Before we begin, please know that Terry posted an important article here about how to adapt your cosmetic colours with the changing face of maturity.
Her article here, suggested switches for a True Autumn where browns that once looked healthy and natural now feel flat and low energy.
Maturity is an important part of why correctly swatched makeup for a Season will not be right for you, which we’ll talk about in depth in this post.
Situation 1: Cosmetics that swatch into 1 Season but work well in >1 Season.
That’s how makeup works in the real world. And yet, I’ve said that any colour can be swatched best into 1 Season only, as can any product or person. This, I believe is true. A contradiction is floating around in there. It’s a question of context.
Sometimes, I say things that are just wrong. Once, it seems that I said Bright Winters are often of the YangRomantic (YangR) (Theatrical Romantic, TR) image type. That is plain nuts. I was confusing Spring-influenced facial architecture, which can be similar to YangR, with the real thing. I got told I was wrong, fixed my perceptions, and good. All 10 image archetypes (IA) exist in all 12 Seasons. It has been most interesting to see that the spread really is this wide in the newsletter subscriptions (Newsletter refers to Signature/STYLE in the right column.)
PS, if anyone knows where that piece of silliness about BW/YangR is located, please do tell me so I can delete it. While we’re at it, if you know where I said that Liz Taylor was a True Winter instead of Bright, please share that with me so I can disappear it. Always amazes me how little I knew a month ago. We start somewhere.
Sometimes, I say things that are correct without enough clarification. Thankfully, I get told that too. This is one of those times.
Here is when colours do not cross Seasons: in analysis situations. In that context, the question being answered is, In which of the 12 groups does the wavelength of this colour belong best, as measured by comparison in a variable-neutralized environment?
The context of one woman shopping for herself is quite different. Garments can often be worn very nicely by two or even three Seasons. You may have noticed that from the Pinterest boards or Signature/STYLE newsletter. One woman in a store is not placing an item into one of 12 groups the way a colour analyst does. The consumer’s question is, Will this colour be flattering to me or not? Different question.
It’s the difference between, Can I?, and, How can I? Our brains tend to be wired to see roadblocks when asked, Can I? I know I’m going off again but I’ve been thinking about this lately. It goes like this.
Ask a lawyer, Can I get a permit to work in the US? He’ll start in with all the reasons why it will be difficult, next to impossible really, not even worth your time to try.
Stop him and say, So sorry, may I change my question? The new question is, How can I get a permit to work in the US? You’ll get a whole new answer. The answer will sound more along the lines of, Well, you can try this or this or this.
The consumer is asking, How can I? She should frame it that way when asking her analyst about a beloved garment. Otherwise, the answer might focus too much on the Why not.
Many colours, in garments, jewelry, and cosmetics can be adapted to work for >1 Season. Terry wrote about why many cosmetic colours work very well in more than one Season, in this post so I will move on to another situation.
Situation 2. Correctly swatched cosmetics that do not work for the correctly analyzed woman.
1. They were incorrectly swatched after all. We should always be open to the possibility that we got it wrong the first time, which is why our colour analysts are taught to come at the question of your colouring from many different angles, comparisons, and perceptions. The recent article, Best Makeup Colours Light Spring, explains how I place cosmetics into a Season.
2. The eye and judgment of the person swatching. Revlon Colorstay lipstick in Finale is a fine Bright Winter choice, as is Cruise Collection for Bright Spring, for women looking for a sheer, everyday colour. They are quite good too for a Light Summer woman who wants a more lively colour on the lip. Both Seasons are neutral. The product is inside the value range for both, and not too blue or red for a Summer as many Winter colours can be.
3. The warmth or coolness of the product goes without saying. How about the warmth or coolness of the particular person? For instance, much of the makeup on the Soft Summer lists tends to be warmish. It will work well for many women, since it is common to tend warm in that type of colouring. It is also common to be in the center of the Season, and sometimes to be on the cooler, more saturated side, near True Summer. The warmer makeup will look thick or blunt, without the clean, rosy bloom of the berry colours that so flatter the cooler Soft Summers. However, cosmetics are very particular in how they react with personal pigmentation. Few conclusions can be drawn about how warm or cool you really are from lipstick observations.
Neutral Season women, those whose colouring is a blend of a warm and a cool True Season, generally have a warmth setting that works best. Not always, there is no always. Some can wear the full span very well. Others are extremely close to the dominant parent Season in their best lipstick, despite wearing the full range of the palette in clothing beautifully.
4. The amount and colour of personal pigmentation. Undoubtedly, this will influence how the cosmetic appears. Of the many Soft Summers I know, I have met less than five on whom the Test Drape yellow was among their three best colours. Quite rare. On two of these women, eye colours and patterns are near identical. The perfect berry red lipstick on one woman came up a touch candy and artificial on the other. How a product will look on us is unpredictable. Like much about design, thinking our way to the answer will not work. We just have to try it, back up, and look.
