olive skin can be broken down into sub-tones.

So, let’s take a look at the different types of olive skin tone to know which category you fall in.

Look at this olive skin tone celebrities are pulling off!

How to Determine if you have an Olive Skin Tone?

It is easy for you to confuse between the golden tanned skin and the olive-toned skin.

Most people think that they can achieve this coloring by laying out in the sun or using tanning products, but that’s not the case.

See, your melanin levels determine what tone your skin takes on. More melanin equals darker skin while less equals a paler shade.

You just don’t get an olive skin tone; you have to be born with it. The difference between sun-tanned skin and true olive skin lies in the subtle greenish or yellowish tint.

Note the word “subtle.” The greenish and yellow tints blend with rich golden or tan shades to create a stunning tone.

So, how can you determine if you have an olive skin tone?

Here’s a quick checklist for determining if you have olive skin. You may not notice all of them, however.

  • You have both warm and neutral undertones. This is unique to olive skin.
  • There is a faint green or yellow tinge to your skin.
  • Your veins don’t look blue or purple against your skin.
  • You tend to tan more than burn (but that’s not an excuse to ignore sunscreen).
  • You have a hard time finding the right foundation.
  • Lipsticks with coral tones look better than those with blue-red tints or super pale pinks.
  • Gold jewelry looks amazing on you!
  • You look good in just about every shade of clothing, from vibrant white to hot pink.


You may check out these different shades of brown skin to get help in identifying yours, as it is labeled there with images.

Find the perfect color match for your unique Asian skin tone by checking out our article on the best clothing colors for Asian skin tones!

How do I know I have an Olive Skin Tone By Using The Fitzpatrick Skin Type Scale?

Another way to determine your skin tone is to use the Fitzpatrick Scale, which classifies skin using a numerical catalog.

As a neutral share, the olive skin tone falls on the Fitzpatrick Scale in Type III, IV & V.

Use the Fitzpatrick Scale to Find the Right Foundation & Concealer

Have you ever tried to match foundation or concealer to your skin and noticed how tricky it could be? Below is a detailed description of each type of this skin tone

1. Type III Pigmentation

This skin type is characterized by pink to medium beige skin that tans easily.

People with type III pigmentation have a unique balance between the two different types of melanin, Eumelanin, and pheomelanin that determine the skin and hair color.  This balance results in a wide variety of potential skin tones.

Type III pigmentation is a skin type that is less likely to burn to sun exposure than types I and II. And even though this type of skin tone is moderately at the risk of developing sun exposure-related diseases, it is important to still protect yourself from the sun.

Type III skin tone is frequently found in Latin America, the Mediterranean, and parts of Asia.

Does red hair for olive skin suits? Read this article to find out

2. Type IV Pigmentation

Fitzpatrick skin type IV is for people with dark hair and a skin tone ranging from beige to moderate brown.

Colors for olive skin tone rarely burns and tans easily, thus making their risk of developing skin cancer less than skin type I to III. Skin IV olive tone is prone to an overactive production of melanin following certain skin rejuvenation procedures.

The skin tone is typical among people from the Mediterranean but is also frequent in Latin America and Asia.

3. Type V Pigmentation

People with type V pigmentation have skin tones that range from olive to tan. The skin does not burn easily and tans rather easily.

They are prone to developing skin cancer, but the risk is lower when compared to people with skin type 1 to 3. Skin type V has an olive or dark skin tone.

It is typical among people from the Indian subcontinent, parts of Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean.

Confused by all the Skin Color Names? Watch the video below!

Learn more about Olive Skin Tone Ethnicity

Which ethnicities have olive skin? Quite a few, actually. Let’s take a look at the most common.

The Mediterranean

Mediterranean map olive skin tones
greece map

Olive skin tones are most common in people in countries lining the Mediterranean sea. This includes parts of Southern Europe, Northern Africa and Eastern Asia.

Some examples:

  • Greece
  • Italy
  • Spain
  • Turkey
  • Egypt
  • Tunisia
  • Morocco
  • Algeria
  • Turkey
  • and even parts of France

Middle East

Along with Middle Eastern nations along the Mediterranean, olive skin is common in Syria, Yemen, Kuwait, and UAE.

Latin America

Latin American countries where you will find people with olive skin tone include Paraguay, Colombia, Argentina, Costa Rica, Honduras, and Mexico.

Indian Subcontinent

The Indian subcontinent consists of people from areas like Pakistan, India, Srilanka, Bangladesh, and Nepal.

The Indians and Pakistanis typically share the olive tones of Type III and IV of the Fitzpatrick scale, while the those in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka fall into Type V.

Recommended Skincare Tips for Olive Skin Tone

How should I take care of my skin if I have an olive complexion? If this is a question that is constantly running on your mind, then you are in the right place.

Below are some of the recommended tips to help you maintain the beauty of your skin.

FYI, this part of the post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we earn a small commission at no extra charge to you.

Face Cleansing

Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Facial Cleanser & Makeup Remover with Glycerin,

As olive skin leans more towards oily than dry, you’ll want a skincare routine that focuses on removing excess sebum (a fancy word for oil).

Using cleansers help remove excess oil from your skin without causing it to dry out.

Choose a good foaming cleanser for your nighttime routine, then a very mild cleanser in the morning as a bit of a refresher.

Avoid using medicated cleansers (such as those with salicylic acid) unless your dermatologist tells you to do so.

DO NOT be tempted to use anti-acne face cleansers on oily skin as a preemptive strike against pimples. They can actually cause breakouts rather than prevent them.

