Light Seasons and Blonde Highlights
She might have soft gray blue eyes and sandy yellow ringlets. She’s 25, an organic farmer.
Or bright turquoise eyes and light brown hair with cinnamon overtones. She’s 55, has a 6AM yoga class every morning, and is taking courses towards a second career in gerontology.
Blue eyes that look light blue whatever she wears, flaxen hair as a child who grew into a woman with sandy blonde hair hinting of light brown sugar, with darker brows. She’s 50, a librarian in a big city who wears no makeup, loves jewelry, and tends to choose Soft Summer colours.
White blonde hair as a child, beige blonde in adulthood with blue eyes. 29, a nurse in Budapest and a performing ballerina. She was my mother.
Hair that stayed flaxen into adulthood and light aqua eyes with a ring of yellow sun. A 21-year-old who wants to work in microeconomic financing for women in developing nations, the inspiration for Nicole in the book, Return to Your Natural Colours (2nd ed.)
Soft silver curls and cornflower blue-violet eyes. A house full of children and a garden designer.
All Light Summers.
In a 12-Season system, Light Summer is the Neutral Season (a group of natural colouring that combines a warm and cool parent group) that is a blend of True Spring and True Summer, with Summer in larger proportion. Light Spring has the same parents, with the larger contribution from Spring.
People in the same Season don’t look the same.
They react to colour in the same way.
Light Season Applied
The video is also here on YouTube.
The Uncanny Valley
Do you know about this concept? It comes from animation and graphics in film production, specifically CGI, or computer-generated imagery; think of the movie Avatar.
If you saw the recent remake of The Lion King, those lions were very realistic. In some scenes, it might take another lion to know they were artificially created. You can find trailers on YouTube and a fascinating explanation in the video below, also here on YouTube.
When the animation is far from real, it’s comfortable. We see the Cookie Monster, we know that it’s not a real person, and we can empathize with Cookie. If we humanize the image more, say Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story, we still know it’s not a person, yet we empathize a little bit more. Puppet, cartoon, and robot, say, C3PO from Star Wars, are allowed into our world because we know they’re not trying to be us.
A tipping point comes along where the animation gets so close to home that it becomes uncomfortable. When the un-realism is too fine, we perceive it as being somehow off or odd, too solid for a hologram, and masquerading as happened-on-its-own. When our appearance is too far from our natural, true, and real appearance, we become unconvincing, creating a sense that something is not quite right.
Here is another example with a real human, video from Star Wars, also here on YouTube.
One familiar example is celebrities with impossibly white teeth or veneers. You can’t not notice or stop yourself from noticing repeatedly. You try to focus on the conversation but your attention jumps back and forth between, “This would never happen.” and, “Was this supposed to look real?” Eventually, attention gets tired from staying on track, runs out of stamina, and says, “This is exhausting. I have nothing left over. What to do? I know! When we meet, I’ll divide myself into a few pieces so I can last the whole time.”
Meaning is clearer when appearance trusts reality enough to stay in its vicinity or makes the departure obvious, intentionally un-real. Purple hair or bright blue eyeliner are telling truths of their own, probably part of their appeal. When celebrities have impossibly white teeth along with platinum white hair and lacquered red lips, the intention is clearly a costume and our job is easy, “Oh, I get it, it’s supposed to be un-real. Great outfit!”
Rather than being the fountain of youth we were hoping for, sometimes, blonde achieves the opposite and a more elegant, poised version of ourselves is available with our own colour. Fine additions in highlights can be beautiful, a better choice than big departures from where we are today our wish is to look seamless in overall appearance.
Light Seasons are flattered by highlights maybe half the time. Many outgrow blonde as we outgrow our childhood skin colour and texture and look better with an adaptation of blonde, rather the precise childhood colour. Identity, however, forms early in life and adapts slowly, one reason why blonde is so appealing as a hair colour (and why hiccups with self-acceptance seem ongoing).
If Martin Clunes, the actor who plays Doc Martin in the TV series, is an example of a Light Season (Google ‘young Martin Clunes’), he was very fair as a child, blonde as a young adult, and dark beige in adulthood before beginning to silver. As he matured, blonde highlights became harder to imagine as cohesive, calm, or sophisticated. There would be a form of blonde highlight that could be great, as threads of yellow light, without extremes of lightness, coolness, or area.
“Blonde? Again? Seriously?”
You may wonder why I talk about blonde hair dye so much.
I have no personal feeling or opinion for or against, any more than I do about brown hair or green eyes. People are perfect and fine just the way they are.
