Top Color Palettes for Olive Skin + Colors To Avoid

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Curious why certain colors make your olive skin glow while others seem to wash you out?

Some hues can truly enhance this skin color’s natural radiance, making you stand out in the most flattering way.

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Whether you’re choosing a lipstick shade, eyeshadow, or an outfit, selecting the right color palette for olive skin can elevate your look from mundane to extraordinary.

Excited to find out what colors suit olive skin the most? Let’s dive in!

Fast Facts

  • Olive skin can have warm, cool, or neutral undertones, influenced by the balance of yellow and blue pigments.
  • Neutral olive skin suits versatile colors like taupe, muted greens, soft peach, dusty lavender, warm gray, deep plum, and navy blue.
  • Cool olive skin pairs well with soft pastels, cool grays, cool rosy tones, and subdued purples, including soft lilac, slate gray, lavender gray, and periwinkle.
  • Warm olive skin complements warm earthy tones, vibrant hues, deep tones, metallic tones, and soft tones like terracotta, golden yellow, coral, deep burgundy, rich gold, and apricot.

What Is Olive Skin?

Olive skin color is characterized by a greenish undertone.

The balance between the amount of red or yellow pigments can tilt the skin’s overall undertone either toward warm (more yellow, less red), cool (less yellow, less red), or neutral (balanced between green and red). 

Thus, olive skin can have a warm, cool, or even neutral undertone, depending on the equilibrium of yellow and red pigments present in the skin.

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Why Is Olive Skin Greenish?

The concept of undertones plays a pivotal role in understanding and identifying olive skin. Undertones are the subtle colors beneath the skin’s surface that influence how colors appear on the outside.

The distinct undertone of the skin is a result of a unique distribution of pigments, namely melanin, carotene, and hemoglobin.

  • Melanin, the primary pigment, imparts shades of brown.
  • Carotene adds yellow-orange hues.
  • Hemoglobin contributes reddish tones. 

The proportion of these pigments creates the undertone, which remains consistent despite sun exposure or skin conditions. 

The reason olive skin looks green is because it has more yellow and less red. When brown pigment has less red, you’re left with a yellow-blue combination, and yellow plus blue is green.

The more red pigments show up in the skin, the farther the skin tone is from olive and the closer it is to brown skin with a neutral undertone.

YouTuber Style Me Jenn explains it wonderfully in this video:

Cool vs. Warm vs. Neutral Undertones in Olive Skin

Determining the undertone in olive skin can be done by observing the color of your veins, which gives an insight into the “beneath the surface” colors. 

Olive skin can have cool, warm, or neutral undertones.

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Cool Undertones in Olive Skin

Cool undertones in olive skin are characterized by a more pronounced bluish-green hue beneath the surface. This is due to a fainter concentration of yellow and red pigments in the skin.

For those with cool undertones in olive skin, the veins on the inside of the wrist may appear more blue or purple.

Warm Undertones in Olive Skin

Warm olive skin is marked by a more noticeable golden-green hue, due to a greater amount of yellow pigments and olive skin’s signature lack of red.

If you have warm undertones in your olive skin, your veins may appear greener. This is because the yellow pigments in your skin, when combined with the blue color of your veins, give your skin a greenish tint.

Neutral Undertones in Olive Skin

Neutral undertones in olive skin strike a balance between cool and warm undertones. The greenish hue is evenly canceled by the presence of a little more red than usual, resulting in what seems to be a gray cast.

It might be harder to determine the color of your veins if you have neutral olive skin since they could appear blue-green, brown, or colorless. This is because the balance between the green and the red in the skin doesn’t tilt noticeably toward either warm or cool.

Color Palette for Cool Olive Skin

Cool olive skin, which has blue or purple undertones, pairs well with a variety of color types and categories.

Tone CategorySuitable Shades and HuesWhy They Match Well
Soft pastel tonesSoft lilac, periwinkle, mint green, and baby blue.Have soft undertones, creating a harmonious and soft look that doesn’t compete with the skin’s natural color
Cool graysSlate gray, charcoal gray, silver, and steel grayHave blue undertones that align with the cool undertones in the skin
Cool rosy tonesRose pink, blush pink, and salmon pinkHave blue undertones in the rosy colors that complement the blue undertones in the skin
Cool and subdued purplesLavender gray, soft mauve, wisteria, and mauve taupeA combination of blue and red with a lower saturation that harmonize well with the cool undertones of olive skin

 Below are the colors that work most harmoniously with the cool undertones of olive skin!

