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Does Makeup Look Ashy on Your Olive Skin? Here’s How to Fix It

From the colors that complement your skin to the application tips only the experts know, we’ve got it all covered.

Photo: Mireya De Sagarra

Makeup is hardly a one-size-fits-all—in fact, most products that come with a tag that says “for all skin tones” hardly ever do the job. The global beauty industry has been fairly white-washed for a while now, with brands creating makeup that prioritizes the light to medium category of skin colors. Fortunately, that’s changing now, thanks to brands like Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty that tackled the issue head-on with their expansive line of foundation shades. When it comes to olive skin tones, we’re looking at the second half of the scale, from medium to dark skin. A majority of Middle Eastern women are of olive skin, which has inherently warm undertones which comes with its own set of color codes that one can work with it and those that don’t.

We roped in three celebrity makeup artists who often work with women that fit into these skin tones—beauty mogul Huda Kattan, Namrata Soni aka Bollywood celebrity Sonam Kapoor Ahuja’s go-to makeup maven and Pati Dubroff, the woman behind most of Priyanka Chopra Jonas’ beauty looks when she’s in the US—and uncovered their best kept secrets for makeup for olive skin. Bookmark this for the next time you’re getting your glow on.

Never, ever skip color correctors
Using a concealer to mask blemishes and dark circles without a corrector underneath is a crime you don’t want to commit. “Always use a corrector for olive skin tones, as often we can end up looking grey [or ashy] if the color [of your concealer] is not correct for your skin tones,” says Namrata Soni. Remember to pick correctors based on the depth of your skin tone as well. The deeper your skin color, the warmer your color corrector needs to be.

Work with two foundation shades, as opposed to one
“Whenever possible use two shades of foundation [together]—one will match your neck and the other your cheek,” suggests Pati Dubroff. “This will ensure your face doesn’t look ‘flat’ and helps brighten and give dimension. This can also be a great way to find balance with cooler (pinker) undertones and warmer ones.” When shopping for foundation, make sure you go to the store with a bare face, swatch a couple of hues along your jawline, let them settle on your face for five minutes and have a look at them in natural light to ensure you pick the shade that is just right for you.

Don’t overdo your eyebrows
“Don’t make your eyebrows too dark as they will take over your face [and only draw focus on the arches],” says Soni. “Instead use [softer] colors like espresso and caramel brown to fill in your brows.” Dubroff suggests using “a brow tone that matches your highlights [if you have colored hair] and not the darkest base of hair or brow color so that the brows don’t look too severe.”

For your eye makeup, learn how to work with brown and nude hues
“Earthy, neutral shades tend to complement olive skin tones really well,” says Kattan, whose beauty label Huda Beauty was born in the Middle East and is now loved worldwide. “Because people of Middle Eastern descent tend to have dark eyes, reddish browns, coppers and burnt oranges work really well.” She suggests investing in the Huda Beauty Desert Dusk Eyeshadow Palette for its perfect combination of reds, browns and orange and shares a breakdown of one of her favorite eye makeup looks. “It uses vibrant siennas and scarlets to create a really powerful statement eye! Prep the whole lid up to the brow with Desert Sand, then mix Blazing and Amber for the crease and smoke out into a wing shape. Intensify the lid with a layer of shimmering Saffron and pack along the lower lash line. Dab a thin eyeliner brush into Oud and apply it as an eyeliner along your upper lash line, finishing with a subtle wing.”

Dubroff agrees with Kattan’s color palette of eyeshadows for olive skin tones. “My favorite eyeshadow colors for olive skin tones are burnt reds, warm caramels, and pops of bright jewel-toned eye [colors]. I tend to stay away from greys and cool tones. If you want to wear a grey or cooler tone eye, it’s great to use a cream shadow that is warm-toned as a base to help harmonize the look.”

Ditch your black kohl and try blue instead
“Indigo blue kajal makes the brown in your eyes look lighter and it’s still dark enough to add definition,” believes Soni. However, if you do want to stick to the traditional black kohl, that works too. “Arabic women love drama on the eyes!” exclaims Kattan. “I love taking the liner all the way into the corner of the eye and applying black liner to the waterline for an Arabic-inspired look—it really makes the eyes pop!”

Make a lash curler and mascara your go-to products
“Learn to curl your eyelashes and use a nice, dark black mascara to coat them. It will help to open up your eyes and make them pop,” says Soni. Prefer wearing falsies instead? We hear you. “Of course, Middle Eastern women love false lashes, so I always finish the look with a set of really dramatic lashes to bring the look to life,” shares Kattan.

Can’t seem to pull off pink? Try a coral blush instead
Pantone’s Colour Of The Year is also the color that looks the best on your skin tone. According to Soni, “a coral pink blush does wonders for the complexion and instantly gives a fresh-faced look.” Find a muted coral if you like playing it safe or a bright one if that’s more your vibe—you won’t go wrong either way. In fact, corals are one of the few color families that actually work as a blush for all skin tones.

Go bold with your lipstick
When it comes to warm skin tones like olive, the bolder and darker you go with your lip colors, the better. Stay away from ashy pinks, beiges and greys, they’ll only make you look washed out. “The one look I avoid is going lighter than the natural lip tone,” says Dubroff. “This can make lips look kind of dead or sick.” Kattan is a fan of the bright hues too. “What I love about Middle Eastern women is that they tend to have strong features which they play up rather than mute—so instead of a nude lip you’ll see them with gorgeous red or purple-toned lips.” What’s the best way to make sure your matte lipstick stays on long without drying your pout? “A good matte lipstick won’t leave your lips dry but if you do find they get dry, pop some honey on your lips for 15-20 minutes—it’s super soothing and nourishing and will help your lipstick stay on longer.”

Read Next: Meet The Arab Beauty Masters That Are Making Waves In The Middle East

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