A reader asks, "There are a lot of nuances between Soft Summer and True Summer. How do you know that Kristen Stewart is Soft Summer and Emily Blunt is a True Summer?"
This is a really good question.
I often find Summer celebs difficult to narrow down into subseasons - perhaps because the differences in the muted colors of Summer are harder to discern on a computer screen than the differences in the vivid colors of Spring or Winter.
But after a lot of thought, I eventually came to the conclusion that Kristen's a Soft Summer and Emily's a True Summer.
I'll describe my thought process:
To my eye, both look obviously coolish, but not particularly saturated. Cool and muted is Summer.
But my first impression might be wrong. To determine season, we can't rely on what a person looks like; we have to examine how a person looks in certain colors. So I'll check the other seasons.
Could either woman be a Winter?
Well, both are clearly overwhelmed by black. That rules out all three Winters.
I do make note of the fact that Emily is less overwhelmed by black than Kristen. So I think perhaps Emily has a higher natural saturation.
How about Autumn?
Hmm. I think both are meh in Autumn colors.
Notice, though, that Kristen is almost pulling off Autumn color, while Emily isn't at all. So I'm thinking Kristen has more Autumn-like warmth than Emily.
Spring: Testing Spring will be tough, because it's very difficult to find either woman in sure-fire Spring colors like peach, lime, or sunny yellow. So I need to test Spring for them in another way.
I've already seen that both women are overwhelmed by black, so Bright Spring's unlikely for either one. (Black alone is not a great look for Bright Spring, but it's not so much overwhelming as it is boring.)
How can I test Light Spring and True Spring? Hmm... Well, neither woman is a convincing blonde, to my eye. Most "blonde" True and Light Spring celebs are actually brunettes, but they do typically make convincing blondes. Yellow is Spring's soul color, so it makes sense that yellow hair would work on Springs.
Yellow hair is clearly not right for these two women, though.
So I think my initial idea was correct: both women are Summers.
But what kind of Summer - Light, Soft, or True?
I'm thinking Light Summer is unlikely for Emily, for the same reason I think Spring is unlikely: I don't find her a convincing blonde. Light Summers can often pull off blonde pretty well. Their palette contains many lovely light yellows, so this makes sense.
You can tell from their roots that these Light Summers are brunettes, but blonde looks appropriate on them.
Again, Emily Blunt with blonde hair: not her best.
On Light Summers, yellow hair can emphasize the delicacy of their coloring; Emily's skin seems to be calling for more depth.
So, Soft or True for Emily perhaps?
In weighing these two seasons, I think about how Emily often wears super-bright colors that look a little but not a lot overwhelming. Here she is in some high-sat choices:
I notice that she can tolerate some brightness of color. In these two pics, she's certainly farther away than the color - but not miles farther away.
So, of Soft and True Summer, I think True Summer - the more saturated of the two seasons - is right for Emily Blunt.
Yes. I like her in these purely cool, somewhat muted colors. They certainly don't look muted next to Emily Blunt - they're exactly the right saturation for her.
With Kristen Stewart, one of the things I notice is that neutral-warm colors aren't awful on her.
On the left, the eyeshadow is warmish, and in this pic it's not glaringly disharmonious. (The skin might appear more even with a cooler shade, but as-is, it's not so bad.) On the right, I could almost believe her as an Autumn.
So I suspect True Summer, which is purely cool, is unlikely for her.
I already decided that a big block of yellow next to Kristen's face was not her best, so that makes Light Summer seem unlikely as well.
That leaves Soft Summer.
Does Soft Summer make sense for her?
Well, Soft Summer's TMIT is softness or mutedness of color. Is Kristen awesome in very muted tones?
Yes, I think. The more subtly colored her makeup and clothes are, the better she looks. She seems so natural in very, very soft shades.
Is she overwhelmed by very saturated colors?
So, I say Soft Summer for Kristen Stewart.
Let's see her against a Soft Summer palette.
Oh, yes. I love this.
This post originally appeared in January of 2014.
Last week I talked about the fact that, though all of your palette colors are gorgeous on you somewhere, they don't all look natural on your lips.
Now I want to describe a good way to figure out which of your palette colors are best on your lips.
