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Time for a Change in Hair Colour

Time for a Change in Hair Colour

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Colour analysts help their clients step on the rolling carpet of the right change.

Those first steps can be rocky.

We did it and we know you can too.

Anna Lazarska and I had a conversation this week about helping a client leave blonde behind. Anna is the 12 Blueprints colour analyst in Poland, writing a series of posts about her own hair colour voyage. The first post is here  on Facebook. True words,

Some of  my clients are off by just a tone, i.e. Dark Winter vs Dark Autumn or True Summer vs Soft Summer. But even so little a step away makes such a difference for them, that they find it hard to look at their own reflection in the mirror and unlearn – unlearn that yellowish skin, enlarged pores and shiny nose are their normal.

I wondered where it might be coming from. And I realized it is all over the place – we are bombarded with ads persuading us to buy products which give us “sun kissed skin”. Magazines keep telling us we should warm our looks up to look more friendly and approachable. And of course all us will look amazing if we use bronzer to replicate J.Lo’s golden glow.

Well, I hope it changes one day. Trends come and go. Let’s see what they have for us next year. 🙂

As colour analysts, we get into Fix It mode when the solution may be coming too fast. People often want (and need) to look around inside a problem, not be handed an instant fix.

1. Know why your client came to see you. If Ellen wanted a general wardrobe update after a life change, then focus on that. People come to things easily when they’re ready, like colour analysis in general. They may see your point about the hair colour but if it’s too soon, they internalize it too deeply and may overwrite it with the present and familiar story. Mention it and then shelve it. Trust that Ellen is working on it behind the scenes.

2. If she’d like to know more, begin with a conversation rather than a hair colour. Frame questions that allow Ellen to tell her story, rather than a yes/no structure.

How does she see the current colour? As a benefit, an impediment, a confusion?

How was it chosen?

Has it been successful within the value system of where and how she lives?

3. Explain in technical terms how the current colour doesn’t work. The cleanest way to offer honesty is without emotional clutter. It just is. Work in comparisons so she sees the possibilities as well as the problems. Chubby cheeks and skin that doesn’t clean or clear can simply become a choice that she is free to un-make.

4. Bring her attention to specifics that she can see without looking right at the hair, such as eyebrow colour, for example. One way to address a problem that’s close to home is through another problem that isn’t so reactive.  The beauty of PCA is that there is always another approach and a better choice.

5. If she’s asking about hair, she wants to know. Thinking in pictures is meaningful for people. Being brought face to face with the gap enables us to picture it. When Ellen saw the the harmony of her new cosmetic wardrobe next to the previous one on the same sheet of paper, she didn’t have to imagine the gap; she got it better than words could have described.

Allow it to be a little uncomfortable for a little while or she may be too strongly pulled back towards the previous colour to make a long-term switch, especially when many other changes are being made at the same time.

When the PCA concludes, she has two elastics round her waist, one pulling her backwards and one stretching forwards. Ellen needs her own inertia to snap the elastic pulling her backwards.

To create the hair colour gap, begin the final drape viewing with the headscarf in place and then take it off halfway through the same draping session. The comparison has to fairly immediate. If the scarf is off only for the Luxury drape viewing or when she’s wearing makeup, it won’t be apples to apples.

I do this step with Luxury drapes because they simulate the colours and combinations she will wear. Colours together give harmony a stronger voice, a reason for being. She can picture herself in outfits and see that the hair colour is outside the harmony.

Offer a better choice in an atmosphere of encouragement. Ellen is not alone as she embarks on this project. The other voices in her life can’t picture her another way and they may agitate when she rocks their boat, but as the analyst, your voice is steady and sure.

6. Is the current style beneficial to Ellen’s appearance (meaning, how much change will she allow regarding hair and how much identity is wrapped up in the hairstyle vs colour)?

