Monday, 11 January 2016

How To Play With Sample Palettes-the Unscientific Method Part 1

 I have difficulty writing a blog post on personal colour analysis without writing a thesis.  I want to thoroughly explain, answering all possible questions as best I can.  Realistically I can't do that and will not try to do that here.  There are many many sources of information online, though not all are accurate or detailed enough.  I don't have access to a professional analysis but I am interested in the topic and, I think, reasonably well equipped to figure it out on my own or at least to narrow it down sufficiently.  Here is an illustrated example of my process and some tips for doing it yourself too if you want to.  Colour accuracy is a challenge with computer monitors, cameras and whatever lighting you may take a photo of yourself in.  The same problem occurs when we are shopping because store lighting can distort colours. 

The colour palettes are samples of the potential range and the collage tool didn't allow for the full photo frame either, so keep in mind the palettes are only representative.

This is the best I can do since my photo editing skills are very limited.  I've blurred out the background ( somewhat poorly and a bit of my jawline as well) and then put my face into a collage where there are sample colours from the True Summer palette and the True Winter palette.

Note: there is an error in the Summer palette, labelling a mauve tone  as blue green. 

Neither is bad, as I obviously suit cool colours, but in my opinion the bottom one, Summer, is best.  Those colours seem to match the colours in me, whereas the Winter colours are too saturated and intense.  I sometimes buy winter colours.  It's difficult to tell without comparisons, just how saturated something is, and mainly I have always just sought cool colours.  I find that in the Winter colours I need more makeup whereas in the Summer colours I might look as though I'm wearing a bit even if I'm not.  I do have makeup on in the comparison photo.  I think that if I required a formal gown and was intending to wear dramatic makeup, I might pull off one of the Winter colours due to the dramatic nature of it and it would look formal and be suited to spotting me from a distance or for showing up in photos.  That's not my life though.

Just for the fun of it, see how warm colours really don't work for me.  There might be one or two that I could get away with if they are less obviously warm but the cool are always better, and I think even the more heavily saturated Winter cools are better. The warm colours, although really pretty in themselves, just don't relate to me as well as the cool ones do.  When I make mistakes it is usually to purchase a purple, brown or green that is too warm to really flatter me.

I think the Spring palette, which is the warm but light, is arguably either my second or third best option.

 It supports my recent thinking that I need to really lighten my colour choices.  So it's debatable whether my most dominant feature is soft and light or if it is cool.

To test that I made this comparison-Winter (deep cool) vs Spring (light warm) 

And this one, comparing the light warm colours with the light cool ones.

 My skills weaken a bit here and I often waffle.  So I consider what it is about the warm colours that make me consider them.  The purple tones simply don't look warm to me, so I sense that they would work.  The greens also seem cool enough and the corals close enough to the pink in my face.  BUT the more yellow the colours get the less they work and the palette has to work as a whole.  The colours from the Spring palette that almost work have better versions in the Summer palette.  Everyone can wear a version (or two or three) of almost every colour. 

This isn't as scientific as a proper colour analysis draping,  with hair covered, natural lighting and the drapes right under my face to see how they reflect light onto me, but I don't have access to one and I enjoy playing with colour theory anyhow.  Within the four seasonal categories there are more specific palettes to further refine your best match.  I used the pure seasons here to narrow things down.  If you need brighter, darker or more muted, for example, there are versions of those within the warm and cool seasons.

Your dominant quality is likely to be warm or cool.  The second quality is likely to be light, dark, bright or muted but sometimes it is the other way around.  Even if your most dominant quality is lightness, mutedness, brightness or darkness, you will still look better with either warm or cool closest to your face.  People are not entirely neutral even though they can first appear it.

Undertone can be tricky to spot without making comparisons. Many cool toned people easily are made to look yellow with incandescent lighting or in photographs.  Some people with reddish looking  skin (often they tan a very red brown) are often warm toned.  The closer you are to neural, the trickier it is to tell.  Hair and eye colour don't matter in the process of analysis, only skin does.  Hair colour matters in that if you dye it you want to coordinate it with your colouring.  There is bias towards a golden glow in our Hollywood dominated culture of western beauty ideals.  Many celebrities are given spray tans, bronzer and gold-blonde hair when it actually is not their most flattering look.  Cool beige- blonde hair and fair skin has not been fashionable since the fifties.   Goldeness came to signify health-the 'health' of a California beach babe.