In a nutshell, the colors that will look most natural on your lips are
- your MLBB,
- darker versions of your MLBB, and
- a handful of colors very close in hue and value to these
Your MLBB is your "my lip but better" lip color. You may already have a lippy in your stash that you know is your MLBB. If you don't, stand in front of a mirror with your palette and locate the peach, pink, red, or violet that is precisely as dark as your lip and the closest to it in warmth or coolness. (Your natural lip color will be less saturated than any of these palettte colors; you're basically finding the more saturated version of your natural lip.)
A lippy that's an MLBB will always look natural on you. Additionally, colors that are the same hue as your MLBB but darker will also look natural on you. Going very dark within your MLBB hue might be your evening lip, but it won't look unnatural.
In general, avoid opaque colors that are lighter than than your MLBB. This usually looks unnaatural.
The other colors that will look most natural on your lips will be the colors closest in hue to your MLBB, and as dark or darker. So if you're a Bright Spring whose MLBB is on your fuchsia strip, you may indeed be able to wear one of Bright Spring's violets as a lippy; the violets are close in hue to the fuchsias. You will find less luck with one of BSp's orange lippies, because orange is pretty far from fuchsia.
My MLBB is a neutral Soft Autumn pink that's medium-dark. I'll wear other pinks and reds that are very close to this color in hue, but I won't go all the way to a Soft Autumn brown -- even though those lippies exist.
Also, I'll go darker than my MLBB, but not lighter.
A lippie lighter in than your natural lip rarely looks natural.
Tarte Quench Lip Rescue in Nude is an MLBB for me. It's easy to throw on when I want some moisture but I don't feel like bothering too much with makeup.
CoverGirl Outlast in Wine to Five is a slightly darker version of my MLBB. It's been my staple daytime lippy for about five years; I order it in bulk on eBay or Amazon.
My sexy lippy these days is Tarte Tarteist in Bling, which is a very deep version of my MLBB. It's a Soft Autumn red lip -- which means it's striking on me, and would be rather blah on most other seasons. :-)
Though they vary quite a bit in value, all three of these lippies are similar in hue.
If I feel like it, I''ll go somewhat warmer or somewhat cooler within my palette. But I won't stray super-far from this central MLBB hue, and I won't go lighter in value, unless it's a gloss.
And this is what I recommend you do as well:
Find the hue that looks most natural on your lips, and choose lippies that stay relatively close to that hue.
For example, if your MLBB is an orange, experiment with your reds -- but don't stray all the way to a violet, unless you want to make a statement. :-)
And if your MLBB is a violet, experiment with your reds and purples -- but don't stray all the way to orange.
When you know your MLBB, use your seasonal makeup list and a computer to find the lippies from the list that will look the most natural on your face.
(Computer images aren't completely color-accurate, but you don't need them to be if you have the seasonal makeup list; if it's on the list, it's a color from your season.)
Just check the computer image to make sure the hue and value of the lippy seem right for your lips. Then buy it!
This post was originally published in March of 2017.
In seasonal discussion groups, women spend a lot of time working out which palettte-matching lipsticks and glosses are their best colors.
Why should they have to spend time answering this question? Aren't all of the peaches, pinks, reds and violets in your palette automatically good lip colors for you?
Every color in your palette is a color that harmonizes with your natural coloring somehow.
But not every color will actually look good on your lips.
Your right colors look right because they look natural. So if you wear them in an unnatural way, they won't look right.
Consider my Soft Autumn palette:
All of these colors look amazing on me. But not every one of these colors would look natural on my lips.
Would I wear the greens or blues on my lips? No way. It would look completely unnatural. That goes without saying, right?
So far, these decisions seem self-evident. But let's move around the wheel into the range where we expect to find our lip colors: the purples, pinks, peaches and reds.
Here's me wearing one of my dark purple-browns as a lippie:
This color, though gorgeous on me as an evening gown, still isn't natural on my lips... despite the fact that I can find lippies in the drugstore that swatch this color. Now, if I want to make a statement with my lippy, this could be a good choice for me... but most of the time, I just want to look like the most beautiful verison of myself. And this lippy's not helping me do that.
Every peach, pink, red and purple in your palette looks natural on you somewhere.
But not every peach, pink, red and purple in your palette looks natural on your lips.