5. The amount of contrast in the natural colouring. This is most helpful in deciding where to select colours from the woman’s native lightest to darkest range. A True Summer who looks Winterish, meaning her full gray scale is evident in her natural appearance creating fairly high contrast, looks great in a blouse in a pale pastel that is lighter than the swatch book, though still purely cool and muted. Summers never drape as well in the icy Winter colours, which often makes them look like they would glow in the dark if you turned out the lights. Pale mint green, like spearmint toothpaste, with that slight chalky feeling, can be fantastic.
This higher-than-usual contrasting True Summer can also wear bigger jumps from skin to lip colour, wearing her darker tones in the daytime very easily. She wears a near-fuchsia blush well, as Avon mark Dollhouse, which will read as too sharp, pink, and candy on a more blended True Summer. Black remains conflicting, but darker-denim-blue eyeliners are fine. The less contrasting True Summer will do far better by staying in the middle ranges.
A less contrasting True Winter, one who doesn’t appear to go from black to white in her appearance although the drapes proved that she does, will choose cosmetics from her middle range too. I don’t get hung up on contrast in clothing because people wind up looking boring, but it comes into play in cosmetic choices.
6. Which colours look best together. A teal-eyed Dark Autumn will wear greige eyeshadows, not spiced browns, to look most settled with her eye colour. This point factors in with much more than eye colour. Consider how influential the colour of the surrounding skin and overtones might be. And then we get into ethnicities and the possible overtones there.
The extension is to foundation colour. Whether it is correct or not, it simply must affect how the rest of the cosmetics look since they sit on top of it and are encircled by it.
Evaluating lipstick without wearing any other makeup is kind of hard. Not impossible, and much easier if hair and clothing are correct, but there are trip wires along this path.
Be really careful drawing conclusions from lipstick draping. I mean, really careful. Lipstick is the least flexible product of all the cosmetics. Seasons are disqualified incorrectly too often just from lipstick draping. The creator of the lip colours used particular colours from a menu of 20 possibles, maybe more. The one in the kit might just not be the one that agrees with you.
7. Cosmetics change colour on the skin, or appear to, most often when they are not in harmony with our natural colours. Those colours that find a match with our own blend in. The rest seems to separate, sit on the surface, and imply that the entire product just changed colour. A woman who finds consistently that makeup turns orange might be consistently buying makeup that is too orange. This is personal opinion, with not a lick of research to back it up.
Colour change could also happen when colour and person are not in harmony based on personal chemistry. Skin pH, medication, and so on, about which I know nothing. I’d love to look at data, since I try not to accept something just because it sounds like it would be right or should be right…like I did in the point above :)
9. Texture or formula may not be a good match for your skin chemistry, though swatching was correct. The formula might be one that seems quite different on skin than paper or in the pan, as many cream to powder products are.
10. You’re taking lipliner into account, right? A Dark Winter can create a gorgeous dull, everyday red with Givenchy Rose Precieux over MAC Staunchly Stylish liner. She can increase the staying power and tone down the blueness of ELauder Double Wear Ruby by wearing it over MAC Brick liner. And so on. Nevermind this one. I know you’d factor that in.
11. Your hair is the correct colour for your skin or tied back when you decide about a product. It’s a thing for Soft Summer hair to often be too light, too ash, too yellow, the wrong kind of yellow, and other variations on the theme. Whichever is happening, the face is a little gone, as if there’s a layer of white dust over the face.
In every age group, this colouring is not easy with yellow blonde, unless Nature made her that way, which I have never seen. The only blonde she can be is one with dark roots, one at the salon every 3 weeks, one with far less feature definition and a fuzzy bland face that would be really hard to draw, a blonde with a yellowish cast to the skin (and eyes and teeth, because what happens to part of the face happens to the whole face), and a blonde whose hair never looks great with her clothes. There are better choices.
She does have a lightness that others see. In her best hair colour, she might be described as a blonde, but she is better as a taupe to medium ash of some value level near her own with a cool caramel highlight.
Makeup can’t help but be affected by hair, the hat we wear all day every day. The blonde-hair-blue-eyes ideal tends to be more prevalent in the US than with Canadian women, and boy, is it planted in there good. The hair industry fallacy that older women need lighter hair certainly applies in Canada though. An ongoing struggle for many Soft Summer women.
At maturity, she can certainly have light silver hair, quite sophisticated indeed. She will do better with more lipstick vibrancy, not less, so as not to look like a big gray circle. Summer wears silver in hair or anywhere else easily, requiring minimal wardrobe adjustments and the same extra spirit in makeup that heightens the presence of all colouring types after 50.
