Eyewear 102: Picking The Perfect Shade For Your Skin

May 09, 2017

Eyewear 102: Picking The Perfect Shade For Your Skin

Once you’ve found the perfect fit for your eyewear, you can play around with color. Just because a frame isn’t black doesn’t mean it can’t be versatile. A dark tortoise looks good on pretty much everyone, but if you feel like something a little more expressive, there are certain colors that will compliment your particular skin tone. Again, balance is the key to an aesthetically pleasing look.


Ivory Skin

  • Ivory is the fairest skin tone and usually has either neutral or pink undertones.
  • Medium browns and subtle tortoise shells look great and classic.
  • Red or amber tortoises look fantastic on ivory skin with neutral undertones; if you have pink or ruddy cheeks, go with a cool blue, navy or gray.
  • Avoid pale neutrals, pastels and clear crystal frames, as they can wash you out. If you want a light frame, try a smoky gray crystal or a crystal with a slight hint of color - you get a similar modern look with a better contrast.
  • Black can be bit a harsh on your fair skin unless you have dark hair and eyebrows.
  • If you do want a darker look, dry a dark tortoise. Dying for a black frame? Go matte - the absence of gloss softens the sharp contrast.


Left: Crystal clear frames can wash out fair skin. (link)
Right: A clear frame in a warm tone blends rather than competes. (link)

Medium Light Skin

  • Medium light skin comes in a variety of shades that range between ivory, which is very light, and golden tan, which appears more caramel in color. It can have either cool or warm undertones.
  • Avoid very speckled tortoises. If you’re going clean and classic, black is perfect, or a dark tortoise with minimal mottling (large blotches in some tortoiseshell patterns).
  • If you have light hair, don’t go too chunky with a dark frame - it can overpower your face.
  • If you want something brighter, try a frame in a jewel tone like peacock blue, magenta, or emerald green.
  • If you have hair in a cool tone, acetate in crystal clear, smoky gray, or tan will look sophisticated and modern without washing you out.


Left: Light skin and light hair are overpowered by a stark black frame. (link)
Center: A thinner frame in dark brown tones ease the contrast and look polished and chic. (link)
Right: Light skin can appear darker with dark hair. (link)

Olive Skin

  • Olive skin can range from light to dark. It is distinguished by an almost greenish tint that gives it a cool undertone.
  • Dark red and navy will compliment your Mediterranean hue.
  • Avoid heavily saturated colors and pastels, as they can bring out the yellow in your skin.


Olive skin can be distinguished by an almost greenish tint that gives it a cool undertone. (link) + (link) + (link)

Golden Tan Skin

  • Golden tan skin appears bronze or caramel in color and has a warm undertone.
  • This tone hits the genetic jackpot when it comes to color - it’s tough to find something that doesn’t look good. For you, it depends on your style: are you a classic tortoiseshell, or do you want something a little spicier?
  • Bright color looks particularly fabulous on you. If you’re feeling bold, try a citrus-hued orange or vivid blue.

Golden tan skin has a warm undertone. (link) + (link)


  • Tokyo tortoise, a high contrast mottled tortoiseshell, looks amazing on this skin tone. More subtle tortoises can get lost against dark skin, so avoid them if you’re going for a bolder look.
  • Crystal clear looks fantastic on you - the high sheen will sparkle against your skin.
  • Feeling a little more conservative? Go for a black frame in a thick material. Darker skin tones can handle a chunky black frame with attitude.


Left: Bold tokyo tortoise can overwhelm on lighter skin. (link)
Right: A heavy black frame is retro chic. (link)

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