“Olive skin ranges from lighter to darker, depending on your undertone,” says Sonia Merlo, makeup artist for Clarins, “Olive skin tone has neutral or yellow undertones with a greenish hue, hence the name ‘olive.’” Though genetically blessed with a year-round tan, finding a suitable foundation shade can pose as a challenge to many women.
Despite the efforts of many major brands to incorporate more shades into their cosmetic lines, most commercial products available on the market are still generally geared towards classic skin tones. “There are standard pigments that are typically on the orange and pink spectrum. There are yellow and gold tones available, but they’re quite difficult to create,” explains Farah Naz, a biochemist-turned-entrepreneur who launched EX1 Cosmetics a couple of years ago, specifically for olive skin-toned women.
To select a suitable foundation, one has to first determine their skin’s undertone. “The trick,” Merlo says, “is to stand in front of a mirror under natural lighting, and hold a white towel up to your freshly cleansed face. Your complexion will appear to have a yellow or green cast in contrast to the towel.” Another tip, “Look at the veins of your wrist. If they are blue, then you have a cool skin tone, but if your veins are green, then you have a warmer skin tone,” she explains.
You can also determine your undertone using jewelry. La Prairie’s Beauty Expert, Maya Stanley explains “If you’re a gold girl, you most likely on the warmer side. If silver enhances your complexion, then you have cool undertones, but, if both flatter you then you’re neutral.”
Once you have determined your undertone, you’re ready to choose a product. Merlo suggests, “Pick three formulas. One that you feel is closest to your skin tone, one that is a shade darker, and one that is a shade lighter. Swipe a helping of each on your jawline and allow a few seconds to dry.” The one that seamlessly melts into your skin is “the one.”
International makeup artist for M.A.C Cosmetics, Vimi Joshi adds, “Avoid testing out the product on your hands, as your face and your hands are two completely different colors.”
“Arab women are neither yellow nor pink, they have a beautiful golden undertone,” continues Joshi. This means that when choosing a foundation shade, one should lean towards formulas with a peach undertone. Ralph Lteif, International Makeup Artist for Dior, suggests taking heed of the color wheel: “By using the color wheel, we can come to the conclusion that olive skin is a cool tone, and in order to warm it up, one must choose a peach-based formula.” However, those with warm undertones should opt for yellow-based shades.
But the color isn’t the only thing to consider. “The warmer the tone, the more likely one is to have hyperpigmentation,” explains Naz. This means that it is important to choose a foundation formulated with carefully selected ingredients that won’t exacerbate the problem. In addition, olive complexions tend to be oilier, and thus, acne prone, so it is imperative to select an oil-free, non-comedogenic formula.
To help find the best foundation for olive skin tones, peruse the gallery ahead.
Model: Sheherzade, Bareface Agency
Makeup: Suaad, Bareface Agency
Photo: Djinane AlSuwayeh