12. How long between swatching on paper and testing with the palette at home? Many products mute and get browner.
13. Which Season is being swatched? Many True and Soft Summers, in fact most in my opinion, can wear colour that is more saturated than many palettes indicate, both in garments and cosmetics.
14. What about how you want to look? Many a Dark Autumn prefers Soft or True Autumn lipsticks because she wants to look not-made-up.
15. How old are you? I’ve been thinking lately that children are hyperpigmented adults. Not necessarily different pigments than they will have as adults, although many do change in adolescence or early adulthood.
Often, children have settled into their Seasons before they are 10 years old. At the time of their draping, they are able to balance every aspect of their colours, full on darkness and saturation, and could easily go even higher. I see Bright Winter children on whom the drapes are gorgeous and could easily carry a lot more.
As we age, I believe at this moment (could change in the next moment) that our pigments remain the same, but reduce quantity or concentration. To take on a different colour, our melanin, carotene, and hemoglobin would have to mutate when we are 40 or something. I have not seen that, read about it, or believe it happens from what I see every day. The Season spread is the same regardless of age group.
Sometimes, overtone appears to change. Some say they look warmer or yellower. Because the skin changed, the person then says their eyes changed colour. Most likely, the eye colour appears different next to a new skin overtone . A close look at the iris pigments does not reveal any more warmth at all, in fact these are usually very cool to cool-neutral eyes.
16. Your own colour tastes. Many Winters, especially True and Bright, do not care for the gray eyeshadow choices. With the red-violet blush and cheeks that suit this colouring best, I prefer gray in eye makeup but there are certainly nice cool browns out there. Everybody’s makeup takes searching. Even in correct Season, women wear (and should wear) quite different makeup. The idea that everything on the list applies to everyone in the Season is untrue.
Comments from Our Analysts
We need to be less rigid. Swatching and stereotypes are a place to start. Without defining our neighbourhood, we will wander all over the city forever, looking for home. The whole entire shopping mall cannot be home. Each one of us has a room in there somewhere that is uniquely ours, to which all this other information can lead.
Nothing is cut in stone. You work with your colour analyst to determine your personal best within the group that you belong with. Only she knows your skin’s particular reactivity to the warmth, darkness, and saturation ranges within your Season. She knows which hues you wear so easily, they could be a wardrobe neutral, extending to eyeglass frames and large items like coats.
I asked our analysts to join the conversation from their personal growing field of experience. Their contact information can be found in the Analyst Directory on my site or Terry’s, or will be added soon.
Each person is colored differently within the same season. Because of that, not ALL correct lipstick colors, just like drapes, will be great. Neutrals have more trouble than Trues, but they do too. Case in point…Christine and I both have worn Berry Kiss, a cool neutral plum from MaryKay. My lips are very dark purple, C’s are lighter. On C, the lipstick looks a nice bright plum-berry. On me, it looks plum-brown and a bit muddy. I don’t wear it anymore. So, if I were told Berry Kiss was a Dark Winter color and I looked muddy, I would think I wasn’t a DW. That’s the main reason you can’t lipstick drape to find season. People don’t take into consideration the fact that we are all unique, even though we are the same season. Terry Wildfong, Michigan
One of the things I love with makeup is that it informs about how you lean within your season, e.g.: warm vs cool (so vividly clear with my Light Summer mom and sister, where the blush that looked perfect on my sister looked muddy on my mom, i.e. was too warm for her so she may lean cool). Makeup also informs about higher or lower contrast (e.g.: I have had several Soft Summers who look great in the Dark Winter lippie Lancome Aubergine Velvet, but it is too much for me.) – Lisa Kelly, Ottawa, Ontario. (In the Analyst Directory on this site, soon to be formally introduced.)