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Soft Lilac

Soft lilac is a soft and cool-toned shade that combines shades of purple and pink. It goes well with olive skin with cool undertones without overpowering it with coolness and adds a delicate touch of femininity.

Slate Gray

Slate gray is a cool, muted gray with a blue undertone. It belongs to the color palette for olive skin with a cool undertone because it matches the coolness and adds a sophisticated and understated elegance to the skin.

Lavender Gray

Lavender gray is a cool purple with a soft gray undertone. It flatters cool olive skin and creates a muted and tranquil appearance.

Rose Pink

Rose pink blends white and red with a blue undertone. It creates a soft and rosy flush that enhances the olive skin’s natural beauty.

a realistic image of clothes hanged on a white rack with a rose pink colored blouse, periwinkle colored shirt, soft lilac colored sweater, and a charcoal gray top, natural lighting

Soft Mauve

This color is a subdued shade that blends the coolness of pale purple with a hint of warm pink, often accompanied by a subtle gray undertone.

This color creates a subtle yet pleasing contrast with cool olive skin as it adds a hint of warmth without overwhelming the skin tone, resulting in a soft and elegant appearance. 

Charcoal Gray

This hue is a deep and cool-toned gray with a blue undertone. This color choice adds depth and intensity to the skin, creating a sophisticated and striking appearance.

Periwinkle

Periwinkle, a lavender and light blue blend, complements the cool olive skin by enhancing its cool undertones and creating an elegant contrast. Its soft and playful tones make it a refreshing and youthful choice.

Color Palette for Warm Olive Skin

Curious what colors go with olive skin with warm undertones? Take a look at some color choices that make your warm olive skin stand out!

Here are the top color palettes for warm olive skin:

Tone CategorySuitable Shades and HuesWhy They Match Well
Warm earthy tonesTerracotta, warm mustard, brick red, chestnut brown, caramel, and rustHave strong brown and red undertones, which harmonize with warm olive skin
Warm vibrant tonesGolden yellow, coral, burnt orange, marigold, tangerine, and vibrant peachHave strong yellow and orange undertones, which resonate with the natural warmth of olive skin, creating a radiant and sun-kissed appearance
Warm deep tonesDeep burgundy, crimson, wine red, and mahoganyHave strong red undertones, which align closely with warm olive skin, enhancing its depth and richness
Warm metallic tonesRich gold, bronze, copper, and rose goldHave warm metallic undertones that reflect light, creating a luxurious, glowing appearance that complements the skin’s warmth
Warm soft tonesPeach, melon, and soft amberHave strong pink and orange undertones, which harmonize with warm olive skin, adding a soft and romantic touch to the complexion

A woman wearing a blue and green head scarf.

Terracotta

Terracotta is a warm, earthy color with reddish-orange hues and a subtle brown undertone.

It complements olive skin with warm undertones by enriching the skin’s undertones, creating a vibrant appearance.

Golden Yellow

This warm, vibrant hue has yellow and orange undertones.

It’s one of the best colors for warm olive skin as it creates a radiant, sun-kissed appearance that complements the skin’s warm glow.

Coral

This color is a mix of pink and orange with warm undertones. Coral adds a healthy and lively flush to the complexion, producing a fresh and vibrant look.

Warm Mustard

This warm and rich shade of yellow features a strong golden undertone, often described as a deep, earthy yellow color. 

It belongs to the color palette for olive skin with warm undertones, enhancing its prominent warmth for a lively and radiant appearance.

Brick Red

Brick red is a deep warm red with earthy undertones.

This hue belongs to the flattering color palette for olive skin with warm undertones and adds depth and intensity to the complexion, creating a striking and confident appearance. 

Deep Burgundy

This hue is a dark, reddish-purple shade with a strong undertone.

The harmonious relationship between deep burgundy and the skin’s undertones enhances the warmth of the complexion, making it appear more vibrant and radiant.

a pile of plain clothes on a wooden hanger on a clothing rack, deep burgundy colored shirt, coral colored top, burnt orange colored hoodie, apricot colored t-shirt, golden yellow colored cardigan, and terracotta colored dress, natural lighting

Burnt Orange

Burnt orange is a warm shade with a brown undertone. This color provides a bold, energetic look that adds warmth and depth to the complexion.

