How to Tell If You Have Olive Undertones


Do you struggle with finding the right foundation? Have you never been able to figure out your undertones? Do those normal warm-cool skin tests leave you scratching your head? If so, you might have olive undertones.

What are olive undertones?

If you have olive undertones, your skin may not be distinctly warm or cool. Olive undertones are green or grey, but they can lean warm, cool or neutral. There’s a misconception in the beauty world that olive skin is always tan or caramel (think Eva Mendes or Jennifer Lopez), but that’s not exactly true—you can have olive undertones with any depth of skin tone, from very pale to very deep.

How to tell if you have olive skin

There aren’t any hard-and-fast rules for determining if your skin is olive. However, you may have olive undertones if you answer ‘yes’ to some of the following statements:

  • You notice a green or grey tinge to your skin.

  • Foundations often look too yellow, pink, or orange on your skin, even if it’s the right depth.

  • Your veins aren’t distinctly green or blue.

  • You look good in jewel and muted tones but not pastels.

  • Light and white-based shades of lipstick tend to look “off” on you.

  • You look good in both gold and silver jewelry.

  • Many red lipsticks pull pink or magenta on you.

  • The wrong colors make you look ashy, pasty or sickly.

How to find an olive foundation

For those with olive undertones, finding the right foundation can be tricky. That’s because most foundation shades are formulated with cool, warm and neutral undertones in mind. Many foundations that do have olive undertones aren’t described like that by the companies who make them, so they can be hard to identify.

When looking for an olive-toned foundation, it’s helpful to compare against other shades. Olive shades tend to appear more greenish or greyish in comparison to another shade with the same depth. They also look more muted, while non-olive foundations tend to look more saturated with color.

Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Aqua Foundation in 113 (left) vs. 213 (right). 113 appears much more peachy while 213 has a muted, greenish cast.

To help you with your search for an olive-toned foundation, here are a few olive-friendly foundation shades to try. If you look carefully, you can probably see the green and grey tones in certain lighting.

Need help finding a foundation match? No matter your undertones, our beauty advisors can help. Contact our customer service team and we’ll help you find the right foundation shade for you.