Re: Vocabulary of appearance
We do refer to complexions, though. You could say someone has a dark complexion, an olive complexion, skin like cafe-au-lait, etc.
To confuse matters, I have two coworkers whose skin tones pass each other in darkness depending on the time of year. My African-American friend is very light-skinned and wears sunscreen, while my Greek friend is a worships the sun and gets very dark. In August, she's actually darker.
I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.