Some of the best face cleansers for olive skin tone include Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Cleanser, Dior Prestige Satin Revitalizing Eye Crème, and clay face masks.

Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Facial Cleanser & Makeup Remover with Glycerin, Oil-, Soap- & Alcohol-Free Daily Face Wash Removes Dirt, Oil & Waterproof Makeup, Non-Comedogenic, 9.6 fl. oz
  • Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Facial Cleanser, plus makeup remover, washes away dirt, oil and makeup in one easy step for refreshingly clean skin
  • All-in-one makeup remover and facial cleanser creates a foamy lather that cleanses without over-drying skin and helps remove even waterproof makeup
  • Safe for sensitive eyes, this gentle face wash won't irritate or sting the sensitive eye area and is non-comedogenic so it won't clog pores. Skin Care Concern: Sensitive Skin Enlarged Pores Oil & Shine Control
  • Facial foaming cleanser with glycerin is dermatologist-tested and features a formula that is hypoallergenic and oil-, soap- and alcohol-free
  • From a dermatologist-recommended skincare brand, this daily cleanser rinses completely clean with no pore-clogging residue left behind

Dealing with Dark Spots & Unwanted Hair

Daily Microfoliant

The trick to getting rid of dark spots is to gently exfoliate by sloughing away dead skin.

You can also use a mild depilatory cream to get rid of unwanted facial hair as well as correct the dark spots.

To exfoliate, you need to apply cream like 2 Minute Miracle’s Gentle Exfoliating Gel or Daily Microfoliant after your skin cleansing routine.

Be careful as some methods are not gentle and might end up bruising or causing acne on your olive skin.

Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant - Exfoliator Facial Scrub Powder - Achieve Brighter, Smoother Skin daily with Papaya Enzyme and Salicylic Acid
  • Achieve brighter, smoother skin every day with this iconic exfoliating powder that gently removes dulling surface debris and polishes skin to perfection.
  • Formulated with Papaya Enzyme, Salicylic Acid, and other powerful ingredients, this dermatologist-recommended face scrub provides a thorough exfoliation without irritating your skin.
  • Suitable for daily use, simply dispense into very wet hands and create a creamy paste by rubbing your hands together before massaging onto your face and rinsing thoroughly.
  • Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant balances uneven skin tones and calms your skin, leaving you with a healthy, radiant glow. The cleanser is lightweight and mild to use every day.
  • Let this luxurious exfoliating powder pamper your skin and add a refreshing boost to your daily skincare routine – perfect for use before makeup application.

Apply Moisturizer

Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer

To keep your olive skin glowing, you need to apply moisturizers that leave your olive skin feeling smooth and hydrated.

Apply a light, oil-free broad-spectrum moisturizer like Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer after washing in the morning to minimize skin dryness.

To know what colors look good on olive skin, check out this video!

Check: Best Makeup for Olive Skin Tone

What Are the Pros and Cons of Olive Skin Tone?

Just like the black, fair, or neutral skin tone have pros and cons, olive skin tone is no exception. It comes with specific advantages and disadvantages, like other skin colors.


#1 Less sensitive to the sun

One of the main advantages of olive skin tone is that it’s not sensitive to sun radiations as compared to type 1 and 2 skin types.

The reason is because of the production of melanin, a natural pigment that gives skin its color.

It also absorbs UV radiation better than fair skin, offering a bit more protection from the sun’s harmful rays.

That said, DO NOT skimp on the sunscreen! Every single skin tone and color needs sunscreen.

#2 It Not as Prone to Dryness

Olive skin tends to be oilier, and this protects the skin from harsh elements of the environment, like dryness and wrinkles.

The oiliness also helps the olive skin to appear thicker and smoother and gives a glowing and youthful appearance.

#3 Choice of jewelry and clothing

Another advantage is that you have the freedom to select any jewelry and dress color to wear, provided it suits your skin color complexion.


#1 Pores clog easily

Oily skin can be good and also bad because too much of it clogs up the pores, thus resulting in pimples and acne.

This particularly affects adolescents during their hormonal changes.

Check: Best Primer for Acne Prone Skin

#2 Damage from sun exposure

And even though melanin protects the olive skin from harmful sun rays, it doesn’t leave the skin immune from damage caused by prolonged sun exposure.

Irritation can cause discoloring.

Once the skin is affected even by the slightest irritation, the skin tends to produce more melanin, putting it at risk of discoloration or getting blemishes.

Due to the thicker dermis and subcutis of olive skin, these fat layers give the appearance of jowls among older people.

Now that you have understood the advantages and disadvantages of having an olive skin type, let’s discuss ways of taking good care of it.


If you have olive skin tone, you are lucky because your skin is not that sensitive to the sun and tans easily and nicely.

Even though your skin is less sensitive, you still need to apply sunscreen to avoid skin damage.

Understanding your skin undertone will help you select the right colors to wear and also help you select the right makeup.

Are you wondering about olive skin ethnicity? Well, we've got a guide to help you determine if you have olive skin and find out its pros and cons. Dive in!

Do you have any other questions about the olive skin tone? Share below!

About Edith Russo

Edith is a self-made entrepreneur with a keen business sense that others admire and a total “can-do” attitude. She’s always coming up with new ideas to anticipate her readers’ needs and help solve all their toughest beauty and skincare problems. READ HER LATEST ARTICLES. FOLLOW HER on Linkedin and Twitter. Learn more about her HERE.