what is olive skin

What Is Olive Skin, And How Can You Tell If You Have It?

Olive skin is envied across the world. Do you have it? Here's everything you need to know about olive skin tones.
Updated: January 17, 2023
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What is olive skin?  It’s a question we come across time and time again, but many people still can’t really put their finger on a definitive answer.

Diversity runs the world, and there’s certainly a vast range of diversity when it comes to skin tones. From super dark, to super pale, and everything in between, we are all different and have many unique qualities.

Olive skin isn’t just a term to describe a natural skin tone some people have, but it has emerged as a stylish look that many want to achieve.

But what exactly is it, and how can you tell if you have it? We have the answers.

What is olive skin?

Olive skin describes a natural skin complexion that many people in some regions of the world have.

To be more specific, it is defined as moderate brown to light tan skin, with undertones of yellow, golden, and green colors. It is a common skin tone for people from the Mediterranean, Latin America, and parts of Asia.

While many people desire olive skin, it is unlikely that it can be acquired by simply spending more time tanning. Usually, it is genetic and natural to certain people from particular geographic locations.

Different ethnicities with olive skin tone

There are several different ethnicities of people who share varying degrees of olive skin tone. Here’s some information about each of them.


Mediterranean people are what usually come to mind whenever you think about olive skin. Mediterranean people are Caucasians who predominantly hail from southern Europe from countries such as Italy, Spain, Greece, Portugal, and southern France. The Mediterranean diet can also contribute to good skin health through the consumption of healthy fats, as well as fruit and vegetables.

Middle Eastern/North Africa

The Middle East is a large area with a diverse range of people and skin tones. However, lighter skin tones in the Middle East can be classified as olive skin tones. People from countries like Iran, Algeria, Lebanon, and Turkey can all display this look.

Latin America

Latin America once again has a wide variety of skin tones, but those of European descent tend to fit into this categorization more than the rest of the population. Citizens of Argentina, Brazil, and Costa Rica, and light-skinned Mexicans can all be considered to have olive skin.

The advantages of having olive skin

Does having an olive skin tone have any unique advantages? Strangely enough, yes!

Perhaps the most obvious advantage is it has more natural protection against the sun. This is because it has more melanin than lighter skin tones, and can therefore withstand the sun’s UV rays more capably. Mediterranean people may also find it easier to get a gorgeous golden tan.

Additionally, olive skin tends to be oilier than other skin tones. Why is this a good thing? Well, oily skin is associated with slower aging, as it remains more hydrated than other skin types. It also displays a smooth, glowing appearance and rarely gets too dry or flaky.

The disadvantages

Ironically enough, one of the biggest advantages of olive skin is also one of its biggest disadvantages – oiliness. Sure, oily skin can retain water and slow the aging process, but excess oil can lead to blocked pores and breakouts. This is why taking more time to thoroughly wash and exfoliate the skin may be required.

Also, due to the higher concentration of melanin, the likelihood of dark spots or areas of hyperpigmentation emerging is generally higher than in lighter skin tones. This can be avoided by taking precautions such as applying strong sunscreen whenever you’re being exposed to the sun, and by ensuring problematic triggers of dark spots such as ingrown hairs are correctly dealt with.


Olive skin tone is just one of many skin tones that can be found throughout the world. Those with it are envied, but like everything, it brings its own unique set of pros and cons.

No matter which skin tone you have, it’s always important to properly care for your skin on a regular basis by implementing a thoughtful and effective daily skincare routine, while taking the time to get semi-regular evaluations from a professional dermatologist.

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