Often, dissatisfaction with hair has more to do with style that needs an upgrade, or other aspects of appearance entirely. I prefer to see style upgrades for hair before colour change or it’s the same ol’ hair in a different colour. The style might be fine, just a question to consider.

7. Ellen wants to get into more detail about hair colour. Continue with information gathering and look on the other side of the door. What you, the analyst, needs to know is what she is willing to do.

How easily could she live with another version of herself? And how soon?

What range of blonde would be acceptable? Consider all sorts of blondes, taupe, bronde, cinnamon, russet.

How much darker would be ok?

Would the root colour be ok?

If the new hair colour momentum is coming from you, maybe backing up a step and changing the style is a better choice for now. She can change the colour by trimming a lot of dye out. She is practicing thinking about change. Meanwhile, her logical mind reassures her that nothing has really happened.

She is picturing herself with different hair colour before doing it. Rehearsal is a constructive beginning for change.

8. Start with increments of change. Whether you’re in Warrior 3 or driving down the highway, you instinctively make small corrections to maintain balance. We all think we can do 180s but the reality is that we can’t adjust that fast. We end up chasing one problem with another one, to fix something that we got right the first time.

Examples of small changes and staying in control of the process:

A Bright Winter who stays blonde but cools the colour.

A Light Season who replaces the bleached look with more colour pigment.

A Dark Autumn who switches from blonde highlights to auburn over three salon trips.

A Soft Season who allows more natural colour to come through over a few months.

9. “My natural colour is drab….”

Compared to what?

A woman used to chemical dye may find her natural colour faded by comparison. A moment of mindfulness about what we choose to compare ourselves to may be good.

Compared to how it looked next to dominating apparel and black?

20 years of dye?

Chemical and computer-generated colour can be so much brighter than Nature-made colour. By brighter, I mean more intense, or more concentrated pigment, different from lighter, darker, or warmer, which sometimes look like brighter.

It’s not really Wear the Colours that You Are (my tagline). It’s, Wear the Colours in Harmony with The Colours that You Are, but that seems a mouthful. Humans are more neutral than objects, maybe because we all have all 3 primary colours seen together at the same time, and we’re made of different pigments than objects.

As a recent client left her colour consultation, with new makeup and hair pulled up, she mentioned that it had been awhile since a car honked its horn, and “I guess a few gray hairs aren’t so bad.” I guess they’re not.

10. Ellen is learning to see herself holistically, rather than one feature in isolation from the rest.  We are the whole picture.

For appearance to truly work, hair colour has to be in context with the whole look. Chemical hair often steps in front of the person and has a life of its own, like hair wearing a woman. Like too shiny jewelry, we’re duller next to it.

Hair is just one thing in a united appearance, and it can wait while other things are adjusted, which will alter the perception of the hair.  We can attach an urgency to appearance focus points that doesn’t really exist. We will get to the mall before it closes and we will buy that purse. The need is really not immediate and hair colour is just one part of the picture.

11. I have said that to date, I’ve never seen a Dark Season be most flattered by blonde. I stand by that still.

However, there may be situations where it can be a placeholder during a colour transition, especially to silver. For mature women, dark chemical colour may be too dark or opaque.

The theoretical relationships between Seasons may or may not help. Like the staircases at Hogwart’s, they can make endless connections. Soft Summer’s dark ash brown may work or look flat if the eyes contain a lot of green or gold. Ellen will partner with her colourist and colour analyst to make the right choices.

12. As the colour analyst, ask to see hair colour images from the 18-30 years of age window, even better if there are other people in the picture. Ellen can recognize and relate to herself in this place, evoke a memory, and find a starting point that her logical mind approves. This can also feel like a turning back of the clock, of rejuvenation, of renewal in a place that has been known and safe.

13. Show Ellen 5 pictures and explain the pros and cons. Her mind can become more fluid with possibilities than given one example that becomes a too-rigid goal. The reality is that her result won’t be any single picture, it will be an adaptation of several. Place her face among the example images, which serves as a real-world reset button alongside all the Photoshopped pictures.