Rich Gold

Rich gold tones encompass deep yellows and warm metallic hues. They enhance the warm undertones of olive skin by adding luminosity and radiance.

Gold tones create a luxurious, glowing appearance that complements the skin’s warmth. 

Warm Coral Pink

This shade combines warm pink with a touch of coral.

It belongs to the color palette for olive skin with warm undertones and adds a soft and romantic touch to the complexion, creating a gentle and flattering effect.

Apricot

Apricot, another mix of orange and pink, is a warm color with a yellow undertone.

The color adds a fresh and youthful glow to warm olive skin, resulting in a lively and cheerful look.

Color Palette for Neutral Olive Skin

As previously discussed, olive skin with neutral undertones has a unique balance of warm (red) and cool (green) tones.

Therefore, olive skin with neutral undertones complements a wide range of colors.

The color palette for neutral olive skin encompasses a variety of tones that highlight the skin’s balanced undertones:

Tone CategorySuitable Shades and HuesWhy They Match Well
Warm earthy tonesTaupe, muted green/sage green, beige, khaki, and warm brownsHarmonize well with the greenish tones of neutral olive skin, highlighting its natural warmth
Warm and vibrant huesSoft peach, deep plum, coral, terracotta, and goldAdd a vibrant touch that complements the skin’s subtle warm undertones
Neutral-cool tonesDusty lavender, warm gray, cool beige, soft blue, and mauveAlign with the cool undertones subtly present in neutral olive skin
Bold and rich tonesNavy blue, deep teal, burgundy, forest green, and deep sapphireAllow the inherent balance of warm and cool undertones in neutral olive skin to stand out
Soft and neutral tonesCreamy off-white, soft coral, pale pink, ivory, and Complement the balanced warm and cool undertones in neutral olive skin, enhancing its natural glow without overpowering it

Here’s the top color palettes for olive skin with neutral undertones and why they work so well with olive skin with a neutral undertone.

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Taupe

Taupe is a color that falls between gray and brown.

It has a balance of warmth and coolness, making it look good on olive skin with a neutral undertone, creating a harmonious appearance.

Muted Greens

Muted greens, such as soft sage and olive, mix warm yellow and cool green undertones.

These colors resonate with neutral olive skin’s subtle warmth and neutrality, offering a calming and flattering effect.

Soft Peach

Soft peach hues contain warm orange undertones.

This shade subtly enhances the warmth of neutral olive skin without overpowering it, maintaining a natural and effortless look that adds a touch of vibrance.

Dusty Lavender

Another hue in the flattering color palette for olive skin is dusty lavender, which combines cool purple tones with a hint of gray. This color creates an elegant and refined appearance.

Warm Gray

Warm gray is another of the best colors for olive skin with a neutral undertone because it’s a balanced blend of gray with subtle warm undertones. 

This color choice offers a neutral option that works harmoniously with the undertones of neutral olive skin, resulting in a modern and chic appearance.

Deep Plum

Deep plum is a deep red with a purple undertone.

This color creates a captivating contrast against neutral olive skin, emphasizing the inherent warmth of the skin tone and adding depth with a touch of coolness. 

Creamy Off-White

The creamy off-white shade is a warm white color with a touch of beige.

This hue maintains a clean and fresh look while enhancing the appeal of neutral olive skin, allowing the balanced undertones to shine through. 

a pile of off white colored tops, blouses and outerwear

Soft Coral

The soft coral shade is warm pink with a hint of an orange undertone. This color brings a healthy and radiant glow to neutral olive skin, making it appear more vibrant.

Navy Blue

Navy blue is a dark and rich shade of blue characterized by its deep and slightly muted appearance. With its muted cool undertone, this hue strikes a harmonious balance with neutral olive skin. 

It creates a pleasing contrast that can make the olive skin appear radiant and lively without overpowering its natural balance.

Deep Teal

Deep teal, a blend of cool blue with a hint of green, provides a striking contrast against neutral olive skin. This contrast creates a visually captivating effect.

Colors To Avoid for Olive Skin

Now that we’ve given you some color options that flatter neutral, warm, and cool olive skin, it’s also wiser to know which colors to avoid if you’re an olive-skinned beauty. 

Here are some colors you should definitely stay away from!

Bright Neon Colors

Neon colors like fluorescent yellows, greens, pinks, and oranges can clash with olive skin’s muted and balanced undertones.

