There is nothing worse than having a foundation that doesn’t match properly. We’ve all been there, whether it was from a lack of options or a bad color match at Sephora. Over the last few years, many makeup brands have made a concerted effort to be more inclusive and cater to a larger variety of skin tones and undertones; while some have included foundations for olive skin, it hasn’t been a priority. It has been amazing to see so many options out there for makeup brands that previously only catered to a select few.
Unfortunately, olive skin tones are still largely underrepresented in the makeup industry. As an olive-skinned girl I have found the entire thing confusing for as long as I can remember. I didn’t realize I had an olive complexion until someone mentioned it while matching my foundation at a Sephora. Imagine my horror as it clicked, that I had been improperly color-matching my foundation for years!
I thought things would get easier knowing I had olive skin, but things only got more complex. Before, I was blissfully unaware, and now I am just unable to find options. As I learned more about the complexity of olive skin, I’ve found very few resources, but most notably I’ve found matching olive skin tones for foundation and concealer has been incredibly challenging because most makeup brands don’t have options available.
The truth of the matter is that most foundations and concealers aren’t created with olive skin in mind. So, let’s discuss some of the complexities of the olive complexion and then some makeup brands that have created options for olive skin tones.
What is Olive Skin?
Olive skin has nothing to do with the color of skin or the race of the person and everything to do with the undertones in your skin. You can think of undertones as the color underneath the skin that affects the overall color.
You’ve most likely seen undertones typically described as cool, warm, or neutral. The undertones used to achieve olive skin color are complex. The undertones of olive skin are not surprisingly green. From color theory, we understand that green can be a mixture of blue and yellow. This means that regardless of the shade of your skin (fair, medium, deep, etc.), you may still have an olive complexion due to the undertones of your skin.
Your Undertones And Foundation Need To Be Complementary
Foundation is already complex enough, but adding in undertones means a basic understanding of color theory is necessary. It is so important to get both the foundation shade and undertone correct or your foundation will apply like paint and not blend into the skin. If you get the shade correct, but the undertone wrong, it will typically not look right.
It is also important to note that in addition to undertones, various skin conditions like rosacea can cause redness and texture that are not part of your undertone. This is an additional color that presents over your regular skin tone and undertone. If you experience additional redness or unwanted texture, try color-matching to one of these foundations for red skin or one of these foundations for textured skin.
It is pivotal to get the shade and undertone correct for a flawless and seamless base. The foundation shade is typically pretty easy to match and will vary depending on your tan. Undertones are more complex. For a basic summary of undertones:
- Cool undertones – Skin has a blue or pink tint to it.
- Warm undertones – Skin has a peach, golden, or yellow tint to it.
- Neutral undertones – Mixture of warm and cool undertones.
- Olive undertones – Skin has a green or even gray tint to it. Undertone can still lean cool, warm, or neutral.
How Do I Know If I Have An Olive Skin Tone?
You most likely have an olive complexion if any of the following are true:
- Your skin has a green or gray tint.
- You’ve struggled to find a good match for your foundation. Most shades either make you look like an Oompa Loompa (excessively orange) or like a skeleton (washed out). They may be too pink or too yellow as well.
- Your veins aren’t distinctly green or blue.
- Wearing certain colors may make you look ashy or washed out.
If you are still struggling to determine whether you have olive undertones, you can use the white shirt test to check for undertones:
The White Shirt Test
Wear a white shirt and observe yourself in a mirror with natural lighting. If your skin appears yellow or golden your undertone is likely warm. For skin that appears pink, it’s likely cool-toned. If your skin appears green, you’re likely olive toned. In that case that you can’t really determine, you may have a neutral tone.
7 Best Foundations For Olive Skin
#1 EX1 Invisiwear Liquid Foundation
This entire brand was created with olive skin tones in mind. How incredible! There isn’t a huge selection of shades, but there is enough diversity from fair shades to deeper shades and the medium shades in between.
Considering all of these shades are created with olive skin tones in mind, I would imagine there is something for everyone! This UK brand is also fairly affordable, which is always a plus in my book!
#2 Bobbi Brown Skin Long-Wear Weightless Foundation SPF 15
The variety of shades and undertones offered for this line is impressive. Some shades are described as olive, which makes it easy to narrow down possible options. The olive options are available for the medium to deep part of the shade spectrum, so this might not be the best option for those who fall into the fair parts of the spectrum.