Simple tests to find out if you are warm or cool:

In good, natural light, compare your skin to white paper, to silver and gold jewelry, to hair colour samples, or consider if you are more likely to get compliments in blue or orange.

If you want to do this photo collage test here is how I did it.  The palettes are all from the same source but I've linked to the specific palette samples.

Autumn palette source here

Spring palette source here

Winter palette here

Summer palette here

Collage making at Pic Monkey


  1. This is interesting. The subject has fascinated me for a while but I completely lack understanding of it. I mean, I comprehend what you're saying with reference to yourself but I have no clue where I stand. I wish I could go to a makeup expert and get some sound advice. (I'm too shy to do that.)

    1. Ally, having met you in person and thus knowing what you look like apart from your photos, I detect a coolness in your colouring and you are on the right track with your attraction to pinks and purples. Keep your makeup cool toned as well, which you naturally tend to do. Not all makeup experts are actually good with colour. Loads of Hollywood celebs are frequently wearing the wrong colours, have their hair dyed to wrong blonde to suit their natural colouring. Some people have the idea that you can and should warm someone up. This is utter nonsense. You won't go wrong if you stick to blue toned, obviously pink and not peach colours. The rest is really about how saturated, how bright or how soft as a way of fine tuning it. You can experiment and play with that. I would LOVE to play with you. xoxo

    2. OH-more thoughts. When you are dressed as a male, you seem to choose softer tones, I remember muted navies and dusty rose type colours and I thought they looked great on you. When you are dressing female you are exploring and playing and trying everything and you tend to go for brighter colours. Just my observations. :-)

    3. Thanks for the sound feedback and advice, buddy. Also, it's interesting (as you note) my dual experiments with male and female modes. I'm striving to improve in both.

  2. Ah the gold/silver debate. I find this the hardest! Gold sort of "matches" me but for whatever reason I don't think it brings any vibrancy to my skin or eyes, it all feels ott/brassy. Silver is more of a contrast but I prefer the look of for some reason. My veins are genuinely turquoise looking to me so that's no help! I have freckling and warmth leftover even now from sunshine on holiday two months ago, but I am not the ruddy, tanned redhead (or even a redhead but that is how I am often classed by others) that I have encountered in other people (my father, a Russian auburn haired friend who never burns). I blush pink and burn without high SPF. But I do tan. I feel like warm colours match me, and when people see that they compliment it, but the two colours that I look best in,s ans makeup etc. are a muted but clear grassy green (super hard to find, I once had a tee shirt in the perfect shade) or just the right shade of fuschia. With khaki green being in the top three, bizarrely, because it just matches my eyes so perfectly that it doesn't wash/blend me out I don't think. I think this is why I wear so much grey and beige, I am a mutt on the color wheel!

    Anyway I'm rambling! I love the side by side of you with the color swatches, very clever and easy for the eye to see that you are unquestionably a cool, and I agree you can pull off the more vibrant winter shades also, you might just need a bolder lipstick. I think maybe you are erring more towards clear than soft/a combination? You have much depth/differentiation in your eye colour and hair. (I do not, my hair and eyes and skin sort of blend into one if I'm not careful).

  3. I've been following your posts on color with special attention to "associations" and the influence of natural and artificial lighting. Yes, I do avoid certain colors because they (dull garnet and hunter green) remind me of cheap hotel decor, while I'm inclined to pet a certain shade of yellow satin that I wore as a daffodil dress when I was 3. The black velvet I'd wear to an upscale restaurant's private dining room would be replaced by a brilliant blue if I knew we'd be seated in the room with crystal chandeliers and french doors. Make-up!? I'm fading away, so much so that once a year I pay an aesthetician to update my tool kit and palette. I particularly agree with your observation that cosmetics are better used to enhance features and coloring than as camouflage!


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