Over the years, a series of posts appeared showing a graphic of the best makeup colours for certain groups of natural colouring, a term synonymous with Season. In the archives so far, you will find a post about best makeup colours for the 4 True Seasons, Soft Summer, Dark and Bright Winter. You can search them as http://12blueprints.com/best-makeup-colours-soft-summer/
July is a holiday month, a good time to finish the series. Today, Dark Autumn.
As a session begins, clients are seated and surrounded by the neutral gray of an accurate colour analysis. The moment I switch on the full spectrum lights, I look right at their eyes. If I see diffusions of dark yellow, cognac, rust, or dark mossy green, I wonder about Dark Autumn.
The skin of this woman contains a lot of colour. To make any impression, her cosmetics need muscle both in the strength of the pigments and in the density of their application. The Summer drapes look like they can’t hold up her head. The makeup, the same.
She is almost great in black. There will be a little something that excites. Appearance excitement is important. Brown will be more relaxing and feel more harmonious overall. She certainly has spice and darkness in the brown, both of which thrill on this colouring. Spanish coffee gets into your blood a little faster, right?
Your PCA result will be personalized to your particular colouring and draping reactions. For instance, in her later years, many a Dark Autumn woman moves closer to True Autumn. The most excitement is still in Dark Autumn. The lightest, most muted True Autumn colours and the darkest, coolest Dark Autumn colours are not perfect.
If you saw one of our group of analysts (see the 12B Analyst Directory), we will explain how to use the more challenging colours in compositions instead of putting them in large blocks under the face. You will know your own formula, how you excite. You might shop with both Colour Books. People at the office will be talking and you may wonder why. They will be saying good things. I have never met the Dark Autumn woman who has any idea of how remarkable and superb she looks. They all seem a little oblivious to it. Which is a good thing!
She has often avoided the makeup colours below because her clothing colours were too gentle. She was quite right. With soft colours in clothing, Dark Autumn makeup will seem too bold and strong. The problem is not the makeup. Once everything below the neck comes up to balance her head, the makeup will be stunning. To find that balance needed for take-off, we have to deconstruct the appearance, take you back to the beginning and rebuild you in your own colours.
And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
- T.S. Eliot
The makeup is not necessarily dark, though it is compared to Light Spring. Every Season has light colours, here as parsnip, lemongrass, asphalt, greige, goldenrod, barley gold, and many others. In our five years together, we have understood that Dark Seasons neither look dark nor wear only darkness. Nor do the Light Seasons look light, and so on. That’s one of those ideas that got taken too literally, without the continuous counterbalances of comparison and relative relationships that are the sine qua non of colour.
The Dark Autumn woman contains much glamour. She is mostly OK with being noticed, unlike her True Autumn sister who can only take so much being fussed over. Sofia Coppola is among my iconic Dark Autumns (remembering that I have no idea what her Season is till she is drape). Glamorous and exotic with no interest in taking that anywhere. Not a great blonde. Always dressed in black, white, and gray, which are not awful. Neither are they one little bit exciting, provocative, evocative, nothing. They are just there taking up space and better than the infant clothing that Light Spring would be. Her Autumn self will go this far on her looks and no further. She has things to do after all.
Whisky colours in the eyes. I split the Know Your Best Hair Colour board at Pinterest, adding a Makeup For Your Natural Colouring board. You can find some images of Sophia and other Dark Autumn ideas there.
All Neutral Season colouring has warmer and cooler versions of every colour, still within the saturation and value scale for the Season. The choice of brown flesh tones in blush and lip, red orange, or bronzed berry, is yours. Though I find black in eyeliner too harsh on anyone unless they are Halle Berry dark, have black eyes and brows, or the black is a Soft Black (meaning dark charcoal), this person does have Winter coolness. Just as their navy in clothing or a suit is a fantastic complement to the orange tones in skin, hair, and eyes, so is it a great eyeliner. The graphic does not include one but the list at the bottom does.
The heat feels more intense to me here than in Soft Autumn, perhaps because of the added darkness and presence of red as Winter arrives. We tend to feel red as heat. Wear bronzer as a contour. It looks good and is easy to find. Bone structure is always fantastic here. Why not take it further if your facial anatomy calls for it (Mariah Carey is not improved by carved edges. They are only weird. JLo is more feline, more powerful, more good stuff.) ?
Make the hair colour all it could be. Natural is always just fine. If you colour, be not wimpy. These colours are easy to find. Auburn and rich chestnut work if the base colour is as dark as Julia Roberts. Her natural base is probably dark ash brown. Adding auburn or using chemical colour to add gloss and body elevate her inborn way of looking expensive and delicious.
Many Dark Autumns have a near-black base colour or are lighter medium brown. In both cases, chemical colour will probably not be as enhancing or interesting as what you have on your own. Near black hair with these clothing colours is a furnace of presence and potential. Lighter hair colour is an amazement of improbability and surprise, as is blue teal or other light eye colours. The viewer feels a fascination of, What is happening there?
If we colour our hair, we all need to find the right one. All the clothes and makeup in the world will flop without it. Please ignore the myth that women need to go lighter as they get older. Nothing is true for everyone, but that one might actually apply to no Dark Autumn.
In the next article on Light Spring best makeup colours, you will find an explanation of how to swatch makeup colours to Season.
Try before you buy. 5 women in the same Season will look their best in 5 different lipsticks.
Blush: MAC Ambering Rose. NARS Taos. Lancome Shimmer Tamarind.
Eyeliner: MAC Coffee. Revlon Colorstay Navy. Urban Decay Corrupt (Demolition could be good for darker women and/or those closer to Dark Winter looking for a near black. Bourbon for lighter women, closer to True Autumn). Smashbox Sumatra is an interesting inky brown, and 3DGalaxy could be a good dark gray without being too dark.
Eyeshadow: Bobbi Brown Burnt Sugar, Cocoa, and Mahogany. Stila Twig. NARS Lola Lola. Clinique Portobello (light greige) is OK as a colour but the application properties are weak on this colouring compared to Urban Decay Tease. Aveda Copper Haze (could work well on a True Autumn also). Benefit Bronze Have More Fun. MUFE #165 is a great basic greige. NARS Cordura offers two good darks for smoking the eyes, a believable and successful effect on the Dark Seasons (Key Largo may work for those near True Autumn, but is probably best for True Autumn, and even better on True Spring.) Smashbox Screenshot is a nice trio. Lancome Burnt Sand.
Lipstick: Too Faced Sweet Maple. Chanel Rouge Vendome is a brighter orange red. Clarins Red Terra (awesome, dark side), Spicy Cinnamon (warmer, for those near True Autumn), Grenadine (nice mid berry), Cedar Red. Elizabeth Arden Wildberry (bit muted, closer to True Autumn). Laura Mercier Sienna for those nearer Dark Winter, though could be a great red on many Dark Autumn. Lancome Ruby Silk a mid-warm-red, not too dark, while Jezebel is a purple containing subtle metallic bronze effects. Smashbox Cognac could be a very good nude on many, where nude is not the same as Lip Eraser.
Nope. Doesn’t exist. Nature never colours any human being, or anything else, disharmoniously. So far as I know, the genetics that code for the melanin in your hair or skin do not mutate when hair silvers. And I’m pretty sure that’s correct because Season does not change with age.
Now you might not be used to silver hair yet. Your skin might look a little different with maturity plus this new hair colour. The way silver looks with your wardrobe might be different or you might still be figuring out how to coordinate outfits with silver on your head. Maybe your foundation might have been too warm all those years and now it’s more obvious. Lots of possibilities that we can work with, but your hair is as perfect as your eyes, your teeth, your freckles, your lips, and your veins.
On the Know Your Best Hair Colour board on Pinterest, I posted an image today of a woman with cool silver hair. She is of dark complexion. I don’t know the warmth level of her skin without testing but she appears more cool than dark, as does her hair. I think she looks magnificent (perhaps the black shirt is a bit bland but far from the worst thing she could wear). Women of ethnicity look fabulous in their silver hair.
On any woman, a warm skin/cool hair contrast can really elevate one another. Light complexion women tend to have a big gray circle effect, which may be part of the discomfort. Too many colour their hair, when all that’s needed is a little more makeup and brighter makeup to define their features. Though the transition to silver might be harder for warm than cool women, the gray circle effect is less noticeable in women of warm colouring who have a built-in contrast between face and hair (since gray is perceived as cool).
It is never too late to add makeup. One of the best reasons for a PCA that I’ve heard lately is, “I’ve spent 60 years looking after everyone else. As a young woman, I didn’t wear makeup. I have time now and I want to know.”
2. All the makeup artists tell me I have warm undertones. How can they tell?
It’s really time for a new paradigm in human colour analysis. There’s just too much objective proof in place to spend any more time with brown-eyes-have-to-be-Winters and what not. That’s over. Red hair isn’t Autumn. Most of the time, it’s anything but, usually Winter and Spring. In part because the Winter groups derive their pigmentation from the primary colours, the variability of presentation is endless. Nonetheless, those were the best ideas of their time and I have a deep respect for them as that.
I hold a doctorate in veterinary medicine. After 20-some years of private practice, the similarities between that profession and this one have been an eye-opener I didn’t expect. There are no limits on the variety. The last 10 cases of congestive heart failure I treated barely resemble this one. The last 10 Soft Summers have a passing similarity to this one.
It’s high time for colour analysis be viewed as the profession that it is. Even insinutating that it’s DIY misleads the public unfairly. I appreciate that they popularize the subject but wrong expectations >> confusion and dissatisfaction.
Doctors do rounds because it is not humanly possible to always be right, know it all and have seen everything. Colour analysts review cases too. After several hundred, I still discuss them, some keep me up at night, some I’d love a chance to redo because I just wasn’t 100% sure.
Neighbour Seasons, hardly a big deal. Retail compromise, comfort level, and swatching variation will get you settled in right. Notice how many Pins on the Shopping for Your Season and Style board at Pinterest span two Seasons. Getting your lines right helps colour work even better. Get your style right and the same.
What is it about this industry? Where else is movement forward so resisted in favour of 20 year old beliefs that don’t hold up to real world usage? It’s beauty, right? PCA got clumped in with a field based on trend and hope. Where we gladly hand over money for products we don’t expect to deliver on their promises. Beauty and Fashion know for a fact that we will do exactly that. Skinny jeans don’t flatter most bodies. Black liquid eyeliner is not the best choice most of us can make. Coppery highlights on most heads are the only thing the rest of us can see, unless the woman knew that subconsciously and added a marigold top, in which case that is now the only thing we can see. I really have a certain respect for this achievement of consumer manipulation.
Compliments are useless. They’re filtered through the other person’s perceptions. We all see more pregnant women when we’re pregnant. The compliment is about them, their tastes, and their internal struggles, not you and yours.
Look, the cosmetic and hair folks are advisors who counsel women every day. So they maintain that they can look at us and pronounce the heat level of our undertone? For the sake of all the women out there whose money they’re taking, these industries need an upgrade. Let’s talk about a new reality, which might be replaced in its own right one fine day if evidence comes along, because there is no cemented reality. There’s only the best we know today. Today, the A to the Q is this, whether we’re talking makeup or hair colour.
“They can’t tell unless they compare you to something calibrated.”
That is the plain and simple fact.
If they just looked, forget it. Forget it. Walk away. Some people are quite accurate by eye, but some aren’t. How is the consumer supposed to tell them apart? All they can see is what’s on the surface. Not good enough because not accurate. And if you have a deeper complexion, good luck not being told you’re warmer than you are. Good luck too if you’re among the many easily yellowed Soft Summers and Dark Winters. Women badly need better advice than this, especially from the hair colour industry. They don’t know because they can’t know so don’t expect them to know. Find out for yourself. Compare your colouring to something calibrated. You’re one appointment away from having so many answers.
Heat of colour can’t be judged well by eye because it’s totally relative. Saturation is hopeless to judge in a human. That leaves darkness level, so it’s over-emphasized. As humans, we are set up to see healthy skin as colourless. All we really see that contains colour are hair and eyes, so they get over-emphasized despite the fact that they only contain a small portion of your pigments. There’s no hemoglobin in hair, a wildly important pigment since it determines so much of the undertone.
If they applied 5 foundations and chose one, there’s a much higher chance of getting things right. Since they haven’t a clue about your heat by looking at you, I hope they used a selection of colours all the way from pure cool to pure warm, not available from most foundation companies.