14. Chemical hair colour can be gorgeous and practical. In the same way that the beautiful Luxury fabrics are not turtlenecks, neither is hair colour always best as a whole head of hair. Both are part of an ecosystem, an entire wardrobe or appearance, in which the parts speak to each other with colour’s voice.

I find the most modern and believable hair colour preserves a lot of natural colour. Especially as we mature, the less forced the look, the better. A balayage effect that starts near the temple is often great for longer hair. Easier upkeep, edgier look, and the face becomes more slender, replacing the wide flat look when the face and hair blend into one another (more pronounced in some Seasons and people than others). To Ellen and the viewer, she is still blonde.


I look forward to the time that will be spent with the new analysts from many countries who will join us in the coming weeks, and excited for the clients with whom they will share that other, better way.

You will help people in so many more ways than good lipstick.

Welcome to Canada. Remember to bring a sweater.


25 Thoughts on Time for a Change in Hair Colour

  • Kelly

    Natural hair is always best. God made us perfectly painted in our true colors.

  • Kelly

    Christine’s hair is looking too dark for her now. Natural would be better as she grays.

  • Christine Schreiber

    omg I watched deadwind and had the same thoughts about Julia and Sofia!

  • Melina

    Kelly, I wish people left the religious comments out of this (“god made us perfectly painted”), as not everyone here is a Christian, or of any other religion for that matter! And TBH, I don’t even really agree with the sentiment in general (it’s not *always* best), though often is.

    • Christine Scaman

      Isn’t it wonderful that the Internet allows us all to express ourselves in our own way and be accepted on an equal footing? 🙂

      I have not coloured my hair for 4-5-6 years now, maybe more. The hair in the header picture is my own hair as well, the pictures taken within a month of each other. Amazing how different imaging methods alter colours. We can forget that every image we are presented with has been manipulated in some way or other, by built-in camera and computer software.

      Deadwind! Was that excellent?? I’m now on to Hinterland and Broadchurch to look at the fabulous colours of the male leads and listen to Lloyd’s and Alex Hardy’s great accents.

  • Melodye

    This really speaks to me. I was analyzed as DA . I’m afraid to let my hair go gray because when I look at photos of women who have done so, I cannot tell if the woman is DA or not. Blue eyes, striking with gray/silver/white hair: not me. Deep dark dramatic eyes, also striking with those hair colors: not me. Women with my green/brown/gray/gold hazel eyes and warm skin tone …? I’ve been looking for DAs with gray hair. Could someone point me to some examples of such? Especially considering the statement above (#11). Seeing white roots a week after coloring my hair is becoming intolerable but I am afraid to change.

  • Bee

    Sorry if I comment so late Melodye, but have you ever heard of a YouTuber named Maryam Remias? Her channel does not focus (at all) on SCA or anything, but she is a beautiful gray haired woman with a very DA-looking coloring, and beautiful hazel eyes.
    She´s quite creative with makeup, she wears a lot of colors – some of them, I think that are not in her color palette (or at least, I think they do not always look as they belong with her natural coloring, at least in camera…) – but you can totally see how the gray hair looks with her bare face and with the final look.
    I always think that if the colors are on point with the skintone, the hair is going to follow no matter what.

  • Bee

    You can also check on a channel called “Elisa in Montreal” and “Delphine Lastucieuse” for another beautiful green-hazel-grey eyed with grey hair. I can easily imagine them both into a DA wardrobe, tough its just my personal opinion/imagination. They could be DW, or something else completely.

  • Mary R Lauer

    No, I think that colored brunette hair looks more youthful than gray hair with no shine. So do most stylists, camera and makeup artists, and all of Hollywood.

  • Cathy

    I’m a summer (maybe true summer or dusty) and I’m 50% grey at the front. I think I should dye my brown hair even tho it is red tone so can easily go orange with bleach. 2 years ago I had lowlights of 6 dark brown using the colour at the back of my head and It was too dark esp in spring when I’m not brown skinned. Hairdressers always want to give me a warm brown. Any ideas? Who can I look at in the media?