This is where many of us -- Winters and Bright Springs in particular -- can get lost.
For example, there are plenty of lipsticks that match Bright Spring's violets.
But a Bright Spring who expects a BSp violet lippy to look natural on her lips may be disappointed. (Soft Autumn's dark purple sure doesn't look natural on my lips!)
The peaches, pinks, reds and purples in your palette that will look natural on your mouth are a smaller subset of your total set of peaches, pinks, reds and purples.
It can be tough to know where the line is.
My unnatural-looking brownish- purple isn't really that far away from my natural-looking pink:
So you're probably wondering, "How can I know which of my peaches, pinks, reds and purples will actually look natural on my lips?"
It's not too difficult. This post is getting long, so I'll publish the second half, in which I describe how to find the best colors for your lips, next week. :-)
This post was originally published in February of 2017.
Not all of the colors in your correct seasonal palette will be your absolute favorites.
Depending on your depth of coloring, your level of contrast, and the specific colors of your body, some will be more useful to you than others, and in different ways.
A dark-skinned Winter, for example, might use black as an accent, while a fair-skinned Winter might wear it in large blocks.
But no color in your palette will be awful on you. The colors in your palette are all harmonious with each other, and if it's your proper palette, they'll all be harmonious with you too.
So for those of you still searching for your season, I give you colors that are seasonal deal-breakers.
If the given color absolutely doesn't work for you, the deal's off. Move this season to the end of the list.
You can't use this list to identify your single best season. But you can use it to rule seasons out.
If you can't rock hot pink, rule out Bright Spring.
Bright Spring has a handful of pinks in this general vicinity. You may not associate pink with Spring. But moving Spring reds toward Winter means making them both darker and brighter. Reds that are both deep and very bright are purple-reds. So in Bright Spring, we find hot pinks.
If you think you're a Spring but hot pink is no good for you, True Spring may be your home.
If you're not fabulous in lime green, rule out Bright Winter.
Taking True Winter's greens lighter and brighter, all the way into Bright Winter, moves them toward yellow. One of the results is a sort of fluorescent lime. On Bright Winters, this color is amazing. It contrasts beautifully with both very dark and very light skin.
If this color's not right for you, but you think you're a Winter, try Dark Winter next.
If you can't wear clear lemon yellow, rule out True Winter.
Be careful applying this one. I'm not talking about a golden yellow, or a pastel yellow, or a yellow-orange. True Winter's few yellows don't show a bit of brown or orange or grey. They're the pure, clear complements of TW's vivid sapphire blues.
If you need a more moderated yellow that's still vivid, try Dark Winter.
If you don't look great in mint green, rule out True Summer.
A handful of the seasons have some sort of mint. True Summer's is not a pure, saturated mint that's close to aqua. Instead it's a delicate and slightly hazy mint. It's lovely with a delicate fuchsia lip.
If this feels all wrong to you, perhaps vivid mint is beter? You might be a Winter.
If you wouldn't call your good yellow "goldenrod," rule out Dark Winter.
Dark Winter yellows are tricky. They're not clear and pure like True Winter's. They're not blindingly bright. They're just slightly warmed, a little rich - but not Autumn rich. Penelope Cruz is lovely here in what looks like one of Dark Winter's elusive yellows.
If you need your yellows purer, try one of the other Winters. And if you need a more delicate yellow, try one of the Summers.
If you can't wear this medium warmed violet, rule out Dark Autumn.
This Dark Autumn color always surprises me. Call it orchid or begonia perhaps. It's not a color I would label Dark Autumn if I saw it in a pile of a hundred other colors. Yet it's gorgeous with the intense dark olives and vivid teals of the season.
Dark Autumn Natalie Portman's been photographed in three or four dresses in something like this color. They're all great on her. If it's not great on you, perhaps try True Autumn or Bright Spring.
If a light olive-khaki is not a good neutral for you, rule out Light Spring.
Was it Christine Scaman who said Light Spring colors are popsicle colors? It's true. But every season has neutrals, of course. This unusual Light Spring color is like your usual khaki, but with a suggestion of green and gold. On a Light Spring, it may pick up tones in the eye or hair.
If this color's a no-go on you, perhaps look at Light Summer instead.
If you're not flattered by light pinky coral, rule out Light Summer.