Why make pure cool and pure warm foundation? Would women buy them? I bet not. Pure cool Summer foundation is pinkish gray, Winter is greenish gray, COMPARED to the warmer colours.
I’m pretty sure people don’t say, “Did you notice, she looks kind of green, ay?” when I walk out of rooms. IDK, maybe they do. My foundation is green-gray-beige because I am greenish. In the regular world, I look like everyone else, of course. Same as most Bright Season people don’t have clear eyes that you could see across the room. That’s not how it works at all. They look like everyone else, colours in equilibrium so nothing stands out.
The world is swimming in yellow foundation and dusty apricot, mocha rose, cinnamon rose, and so on makeup colours. No commitment makeup feels safe. No commitment anything feels safe. It is not the best place to put your money today.
3. Jennifer asked a great Q was asked at the end of the How To Match Foundation article about warm and cool foundation. It was, “Can one be a true warm season, and have neutral foundation look better on them than yellowed foundation? In other words, should foundation match both your overtone and undertone?”
Generally speaking, yes, foundation should match the true colours of the surface skin (no imposed overtones) and the heat level of the undertone. Heat level of undertone cannot be know without comparison testing because by definition, it is located under the surface skin. It’s not available for us to see on the surface. Draping looks through that to match the undertone layer. That’s why the Season result is the same even with suntans, rosacea, etc, all of which are happening up in the surface layers.
Some thoughts. First, every woman is an individual within a Season. Even True Seasons can run closer to one of their neighbour Neutrals. Even when very centered in her Season, every woman is an individual. About half the time, same Seasons can wear the same foundation. The rest, you’re starting from scratch. We see very fair and golden beige Autumns, alabaster and olive Winters, fair and very pastel-pink-soft Summers, and golden ivory-beige and translucently fair Springs. I still check 3 to 7 colours when I match skin, still may have to mix colours to get it perfect. So yes, warm women can look better in neutral foundations.
Second, foundation is not coloured or labeled in a very organized way, certainly not between companies. One’s warm is another’s neutral.
Third, the difference in type of heat between the 2 warm Seasons is very important. Spring and Autumn are often very intolerant of each other’s kind of heat, where these are often the other group’s worst drapes. This is why I don’t believe there are Sp/A blend Seasons, because I never see real human beings respond to colour in this way. Would the lollipops make sense in a Santa Fe landscape? Would anyone wear those colours together to create an elegant and functional wardrobe?
Spring foundations are quite yellow, Autumn foundations are a heavier beige-brown. Even darker colours, say for an East Indian woman, are yellower for Spring-influenced skin if she is a Bright Winter. Very hard to find Autumn foundations actually, especially True and Dark.
The retail world contains a lot more foundation warmed for Spring skin than Autumn. I don’t know if the industry understands the difference, though I believe that making foundation as a whole too yellow is a relic of the 80s where prominent makeup artists suggested that all the pinker colours of the 60s and 70s did not match skin. The pendulum swung too far to yellow, and people loved it because it looked like a healthy tan and covered red. Though still here today, the tan and red coverage still comes at a price: flat wide moon faces, flat wide noses, dull eyes, and no lips. Everything has a price.
Fourth, heat in colour is relative, I think. What exactly is maximally cool or warm? Does human skin ever reach those maximal values, even though they can be applied to cosmetics and textiles, where different pigments are found than in human skin? Today, IDK the answers to those Q.
If you’re asking me a Q, so are many others. You send me more intelligent and insightful comments and questions than I could ever come up with. What I want more than anything is for the colour analysis industry to make the shopping of every person reading here better. Much better, right now, today.
Answering your Q one email at a time limits how many could benefit. If I’m sent a Q or a comment, it might appear here, always anonymously, and adjusted to reflect the various angles by which people asked the same thing. If that is uncomfortable for you, might be best to ask another source.
1. The Luxury Drapes…I wanted to cry when I saw them. The colours are so gorgeous that I want to take them all home. But they’re expensive. Could you make Personal Luxury drapes smaller?
I hear you and I get it. I get that these are the first piece of consumer freedom you’ve felt in a long time, like waving flags. They are the sails of your very own boat, that you can take wherever you want. I want that freedom for you.
You wouldn’t save enough money to outweigh the negatives. The cost of the fabric would save some money certainly but think about how much 17″ (half the length of a drape) would cost. Not a lot. Maybe averages at $4-6, so over 15 pieces, that’s $60-90.
The expense is not in the fabric. It’s in the time and skill of having two analysts hand pick every colour, one by one. Literally, it takes days.
Then, there’s the production process. Cutting, edge-sealing, grommetting, and stamping is the same for a full or half length piece of fabric. This includes the time, the expertise, and the materials needed.
Shipping cost would reduce by about $20 savings by weight, depending on destination. Everything else about shipping, meaning supplies and time, is the same. Revenue Canada requires that all drapes ship out of Canada.
Also, the sets are customizable. Everyone so far has requested specific colours or colour schemes. Excellent, but I don’t want to be left with half a drape in case it’s not requested again and I can’t include it in an analyst’s set.
You’ve saved maybe $60 or 80. Part of my job is to answer the Q everyone should be asking. What is the loss? If there’s a gain, there’s a loss somewhere.
The more colour you have, the more you can see. I prefer, indeed insist, on large, single colour pieces of fabric to create every optical effect possible. You need drapes that will do that for you to gain the most information.
Half-size drapes would be half the size of a garment. Garments are not napkin sized. To make an outfit, you need to have some large and small blocks in sizes larger than doll cutouts.
I wouldn’t consider Personal drapes smaller than half size. The intention of making these available is in part so you know what an entire garment looks like in a store. Whether a 1 inch square swatch or a 2 inch square bit of fabric, the entire effect isn’t available. It’s hard for anyone to know what the clothing looks like. When Terry and I started the drape enterprise, we were uncertain about what we were looking for in many of the colours, just going by the swatches. When we found it, it was often an accident that got a reaction of “Really? Look at this one, Terry. I’m pretty sure this is what Dark Winter coral actually looks like.”
This is one of the many reasons why I so do not advocate matching clothing to each little square or dot on a fan. There’s not enough colour surface area to compare with a full size garment. Besides, even at 3×3 inches, the production of small squares of fabric becomes ridiculously complex if they are to be beautifully crafted, durable, permanent, sealed, grommetted, and packaged.
When fabric pieces are smaller, you can’t see appreciate their interactions with one another as well. Synchronous wavelength, belonging, stillness, and harmony don’t come through as well. The more colour, the more energy to be felt.
Finally, I don’t believe any more people will buy the drapes if they’re $60 less on a $500 investment.
2. During my PCA, in the Key drapes, the initial gold/silver/brown/black series, I wore black fairly well. But the analyst told me I’m a Soft Summer. Doesn’t wearing black well mean I’m a Winter?
Absolutely not. It means that your skin wants something Winter offers that the comparison drape at the time did not.
Might be darkness (but we can get that in Autumn too). Might be saturation (but Spring has that too). Might be coolness (look to Summer if necessary).
You get the pattern. Any colour dimension can be found in any 2 True Seasons. Any 2 True Seasons share 1 colour dimension and differ in the other 2. It’s like those “If Jane has 2 jellybeans and gives Tom 1…” puzzles.
So a Soft Summer might wear black as well or better than silver (her skin tone wants the darkness of black), black better than Autumn (skin wants some coolness that black gives her), and black better than Spring gold (skin wants darker and cooler). But she ain’t no Winter. And I don’t vote with the Key drapes because I fear that once a winner is picked, our brain says, “There. Done. Got what I came for. Move switch to OFF.” and too many other clues are left behind.
Second thing: The Key drapes are way way way too early to know about Seasons. The analyst doesn’t even know the face yet. It takes a solid 15-30 minutes to see what a given face will do in colours. The Key drapes are about “What’s going to change, where exactly, and how much?”
A Light Summer can wear black at times DEPENDING on what the contest is. Her skin likes the saturation and the coolness. If the comparison is with Autumn, her skin might find several things in black to like. Now if the comparison is between black and silver, there may still be good stuff happening in black but less so.
Our eyes deceive us. Everywhere, all day long. We truly know not what we see. Neuroscientists write books about our visual inaccuracies. What we think about colour is 100% dependent on what the comparison is at the moment. You make a decision about one drape’s effects. Compare it to something else, whole different decision. That’s why it’s so important to check every decision by coming at it from several angles. Never assume you read it right the first time.
I could look at you and paint what I see. Right there, in that chair, with those clothes and that hair, and that light coming in. Or even surrounded by neutral gray. Those could be your body colours, the ones you repeat when you shop.
What if I dislike yellow to the point of feeling nauseated or weirdly intimidated? The analyst is human too. Bound the influence what I paint. Gotta get myself out the way and find some way to measure objectively. Very hard for humans to do.
What if I got the first colour wrong, then rejected colour 2 because it didn’t look pretty with colour 1, while colour 2 was the correct one? Colours 3, 4, and 5 must now be influenced. Errors carry forward, so there has to be a built-in way to recheck every previous decision. This is not just my opinion. It’s how humans think.
With any 2 drapes, our human eyes often grab the first one and say “OK, got it. This is normal and right and real.” and proceed to judge everything back to that. If the drapes had landed in the reverse order, we would have judged oppositely. Never ever assume you read it right from just one comparison. Keep moving around the problem and look at every angle, almost like fooling your eyes into making the right call. Keep confusing them so they keep adapting, like any muscle or neuropathway, to develop resilience, plasticity, and the highest outcome.
Nothing wrong with paintings. They can bring us to tears, a reunion with some part of ourselves or our past. They’re also frozen in time. The subject’s and the painter’s. You know colour analysis is a spiritual journey for me, because that’s what it has been to me. I want colours that give me somewhere to grow into, saving parts of myself I don’t know about today.
It’s all inside us, past, present, future. I want a bridge to the stuff that I can’t access yet, stuff that will be there waiting for me when I’m ready, that I trust to be real and true. Being frozen in my today feels too confining and kind of terrifying. I’m not certain who it was said “Know that one thing by which everything else can be known.” For me and many others, it’s colour that acts as that metaphor. Doesn’t have to be for you, I just hope you find what it is. Seeing it in one place can help us recognize it in another. For those of us who view the world symbolically, everything is a metaphor. Favourite piece of poetry:
To see a World in a Grain of Sand,
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand,
And Eternity in an hour.
- William Blake
How seriously hard is connecting to the truth of you, with no warping by media or any other person? We devote our lives to it. We lose it and find it. Something twists and it’s gone again. Once you find it, let it out. Sing your own song. Nothing feels better. It is the voice the Universe hears most clearly as you work together to move your life forward.
Makes me think of this. This is why I and those I have taught became colour analysts. It is how God made us to spread love in the world.
I’ve written about “How To Match Foundation” before, here.
I watched this video and and thought about how it might apply to PCA.
By far, this is the best foundation matching video I have seen. From a colour analyst’s perspective, I agree with so much of what Lisa says.
1. The skin on your entire body is united. Your genetics did not put a different melanin, carotene, or hemoglobin in your hands than your back. The overtones in the face or hands or feet may be different from the rest of the body, but the undertone will not be.
2. The skin contains many colors, reds, greens, blues, and yellows.
3. I fully agree with the importance of self-knowledge, but some types of self-knowledge are nearly impossible to access on your own. You can’t know your red blood cell level without measuring it. You can’t know which foundation matches your skin best without measuring it, meaning comparing several different shades together at the same time. Comparison is a form of measurement that delivers greater than and less than data.
As Lisa says, the apparent skin colour is different for different parts of the face and body. And yet, all of our skin is united in its undertone. Terry wrote about this recently in her article, “What Is Under My Overtone?”
You can’t know your undertone without measuring it. These things are part of our internal biology, extremely difficult to evaluate simply by external observation because they don’t sit on the surface.
Many women have concerns about facial skin texture, areas of uneven pigmentation, rosacea, suntans, and so on. They have asked whether any of these compromise the result of the colour analysis, or if we should be working from neck or chest skin that is more even. The answer is no if the analysis process is analyzing to your undertone, not your overtone.
Warning: BIG digression coming up. It fits into todays’ context and many others.
Defining Your PCA Service
In the last article, some folks heard arrogance from me at the idea that what we think we see is not real.
There is no judgment here. I am not pointing out wrong or right. I truly apologize if it sounded that way. If you spoke to me, you’d know that I’m not 100% sure that my way is right. I’m always pulling back from that line because I have unanswered questions about PCA myself, Sci\ART system included. In life, there is no 100% wrong or 100% right. There is only lifelong growth. If you’re waiting for 100% locked down forever, you’ll wait a long time.