    • Christine Scaman

      Cathy, I appreciate your dilemma and wish I could give you an answer or even some guidelines. The first thing needed is to know your Season. A Light, True, and Soft Summer would be offered different hair colour advice. With red tones in the hair, Soft Autumn might be a possibility also. The second consideration might be one you’ve already resolved, which is why you feel you should colour your hair and whether you’re pleased with the trade-off (monthly colouring sessions). Summers silver gradually, easily, and elegantly, and this applies to all Summers. Those with darker natural colour may find the silver more contrasting than they’re accustomed to and may wish to go back to a fully coloured head of hair, which is perfectly fine. The unknown is how much warmth and how much ash, but we’re back to needing the Season information to move forward.

  • Susan

    Hi Christine!
    I’m curious as to your feelings on black hair color (as in black hair dye)? Do you feel that the level of saturation is too much, even for someone that may be a TW or DW? Would it make a difference if the natural hair color is quite dark? I’m also curious as to your thoughts on going back to the hair color one had as a child. My understanding is that we all move towards the cooler end of the spectrum as we age (please correct me if I’m wrong here), so would it follow suit that we should cool down in terms of hair color and cosmetics as well as this occurs? Thank you for your in depth and evocative thoughts on color. They warm the heart of my inner color geek, lol.

    • Christine Scaman

      It would depend on the person, Susan, but in general and across all ages, yes, it’s too much. I’m not convinced that human pigmentation reaches that degree of saturation or else something else about it isn’t believable. To me, it always looks a little costume, which isn’t necessarily bad as long as that was the plan.
      Human hair colour comes from melanin and even the darkest tones have a brown, red, green, or blue tendency. The absence of reflection of any light isn’t how humans appear to be coloured. That’s a technical POV. From an esthetic and opinion POV, black dye is also too saturated and/or dark and/or synthetic. The person who might wear it best might be a young TW with blue-black hair or a 25-ish, male, Snow White colouring person (depending on the dye) and still I find it severe.
      Childhood hair works sometimes but usually not because we don’t have our childhood skin. I did an eye colour post a little while ago showing the changes in the same person’s 5 and 15 year old eyes. Esp in Winters, outer pigmentation changes from childhood>adolescence>young adult>mature adult. I don’t have an explanation since it seems contradictory to a statement below that pigments don’t mutate, which I also believe. Hair pigmentation has its own set of rules though, because skin and eyes may intensify but don’t change as profoundly. I do think Season can change from childhood to adulthood but as mentioned below, I have no data to prove or disprove this. As they say, anecdotes are not data.
      When I entered this career, I had also heard that people cool and soften with time. Draping hundreds of people demonstrated the opposite. We don’t change Season. We may or may not approach a neighbour Season a little more, very little, we may or may not prefer to wear or combine the colours differently, we may or may not look a little different as water content of skin and subcutaneous fat diminish, but we don’t mutate our pigments, which would be required for Season to change.All this said, without a database of people draped by the same system 10 or 20 years apart, there remains no firm data on the subject.
      Great questions, thank you for asking 🙂

  • Susan

    Interesting about the changes in skin etc from childhood to maturity that you mention. I have found that my skin, in the last few years (I’m 48 and had been on hormones for almost 10 years), has developed more freckles/age spots (both very dark, and light orange toned ones like those of many redheads) despite not being in the sun and being religious about sunscreen. It definitely gives my skin the look of being a bit warmer and more pigmented than the quite fair and unmarked skin I had for many years. Strangely enough, as a child my skin was distinctly olive and tanned quite easily. My hair changed from coal black to chocolate brown to espresso throughout that time. My Dr. suspects hormonal shifts and/or genetics, which can throw curve balls at any time in one’s life. I have been typed a TW, DW and DA by different analysts, so I am still figuring things out. I’m not ready to let myself go grey just yet, but I don’t want to just oversaturate my hair with color as I suspect I’ve done for years. I keep my hair short so not a huge deal, but I just started a new chapter in my life (career etc) and looking for other things to follow suit. I always feel like new doors open in my mind when I read your responses to questions, so thank you for that. You are greatly appreciated!

