What is your skin colour’s season? A look into personal colour analysis

Jul 02 2024.

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“Maybe you should go for the black dress instead of purple, everyone looks great in black!”

Not really. 

If you’ve taken a look at the latest fashion trends soaring over social media in the past year, you would know that the resurgence of the term personal colour analysis proves that statement to be false.

Personal colour analysis is an intricate system that guides individuals to take their hair, skin tone and other facial features into consideration to curate the perfect colour combinations to help them look their best by enhancing their natural features.

Be it a physicist, philosopher or artist, humans have been familiar with colour theories for centuries. By extensively studying how light interacts with colour and our sight, we have managed to put together various theories to explore how things work. A similar pattern is understood when it comes to sound and music. We are bound to enjoy hearing a few notes that were curated carefully, compared to listening to dissonant chords that sound off-key. Notice that the core idea in these two cases is harmony. A harmonious colour combination, if that is between colours or with a specific skin tone, appears to be visually pleasing. However, if a colour is of a jarring note, it would appear to have the opposite effect and in the context of someone’s appearance would leave them looking unhealthy or sluggish.

The first colour analysts were artists, working to figure out ways to achieve a harmonious colour palette in between the subject’s surroundings, outfit and skin and hair tones. In the 1920s, one particular artist named Johannes Itten developed a colour theory that associated colour palettes with types of people and seasons. Afterwards, another artist, Robert Dorr, translated this theory into a practical analysis and categorised individuals under warm and cool tones.
By the 1980s, as research and development improved, so did the various dye analysis drapes and makeup which eventually led to the establishment of colour analysis companies that provided professional analysis sessions, primarily to entertainment sectors.

To determine your personal colour palette, you would first have to identify your personal colour season. Various colour type systems exist, but the basics stand with Spring Warm, Summer Cool, Autumn Warm and Winter Cool. 

Spring Warm: Those who fall into this category are typically light-skinned, with a golden undertone. Their eyes are light to medium in darkness and are usually shades of clear blue, bright green, hazel or light grey. This colour palette consists of golden yellows, rich oranges, warm greens and soft pastels with an overall warmth and bright energy surrounding them. Including these spring colours brings about a radiant glow to their complexion, giving it a refreshing and youthful appearance. For makeup, they might have to include earthy tones and peachy blushes to complement their skin tone. Colours to avoid with this palette are cool purple, bright pink, deep blue and black.

Summer Cool: Those with a very light to medium tan skin tone, ashy blonde hair or dark ash brown hair, and eyes that have a grey undertone, are categorised under summer cool. This colour palette features cool blues, mild purple and pink, with a touch of soft grey. These colours are meant to emit a sense of serenity representing a cool summer breeze, that settles itself gracefully on these individuals and brightens their complexion. When it comes to makeup, foundations with cooler undertones, and lipsticks in soft pinks and mauves are optimum. Colours to avoid with the palette are bright orange and warm brown.

Autumn Warm: People in this category can be of a warm light, medium or dark skin tone and their hair will usually have a golden, reddish or brown hint of colour paired with darker warmer eyes like hazel, amber or golden brown. The colours of this palette evoke a rich sense of earthiness and warmth by including muted orange, warm red and olive green. Wearing these colours can add depth to their complexion, giving it a warm sunlit appearance. Bronze shades for eyeshadow and blushes in warm hues are best for this colour palette. However, beware of pastel colours, bright white and black. 

Winter Cool: Individuals with a cool, light, medium, and dark skin tone, along with hair colours such as dark brown, black-brown and black, belong in this category. They also have eyes that are cool-toned in shades of hazel, dark brown or black. This palette includes royal blue, emerald green, and bold shades of purple representing elegance, contrast and intensity. Winter individuals usually have a much higher contrast between their features than other colour seasons and so, these deep colours aid in lightening their complexion giving it a cool and radiant appearance. For makeup, eyeshadow in cool neutral colours and lipsticks in bold shades would best enhance their features. Try to stray from colours like yellow, pastel pink and warm brown. 

To determine your personal colour season, you might need to make a few observations. Are your veins more blue than green on the inside of your wrist? If they are, you may find yourself in summer cool or winter cool. 

Do you feel like your skin stands out when you slip on a silver bracelet or gold ring? If silver seems to look more compatible with your skin, you might be cool-toned. Otherwise, you might lean towards a warmer colour palette.
Lastly, think about the last time you went out in the sun. Did your skin tan easily or give you a harsh sunburn? If your skin accepts a golden tan, you might favour warmer tones. However, if you find your skin burning, you may align with cool colour palettes. 

It is common for people with darker skin tones to be mistyped easily as an Autumn or Winter season due to their darker features (eyes or hair), and many people of colour, including Sri Lankans may struggle to find where they belong in this context. Contrary to what the system promotes, as it was predominantly meant for the West, some colours under these respective seasons tend to wash out individuals of a darker skin tone, making them look unappealing and tired. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind that a thorough observation is done before determining your personal colour season, whether it was carried out by a specialist or by yourself.

As Sri Lankans, our skin tones belong to a darker shade, however, the same may not apply to our features. It is possible for us to belong to a Spring Warm or Summer Cool category when taking other features such as lip colour into account. A simple but fool-proof way to determine your colour season is the lipstick test. By testing as many colours and shades on yourself and using a guide to trace which season those specific colours belong to, you would’ve found your answer. 

Sahana Kargi and Monica Ravichandran are two of the biggest social media influencers who regularly post content that focuses on darker brown skin tones, educating South Asian communities on colour palettes, and makeup and reinforcing positivity around these topics inviting the sunkissed public to venture on their own colour journeys. 

The goal of identifying your own colour palette is to enhance your natural beauty and boost your confidence, allowing you to look good and feel the part. If you still like wearing that bright yellow shirt from 5 years ago, who’s to stop you? Wearing a smile in your favourite outfit is sometimes your most flattering look! 


Ruqaiyah Rafeek

Ruqaiyah Rafeek is a freelance writer and artist based in Colombo. With a background in content marketing and creative design, she mostly aims to shed light on conservation and sustainability through her work, as well as dabbling in annual worldwide conservation projects such as Sketch for Survival. If you don’t see her tending to a tree, she’s too busy drawing one.


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