You’re searching for it, we’re solving it. Here’s how to tailor makeup to olive and warm skintones that tend towards sallowness

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The turn of the seasons can often aggravate our own individual skin gripes, and for many colouration can be as changeable as condition. Those with  pale skin  and cool undertones can experience more flushing and redness  than usual, while those with  warmer skin tones  can wake up with an ashy or yellowish cast. First off, there’s nada “wrong” with your natural undertones- they’re all part and parcel of your natural beauty and what makes a lipstick, bronzer or blusher look different on you to the next human, and that’s to be celebrated. When you feel that your undertones are beginning to run the show, however, and you quite fancy coaxing them back into balance, the right base can counteract everything from dullness to a generally slightly hungover looking colour. Here’s how to neutralise sallowness, plus an intro to some of the smartest ranges catering for warm and olive skintones in particular.

Colour coding

Got  J Lo undertones ? Lucky for you, most of the time at least. Your skin will veer towards the golden or peach in tone, or more yellow on a “sallow” day. You can have pale, medium or deep skin in terms of colour, but if your veins look more green than blue beneath the skin, chances are you belong to the warm undertone family, although for olive skins identifying this can be tricky- you could be somewhere between warm and neutral (if you can discern the shade of your veins, that’s likely you).

Once you’ve done the detective work regarding undertones, you’ve got a good stepping stone to selecting makeup, and in particular foundation, that flatters. You don’t necessarily want your foundation to intensify your undertone, but rather harmonise with it, so if a base is perfectly matched and in the ‘warm’ colour palette, it will look convincingly ‘skinny’ and enhance your complexion, rather than looking obviously mask like or just plain ‘off’. You don’t want to warm things up to the extreme, but pick up on your godgiven glow.

If ‘glow’ is still looking like a no go, despite an accurately colour matched foundation, it may be time to bring in the ‘colour correctors’ . Now I must admit that the rainbow/ unicorn/ mermaid manifestations of these can be more gimmick than glory, but in the world of the colour wheel, blue and purple shades neutralise yellow, thus a sheer, subtly pigmented primer or concealer can brighten up sallow skin at base level. To boost the effects, ensure skin is well hydrated and as plump as poss pre-makeup, and then there’s all of the usual boring but necessary ‘skin from within’ advice: get plenty of sleep, chug water, don’t drink too much, quit smoking (particularly helpful if you’re prone to sallowness), eat well, exercise regularly to boost circulation and consider adding in both vitamin D and omega rich fatty acid supplements. Makeup is MARVELOUS but it will always look better if you look after yourself as the main priority. Off-piste lifestyle lecture over, onto the stuff that’s simply sublime if you have sallow leanings from time to time…

EX1 Cosmetics

Founded by biochemist Farah Naz, EX1  is a base based brand that specialises in makeup for women and men with yellow undertones. Many Southeast Asian and Middle Eastern women struggle to find foundation that mimics their natural colouring, in the Western market in particular, and Farah forged ahead with EX1 after failing to meet her match within conventional brand offerings. The Invisiwear Liquid Foundation , £12.50, is not only one of the greatest bargains I’ve come across in the beauty industry, but it’s infused with luminosity enhancing light diffusing pigments and provides oil-free coverage that knocks back dullness, blemishes and blotchiness without caking. The purple and peach toned blushers  (£9.50) are also affordable and spot-on for boosting warmth while giving any unwanted yellowness the heave-ho.

Cover FX

Another expert base brand, not only do these foundation masters prioritise skin health (fragrance, mineral oil and talc are out, barrier boosting emollients are in), with dermatologist’s consulting on product development, but ethnicity and undertone is also at the forefront of product creation. In short, it’s no good pioneering the holy grail of foundation if it only fits a select spectrum of women (still shouting this from the beauty industry rooftops day in, day out).

As such, Cover FX  specify undertone as well as shade as part of the brand’s foundation matching service, with one of the largest array of options for warm undertones available on the current market. No matter your skin type or tone, you’re likely to find ‘the one’, and the addition of nifty fixes such as the Click Stick Corrector , £15, allow you to spot-treat any areas of discolouration. Go for ‘lavender’ if sallowness is your bug bear.

Fenty Beauty

You knew this was coming. With a launchpad of 40 foundation shades, each catered to undertone as well as colour, Fenty  ‘gets it’ from the get go. Combine the Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation , £26, with a lilac or peach toned Match Stix Shimmer Skinstick , £21, and say sayonara to sallow.

The Matte Stix Matte Skinstick , £21, is also a goer for neutralising yellow undertones where you need to, or try one in a slightly darker yet complementary hue in the same family for an oh so subtle contour.


An algae derived skincare brand, a few warm skinned women I know swear by the blue hued Reveal Concentrated Colour Correcting Drops , £30. Lightweight, hydrating and enriched with nourishing microalgae extracts, the blue tone is more sheer than Smurf, and wakes up your face nicely to the extent that you may only need a swipe of concealer to see off sallowness.


This is probably the best of the well known high street brands to hit up if your skin veers towards yellowness- the medium/ olive range of foundation shades are brilliant for flattering warm skintones. Dabble in the new Even Better Glow™ Light Reflecting Makeup SPF 15 , £27, if you crave a bit of brightness as well as a unified, glowing skintone- it’s sheer yet buildable and makes skin that’s suffering the effects of seasonal dryness, dehydration or fatigue look almost beaming again. As above, it’s just makeup, but MY it can make a difference on a dark morning.

Read all about the pros and cons of colour correcting

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