I do not want anyone to be uncomfortable. All I want is for your clients to be happy with you and my clients to be happy with me. The present situation, full of doubt and misunderstanding, is not good for any of us. Wouldn’t our industry be healthier if clients knew what they were getting and could just enjoy the results? The present situation is keeping us all stuck in the 80s. Feelings are being hurt and business is not progressing. Someone is going to have get brave and talk openly and fairly. If we, analysts and clients both, don’t put our hands out to steady the wheel, all we’ll ever be is skidding around on black ice.
Every industry exists to serve the public. People have a desire, a need, and a right to know what they’re buying. You don’t have to agree with how I do an analysis. The point is not to get the public quizzing analysts and making everyone bananas including themselves. The point is to have everyone define how they do things and why. The public can then make an informed choice. The analyst gets the right clients for what they offer. Expectations are satisfied or exceeded.
Isn’t this better than the way it is now, where Personal Colour Analysis implies that we’re doing the same thing and nobody’s ever happy and calm? Why wouldn’t an analyst want her clients to know how she can help them? Why would you, as an analyst, want your business lumped with mine in the public mind, when I cannot offer a client what you can? Businesses define themselves all the time without taking offence or hearing criticism. It’s normal, not harsh or unfair.
If I define my business, what I do and why I do it, it is not to say others are wrong. It is to create a space for everyone else to do the same thing. I get that the transition from One-Exercise-For-All to Yoga/Intervals/Step/Weights/Pilates/Core/Running/Bosu/P90X was frustrating, but I believe that someone has to lay out a path for each version can grow and improve, released from the constraints of the pack.
We could distinguish PCA services. They are totally different from beginning to end, though various mixtures have evolved to get the consumer really mixed up. There seem to be two broad categories.
Systems A to D have their colour palettes. The colours for each group are chosen for looking good and belonging together according to that person or company’s taste.
If draping is involved, which drape goes into which Season was decided because it looked right.
As well as judging swatches and drapes for Seasons because they look right, so is the client’s colouring observed on its own, by how it looks. A – D observes the surface person, believing that, “You truly are what you look like you are today.”
This is one definition of PCA and its desired outcome. A – D have a good argument on side. After all, we are judged on how we appear to look. If you believe in this method, the clients who agree want to know so they can find you. They will be unhappy and confused with my approach, which involves measuring palettes, drapes, and clients by multiple comparisons at every step. On your web page, define what you do and why you believe in doing it that way. Since I don’t understand that way, I cannot do justice to your business. I’d be lucky to match a paint chip from a choice of 100 similar colours, never mind isolate it from a face.
Only you can market and promote your business. I am not tearing anyone down, I am simply defining my business. If my approach sounds flawed to you, I would be first to read about why. Teach me something. That’s what I really want. Convince me of how I could improve. I’ll send you a free book to express my gratitude.
Here’s how it all looks to me: Systems J – M say, “I’m not so sure. First of all, my colouring looks different in every outfit, hair colour, and room lighting. Second, I know that humans are not good at knowing what a colour is on its own, let alone when many colours are mixed together, like in a face or in skin. As soon as colours touch, they change. Thirdly, our colours just can’t be expressed in the top layers of skin, or not only there. It makes no sense. I mean, why is my face is different from my hand from my belly? I need to bark up another tree if I’m going to find the right foundation.”
J – M then say, “Even if all my body parts were all the same colour, who knows the exact colours in skin? Look at ten people with their hair covered and their eyes closed and tell me the exact reds, greens, blues, and yellows in their skin tone.”
J – M stew some more and add, “One other thing. I think it all goes a bit deeper. The impression of our appearance is formed by many brain areas, not just a 2-dimensional top layer snapshot. Something else is going on here. Believe it or not, human surface skin is see-through to human eyes. Seems to me that that’s where the real information is.” While some human beings are better at eyeballing colours than others, and one does get better with practice, the fact is that in general, we are not consistently good at it. You have to compare them to something unless you’re able to literally measure their wavelength.
J – M say the surface is not enough information, it’s different for different body areas, and it is influenced by everything around it. If you gauge foundation to the colour you think you see on the surface, even if you pick the right section of surface, you could easily get the colour incorrect. There has to be another way.
Services J - M look through and beneath the surface at the undertone, thus removing the errors the overtone brings in. This group take the “You are not what you look like you are.” approach.
Well, anyone who has spent 10 minutes on an online colour site knows that the Sci\ART-based systems fit in with J – M but they don’t do things at all the same. Some don’t use the gray surrounding. There is lots of variability in how Better and Worse decisions are made. Some don’t use test drapes. Some take 30 minutes to know your Season, some take 1.5 hours. There is conflict about the meaning and appearance of harmony. Numerous Sci\ART- based analysts practice very close to how Systems A – D do things, by what looks right, with their own reasons for doing so. Not wrong, but different for sure. Too different to match.
None of this is a secret. It ain’t a perfect world. The public thinks we’re all doing the same thing because we stemmed from Sci\ART. This is not the case. It explains why I took down the Sci/ART Analyst Directory. I do not presume to speak for Australia, but in North America, the Sci\ART system has been re-interpreted so many times at this point that the name should go out of usage except historically. Let all analysts stand alone according to their practice, which they explain on their websites. Refer back to differences with me if you like, I’d be fine with it. Take down all the Sci\ART Certified banners. The public will stop expecting the same product. For my students, so that the public can expect the same product, the process isn’t up for negotiation. Discussion, sure. Do I think I can control everyone forever? No, just as Kathryn couldn’t. I can only separate myself from them in a public way.
Looking Is A Painting. Measuring Is An Analysis.
If we render what we see, that’s a beautiful painting. Change your clothes, hair colour, and the time of day, it’s a different beautiful painting.
I have nothing against beautiful paintings. A group of interesting colours that depict a version of me would be awesome. I would really love to have this. There are people who work in this way, with extraordinary taste and fascinating colour perception. I would love 1000 of these renditions. Each one is a version of how we are seen through the eyes of others. That stuff is absolute magic.
But that wasn’t why I had my colouring analyzed. I wanted to know what to buy every day for the me that’s always the same. Different question, different purpose and approach, different outcome. I wanted a functional wardrobe.
The consumer needs to identify what they want. It is their job to decide and to stick by their decision. Perhaps they could do their job better if they could understand that they are not investing in the same product. Both great products, but not equivalent. I know colour analysts who feel these are or should be comparable products. I disagree and advise the public to stop trying find a relationship between them. There isn’t one that will redeem the time you took to figure it out.
Here’s why I use my product: My issue with looking: I can’t get it to work every single day, with many outfits and makeup that is always right on my face.
I meet greenish-gray-eyed Summers that were decorated far too warmly. Her hair is too orange, her clothes are too warm, so the skin turned yellower. It could all go together if we just give her yellower foundation and took time to blend, except that her clothes and eyes create combinations that are unappealing. Therein lies Problem #1, even if we can change our skin, we always wear our eye colour. The colours in eyes repeat the colours in skin, though skin has many more. They’re never different. Nature never colours anybody discordantly. Do your swatches look good with your eyes? Even True Winter and True Summer can easily have lots of yellow in the eyes, lots, but it will be that green-yellow match from their measured palette.
In too-warm clothes or foundation, she could think she has a healthy-looking tan. In reality, her eye colours have dulled and the lip outline erased. Feature definition is the biggest part of looking young (good article linked further down). It’s massively important to decisions others make about us. Me, I’d want an analyst who could talk about that, Sci\ART based or not. Problem #2: too warm colour flattens feature definition. This includes too-yellow foundation. Besides, a healthy glow doesn’t come about from yellow foundation or a yellow overtone from too warm clothing (not discussing self-tanner on faces here). It comes from wearing clothing and blush that elevate the colour of our natural circulation and from correct use of bronzer.
I meet many brown-eyed, freckled Winter blends who have been observed into Autumn colours. Nobody would decorate a room combining Winter and Autumn colours. This is not an attractive match. Our eye and clothing colours are seen together and there’s not a thing we can do about it (not discussing coloured contacts here), as is the undertone because human eyes can see through human surface skin. A Winter’s skin colours are not gorgeous next to Autumn cosmetics. A Winter using elephant gray and chocolate brown as the neutral backbone of her wardrobe is not making her best choices. The wardrobe won’t work with her makeup or jewelry. Problem #3: from you to your palette, there has to be a functional and appealing wardrobe of clothing and cosmetics if that is what you were investing in.
I believe that we are not what we appear to be in a million different ways. My purpose is to place you more organically and energetically into your colour palette, on the same wavelength as all of your clothes and makeup, in the colours that you really are as determined by calibrated measurement. Why use the word energetic? Because I believe humans feel energy as wavelength very well if they let themselves. Now the discussion is getting too deep. I direct you two articles back to Can True Beauty Be Diminished? if you feel like wading into the Universal Energy swamp. You can always find me there.
Big digression complete. We can all exhale.
4. The area of the face that Lisa matches to foundation makes sense to me. I like to use the lower jaw and drag it down onto the backside of the neck, for the same reasons as she does. I also test five or six different stripes side-by-side. With colour, comparison is the only way to tell what works and what doesn’t. I would insist on that and never buy foundation from a single test. I meet way more cool and cool-neutral people than warm or warm-neutral. The foundation range out there is way the opposite, not counting all the peachy coloured product that looks like real skin colour under department store light and like candy in daylight.
5. Wear a neutral gray and tie your hair to choose the colour. Deciding your Season or your foundation by looking requires the consultant to take what they think they see, and make more. If what they think they see is correct, great. Some cosmetic consultants are pretty darn good judges of true colouring.
If you went shopping as one of the many Dark Winters who look yellow because of their clothing or surroundings, the only thing that happens is that the error gets magnified. The consultant will make more of what you’re not. Could most makeup consultants explain how to correctly distinguish and identify undertone from overtone, or just define the terms?
6. As Lisa says, once you have a colour that unites the face and the neck, meaning the right foundation for your undertone, the entire face, neck, and chest will blend together. It is the very rare person who needs to adjust foundation to match the neck because they are so disparate in the overtones.
Begin by getting the heat level of any product correct. Heat level is determined by undertone. It is amazing what difference that alone will make.
After that, choose the darkness level, which is determined by under- and over-tone.
After that, be sure the heat type is correct for the skin. Most companies over-warm all their foundations, including those marked Cool. To complicate things further, they use Spring’s pigmentation to do so. Not easy to find a great Autumn foundation.
Imagine being a Caucasian Dark Winter – the difficulty of finding cool colour and Autumn type heat and Winter level lightness. Wearing wrong colour clothing to the appointment makes the job near impossible.
7. Often women come to a PCA appointment with correctors of various sorts. Once she is wearing her correct clothing colours, she has forgotten all about them. There is nothing that correctors would do or could do that foundation alone has not already done unless there is a particular issue like a birthmark, and even those are diminished greatly by wearing correct colours.
Watching Lisa work is hypnotic. The video on Marilyn’s makeup is great. You will also find this beautiful video for mature skin. Great place for new analysts to pick up some good ideas.
8. I talked above about the importance of defined features for looking younger. This article does a beautiful job of discussing it. Kathryn Kalisz wrote about it in her analyst guide. This is not new information for colour analysts that I dreamed up out of the blue. People say I invented things and changed Sci\ART-based colour analysis. No, I did not. If anything, Terry and I altered the original process the least of everyone, and remain unconvinced to do so. I did notice a few things independent of other things and described them with a new set of words. Maybe folks did not recognize them.
In your correct colours, features are most defined in colour and in shape. It really matters.
Defined in colour… Though they have a place, I am not a fan of nude lips on most types of coloring, particularly when hair or eye colors are intense, or the person is over 35 or 40. It doesn’t have nearly as much excitement on Lisa herself. Why pick the more exciting face? Because why pick the more boring face.
Defined in shape…How does feature definition look young? Because the opposite…think of an eroded statue, an eroded landscape. Signifies wear and tear.
Lately, I am wondering if maturing skin is an overtone change too. The surface layers appear grayer, possibly because we contain less water. In the undertone layers, we test mature women in every single Season, and I bet the very same Season as when they were younger. Many Darks, many Brights. For overtone practitioners, that surface grayness plus silvering hair is the reason they get put into Summer Seasons. Except their edges and colours disappear. No judgment here but I don’t see the visual as being so good. Eroded edges are fuzzy. Looks like blur. Side by side, which of these would look younger?