I’m also a big fan of any product with SPF! Although, please ladies, apply your sunscreen separately. Do NOT just rely on the SPF in foundation only!
#3 Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Liquid Foundation
Another impressive line-up of shades for this collection. They have olive undertones in the description, again making it simple to narrow down options. I love that the olive options range from fair to deep skin! This was rare, as several other brands mentioned in this article catered specifically to the medium or deep part of the spectrum. A huge plus, Fenty Beauty is cruelty-free!
#4 Maybelline Fit Me Matte and Poreless Foundation
I love finding affordable options for my makeup, and this particular product is a great foundation for oily skin! Unfortunately, the biggest problem I have with drugstore makeup is the inability to swatch before purchasing. The shade descriptions are also pretty lackluster and undertone isn’t mentioned, which makes it hard to narrow down options.
Fortunately, this line offers several shades and is pretty diverse. This means there is a higher probability of finding your shade and getting an affordable foundation option from this line.
#5 NARS Natural Radiant Longwear Foundation
Another impressive collection of shades. The olive tones are described as olive, which again makes it easy to narrow down the possibilities. The olive options are available for the medium to deep part of the shade spectrum, so this might not be the best option for those who fall into the fair parts of the spectrum. This medium to full coverage foundation is supposed to be super long wearing.
#6 COVER FX Power Play Foundation
The foundation shades are labeled with a G, N, or P for golden, neutral, or pink undertones. They add a ‘+’ to the shade for olive shades. They have several shades in each range: light, tan, medium, and deep. Unfortunately, the shades with a “+” tend to be in the middle of the shade spectrum.
If you are in the fair or deep part of the shade spectrum, you may have better luck with another foundation line. The variety of colors within the medium part of the spectrum and the descriptions of each shade should hopefully give you a good shot at finding your perfect shade!
#7 Bourjois Healthy Mix Foundation
Another affordable foundation option. Unfortunately, you will not be able to swatch before purchasing and there really isn’t a huge selection of colors available for this collection. There also aren’t many descriptions or hints of the shades or undertones, but some olive-skinned people said they had luck with some of the shades.
It might be worth the trial and error if you can find a good affordable drugstore foundation.
What Makes Foundation For Olive Skin Different?
Most foundations cater to warm, cool, or neutral undertones. Unfortunately, we olive-toned people are often let out. The best foundation for olive skin is one that matches the foundation color and undertones for a seamless application. Picking the perfect foundation shade can and will make all the difference in your makeup game. There are specific foundations best for fair skin just as there are for dark skin.
Other face makeup for olive skin requires the same amount of focus on over and undertones! There are specific foundations that look best on olive skin, and it’s the same with concealer, bronzer, and even blush. Where people who don’t have olive skin might look best in a true pink or red blush, olive skin can look its best with a nonconventional color like an orange blush! It’s all about trial and error and really learning what colors allow your skin to pop.
3 Steps For Picking The Best Foundation for Your Olive Skin
1. Swatch the foundation before purchasing.
This is so important. If you have the ability to swatch before purchase, you must take it. No online ordering for trying new foundation shades, please! Make sure you swatch not only on your cheek but on your neck and forehead as well.
2. Check swatches in different lighting.
Different lighting can change everything. If I had a dollar for every time I tried a foundation on in a store and thought it was a perfect match and then wore that foundation in natural lighting to be horrified, I would have several dollars.
3. You can mix foundations or pigment together.
If you have foundations that are pulling too yellow or ashy, you can mix foundations or pigments together to create the perfect color. This requires more work but could allow you to find the perfect shade and not have to waste product you’ve already purchased.
Final Verdict On Foundations for Olive Skin Tones
Olive skin tone is so beautiful, but still so misunderstood in the beauty world. The perfect shade of foundation that will create a flawless base is out there! It might take more time and effort to understand your undertone and shade and then find a foundation that matches, but it will be well worth the effort. Please avoid the mismatched foundation at all costs!
Engineer by day, beauty enthusiast by night. Michelle believes that beauty should be accessible to everyone and doesn’t need to break the bank. Michelle has one beautiful fur child named Bella. She also loves beach volleyball, Latin dancing, and traveling to new places.