  • Melina

    Very glad to hear Christine say that (dyed) black hair is severe & too much also for Winters, incl. Dark, as on another site, also dedicated to seasonal colour, people were of the opinion that one *has* to be able to pull off dyed dark hair in order to be a DW… I haven’t been draped but believe I may be DW, even if I’m not dark-looking at all, and I definitely can’t pull of hair that’s dyed much darker than my natural (about level 6).
    (OTOH, I’m flattered by many shades of dyed red hair, guess that’s just my natural pigments like my green eye colour etc. Or then I’m a DA instead, that’s of course a possibility too ;))

  • Cathy

    I’m a true summer so my best clothing colours are plum, amethyst and smoked grape. 0verall my hair colour looks quite ashy but my base colour is red. I think either bleaching some of the grey at the front so it’s steel grey (or low lighting the front ash brown would enable my hair to be pinned back sometimes. The grey is a tiny bit yellowy. Balayage would be fun if I had more than shoulder length.

  • Susan

    Hello again! Another question I forgot to ask. Are there seasons that are the least flattered by trying to lighten their hair, even a little bit? I would imagine the Deep/Dark seasons, but could it also hold true for, say, Winters and Autumns in general? I’m quite sure I’m a Winter of some sort at this point, and I do find, through playing with hair color (I have since I was a young teen to be honest, and other than knowing I’m a dark brunette I have lost track of my true color over the years, lol), that every time I lighten my hair (pulls a lot of warmth), I look jaundiced. At this point my roots are a mix of white, charcoal, and black/ash brunette, so there is always a sharp demarcation as well. I do find that the warmer appearance makes my brown eyes look lighter and warmer, but with a loss of clarity. The darker my hair the sharper and brighter my eyes seem to look, at least to me and my sister. I’m curious as to your thoughts Christine, and if your experience analyzing has led you to any particular conclusions on the subject of hair lightening as relating to the seasons. Hopefully I haven’t already asked this question. Menopause brain has me forgetting what I did yesterday, lol. Thank you for all you do!

    • Christine Scaman

      Hair colour is best decided for each woman as an individual rather than by Season, but we certainly begin with generalities that apply fairly equally across a Season. I find that adding lightness to hair colour seldom flatters Dark Winter. Lightness that remains cool, in the ash variations, looks gray and flat relative to the natural colour. Lightness that also adds warmth, whether gold or blonde, conflicts with the skin and gives the hair a look apart from the person. True Winter, also perhaps not the best, but there’s more variation in natural appearance here and it’s a lighter Season than Dark Winter. The other groups accommodate highlights that may lighten and/or warm, the key being to choose the right colour. Hair colour can be great and interesting and fun, just a matter of staying within the boundaries of our Season and our individual life stage, life style, and colouring levels, meaning natural darkness and so on. Allover single colour can be fine as well to cover silver, hopefully not moving too far from our colour around 20. Many women have coloured their hair since their early teens and don’t know their hair colour at 20, or how the hair and skin have stayed in sync over the years, and here Season can really help prove a place to begin, keeping in mind that mature skin may be overtaken by opaque chemical pigments, and more so by opaque+dark. The idea that mature women should wear lighter hair colour may stem from the recognition of this effect.

  • Susan

    Thank you Christine! That makes a lot of sense to me. I’m definitely that woman who was coloring young, for fun, and lost track of my natural hair color along the way. I suppose I assumed that True Winter would have less variation than Dark Winter, because in my mind, that coolness and saturation would go hand in hand with a level of rigidity. Something to think about.