Stronger? Healthier? Newer? The focused ones or the others?
I appreciate every comment that has been offered on this site over the years. I also respect that those comments were made with intention to learn, but also with kindness, remembering that there is a human being on the other end.
A Place to Learn Together
By human being, I’m not referring to myself. I welcome all critique. Mostly, I want this to be a safe place to seek and find truth and the highest possible potential for me, you, and colour analysis. This site is also a record of my own growth as a colour analyst. I felt the need to remove all the videos from here and YouTube because I don’t recognize that person as me anymore.
However vulnerable in the moment, old patterns need to be seen for us to separate and leave them behind. We have to recognize mind chatter about colour analysis, as about all our beliefs. Our mind is driven to protect old beliefs that were acquired years ago when that was the best we had.
In what I’m about to say, I am not criticizing anyone. I am offering you a new strength. In trying to follow these new ideas, know that you are very supported by the many who have understood this now.
Kindness in the comments would encourage me to post more photos of how the Seasons of human colouring appear in the real world. Problem is, they end up on 100 Pinterest boards and a million other places over which I have no control. I know that you would love to see them and I would love to post them but I can’t protect the person’s privacy. If you have no concerns about where your photo ends up and have been correctly analyzed, send me your picture and I’ll be glad to post it (email@example.com).
Some have said that Hanka can’t be a True Winter (article A Blonde True Winter), or that I am not a Winter of any sort.
With every respect, how in the world could you know? The computer you’re reading this on denies you every single tool you need to evaluate, or even accurately see, human colouring.
You don’t have a grayed environment. You have a busy background that influences colours. You could be reading on your phone on the subway.
Instead of accurate lights, you have whatever lighting the time of day requires and the room you’re in offers. We have no idea what any person looks like till you see them in full spectrum lighting. Students remark on how surprisingly much faces changes just by switching from overhead room lighting to properly placed full spec lights.
You don’t have access to skin in the photos on this site. They’re wearing makeup. I’m happy to post photos of women with no makeup if you’d like to send me yours, email address above.
You don’t have drapes. Or anything else for the skin to react to. Of the many companies out there offering PCA services, I would have to hope that if we agree on one thing, it’s that the ‘analysis’ part of PCA refers to the evaluation of simultaneous contrast effects. That word, contrast? By definition, it means between two things.
You don’t even have the person! Ever met anyone who looks exactly like their photo? I haven’t.
Easy to forget about the water. Until something ripples it.
Be careful about the medium. It inserts itself so subtly that we don’t even know it. Media isn’t selling truth. It’s selling the medium. It’s selling itself. The newspaper isn’t selling the news, it’s selling newspapers. Five newspapers have 5 different versions of the news. Only 1 thing happened. People are only 1 Season. But the newspaper changed what happened and we forget that it took up the space between us and the real event.
The lights, the gray room, their purpose is to null the medium, to cancel it back to Zero Effect, so it can’t distort our perceptions in the ways it so very much does.
The Real Basis of PCA
There’s one other thing you might not have. A grasp of what real PCA is actually measuring: colours under the skin in the capillary layer where the blood travels. The so-called undertone layer.
That is where the truth of your colours is expressed and consistent, despite surface changes like suntans. At the level of circulation. That’s what the drapes are reacting to. We’re biologically adapted to see through skin and are hugely sensitive to tiny incremental changes.
Humans are gifted with the ability to see through human skin to some degree, as Dr. Mark Changizi has demonstrated and described in his book, The Vision Revolution (discussed in 12Blueprints article Different PCA Systems, Different Results). A photo or a monitor only gives you the surface. That’s the limit of what it’s capable of. Only real human eyes, connected to a human brain, looking at directly at another living human is capable of see-through vision, or Xray vision, as Dr. Changizi calls it.
That’s why gadgets that take photos of the surface are quite limited, unless I have mistakenly reduced their scope and they are in fact contacting the lower levels of skin. Now, if it’s just a surface photo, this would follow a very different practice of colour analysis than mine. Never mind how many times each step of the software altered the colours between the gadget, the computers, and your eyes. About 4 to 8 times. Kind of hopeless.
When I’m sent photos, I place no faith at all what they show me. I don’t say much because the medium has utterly clouded my analyst’s eyes. I wish women would stop sending me photos. Besides, I don’t believe I’m here to do it for you. I am here to ignite it in you, show you how to do it for yourself, and bring it to your communities.
Surface acquaintance may be why little machines that match foundation did not work for me. Foundation must match surface and undertone. Dark Winter surface skin can appear quite yellow. True Summer skin can tan quite golden, but when analyzed correctly with accurate drapes, the person remains a True Summer. We’ve proven this to ourselves in the training courses, depending on the models we had for that session. The foundation that matches them remains very cool unless they are quite tanned.
Amazing what cameras and computers can do.
But, listen, seriously, nothing against your skill. Maybe you’re a genius. IDK what you know and don’t know. You might be fabulous. How would I know how current you are or how many clients you’ve draped with excellent drapes?
I just know the medium is dangerous and pointless. You don’t have access to the lower layers of the skin. So you’re sunk. You have absolutely no accurate data from which to draw conclusions. All I’m saying.
Averages, Meanings, and Old Formulas
So what do you have? All you’re left with are the stereotypes and the patterns to fall back on. That’s all this medium can give you. It took away everything else. You’re forced to use averages. The old, wrong conclusions. You look dark so you must be a Dark Season. These walls need to come down for us all to move forward.
By the way, forget the words, OK? Dark, Light. It’s not about whether you look dark. Has nothing to do with it. There are dark, medium, and light looking people in each of the 12 groups. Sure, Steve Jobs dark is not likely a Light Summer, but Maggie Gyllenhal is entirely plausible.
When someone decides you look dark, they’re looking at your hair and eyes. The old, wrong patterns again. Do you really see Steve’s skin as much darker than Maggie’s? Did you even think about their skin? Dr. Changizi has shown that humans don’t register healthy skin of the same race as having hardly any colour – an evolutionary adaptation that allows us to be wildly sensitive to the slightest changes, and a brilliant one.
It’s not about whether you wear dark. Nothing to do with it. Everybody has light, dark, and medium colours in their native colouring and in their colour analysis swatch palettes. Hanka is a very normal darkness level for a True Winter, seen it numerous times. So is Kim Kardashian. And they go lighter than that. And they can have red hair. And yellow in the eyes. If you haven’t seen that being draped, how could you say if I’m right or not? What if I said that in the photo of Hanka linked above, the yellow hair colour is dulling her skin, lip, and eye pigmentation and from that photo, nobody has any idea what she looks like or what her native colours are?
The meaning of those words refers to how those kinds of colours react to your skin. That’s it. Let your analyst worry about the words. I need you to put your attention in the right place, which is learning to match your swatch book in stores.
Does anyone see their skin as very different? His teeth are cooler. Her eyes are darker. Wait, looking at wrong things, back to skin tone. Well…I just don’t know what to say. How much has to do with different ages? Between men and women?
We all play the guessing game. It’s fun and interesting. A colour analyst can recognize the mind chatter, that it’s just a reaction, and can clear it out when the analysis begins. She has been taught to recognize the far bigger picture.
We’re stuck in ruts so deep we don’t even know it. We need comparisons. Many different ones. Like training any muscle, we must give our lazy perceptions lots of different relationships, shock them, force them to adapt. If they’re right, they better be ready to prove it before I tell anyone they’re a Season.
12 possible outcomes, equal probability of each.
The guessing is done. The lights go on. The draping begins. You get your answer.
Something I’ve noticed over the past year. She is always a woman between 55 and 65. She is most often one of the 5 Winter blends, simply because the visual effect I’m about to describe is more visible in that natural colouring, but it happens in all 12 groups or Seasons. In 12 Season personal colour analysis (PCA), the 5 Winters include True, Dark, and Bright Winter, Bright Spring and Dark Autumn.
When we meet, the closest description is that the clothes she wears have faded away. By comparison, the woman isn’t faded at all. Her face is lively, her character sparkly. Her hair is silver or in the process of becoming. There’s lots of life in her eyes and her conversation. Why can’t I see her clothes or makeup?
Beyond cute, but are those eyes real? Would Nature on her own have paired these windows with this house? Do coloured contacts look easy and calm or do they (do you) feel manipulated?
This character ‘s windows balance the house.
It’s the clothes. They make no impression, as if there are no clothes. I’m used to meeting women who dress very neutrally on the day they have their colouring analyzed. I’m used to outfits where one or two items might be great, but the rest are too much or not enough in some way, though I don’t know how before we see what happens with the drapes. Without PCA, nobody can get every item to be in perfect harmony with every other.
When we visit at the beginning of the session, it takes too much effort to notice the clothing, which you can’t do and stay current in the conversation. It’s too distracting to keep going back and forth. Speaking with her while looking at her feels like listening to English and answering in German.
You have to tune out thinking about the clothing out to stay sane. Whatever those clothes cost, they might as well not be there. The head feels connected to a sheer, pale beige shirt and acid-washed light blue pants. The image is so unbalanced that one suspects it can only be intentional. Like the day Lady Gaga was interviewed on 60 Minutes in a skin coloured bathing suit/bustier sort of affair. It was a head with no body, on purpose. An interesting visual and psychological manipulation, of which Gaga is quite masterful.
Our woman often says, “I don’t get service in stores.” She doesn’t mean good or bad. She means not any. The store staff isn’t rude. They literally can’t see her. She looks a little see-through. If we touched her, our finger might not hit solid bone. It might just keep going. She looks like her apparition version, ephemeral.
Absolutely beautiful but does it feel real? With two misty green eyes at the top, it’s like beauty from another dimension. Change the eyes to powerful aqua, amber gold, or yellow green. Will you notice the rest of the scene? Will it feel solid?
Who is the woman we look at and who is the one we look through? If she’s a Dark Autumn or a Bright Spring wearing Light Summer colours, we will look through her. She’s coming down the hall but not in the room yet. I can see her there on the other shore but some part of her soul is delayed, not yet embodied. I’m in the field with the flowers and she’s way over on the other side.
How much can you make out over there when you can barely see the flowers on your shore?
She seems suspended, as if we have to wait for her. If we interact with her, she won’t hear, she’s too far away. If we do speak with her, we’ll hear an echo. Distant objects are muted, cool, and less defined. Close objects are more intensely coloured and well-defined.
We evolved to associate cool and muted colour with distance.
Visually, she’s literally ‘not all there’. That expression has a lot of meanings. Subconsciously, we apply them all. If we look not-solid, then we look airy. Airheaded? Vacuous. Vacant. Shallow. Drained. Emptied. This is not going in a good direction.
If there’s another woman in the room who feels fully present, we’ll be more aware of her and we’ll speak to her. She’ll get faster better service in stores. She’ll get promotions, responsibility. We think she’s smarter. People will expect more of her and put more of themselves into their communication with her. They’re not rude. It’s just that they see her better.
The Space Between Us
I saw Eva*, a Soft Autumn woman recently. In the wholeness of her eyes (the trees), her skin (the lighter statues), the small amount of water (Summer) and the solid stone (Autumn), the fluid and blur effects (Soft Seasons), she looked like this fountain. You know that the fountain has to be hard for the whole image to work. You clearly see its 3 dimensions. 3D is tremendously important in translating Autumn.
Could this scene be conveyed in the beach colours (Light Spring-ish) up above in Brunarte’s photo? No. The magic only takes effect when the truth has been found, when the lines and the colours belong. Would shade and fog colours (Soft Summer) work? Or does this feeling require its warmth?
Previous analysts had found Soft Summer and Light Spring. One analyst saw the softness, one saw the lightness and warmth. The missing piece was a solid bone structure. In Light Spring, she was evenly lit and illuminated, but without solid-looking bones. I adored this woman.
Eva didn’t fuss or drag up any negativity. Instead, she chose to pick up the trail of breadcrumbs. In seeing the puzzle pieces separately, and then adding back the final one, she understood so much more about her colouring that if the answer had been right the first time.
She could see the relative importance of the parts. TMIT has been talked about before. I used an over-simplification to illustrate something, and it may have ricochet’d around as shortcuts sometimes do. Every element matters.
A colour analyst is always balancing and comparing.
We want the geometry of the face to be solid, but we stop before it gets severe.