Something that I’ve noticed with my clients with very fair skin is that they sometimes have less flexibility with how dark they can go with lipstick, and even with how light they can go too. As just one example of this, I think of my Bright Spring clients. Some of them have a skin tone that’s more medium as far as darkness, and I’ve noticed that these clients can pull off some of the lighter lipsticks that match their palette for a mod sort of look. However, my Bright Spring clients with a very fair skin tone can’t pull off that look very well, because the lightness of the lipstick is much too close to the lightness of their skin color. I’ve seen this principle of considering lightness/darkness in skin tone when choosing your best makeup over and over again, and there are many other factors that come into play too when finding your makeup sweet spot. Don’t be discouraged if the lipstick that looks perfect on your seasonal buddy isn’t your best. When this happens, think of it not as there being one less lipstick you can wear, but as being one step closer to understanding the unique space you occupy within your season. Amanda Roberts, California
As a light Bright Spring, I completely agree with Amanda, and about how dark I can go – not very. Also: having very dry lips, I have to start extremely bright & fairly light, because the lippie is going to dry on my lips, making it look darker. And of course, texture comes into it, too, in so many ways: different textures for different seasons, yes, but also more moisturising/glossy ones for dry lips, to prevent the darkening that will otherwise happen. IDK about clients in this respect – don’t see them long enough to see any changes in the lipstick colour, but we do discuss it and I am interested in women’s observations. Also, as an oily-skinned girl myself I’d like to have women remember that even if the foundation/powder are exact matches at first, oily skin turns some brands/textures yellow, orange or brownish in a few hours, so a change of brand may be the solution in some cases, not a different colour. Johanna Jarvinen, Finland
Makeup isn’t as straightforward as clothing because you’re mixing the colors with your own pigmentation. Especially with lipsticks, one’s own lip color really comes into play with how a particular lipstick will appear. There are also different ways that a client might like to wear their makeup. For example, a True Summer who wants a bit more of a dramatic shade may find she can use a mid-range color from Dark Winter. A shade that appears as a natural, everyday look on a Bright Spring can be a nice option for a Light Spring that wants a more vibrant lip. I tell clients that the color fan gives an excellent place to start with choosing makeup, but still requires some experimentation and, sometimes more importantly, shows you what to stay away from. Heather Noakes, California
I’ve learned that trying new makeup is akin to trying a new food: you can’t taste it once and decide you don’t like it. As a very fair Dark Autumn, I panicked when I arrived home from my training and saw all of that dark makeup! I went running toward the lightest, pinkest Dark Autumn colors I could find. Of course, as the months passed I tried the darker colors again, and they grew to be my favorites. But it took time and experimentation. Try warming too-cool colors with a golden gloss, or applying dark colors with a lip brush if you find that they’re applying too opaquely. It’s also very important to stick with your color space. Wearing eye makeup from your season with lips from a neighboring season is likely to look funky and unbalanced. Cate Linden, Kentucky
Always try before you buy. You might have found a lipstick, blush, eyeshadow or liner that looks exactly like some dots on your fan, or you have been told it suits your season perfectly. That does not in any way mean it will look the same on YOU. It all changes when it is on your face. Don’t rush. Try in store- it might look great at first glance but don’t buy it straight away. Walk around with it, look in a few different mirrors in different lights, take a Selfie if you are so inclined (but remember photos don’t always show the real colours), just let the makeup sit on you and get a feel for it. If you don’t buy it the same day it does not matter, order it the following week if you still want it, think about it a bit longer or come back another day. After all this is something you want to wear most days so its better to get it right than waste your money (talking from own experience here). I have been forcing myself to do so lately as although I should know better. I have so many ‘not just right’ pieces of cosmetics in my drawers. Another thing, sometimes it is better to shop without friends. They are subconsciously shopping for themselves, picking what they would like to get, or a look they like. Your friend might not always see you in an objective way. Also never forget that just because a colour is on your fan it does not automatically mean it will look great on your face. It does not in any way mean its the wrong season for you. For example, as a True Winter, there are many beautiful purples I would not be comfortable wearing as a blush, eyeshadow or lipstick, but would look fabulous worn in a scarf or as a pair of earrings. Margareta Palmquist-Whyte, Sweden (Soon to be added to Terry’s Analyst Directory.)
I like to swatch several lipstick colors on the inside of my client’s arm to test how those colors will interact with their particular skin tone, especially Neutral seasons. You can use this as a second step in choosing a lipstick, the first being swatching the colors on white paper to see whether they harmonize with your palette. Once you have three or four contenders, looking at them on your arm is a good way to narrow the field, or learn what you need to look for next: warmer or cooler? A bit darker/lighter? Yes our lips are pigmented differently from the insides of our arms, but they’re still our colors! We can learn how to make allowances for the way our lips are pigmented. Looking at colors on your arm might help you be a little more objective about the colors’ reactions with your skin tone. Swatching on your inside arm is also a good way to get a feel for a lipstick formula. Of course the more sheer, the more your lip pigments will affect the color. I learned to love arm swatching from Karla Sugar! And a word about Sales Associates: I’ve seen so many do arm swatching to demonstrate colors, but they draw the colors on their own arms! This is interesting but not ultimately helpful in determining what color does for YOU. Don’t be intimidated by SAs. Remember it’s their job to be helpful to you. Once you find a nice one, they are worth cultivating. You may even be able to teach them a thing or two about color, which could really benefit their sales abilities. You are becoming your own authority on color now. No need to succumb to fads. What freedom! Sharon Forsythe, Texas