  • Melina

    This is interesting, as my understanding was that Winters and Autumns in general don’t do blonde well (if at all)? Based on Christine’s writings in older articles of this blog, also those of the individual seasons (for example, I remember Christine saying that TA doesn’t do blonde). In addition, I also remember reading (here or elsewhere) that Bright Spring and Soft Summer aren’t usually flattered by blonde hair, either. Is this really true (which I can well believe)? If so, it does make one wonder about the prevalence and popularity of dyed blonde hair…

  • Haru Ichiban

    First off, kudos to you for finally accepting your hair color, Christine. It looks wonderful, peaceful and dramatic like all good Winter elementss, still intense but harmonious. I really didn’t like it when you said back then that best color is at age 25 and stuff.

    In my case, I have a funny anecdote regarding this.

    I always found my natural hair color so beautiful (magical Bright! Coppery orange in the sun, intense dark brown in the shade) that I refused to color it as “grays” (grays? They are the color of pale gold) started to come in. But because of great family and environmental pressure, I seeked to cover them. Personally, I was afraid light hair would give me a less sharp appearance, like blond would. I found a very honest colorist who told me my dark color could not be replicated, and laminates would not adhere to my glass-like hair. She suggested blond highlights (ugh!)

    Next, I browsed the huuuuge aisle of a cosmetics shop and couldn’t find anything out of the 234,981,347 tones there. All looked like dirt compared to mine. All medium saturation!

    So guess what I found? Neon fuchsia non-permanent color. It looked great once I wore it, covering my “grays” totally, but it took a hell of a lot more time and effort to adhere to my hair than what the package said.

    So there I was, a person with fuchsia highlights! Nobody batted an eye. After 15 days, I told one of my patients “I colored my hair fuchsia”. She took a lazy look at me and said, “Yes, I kinda notice.” After the pigment was completely washed off, I told everyone I knew, “I had dyed my hair fuchsia”. NOBODY noticed.

    So, moral of the story: A Bright looks more natural in neon coloring than in “realistic” one. So natural nobody will realize!

    As for now, as a woman some would call “young” and others “middle-aged”, I find my 20% pale gold hair not aging at all. In fact, it looks like platinum on me, fiercely sharp, not blunt in the least!

  • Melina

    Haru Ichiban, funnily I have quite the opposite experience, of browsing hair colour aisles in shops (in the past) and finding all of them way too saturated! 😉 Especially the reds; somehow the most common commercial red hair dye is a screamingly bright cherry colour, not natural or good-looking at all! But I’m probably an Autumn, so it figures 🙂 I have to say that I do find it hard to believe that most Brights would look natural in neon fuchsia – some individuals maybe, like you, but surely not the majority. And very strange that nobody wouldn’t notice, maybe there’s a cultural difference involved here 😉

  • Haru Ichiban

    LOL, Melina, is the hair color market soooo broken? ^_^ I hear you about the red, I tried wearing that as a “mascara” color over my hair when I was a teen and always had to wash it off, it looked like I had some weird substance on it. My Light Spring mother does hair color beautifully, so much everyone thinks her color is the natural one. I guess only Lights and Darks can benefit from the medium saturation tones everywhere.

    I don’t know about other Brights, but I had about 15% of light hair back then, and I had already assumed my Bright birthright, so everything I wore was bright too. It was summer, and I go all out with the happy colors in summer.
    So… that was 15% of neon fuchsia (normal fuchsia on me) among 85% darkest brown, since I cover my head in the sun in summer –>overwhelming dark near a medium tone. In a person dressed in bright colors like warm pink, fuchsia (too) or tropical blue. I suppose they did need to look hard in order to find out, and the first thing they’d look at me is not my hair (very conservative hairdo). So it makes some sense in its strangeness.

    What shook me about that experience is that everyone was pestering me about coloring my hair, and once I did, nobody noticed. You can bet I saved it as a reference for future discussions of that sort.

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