Light olive skin is most often seen in individuals of Mediterranean, Central European and Hispanic/South American descent. Skin undertones in this complexion are typically greenish-yellow, and are likened to the color of an olive. People with light olive skin may have any color of hair or eyes, and may sunburn easily if they are very fair. It can be any type from oily to dry. Olive and darker-complexioned people have a tendency to scar more easily after injury, something to keep in mind if they are considering cosmetic surgery.
Melanin is a pigment found in the epidermis that is produced by a reaction between sunlight and an enzyme called tyrosinase. This is what creates a tan, and is produced in cells called melanocytes. Those whose ethnic heritage originated in sunnier climates make more melanin, where it acts as a natural sunblock. Although light and dark olive skin can both burn, they are more likely to tan and do so more deeply than fair complexions. They are still prone to skin cancer and dermatologists recommend using a sunscreen rated with a minimum sun protection factor (SPF) of 15, daily.
Without makeup, this skin tone may appear quite sallow. A tan can make the skin more golden, but as many experts point out, no tan is safe even on darker skin. Damage isn’t as apparent on light olive skin as it would be on fairer complexions due to the minimal protective effect of melanin, but eventually blotchiness will appear. An olive complexion tends more toward oiliness; together with the extra melanin, it may age slower than lighter skin. If it is on the dry side, it may look ashy if not kept moisturized regularly.
Light olive skin may scar more easily and is more prone to forming keloids. These thick deposits of excess scar tissue result from an overgrowth of collagen when the skin is scratched or broken, as in a surgical incision. Those with light olive and dark olive skin may wish to consider this when choosing cosmetic surgery options.
Lip, eye and cheek colors for light olive skin can be more intense than those worn on fairer complexions. Darker lipsticks and shadow make features pop and add a dramatic and glamorous effect. Colors such as brownish roses, corals, clear red tones and shimmery peaches and coppers warm the yellow tones to golden. Acne and blotchiness are less noticeable on light olive versus fair skin, but can be a problem if it tends toward oiliness. There are a number of good cover-up products that can help conceal blemishes and deep under-eye circles.