They might overpower the complexion and create an unnatural contrast, creating a jarring and unflattering look.

Too-Bright Reds

Very bright and bold reds, such as fire engine red and scarlet, might not harmonize well with specific variations of undertones within the olive skin spectrum. 

For individuals whose olive skin leans heavily toward either warm or cool undertones, these colors can create an unnatural contrast, potentially diverting attention away from the skin’s inherent radiance.

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Choosing the Right Clothing Colors for Various Settings

To take advantage of the clothing color palette for olive skin, you must pick pieces of your wardrobe carefully.

Here are some combinations you can try to enhance your beautiful olive skin and make you feel confident!

Business Wear

Deep navy blue blazer + charcoal gray slacks + soft mauve top

The combination of a deep navy blue blazer, charcoal gray slacks, and a soft mauve top for business wear creates a polished and sophisticated ensemble that complements olive skin tones. 

The deep navy blue provides a strong, professional base, while the charcoal gray adds a neutral, grounding element. 

The soft mauve top introduces a touch of subtle color that harmonizes with olive skin, creating an ensemble that exudes confidence and professionalism without overpowering the natural complexion.

Casual Wear

Terracota sweater + deep teal jeans + warm mustard knit cardigan

The terracotta sweater provides a warm, earthy tone that complements olive skin, while the deep teal jeans add depth and contrast. 

The warm mustard knit cardigan ties the outfit together, offering a cozy layer that resonates with the richness of olive skin.

Together, these colors create a balanced and relaxed look, showcasing a mix of earthy and rich tones that enhance olive skin in a casual yet stylish manner.

Formal Wear

For women: Deep burgundy evening gown

The deep burgundy evening gown for formal wear complements olive skin by offering a rich and sophisticated choice. The strong red undertone of the burgundy balances well with the warmth in olive skin tones, creating an elegant, neutralizing look. 

This color choice not only adds depth but also brings out the radiance of the complexion, offering a timeless and refined appearance suitable for formal settings.

For men: Navy blue tailored suit or deep plum tuxedo jacket

The recommendation of a navy blue tailored suit or deep plum tuxedo jacket for men in formal settings complements olive skin by providing a classic and sophisticated choice. 

Navy blue, with its deep and versatile nature, offers a timeless look that enhances olive skin tones. 

Alternatively, a deep plum tuxedo jacket adds a touch of richness and warmth, creating a distinctive yet refined appearance that tones down the green in olive skin. 

Both options, in their respective ways, contribute to a polished and well-coordinated ensemble suitable for various formal occasions, showcasing a balance of traditional elegance and contemporary style.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Possible To Have Light Olive Skin?

Yes, it’s absolutely possible to have light olive skin. 

The term “olive skin” refers to the greenish undertone that results from having less red tones showing through the skin, rather than the depth or lightness of the skin color. 

Therefore, individuals can have light, medium, or dark olive skin, depending on the amount of melanin, the pigment that affects skin darkness. 

Julianne Moore is the perfect example of someone with fair olive skin. It’s important to note that because of her paleness, even a tiny amount of red tones will show through her skin. Still, her olive skin becomes the most apparent when she wears stark white clothing.

What Is the Color Palette for Light Olive Skin?

The colors that complement light olive skin will depend on your undertone. The best colors range from warm earthy tones to contrasting tones like soft peach, warm coral, and dusty rose.

These colors work well because they harmonize with light olive skin’s subtle greenish undertones, enhancing its natural radiance and providing a flattering contrast that complements the complexion.

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Allow Your Olive Skin To Shine in Every Hue of Life!

The choice of colors for beauties with olive skin is a nuanced blend of artistry and science.

The diverse spectrum of olive skin, ranging from light to dark and encompassing neutral, warm, and cool undertones, calls for a thoughtful approach.

Understanding one’s specific undertones and experimenting with the appropriate color palette can make a world of difference because the right colors complement your complexion best and elevate confidence and style!

Want To Know More About Color Palettes?

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Author

  • Janille Gultiano

    Jan, a distinguished freelance makeup artist, also boasts a BA in Mass Communication, laying the foundation for her diverse talents. For over four years, she's carved a niche as a captivating content writer, with her articles resonating in various spheres. Beyond writing, her expertise extends to crafting robust Public Relations and Corporate Communications strategies. Each endeavor reflects Jan's unique blend of creativity and precision

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