I come back to it because it is the appearance element that is most often not working in a woman’s favour. Look at women’s faces in a LinkedIn gallery. The most frequent reason I would have for not hiring certain individuals is the blonde hair.
A woman might say, “I feel good blonde.” If blonde, or that shade of blonde, feels good but doesn’t look good, how would she prioritize? Only the woman herself knows the answer and I know plenty who choose the blonde they have. That’s great as long as she has all the information to make the choice. She doesn’t hire us to withhold information or suggestions and is free to state up front that the blonde stays.
What I want for you is an appearance that is taken seriously, as intelligent, competent, and in control. Blonde that doesn’t belong may give a different impression altogether. You may have other priorities than I do. It’s just a conversation with the steering wheel in your hands.
As one of our analyst/stylists who works with women with big aspirations whose image matters said to me yesterday, “There is real value in the total face being in harmony, and it’s not just us who are saying this.”
The meaning of Light Season
Applied, Light Season means the colouring is flattered by lightness of colour. It does not mean that the person looks light. Some do, some don’t, in the same way that some Autumns look tawny, some don’t, and some Bright Winters appear to have clear, intense eye colour and some don’t.
Lightness of colour means light relative to all possible colours; it doesn’t mean being limited to wearing light colour. Every person has a range of light, medium, and dark relative to themselves. For Light Seasons, the separation between lightest and darkest is not big and this applies to every colour, not just the gray scale, and every feature, including the tones within the hair colour.
If one of Light Spring’s dark colours were worn by a darker Season, say True Autumn, the Light Spring colour might only appear medium in darkness. Reversed, Light Spring wearing True Autumn darkness makes it look darker than it is, giving the impression of a solid weight under the face, earthbound, and draining of the complexion. Everything is relative.
Because light colour looks good, Light Seasons are flattered by head to toe light colour, even within their already-light palette, in the same way that Dark Seasons look great wearing head to toe dark colour, even within their already-dark palette.
Light Season is a label, as defining and constricting as labels are. Information is missing, in this case, the other properties of colour that matter as much as light-dark. They are warm-cool and soft-bright.
Pastel applies to Light Seasons, and True and Soft Summer. The term suggests softness and some degree of coolness without being particularly pale or near white. Although some members of any Season look great in the lightest colours in the Season while others may look better by moving a step in from the extreme, for the most part, I agree that pastel people (Summer-influenced) often become pale and powdery in too light colour. Does this sound vague? Sure, because pastel is another label and once we discuss individuals, labels need qualifiers. On their own, labels are blunt instruments, in the same way that there are Winters whose surface colouring would mislead you into thinking their light-dark range is narrower than it is, but they react to colour as Winters.
There’s a tipping point between icy and pastel that applies to a colour swatch and a person and to hair colour. Between True Summer and True Winter, both persons might have passport descriptions of dark brown hair and blue or green eyes, but they would not react to colour in the same way. The Summer’s hair looks dark brown relative to her skin but lifted onto a Winter head, next to Winter skin and eyes, it would appear medium brown and lose the depth and richness of the colour. Light Season highlights are often applied too light, tipping them into icy light, creating a sharp division from the natural colouring.
Light Season applied
The small distance between lightest and darkest in Light Season palettes may apply to hair more than apparel. The closer together colours are in space, the more effect they have on one another. This impacts the hair-skin-eyes combination, as well as the highlight-base colour pair.
Light Season colour transitions are fairly gradual in the natural appearance. We don’t see sudden or large colour shifts as our eyes move around the features. Applied, don’t overlighten the hair because you hear the word light. The hair colour becomes sharp for the gentle, easy natural appearance, and regrowth appears darker than it is, increasing the sense of distance between base and highlight. I’ve added a few pins in the Light Summer and Light Spring Pinterest boards to show you what I have in mind. The hair colour is multidimensional, lightest and darkest are close, and lightest is only medium-light.
If laying the base hair colour and highlight side by side on the counter create a gap that is wide, sudden, or uneven, it may be that the highlight needs to come closer to the base for the natural colouring to find a home for it. Looking believable rather than processed in how to stay out of the Uncanny Valley. Also, hold the highlight colour from the chart, box, or strand of hair next to the palette to simulate what the viewer will see.
We want hair colour over the entire head to look continuous, as though every colour is an extension of the other colours with no sense of interruption or having moved too far from the median. If all the colours on the head were placed on a colour chart, would one be off somewhere on its own, far from the rest of the family, creating tension instead of ease?