The substance of the bottom half has to match the substance of the top half.
The illumination of the bottom half has to match the illumination of the top half.
The wrong colour: The features are un-united. If the red is too red, white is too white, blotches appears, the face looks scattered apart.
The balance: The features all belong to the same face. For some people, their truth is to have strong reds and blues. That is their right colour.
Eyes are the focal point of the whole person. Eyes are everything. We’re magnetized to them. Nothing, nothing should get in the way.
Our eyes truly are the window, the two-way mirror, the story, and the soul of who we are.The surrounding face should be stable and secure, not floating and vanishing. The eye is framed by the browbone above and the cheekbone below. Both facial structures should be in focus, solid and well-defined on the face. A brow that blends into the skin and a cheekbone that is collapsed weaken the presence and our awareness of the presence. The jaw and chin must balance. Too much weight on one end and the scaffold of the face tips over.
As we have said, our woman’s head isn’t faded at all, even without makeup. The intensity of the eye colour is very high in the face. Something may be highly dramatic. The hair might be big, easily belonging to bone structure that’s stunning, all sharp angles, like she walked off the set of Dynasty. Or, her features might be lush, all swoopy and dreamy, with an gorgeous man-magnet shape. To meet, she’s fun and funny, interesting and interested. She is way more than her clothing choice. Her head is fully there but her body isn’t.
I thank my dear friend Adele* for explaining to me that in her own life, her disappearance has been necessary, voluntary, and temporary, intended to create a space. She is holding and honouring a place that represents a letting go of all that needs releasing, and trusting that what comes next will be right. By making a place inside that’s a little blank, she announces herself open and hospitable to anything. We see her as incomplete on the outside because she is incomplete. For the moment, this is the truth of her.
At this stage of life, many of us women in our 50s sense a disconnect where the exterior is no longer communicating the rich interior. We can’t figure out how to get the two on the same track again in this new phase of life. Adele is hiding while she tries to figure something out. I love that she knew when the time was right to remove the cloak. Sometimes, the shelter is too safe and we stay there. Not Adele. She did the releasing, the waiting, the becoming. When she was ready to know her most basic truth, she had her colouring analyzed. Bright Spring.
The change back is a little tricky. Adele is now used to visual neutrality. In her head, she knows that Bright Spring colours are where she looks most present. She knows they don’t look overly bright on her. They look normal. Next to her, it’s all the other colours that look faded. True Spring’s juicy coral looks tired and old under her face.
Adele should run a women’s support group. She is so clear on this topic. She feels no weakness or compromise. The inside needed to be neutral gray for a while. The time for that has passed. Now, she is holding back from shopping and seeing how many old choices were just old habits. Makeup and hair colour changes are waiting to get clarity about who’s underneath it all. She’s been amazed to see that her silver hair is quite yellow.
Adele and women like her have been among the most fascinating self-healing journeys I’ve seen. They’re so smart that I just have to sit down for a minute. I see a conscious decision to retreat from our bold, bossy world, to float to wherever she is taken with trust, to feel her way through things instead of always thinking, and seeing what her real self could attract from the inside. This is why I love what I do beyond telling, that it brings this enrichment into my life while I still have so much time to become more from it.
From the remarkable quotes on this page, words by Jiddu Krishnamurti, far more profound than a mere statement about the human capacity for recursive thought,
The highest form of human intelligence is to observe yourself without judgment.
Silver Hair and Warm Colouring
I’d be a bigger fan of colouring hair if there were better colour advice out there. If the best hair colour were easy enough to achieve (Dark Seasons, Light Seasons). If silver didn’t look so very good on certain colouring (Brights) or so natural and easy on others (Cools and Softs).
Plus, some of the most chic hairstyles I know are on the Pinterest pages of the silver hair sites. Send an email if Google doesn’t find them for you. There are about 4 or 5. Best hairstyles ever, regardless of hair colour.
Reader Q: I was once analyzed as a True Autumn and lived that way for many years. Now the colours feel too intense for True Autumn. Is Soft Autumn now better?
I don’t follow people over years and life changes, or know PCAs that have, so I’m not certain of what really happens. I do believe we soften a little and cool a little as hair shifts to white, and skin probably shifts accordingly. We must project colour differently as we contain less water. Mostly, the answer is the same one you’ve heard many times: It depends on the person.
I also believe we stay in our Season most of the time. The very odd person who was right between 2 Neutral Seasons but closer to the warm might shift over to be closer to the cooler one, but that’s rare. I see women over 60 still quite equally spread among the 12 groups. Often, I think the change isn’t so much in the best colours as the best neutrals. The darker browns and grays are replaced with the medium to lighter ones to repeat the hair.
This beautiful face would dominate Soft Autumn colour today and probably always.
A True Autumn might shift a little closer to Soft Autumn without going that soft in the colours. She might not. I know some silver haired True Autumns. It’s visually amazing. Powerful, rich, hot, strong. On that woman, Soft colours would look faded. It’s only next to Soft Autumn that those colours attain their highest energy. She still needs the hot orange, the golden greens, whisky and burnt sugar, for her clothing to look energized and for her to look energized in it.
That look of blending into our clothes is too-often misunderstood as harmony. Disapperance is the opposite of what harmony looks like. Harmony looks like the highest energy the two can bring out in each other, so perfect is the synchronicity. It feels like singing at the top of your lungs. It feels like the fullest, most extravagant concert, every instrument at once and still perfect pitch, harmony, and melody. No part of the story is stronger or weaker. The balance is heavenly. Synergy means a combined effect which is greater than the sum of the two separate effects. Your clothing, cosmetics, and hair colour bring out more of you, and you of them, than either would if seen separated.
Defining Your Business
It has been a gift to meet so many women who participate in the various silver-haired forums and online groups. So much power and support, I can tell you that it’s been an eye-opener. Many would like to be involved in the training course to become PCAs (more info here). Some hold back because they feel that they don’t know – or want to know – enough about makeup.
In this business, you are whatever you present yourself to be. Just be clear about it up front. Your clients will find you if you tell them who you are. Tell them what you believe. Giving people logic doesn’t make them call you. Giving them sympathetic emotion, “She really knows how I feel because that’s how she feels.”, sure does. The market for people looking for the metaphor or vehicle that reconnects them with themselves in an honest, loving, meaningful way is bigger than you can imagine. We are all in this boat to some extent.
I welcome the students whose purpose they can clearly state as helping others, celebrating the person that we are, finding peace in the package we were put into. Our outsides are as they are for a reason. Honouring that takes us 55 years. The freedom is like walking onto a sunny beach after being in a dark, smoke-filled room for a week. We can help everyone find it.
Own 12 lipsticks or glosses and blush, some pressed powder foundations. Between Avon’s endless range and continuous sales, Revlon’s no-animal-testing, and beautypedia.com’s advice on where to put your $, you can be set up without a big expense.
Develop what you love. Find ways to support the massive market segment that Adele represents. The knowledge of how to do it is already in you. Figure out how to give her what you need.
Let’s talk about an issue that I’m e-mailed about over and over.
A woman has been analyzed by many systems. Could be North American or European. Could be recent or over 15 years. Could have been with a Sci\ART based analyst like me or not. In person and online.
Her colouring has been analyzed by eye, matching coloured cards and fabrics to form a colour booklet. She’s been draped in 20 minutes and in 2 hours, with fabrics pieces, large and small. One company matched her colouring to paint chips from which a computer generated a palette. Some considered skin alone, some hair and eye colour. All of this in 4 Seasons, 12, and 16.
Most of the time, drapes came out with one set of results, often fairly close (say, Light Spring, Light Summer, and Soft Summer), but not necessarily. Could be all over the map. Matching by eye and computer came out with quite different results (perhaps, Soft Autumn, Autumn/Spring blends, and a Bright Spring, or a mix of the 3), sometimes close, sometimes quite disparate.
She is confused enough that to sign up for one analysis after another and find less satisfaction and closure each time.
Before you read any further – though I haven’t studied the fundamental belief behind all these systems, it appears as if they agree that people look best when they wear the colours their bodies contain. If you disagree with that premise, you’re barking up a whole different image consultant tree that I can’t even advise about. The following applied to the folks who believe our body colours are our most flattering clothing/hair/cosmetic colours.
If You’re on The Draping Side
To follow me,
(which I say in that way NOT because I invented the system I use, I didn’t, Kathryn Kalisz did, probably modeled on previous systems in existence, but because I can’t guarantee that all Sci\ART-based analysts reading this would agree with me and I would not presume to speak for the group,)
you have to buy into some central beliefs about human colouring and its analysis.
First is that we have A hue, A value range, and A chroma setting. ONE of each H, V, and C. Every pigment governed by our personal genetic code respects these settings. They apply to every colour we contain, all the blues, greens, oranges, pinks, every one of the thousands of colours in us. They do not deviate very much from their setting. Each of the 12 HVC-based colour palettes holds to its particular settings and does not deviate very much either.
Second. I do not believe that human vision is well set up to understand colours just by looking. Certainly not static isolated colour. It’s just how we are. There’s no point arguing it, any more than disputing that we see cool, muted colour as distance and hear high notes as youth. Human eyes misjudge HVC in swatches let alone the complexity of a face.
What Lauren* said is so clever:
What you see when you look at me is not what makes me, Lauren.
I believe that we are especially limited in our colour perception when it comes to the colours of our body. With David Zyla’s Color Your Style: How To Wear Your True Colors, I could not figure out my finger or vein colour. Wore myself out, as one of my favorite women said. Some might get it but I didn’t know jade from teal, and were the veins slightly purple?
I could get it when I laid my swatch book alongside the body part. Then, it lit right up. Was that wrong or right? No idea. Couldn’t do the finger pinch test even with the swatches. I did love his application of the colours, his individualized usage, and his artistic imagination. I loved that he disbelieves so many of the crazy myths about PCA. I agreed with so many of his words and ideas.
Maybe I have to use drapes because I’m so poor at judging human colouring or they’re just what I’m used to. I can look at someone in whatever their hair, clothes, and makeup is and I can’t find their true colours. All I can usually tell is that something’s off. I could then start adjusting them in my mind. Darken the hair, brighten the lip. Darken the hair, leave the lip, warm up the shirt. Leave the hair, cool the foundation, cool the shirt, and lighten the mascara. It could go on for days, with no answer at the end. Being impatient, I pull out the drapes. Grant me the serenity to know what I can change.
What we are extremely adapted to understand are change and comparison. In bold pink because that’s how important they are.
Cognitive scientist Dr. Mark Changizi wrote a book that is literally changing my life (I can’t thank Sarah enough for pointing me in this direction.) In The Vision Revolution: How The Latest Research Overturns Everything We Thought We Knew About Human Vision, he hypothesizes that we barely register ourselves as having a colour, a taste, or a smell. This baseline setting is vital because we are particularly tuned in to the slightest change in the baseline. Fevered skin feels very hot, yet it’s only 1-2 degrees above baseline. How fascinating that all human skin of any ethnicity is very close in its reflectance of light in wavelength. Still, we’re far better at registering change in skin colour of our own ethnicity, our zero setting – though we can certainly learn and improve our ability to see colour change in skin of different baseline than our own.
It’s as if our entire nervous system is set to zero where other humans are concerned. That way, we can be especially sensitive to deviation. He speculates that this evolution allowed us to read one another’s condition better by the slightest change in skin colour and that we’re highly sensitive to it. This adaptation in our colour vision allows us better survival as a tribal, social, cultural collective. In specific situations, for instance, survival of the young or assessing the strength of an opponent, extreme sensitivity in reading very slight change in skin colour was a successful evolutionary event.
And then, OMG, it gets better, and I’m only 40 pages into it. At veterinary school 23 years ago, in Principle of Surgery class, we were given an exam question : Explain at the cellular level the physiologic conditions which cause tissues to become white, yellow, green, blue, red, and purple. Dr. Changizi answers the question in terms of the quantity of blood under the skin and its oxygen concentration superimposed ON TOP OF A COLOUR WHEEL!!!! Could barely believe what I was seeing. Got all goose-bumpy. Heart extra-pumpy.
