Olive Skin and Other Undertones

June 9, 2019

Many people think "olive" is a skin color like white, black or brown and refers to a separate or "mixed" ethnicity with some kind of "tan" complexion, usually in the Mediterranean region. But it's actually just one of several skin undertones that are found in all races, light and dark. The 4 undertones are: Cool (blue/pink), Neutral (yellow/beige), Olive (green/gray) and Warm (red/gold). And Southern Europe, including Italy, has the same variation as anywhere else in Europe or the world.

Here's what an untanned Italian woman would look like with each undertone:


And here are some other examples of Italians with different undertones:


You can see more, including some very tanned individuals, in these random samples of Big Brother and talent show contestants.

13 comments

king_cookie said...

in Sparavigna 2005 only 10% of North-Central Italians are of the IV type of the Fitzpatrick scale for Caucasians, what we colloquially refer as olive or light brown.

Latinus said...

When I picture the typical natural skintone of Italians, I think of the following examples of the second row skin set:
>The last female in the first row (from left to right).
>The last female in the second row (from left to right).
>The first female from the third row (from left to right).
>The third female from the third row (from left to right).
>And finally... the last man in the third row (from left to right).
Am I right regarding my opinion?
Sure, Italy has it's diversity of skintones, they aren't all clones of each other, but I do believe natural olive skinned individuals and pinkisk types are minority, and Italians, and I'm not really sure why, are stereotyped as having mainly the first skin colour (olive) as a natural state, maybe many people confuse their great tanning ability (compared to British Isles ethnic groups, for example, that are mainly pink skinned) as being their natural skintone.

Palermo Trapani said...

Actually, most Italians everywhere would be Type 3 skin as that is the norm for Southern Europeans, Type 2 and Type 4 could be the range. Maybe a few more Type 2's in the North than Type 4, maybe Slightly more Type 4 in South than Type 2, but the means would be statistically unlikely to be different. So, I would hypothesize the overall mean in any region would be Type 3. I was just in Sicily for 3 weeks, spent 1 day in Rome. The people in Sicily looked absolutely no different than the Romans.

KBGhost said...

Love your blog and content. Do you know who runs anthroeurope.blogspot ? Can you help me get in touch with the owner as I would really like to get an invite.
Thanks!

Italianthro said...

>>> "in Sparavigna 2005 only 10% of North-Central Italians are of the IV type of the Fitzpatrick scale for Caucasians, what we colloquially refer as olive or light brown."

No, the Fitzpatrick scale is not "for Caucasians", and it shows shades not undertones. Olive skin can be light, medium or dark.

Type IV is too dark for any Europeans. Wikipedia says it corresponds to #21-27 on the Von Luschan scale, but the darkest "light brown" Italians are no darker than #18 according to Coon.

People have called Types III, IV and V "olive", which shows they don't understand what it means, just like you. That's why I made this blog post.

Italianthro said...

>>> "I do believe natural olive skinned individuals and pinkisk types are minority"

But you put 3 olive types and 1 pinkish type in your 5 "typical" examples. I don't know the exact percentages, but I wouldn't say any one type is typical or in the minority. From all the photos I've seen, it looks like Italy has normal variation.

Italianthro said...

>>> "Actually, most Italians everywhere would be Type 3 skin as that is the norm for Southern Europeans, Type 2 and Type 4 could be the range."

According to Coon, Italians range from "pinkish-white" (starting at Von Luschan #3) to "light brown" (ending at #18), so that would be Type I to Type III. Like I said, Type IV is way too dark for an untanned Southern European.

Von Luschan Scale

Latinus said...

"But you put 3 olive types and 1 pinkish type in your 5 "typical" examples. I don't know the exact percentages, but I wouldn't say any one type is typical or in the minority. From all the photos I've seen, it looks like Italy has normal variation."

Ok, Italians have their variation regarding skintones, but there has to be a type that is the most common all over the country, I think someone like Gina Lollobrigida is a good example of typical natural Italian skin colour. I do believe that most Italians from North to South (excluding Sardinians, they belong to an isolated genetic cluster) have a similar skintone, but in the former there are more lighter than average tones and in the latter the opposite,more darker than average tones.

Latinus said...

"Love your blog and content. Do you know who runs anthroeurope.blogspot ? Can you help me get in touch with the owner as I would really like to get an invite.
Thanks!"

It seems to be an interesting blog, I would really like to get an invite as well.

Blogger said...

Unrelated to the topic (sort of), I thought you might like to post a public rebuttal to this English woman's article: https://siciliangodmother.com/2015/08/17/what-do-sicilians-look-like-lets-dig-into-the-dna

She and her followers are promoting a multi-racial and multicultural vision of Sicily, similar to the agenda pushed by that 'Best of Sicily' website.

Whether you decide to respond to her or not, I encourage you to delete this comment, since there's no point in directly linking more people to her website.

Italianthro said...

I made these pages to quickly refute all that multi-racial nonsense:

http://italianthro.altervista.org/sicilians.html

http://italianthro.altervista.org/italians.html

Or now here:

https://italianthro.blogspot.com/p/italians101.html

whereinbacolod said...

I love your article, thanks for sharing!

Palermo Trapani said...

Itlaiananthro:

Thanks for the von lushcan skin classifications, which as you indicate those ranges correrlate with Fitzpatrick Type 3 (more for measuring ability to tan than natural skin tone when not exposed to sun). My Ancestry.com results predicts my skin tone is light to medium which would be consistent with Fitzpatrick Type 3 range and Von Lushcan ranges you mentioned.