Take pictures of yourself along the way. Choose an overcast midday sky, a fairly neutral background, and include the face in the image to keep perspective on the whole. A photo journal is the best way of getting an accurate sense of the journey, when to continue, when to back up. Memory alone is of little value, most of us don’t remember last week’s hair colour as it really was, let alone last year’s.
The world sees an entire being when it looks at us. I’m not so sure that we see ourselves that way, maybe because it’s too much information to process. We have our few favourite visual targets. Hair colourists may also zero in on their creation, or may simply do what the client requested, or may be insistent on latest trends. I see it as the client’s right and responsibility to have enough information to participate in the decision.
Despite being the lightest Season, many Light Springs have darkness in the hair colour, relative to their colours, in the same way that they have darker options in apparel. Eyes are usually light and somewhat transparent, bringing balance to the whole. You would think twice before putting Autumn gold and rust cosmetics next to them.
Step 3: Choosing warmth
The warmth of the blonde is a third decision, after how much and how light, and may take some experimentation. Once more, so helpful to keep a photo diary for more answers and less guess-work.
Warmer Seasons may find good options for blonde (or gold for Autumns) within the eye colours. Of course, no rule applies to everybody. For Light Summer, the warmth in the eyes may be cool and so light that the hair would appear frosted with gray.
Many Light Summers with significant yellow in eyes have darker, more ash-beige hair, bringing neutrality to the overall warmth level, and would not be improved by highlights in the slightest. Other Light Summers have been blonde since birth and always will be, and cool soft yellow highlights look great, although the eyes contain little or no yellow. Hair colour is a one-woman-at-a-time decision, as the great colourists know.
Light Spring’s version of yellow in eyes may also be light beige and if the natural hair is darker, light beige highlights will again appear frosted with gray. A warmer yellow would blend better with the base, skin colour, and wardrobe.
Have a look at the Light Spring hair colour conversation at Chrysalis Colour, by our analyst, Courtenay Gibson. You’ll find a picture of the sweet peach iced tea that was Courtenay’s adult Light Spring hair colour, along with images of hair colour products for this warm-neutral group of colouring.
Notice how much Courtenay’s hair colour has changed? The soft yellow-green tones visible in the 7thgrade ponytail are seen across all 5 Seasons with Spring influence, but that colour would not serve well as today’s highlight.
Eyeliner for Light Seasons
The point of makeup in my opinion is to define the features from the face with true shape and healthy colour. Differences in opinion are normal and expected; our job is to know our own.
Every decision has an underkill and overkill position. The tendency for Light Season women is to wear too-dark eyeliner. Because this may be an attempt to balance or compensate for hair colour, I mention it here.
If the hair is too light or the apparel too cool or dark, the complexion becomes drained and it may seem a good idea to wear darker eyeliner. In most instances, the eyeliner looks darker than ever in a pale face and extends into a dark shadow beneath the eye. Others see the cosmetic above anything else.
Light Summers are often drawn to Soft Season or Autumn colours in apparel and cosmetics. If this is the image she sees in the mirror, the hair colour will appear darker and duller than it is to the woman wearing it. Light Season makeup, the colours that revitalize hair, freshen skin, and light up eyes will look like candy for the first few days. The makeup is not the problem.
The feeling we want is of air energy, lift, and sunlight. These eyes are the colours of a clear summer sky. In the cover image for the Light Summer e-book, with which neutral colour might you surround a cloud to define its shape without overtaking the delicate beauty of the whole?
The image is here:
If the colours in Light Season individuals could slip unnoticed into a rainbow, what colour would surround and define the rainbow from the canvas of the sky, still keeping the line seamless with the image? How quickly might we meet the darkness limit and think, Enough, or, Go back a step.
Eyeliner applied to the top lid only looks top-heavy or as if the upper lid is puffy. Take advantage of the fact that slight darkness, light enough to be near invisible on other Seasons, goes a long way for Light Seasons. Try a lighter liner colour below than above to bring balance to the eyes. It is easy, fast, unobtrusive, and surprisingly effective to define the eyes.
If lower liner smears as it does for me, try Transformer, which works with any colour powder eyeshadow, has a great brush, and stays put like no other product I’ve tried.
Answers in a new place
Be very clear in what you want : to look breathtaking in gorgeous clothes, makeup, and hair, to wear them way that feels good to you and tells others of your greatest possibilities. These may be desires that you didn’t recognize having before.
Be very open to how you get it: Colour analysis may be the alternative image industry you’ve been looking for, in which you’re a relationship rather than a commodity. When 20-dollar 20-minute fixes are not solving the 20-year-old $500 set of problems, you have another place to look.