In the course manual for students training to become PCAs, I wrote more than I needed to (what else is new?) about the wavelength sensitivities of the cells in human retinas. It’s so fundamental though. I couldn’t leave it out. It explains the comparison basis of human vision. Why red, green, blue, and yellow have their positions around a colour wheel. Why they’re opposites in the first place. OK, listen to this: turns out that our retinal cells are stimulated by the very wavelength patterns that correspond exactly with how light is absorbed by hemoglobin under skin. Meaning our colour vision evolved exactly to see changes in blood under skin! Meaning that by knowing the stimulation patterns of retinal cells, you could determine the blood oxygen concentration of the person you’re looking at!!!!!!! On page 43, Dr. Changizi says, “That synergy turns out to be crucial to our empathic ability.” You just have to read this amazing book. The windows it will open…
I’m pretty sure the answer to undertone is in here. Bernice Kentner, a personal hero of mine, related it to blood velocity, which sounded a little iffy in the absence of numerical data, but that was 30 – 40 years ago. Maybe this is what she was getting at. Others have related undertone to differences in blood colour or hemoglobin – again, IDK. Could be I just haven’t seen the data. It’s possible. We all have different melanin.
But is it probable? Melanin has a different purpose. It doesn’t carry oxygen. We wouldn’t die if our melanin changed a little. We might die if our hemoglobin changed a little. Is Nature likely to allow all primates, and then all races within a group of primates, to have different hemoglobins? It seems as if blood colour would be more rigidly controlled than melanin, with fewer mutations tolerated, because of the life and death implications. Still, I’m open to anything. I think Changizi is on the right path. As often happens, science catches up with art.
Anyhow, sorry, undertone is still one of my BIG QUESTIONS in PCA, back on topic,
change is what we’re excellent at seeing.
And comparison. Think about this: As the zero setting ourselves, we serve as the Control group!!!! We compare our hand, which we register as zero, to the hot fevered face, only 1 degree warmer and we say, “You’re so hot! Into bed!” My heart races just writing it. Behold the miracle that is Nature.
The book is awesome. Not medical or doctor-y or science talk at all. Written like a story with huge mind-blowing ideas on every page. I owe you, Sarah.
Third, I do not believe that colour is well set up to be understood in the first place because of how much it’s influenced by whatever’s around it, which is why my drapes are a solid colour and a lot of it. Colours change one another. When energy fields come into contact, they change one another.
Even at a distance, they change one another. While a drape is swinging around the client’s head, before it has settled on their chest, the face is already being profoundly altered. A reminder that students have heard and heard and heard: DROP-THE-DRAPE. Drop it right out of eyesight when assessing a face. If your eyes can see it, your perception is altered by it. I might tattoo the words on the palm of my hand or have a really nifty sign made up.
Not All Drapings Are Equal
A person who’s been draped many times will have noticed big variation in drape sizes, colours, numbers, method of interpretation, order of use, colours within any Season or group, and particular name of the Seasons or groups.
Can draping be flawed? God, yes. Everything can.
Wouldn’t it be great if the all the above steps were standardized? God, yes. Or even within one company!
So we’re taking a hard look at it. We’re making drapes in controlled and consistent colours, set after set. We’re talking about alumnus refresher courses from Terry. Finding standardized ways of draping and teaching.
Inside our group, we’re dragging everything out under those brutal full spectrum lamps and taking a hard look at it. Truth matters to me. I don’t care how uncomfortable it is. The hardest part of fixing most problems is knowing what they are in the first place. Giving honest feedback is tough, something I recognize sincerely and feel a lot of gratitude when I receive it.
We’re getting over our fears about change, our embarrassment at having conflicting results, the projects we worked so hard on, what clients will think, and pulling it all apart. In my over-transparency, I’ll put my problems on the internet and let everyone weigh in. There are great ideas everywhere, very often outside the industry.
And everything is getting better.
The consumer’s role
I would like to see the clients take some responsibility here.
When they’re ill, they decide between consulting a naturopath and an M.D. Nobody expects the two to be especially similar. Disagreeing results are actually expected. We’d be surprised if they agreed. We allow them to be apples and oranges. Neither is foolproof. Does it mean that they do not improve our lives? Of course not. When it’s good, it can be transforming.
In choosing one, the client must decide what they believe. About having your colouring analyzed,
Do you believe that neutral gray surrounding matters to accurate colour measurement or do you not? Would you say that it is crucial? A deal-breaker?
That full spectrum lighting is the only way to render every wavelength (colour) evenly?
Do you believe that humans can have trouble judging colour by eye?
That computers and photographic equipment alter colours at each step of software translation?
(If you answered No, Maybe, or Sometimes to any of the above, seek analysis services from someone other than me. Before you see them, accept that the outcome will differ wildly from what I might say and that you’re going to be OK with that because you understand that eyes will think they see 5 colours if they see 1 colour in 5 different contexts.)
Ask the analyst if you’re not sure. Whether they call the groups Seasons or something else is the least of your problems. That barely matters. Before she signs up for one more PCA, the consumer needs to ask,
- what is the source of the colours you’re giving me?
- how do the groups of colours, whatever you call them, get eliminated or selected?
- what’s the basis for the groups? why are those colours part of that group?
You’re going to have to decide. I’m not here to put down anyone else. I explain the core beliefs of my practice. If other systems could do the same, I’ll link to it. I’ll post it on this site. We all have something to add.
I simply suggest that various methods can’t be dovetailed together. There is no point in wondering why they can’t find common ground. You might as well stop trying. We diverged way back at the beginning. You’re comparing the Big Bang Theory to Let There Be Light. It’s a square peg/round hole relationship. It ain’t gonna happen.
Maybe you’ll say, Well, how ‘m I supposed to know? I’m the consumer. It’s all you analysts out there who have studied colour theory. Why can’t you guys figure it out and tell us, once and for all?
Great answer. True answer.
The public has not the context, the theory, or the experience to make these decisions, though they love to hash it out online. Unless you’ve watched many drapings and followed the practitioners of the by-eye technique (which I have not), you don’t really get either one, let alone where they might come together. Sometimes different words are being used to describe the same thing, and even that is rightly confusing to the public.
Maybe an analyst who has studied all the systems could find an accurate way to merge them? After all, the systems are all looking for the original body colours. Should be simple.
I’d love to see what someone comes up with. It’s easy to learn all the theory there ever was and find every reason why no system has 100% final say. Sooner or later, to be a colour analyst, you’ll have to pick one for its strengths, learn how to compensate for its flaws, and crawl around down here with us sinners and losers who do our best to analyze human colouring every day.
A certain client, with a broad-minded approach to life, might see both naturopath and MD. She might look for what works for her in the advice of each. She might see them as an extension and expansion of the other, adding more layers of approach and interpretation that are fascinating in themselves. She would look for the strengths in each approach. The advice that didn’t jive, she just sets aside for now with a reminder in her calendar to take another look in 3 months.
Because it is based on what we’re good at seeing: change and comparison in a calibrated measuring system with no other colours present.
Draping takes a human weakness (our ability to see the colours of skin) and turns it into a strength (our ability to register the slightest changes in reactivity of skin when given comparison) by utilizing an ability that human colour vision is massively adapted to see and see well (skin colour alteration from baseline).
The purpose of draping is not to be a wrinkle eraser. It is do determine your baseline. The truth of you.
If you’ve never watched a calibrated draping or still believe there can be no blonde or red-headed Winters, I can’t give your opinion much weight. There’s so much more to it than people realize when it’s done correctly. Ask students who have taken the training. I think many were more than a little surprised. And these were mostly people who had studied all the books and websites.
None of the big names in PCA ever warned against draping, that I recall. Bernice maintained that draping always had the final say.
Online groups talk about hair and eye colour. Why? Because it’s what they see most prominently. As humans, they’re not programmed to see the skin colours of other humans (nevermind that cameras don’t sample colours the way human eyes do and therefore arrive at different results). If asked why all the talk about hair and eyes, they’d say, Because skin doesn’t really have much colour. It’s hard to talk about it. YEAH!!! That’s the whole point. It doesn’t. But when it changes, even slightly, we have seen it over thousands of years of evolution linked to our very survival. Cameras can’t do it but human vision is all over it.
Why draping? Because it’s the best way of compensating for the tricks our brain plays all day long as it adjusts what our eyes take in. You don’t believe that all we see are adaptations of reality? That what we see is highly inaccurate? Google ‘optical illusions’. Vision isn’t designed for accuracy. As Dr. Changizi points out, evolution doesn’t care about accuracy. Evolution cares about spreading genes around.
Hair and eye colour are relevant to PCA and human colouring determination, but not in the way folks think.
Hair is a body colour and contributes to overall harmony, no doubt. But hair is only melanin, a limited representation of our colouring that doesn’t change a whole lot with clothes. It’s made of many colours. Some analysts may be excellent at finding its true colours, but the public seldom is – either because they’ve altered it with their clothing (a Dark Winter wearing Soft colours) or don’t see it as others do (a Bright who thinks she has mousy hair because it’s medium beige brown). We’re not really good at seeing hair changes. Could be why hair is limited to so few body parts in humans.
Eyes? The lines can be informative, but they’re not tight data. Colour is somewhat useful, more its distribution patterns than the colour itself. Nobody ever talks about colour clarity. Why not? If we forgot about eye colour per se and approached it as HVC, we might get closer to the truth. Sorry, digression, anyhow, eyes are complex, multicoloured, multilayered entities full of mirrors and windows. Too much physics, optics, and reflection going on. Huge and gigantic importance if you know what to look for and are given comparisons.
A moderate approach
I have the deepest respect all the prophets and visionaries that laid the foundations for modern PCA. So often, a prophet’s words and how they got used differ widely. No seer who came back today would tolerate the labels that got put on him or her since their voice went quiet. Rules get hammered into place that the original thinker never intended so rigidly. The focus gets turned around, the dogma is over-defended and over-adhered to, while the creator would have a much more welcoming and tolerant viewpoint.
Decide to just enjoy the process. Consider that there is no person, system, colour collection, medicine, or anything else, that can utterly and finally explain us to ourselves. Enjoy the style, the artistry, the creative excellence of every approach, and the endlessly fascinating opportunity to see ourselves through the eyes of another.
Alan Weiss is the authority on solo consulting. A colour analyst is in many ways a solo consultant. I own several of his books.
I enjoy the balance of his very linear approach with my very eclectic one. I admire that he listens to his own drummer, as far from locked down by how the majority thinks as it’s possible to be. His idea of success is not the corner office and all its trappings. Neither is mine.
In the earlier Million Dollar Consulting, pg. 327, Alan is discussing what a speaker should wear when filming a video from the speaker’s perspective. He asks the question, what’s not to like about black?
The short answer is that there is no colour, cosmetic, diet, vaccine – nothing that works equally well on everybody.
(Edit October 9, 2013: Alan and Chad get the influence that colour has on the impression we create. On Pg. 112 of Million Dollar Web Presence, they recognize the importance of colour analysis to look like a true professional.)
Since I’m incapable of short answers, I’ll be provocative and take on the question about black, one that almost every client asks a Personal Colour Analyst. Our clients know their best version of black.
12 Reasons for 12 Different Blacks
1. With respect to anyone who feels otherwise, I disagree that “black is always stylish and it’s slimming, plus all accessories go with it”. It isn’t, it isn’t, and they don’t. Not for men or women.
2. The fact is that black flatters very few people’s natural colouring. Black can’t be at home with most types of natural colouring because it isn’t there in the first place. The native pigmentation doesn’t darken that far. Black just sits on top, out of sync. For those of us looking at it, it’s the visual equivalent of riding 50 miles in a car with an out-of-tune radio.
3. The slimming myth is a myth. A fashion propagandism. Black is not slimming unless that darkness exists in the natural colouring to provide balance and context for it. Without those, the black block gets bigger. On the bottom half, the black block looks heavy. Bulky. Fat. Fuzzy. Sweatpants.
On the top half, the shoulders appear wide and the head small. That looks weak, especially in a man, since women can often balance the picture with bigger hair. In video, where scale and proportion can be distorted without the rest of the body and background to re-align things, it’s especially noticeable.
Even in a little photo, a Facebook profile or a head shot, we feel it. In black, Man #1 in black looks
Man #2 in black looks
shiny, which comes across as sweaty and anxious,
has a redder nose than the rest of his face = unhealthy, and such an easy thing to alleviate in right colour,
and really needs a shave.
If Man #2 now did a video wearing a so-white-it’s-blue shirt or jacket, his complexion is corrupted, as if wearing too-light foundation. We’re distracted, almost suspicious, like there must be a reason for the distortion. Result: We can’t listen to 3 consecutive sentences. All because of the shirt he wore, here comes this background feeling of “He’s never on. He’s always off.” Only one natural colouring can make that white look normal. Even on Dark and Bright Winter, the clearest, cleanest, freshest, most accessible skin (which are extended beyond skin to the entire person in the perception of others, of course) require a better choice.
Would a man react to the images of Men #1 and #2 in the same way as a woman? Not sure. Given two options, most men would likely pick the better one. Many men are well tuned in to what they see.
Sarah asked if men pick up global cues or individual feature changes better during their colour analysis. Depends on the guy. They have fewer voices in their head regarding appearance to wrestle down than women do. Once they get it, they’re often really good at it from both wide and narrow angles. Photographers are terrific because they know already how much perception can be altered by visual information and that it’s an illusion, nothing to get nervous about.
4. On the wrong colouring, the woman looks more childlike than ever in black. There was an editor of Allure magazine who probably lived in NYC, wore the black uniform, probably paid a fortune for it, and looked immature and little girly. Angela Merkel could fit into this group as well. It’s hard enough for women to get taken seriously.
5. Black is so dense, dark, and cold that many people completely disappear. Say, Kelly Ripa, a woman whom the show’s producers already make hard to see on a small screen for some reason. Her image always looks vanishing, but much more so in black or against a very dark background.
6. It changes the skin colour of many people to gray or green or red or blue, sometimes more than one at a time. Health is a definite power player. Telling the world anything else is detracting.
7. Black ages most people. I do not believe for one second that youth is a power player. Authority can increase with age in both men and women. There are many powerful ways to age but appearing fatigued or gaunt is not one of them. No faster way to look old and weak than sink your eyes back in their sockets, compliments of black.
8. Only one type of natural colouring is 100% enhanced and complete in black. Alongside a distant colouring, black causes the expression to be severe, the opposite of team player, counselor, guide, or teacher. The face above the black says, I am abrupt, humourless, and unfeeling. Clothing communicates. It tells our story and it tells it inside 20 seconds. It’s worth getting our clear message out in every way we can. Truthful self-expression is so important. Ask any blogger or forum contributor. It’s what keeps our tribe together, how we discover our shared purpose. It’s how our best-fit clients find us.
9. All-black is boring, overdone, and monotone. It expresses neither imagination nor creativity, both of which feel nimble. How does this guy look like he’s feeling today?
Isn’t it better to tell others that you feel like this? Dark grey pants, pearl grey shell or shirt, dusky gold blazer or stripe in a tie, and almost white accents. Extra ordinary. Energy. Lift. Sparkle.
10. Black might make textile look more expensive but usually the opposite happens. An expensive choice looks cheaper. On women, there’s a Baboushka effect. Sheryl Sandberg looked much better in the gray and black she chose for her brilliant talk at TED than she would have in all black.
Colour is inherently young and expressive. Black plum, dark espresso, the soft gray on the underside of a cloud that’s sunlit on the top, golden barley, crisp teal, stormy Atlantic blue, do not reduce professionalism. They’re a visual attraction in the best way. We in the audience love to see that. We feel a little more cared for or like we’re already friends. You went the extra mile for us.
11. Black is a space hole, a blank. On too many people, it creates no impression. People’s attention flits over and past us. We become faceless and nameless. It’s hard enough to get noticed. How often have we seen this coming at us across an urban intersection? How often have we connected with each face, or any face? No accident these faces are blacked out.
12. Light women, say, Sen. Hillary Clinton, can appear to have beard or mustache effects. Light coloured men can look as if they haven’t shaved in days. Or took a punch under the chin.
Our Eyes Are Our Focal Point
I agree with Alan is that clothing shouldn’t be distracting to be audience. Busy prints, whites that glow, colours that brighten under the lighting, are not the best choices. TV news and sports anchors are an amazement of clothing, hair, and cosmetic distraction. The women’s appearances are going in a thousand directions. The men’s shirt/tie/jackets can be eye boggling.
Our eyes should settle on the eyes of the person with whom we’re communicating within a few seconds. Our eyes are the focal point of our entire being. When the viewer’s eyes keep traveling around with no place to rest, it’s like a painting full of details with no centre of attention. Our eyes get tired and move on, looking for the relief of a resting place that feels better.
A face without a focal point is like watching a buzzing fly, waiting for it to land. Annoying just thinking about it and annoying to look at.
Solid black shifts the distractions up to the person’s face. Break down the order of what you recorded in the next ten people you see. In order of appearance, on a person who could have spent their money on a much better version of black, customized to their own colouring, we will see
shadow under chin,
red eyelids again, how come they’re red?? must suffer from allergies,
hey, nose is red too,
eyes, why can’t I just stay here? weird
red nose again…on a woman, it’s wrong hair colour but why a guy? you think he drinks?
around and around, where it ends, nobody knows,
OK, I feel tired,
now they’re making me think, which I never signed up for, BTW
I need a rest,
look at somebody else.
There. Him over there. That’s a relief.
I like him better.
Professionals should have their colour analyzed in their first year of school, and the Media Communications class first in line. Second in line: Real Estate Agent class. You know how the real estate companies post all those profile pictures of their agents side by side in the newspaper ads? Oh, boy.
It doesn’t have to be perfect to be so much better. Below, I can see the guy and the clothes. Not the guy or the clothes. He’s apart and defined by clothes but I like that they’re there. His pocket square is interesting and says something real about him, in the right amount. Would he be better in black? Doubt it.
Justin Theroux is on the cover of October 2013 GQ, with some great photos inside. Nice choice from the style editor. His image has energy and substance, almost like having him here with me. I don’t read this publication but maybe I should. I have many male clients and get great satisfaction from analyzing the colouring of men. I wonder if GQ dresses all the men this well.
Your PCA gives you the most becoming black alternative. Neutral colours are great on video. Just knowing your best black and gray is miles ahead of the appearance game. Wolf gray and stallion black-brown are interesting and strong. Colours of smoke and shadow are dimensional, full of character. Grays are moody, thoughtful, mature, and profound. They work well against the light and dark backgrounds of day and night.
What can you do to learn if black works in your favour or against you? And what to replace it with?
By doing the same thing that Alan Weiss and Chad Barr’s clients do. They hire an expert with an excellent tool kit.
J.T. Used to Look Dull (but really wasn’t)
Having your colouring analyzed is a brand investment.
J.T.* is a personal trainer. He loves blue and summertime. As he walked in, our reaction was medium. Hair was medium, height: medium, appearance impact: medium. Most noticeable were nice blue eyes and a very fit body. His clothes said exactly zero, as in “I could be anybody.”
Looked like Lance Armstrong in a vague way. We analyze him to find Daniel Craig in an obvious way. Sparklers for eyes, tight skin, gorgeous circulation and vitality in his skin.
A man can dull himself down in wrong colour something unbelievable, and gray his hair to looking 10 years older. Clean, sharp gray is great. It’s electric. Dingy gray is hardly hot.
I react much more strongly to my husband in his right colours (True Winter). In his usual garb, I barely notice him. He’s like a washed out person that I mostly ignore, which is easy because he’s not a big talker. He’s just gets easier to ignore, like he’s camouflaged himself. Hey. Waaaaaaait a minute. Maybe he’s doing it on purpose to be left alone. Oh, dear, is he really that clever?
J.T. looks Spring/Summerish. It’s great to have that colouring, but a Bright Spring pays a very high price to try. J.T. looked like Lance A. will in 20 more years. Buy personal training from him? Don’t think so. He looks like he can’t walk a mile himself and wouldn’t be an ounce of fun.
About himself, he said, I always have a song in my head. The colour analyst’s job is to help J.T. show that to the world. That’s the guy I want to meet, not the dial tone guy.
By wearing Summer clothing colours, he’ll never have the incredibly calm eye of a True Summer, with the fantastic reflectivity in eye and skin that Summer colouring attains. Light will never play off the angles of his face with the same silvered edges that a True Summer could have. Never will he look heavenly, as Summers do. In Summer colours, all he can ever achieve is medium. God’s sake, why be telling people that about yourself? It’s a sad day when Daniel Craig drops himself down to, yeah, whatever, I’m pretty sure he has blue eyes.
Is Craig a Light Spring? Soft Autumn because of red hair (nobody still believes in that, do they?)? Who knows? We’ve just trained two new analysts. The experience was warm and sharing, with a huge amount of new learning about what PCA is, not what it was. They saw first-hand how wrong we are when we guess. I know they would confirm for you that we can’t eyeball human colour dimensions. We can’t even eyeball a paint chip accurately because the biology of our eyes gets confused about colour levels once any colour dimension changes. Comparisons are the key.
And this is before we talk about having any other colour nearby – makeup, walls.
And before we apply hue, value, and chroma to the emotional and cognitive psychology of a human being. PCA is so much about human connection.
Craig’s blue eyes…Light Season, you think? maybe…what are the differences between icy colours and pastels? (Dearest Graduates – rhetorical Q, don’t chime in.) We’ve got your really light Bright colouring people and your really light Light colouring people. Until colouring is put to a measured test by draping, knowing its frequency on the saturation scale, or heat scale, or value scale, is beyond my sense of sight. I do know for sure that it matters a serious lot when they all go shopping.
In the Vanity Fair article, J.T. and Craig seem the same exact man, a little strict but great sense of humour.
Colours and humans are so alike. The moment they get close or touch, they both change. It’s all about relationships as energy fields come into contact. They can’t not change. It’s not in the Nature of living energy fields to be frozen. The frozen kind would be called photographic images.
Could Winters change less? Summer reacts the instant someone walks in the room, offers tea, brings in a chair, suggests we sit on the porch where the breeze is so nice. Winter will notice you 15 minutes after you get there and say Hi 10 minutes later, when they’re done focusing on that pin point.
No, no, joking, that’s not true, everybody’s colour changes the same amount. Everybody and everything is about relationships. True what I said about them noticing you though :)
After a day together, students see where my analogies come from. The best one to date has to be from R., about a True Summer in school bus yellow, You look as if you’re about to burst into flames. We laugh, we relax, the client has fun, and the analyst has fun.
By the time he left, Bright Spring colours in his pocket, my entire assessment of J.T. had shifted from medium and ‘Buy a workout from him?? No way. He looks like he needs help getting his groceries into the car!’
to potent, spiritual, would really care about helping me, funny, fun, energized, pain free, a man who looks like he’d deliver.
Today, J.T. is an ad man’s dream: a 3D, living, breathing ambassador for Brand J.T.
I’m a Bright Winter and have always felt that I had cool undertones to my skin but also have some freckles which makes it less obvious. When Prescriptives Cosmetics was in business, I tested as having Blue Red undertones and I used their foundation with cool undertones for years. I recently decided to try Bare Minerals foundation. Two different people who sell this brand have tested me as a Neutral undertone. This could make sense since I’m a neutral season but I’ve always known myself to have cool undertones. I have a little bit of a tan right now. I’m not trying to tan, but I play tennis outside and despite my sunscreen I get a bit of color. Would it be possible for me to seem like I have neutral undertones in the summer when I have some tan and then seem to have cool undertones again the rest of the year when I don’t have a tan? I’m just wondering if I should wear a neutral foundation in the summer and a cool foundation the rest of the year.
Your undertone is fixed and determined by your genetics, and is shared by all your colouring including your tan. Your Season doesn’t change with a tan, though you might have different colour preferences, for the higher contrast with the lighter choices, for instance. Many Bright Winters can find black too severe or their coolest colours too shadowing, and a tan might change those tolerances enough to feel more comfortable.
When you’re tanned and look warmer, the undertone might seem warmer. Whatever undertone means, it doesn’t mean overall feeling and effect. This is one of those “It looks warmer and feels like it should be warmer, so therefore it is warmer.” conclusions that are not necessarily sound.
Even pure cool Seasons can tan very golden looking. They look more yellow, but when their colours are tested, it’s still the same cool yellow their genetics always produced. They may have more melanin, which contributes red, brown, blue, and/or black, depending on the type of melanin, but it’s the same colour of melanin that it always was.
PCA determines where your inborn colours sit on 3 scales. Every colour, every body part. (In illness too? IDK, I’ve never draped a Before/After and don’t know anyone who has).
The heat scale. Warm/cool/neutral? Neutral on the cooler side, the warmer side, or 49/51 between fully warm and fully cool?
The saturation scale. How concentrated were the pigments that you were painted with? Very, or were they a little more dilute?
On the darkness scale, you don’t have a setting so much as a range. Do your inborn colours go all the way from white to black? Only 1 of the 12 does, the True Winter. I’m a Winter but don’t reach fully to pure white. Mine is a tiny bit dirty white. A woman might hug chalk to pewter. If she wears black mascara, it’s railroad tracks because it’s outside what her natural colouring can balance. If she over-lightens her hair highlights, it will never look natural or real because only processing could achieve that much lightness in her body.
The hair of a yellow haired Light Summer can seem very yellow. She’ll go online and get told she’s a Spring of some sort. A clerk will give her warm foundation. Wrong. Unless they measure it, how could they know that the yellow in her body comes from Light Summer’s less saturated and subtly cooler palette, not Spring’s?
A salesperson has no way of measuring people’s settings on the 3 Colour Scales. Even the most experienced colour analysts cannot eyeball the settings.
Depending on how the line of products they’re selling is coloured,
(do they have access to foundations warmed by Spring yellow and Autumn gold separately? as we know, warm can include yellow, beige, peach, orange, gold, brown, etc.)
(are those bottles labeled cool/warm/neutral really so, and in the same way that a colour analyst means it?)
(is there consistency in the cosmetics industry regarding pigments and terminology? if not, one company will call you warm, the other will say neutral)
(is the salesperson highly discriminating, nitpicky, rigorous, fussy, and particular? these are the people you want; I’ve been foundation-analyzed by the head of training for North America for a huge company within the last 6 months, the result was not good)
…a cosmetics salesperson could separate cool/neutral/undertone by matching foundation. The same foundation colour is the best match on the same Seasons in 3 in 5 women of the same race. It’s just not rock solid.
Foundation is a mixture of your heat level, darkness level, inherent saturation, plus surface pigments. As Dark Winters (my assumption), Mrs. Obama and I have the same heat level, darkness range, and saturation of inborn pigments. She has more melanin but it’s the same colour as mine if we test it. She has more melanin in the outer layer and wears different foundation.
Big Disclaimer: I made up all of the above. That’s only how it makes sense to me. I do not know what undertone is or where it is. Is it a layer by itself that you could isolate and dissect out of the skin? I doubt it. Is it simply the difference in people’s hemoglobin? IDK. Is it just a mixture of all the body’s pigments, if you poured equal amounts together in a bowl and stirred, bluer in Summers, redder in Winters Does it even have a colour or is just a gray that’s cool, warm, or neutral? I don’t know and am not aware of the scientific testing that offers proof. This is one of my remaining Big Questions in PCA.
I am pretty certain that what a makeup company means by cool-neutral-warm is different from a colour analyst meaning. One story is probably part of the other one but they don’t fully overlap. We’re all using the same words to mean different things and consumers can’t sort out the facts. Therefore, the Q above would also be a good one to ask a cosmetic pigment expert.
I do not change the heat level of my foundation in summer. I do use a product that sits darker in my own darkness range. Both products are cool neutral on a heat scale.
The answer to the reader’s Q is one of those It Depends. Theoretically, she has a cool-neutral skin undertone and will always wear that choice in foundation. However, depending on where she finds the best foundation match, it might be labeled otherwise.
Remember. I invent answers to these questions till I can live with calmly.
Anyone who knows what personal colour analysis is, rather than what it was, lives with a growing sense of how well it works and how much it can improve your choices. The system divides human colouring into several groups, 12 in the one that I use. Since there are far more than 12 kinds of colouring once you get into the subdivisions, not every aspect of each group will apply equally to every person in it.
As you find your private garden and arrange the flowers and furniture to suit you, you ask some excellent questions. L sent me this,
I’ve been very happy with my Soft Summer colors and they’ve made a huge difference overall. The issue is though, that my hair color is just so much warmer than my palette that many of my neutrals don’t look that great. I stopped coloring my hair a couple of years ago and it’s neutral medium brown at the base and the lengths are quite warm, perhaps a light chestnut color would be accurate with even lighter ends. This warm brown just doesn’t look that wonderful with all the grayish-taupes which make up the majority of my neutrals. As an interior designer I wouldn’t put these colors next to each other, so it bothers me to do so when getting dressed.
According to old pics and my mother, this is my natural color. I had forgotten that since I’ve been coloring my hair for over 30 years. I’m just tired of trying to use toners and shampoos trying to cool it down. I’ve been looking at other companies SS and Summer fans and found wonderful browns in the CMAS Summer fan, and Lora Alexander’s (www.prettyyourworld.com) Soft Summer fan. I was just curious about Sci-Art’s and your opinion about hair not being that great with the palette since you cover it during the consultation.
Overall, I’ve discovered that I lean a bit warm within Soft Summer and I really wish [the present palette] would give a wider range of neutral browns. I own the Soft Autumn fan and I don’t need to go that warm, but just a bit redder, rosier than my [present] fan.
Neutral to warm? Neutral to cool? Who knows? We’ll have to measure it somehow. That’s what the drapes do. Our eyes alone are not able without imposing some errors, because of how eyes and brains work. And because of the most misleading thing of all…assumptions.
Many of L’s comments could apply to all the Seasons fans. In any Tone, the likelihood of including even half the possible hair colours is less than 50/50 since hair colour is only moderately tied to Season. Why is that? My guess is that it’s because hair colour comes from melanin. Skin colour comes from melanin, hemoglobin, and carotene. Hair colours are an incomplete version of our truth, though what’s there is real and harmonized with us nonetheless. Just not detailed enough to do a PCA with. Hair also doesn’t change enough in response to colour to take accurate measurements. Skin tone does, therefore we use it to guide a colour analysis.
Soft Summer doesn’t tend to vary as widely as some but it certainly ranges in darkness, though it remains on the cool divide of neutrality. In all 12 Tones, eye colours seem to me to be more closely resembling the skin colours contained in the colour analyzed swatch palette, and yet they can appear very warm in persons of this Season. Test them and they still have the best energy in the cool-neutral Soft Summer drapes, not the warm-neutral Soft Autumn drapes.
Why isn’t eye colour tightly linked to Season? Similar reasons to the hair, adding in the Rayleigh scattering that makes the sky blue, and other aspects of the physics and biology of an eyeball, such as how it’s pigmented, where its blood layer is located, how it reflects light because it’s in a water-based jelly, and many other factors.
Soft Summer eyes can be darker, lighter, warmer, cooler. As long you give them what they care about most: colours that are soft.
A warm-eyed Soft Summer must mean that though we see lots of warm colours of yellows, golds, and oranges in the eyes, these are present in their cool-neutral versions and are outnumbered by the greens, grays, and blues of Soft Summer. You would think the two Soft Seasons’ yellows and golds to be quite different until you try to harmonize a colour palette and realize how close they actually are.
Soft Summer is also a Season where the Neutral persons are often quite warm, on the 49/51 divide between the Soft Summer and Soft Autumn. An analyst needs to be on her toes and own a seriously good set of drapes. They say that our hair and eye colours are among our neutral colours but I agree it is so if you know the real colours of your eyes. If you match what you think you see, which is never what colour really is, you’ll go too warm for your skin and turn yourself a little dull and jaundiced.
Whoa now, that’s a Winter eye! Same colour family, cool-neutral hues, similar value level (lightness/darkness), but what’s different? That third colour dimension. And the type of heat, which appears more Spring-yellow than Autumn-gold. Whole different feeling.
How can True Winter or Light Summer be a redhead? Combine their yellow and their red, I would think. Every Season has both in their own versions. The hair tends not be orange, it’s redder than that. But both have yellows, nearly primary yellow in Winter’s case, which is why their green drape can look so yellow in some situations.
L. is colour savvy enough to sense the best solution, which is to move very slightly to a warmer place without losing the harmony. Soft Summer skin is happy to negotiate on warmth of hue as long as the colour stays soft and dusty, not intensely saturated. In my Sci\ART drapes, there are 3 drape colours, identical fabrics, that are used in 2 places. The Soft Summer and Dark Winter burgundy red test is the same. The Soft Summer face is not as flattered as it could be. The client notices that. Seeing the difference is a better learning opportunity than if I just babble on about colour dimensions, because the client sees that she needs to buy dark&dusty, not dark&densely pigmented, and that darkness is not her shopping challenge issue. Saturation is. It’s a strength of the drapes, not a weakness. Makes me now wonder if I should put a few ‘don’t go here or here’ among the Test and Luxury Drape sets that I assemble. But no, you saw those during your 12 Tone colour analysis session.
Ah, back to Soft Summer eyes, neutral but cool, and soft soft soft.
Only dyed hair is, or approaches, all one colour. Natural hair has many colours to make an overall tone. You might see one colour but the rest of us don’t. How it reflects light and shows its colours requires its true colours to reveal the correct tones. Soft Summer has a drop of gold in her hair, not yellow. She is not a great blonde. A True cool Season in even slightly warm clothing or makeup has yellowed, dingy colour. If it’s silver hair, it looks like smoker’s yellow-gray instead of their beautiful clean silvered gray. The foundation colour must be accurate, hard to find in today’s overly yellow base makeup selections.
Others don’t see the discrepancy in our hair as we ourselves might. We don’t see hair as an object of one colour like a wall or a pillow. You might not pair those objects but they’re not coloured with hemoglobin, carotene, and melanin. We sense that living things are not coloured in the same way as objects, and that man-made objects are not coloured in the same way as Nature’s inorganic objects. Despite the difference, we are able to find the harmonizing colours and the relationships between them, as us and our clothes.
We can bring colours into our harmony too. Because it’s applied to our face, makeup interacts with the pigments in the skin. A lipstick that swatches on paper as Light Summers might fall flat on some Light Summer and be lovely on some Light Springs. This is called Making The System Work For You. Clothes don’t change so much. No question, in the same way that the drapes have an effect on us and we have an effect right back on them, so do we change our clothing colours somewhat, just not to the extent of makeup because of how it’s used. A Bright Winter can change True Summer’s beautiful, cool yellow into a grayed piece of cloth that’s been washed too many times.
What kind of eye is this? Soft or saturated? Neutral? How Neutral? Spring’s yellow heat or Autumn’s gold? Of the 3 colour dimensions, which one matters above all? I have no idea. This is why I can’t look at photos and know Season. I have no comparisons and no ruler. All I can say is what I always do, whether I’m shown a photo or a real person in front of me: Could be this or could be that. If it’s a real person, I can say, Where’s my drapes, lights, and gray background when I need ‘em?
L. knows that I would never advise any woman to colour her hair ever. Her natural colour will always be her best colour. Sometimes we can decorate up a little and keep the balance, and that’s good too. My advice is to save herself the time and money and wear her natural hair. Once her hairs grays, she’ll only look better. Gray is what the Soft Summer does better than anybody because gray is inherently cool, as they are, and they start off with more of it in the natural colours that define them than the other colouring types.
If L.’s discerning eye prefers to warm a few of her clothing browns, excellent. She has to feel well in what she wears. There will be no repercussions as long as the harmony is maintained (more on that in Getting More From Your 12 Tone Swatch Book). There would be more substantial repercussions if she tried to alter her hair colour.
What about L.’s question about the colours present in the Sci\ART palettes? Without stirring up a nest of hornets that have finally gone to sleep, I’ll take a guess. Only a guess. Please don’t come after me on this, I have no valid opinion to offer so I won’t say much. I do not know what was in the head of the person who designed the palettes. I’ll take a shot: As I understand the history, at the time of her passing, Kathryn Kalisz was adjusting the Season palettes, as she probably did a few times over the years for different reasons. She deeply wanted people to feel comfort in their colours, but some of the feedback sometimes said that the colours were too much, probably more in the saturated Seasons. Part of the reason for the choices may have reflected this, though I doubt it was the bigger part of it in this particular instance.
There was (is) also the question of whether the Neutral Season colours should be closer to the parent Seasons, as Soft Summer to True Summer, or to the other Neutral with which they share the most important colour dimension, as Soft Summer and Soft Autumn. Is one right and one wrong? Does there need to be a hard rule? I would say No and No as long as the dimensions of each Season is respected, though I’d be thrilled to talk about it. Where does one cloud in colour space end and the next begin? Is there an overlap? How big is it, what’s the rule? How big should it be, different question? You have thousands of colours. Maybe one day, someone will make 4 Colour Books of swatches for each Tone, not just 1. Smart woman that L. is, she found other options that contained what she was looking for and she knew how to select those that applied to her.
This completes my long-winded way of saying that L. made great choices and decisions on her own :) Nothing I love better than a woman empowered to work through the many choices about her best self, in any context, and come out right. Discernment is a beautiful thing.