Light Summer doesn't get very warm, but in the pinks it does go as far as a pinky coral. It's a bit pinker than what you see here, but still warmish. On a Light Summer it picks up healthy color in the face.
If you think you're a Summer but can't wear this light, delicate, warm tone, look at True Summer.
If you're not beautiful in bright blue, rule out True Spring.
True Spring's colors are Crayola colors. You can see them in this picture of Nicole Kidman: blue dress, yellow hair, red-orange lips. In these simple primaries, True Spring is gorgeous.
If you struggle to articulate the names of your best colors, they're not True Spring's. You might consider Summer or Autumn.
If rich burgundy isn't gorgeous on you, rule out True Autumn.
True Autumn has a few beautiful burgundies that go beautifully with the rich greens and oranges of the season. You can see all those colors here, in Noa Tishby's face.
Those burgundies make good lippies too.
If this burgundy overwhelms you, try something from Soft Autumn.
If you're not lovely in cocoa brown, rule out Soft Summer
This is not a warm golden brown or a milk chocolate brown. If you're a Summer, none of those browns will work for you. Browns are generally bad for Summers, as a rule. But if you're a Soft Summer, you will be lovely in cocoa brown. It's a brown that looks both slightly greyed and slightly purpled. It may pick up tones in your hair.
If this color just isn't right for you, try True Summer next.
If you can't do dusty medium blue, you're not a Soft Autumn.
This blue feels both rich and muted, and quite medium - neiher purpley nor greenish. I's similar to the color you get if you Google "French blue."
Though it's a subtle color, on Soft Autumn skin it's just as powerful as it needs to be. Notice how rich it looks on Natascha McElhone.
If you need a blue that's much richer than this, you might try a Winter or a Spring.
* * *
For any of these seasons, Google the season's name in quotes to see images of the palette. Images that say "Sci/Art" are usually quite accurate. Or order sheets of color from all 12 seasons to try the seasons out in person.
As always, I hope this helps you find your correct season. :-)
This post first ran in April of 2013.
If you've been following my blog recently, you know I'm trying to complete my series on color words in the 12 makeup palettes.
Last week, I wrote about True Summer's makeup, which is somewhat light, a bit faded, and very, very cool-toned.
This week, I'm writing about True Summer's neighbor, Soft Summer.
As we move from True Summer to Soft Summer, our colors become
- a bit more dark,
- even more faded,
- and a bit warmer.
Soft Summer's colors are still light, cool, and soft relative to the other seasons, because Soft Summer is Summer first and foremost.
Soft Summer and Light Summer, its near-neighbor on the other side of True Summer, have in common that neither palette, unlike True Summer, is completely cool; Light Summer adds a bit of Spring's clear warmth to its palette, and Soft Summer adds a bit of Autumn's toasty warmth.
The Soft Summer makeup list currently has about 650 products on it, every one of which has been matched to original the Sci/Art Soft Summer palette.
(You'll find many versions of the Soft Summer palette online, but only those that derive from Sci/Art palettes are truly accurate.)
Here are the color words that appear most frequently on the Soft Summer makeup list.
I'm not surprised to see pink appear so often: pink is light, cool red, and as such it is a defining color of all three light, cool seasons. And rose is just a synonym for pink.
But notice the supplemental colors: brown, plum, mauve. The importance of these colors to a Soft Summer's makeup reflects this woman's need for slightly deeper and warmer colors on her face.
If you look at the less-frequently-appearing color names, you'll see some that hint at Soft Summer's move toward Autumn richness: bronze, moss, spice.
Compare the warm colors in Soft Summer's makeup to the warm colors in Light Summer's makeup. Both Summer subtypes have a touch of warmth, but Soft Summer's hint of warmth is deep and rich, while Light Summer's warmth is light and bright: peach, floral, and flamingo.
Soft Summer on the left, Light Summer on the right.
It's also interesting to compare Soft Summer to its lighter, cooler neighbor, True Summer. Blue, the coldest hue, is more important for True Summer. Brown, which is warm, is much more important for Soft Summer.
Soft Summer on the left, True Summer on the right.
Soft Summer women can have any hair color, any eye color, and any apparent skin tone, but they are united by the fact that their best colors are mostly (but not completely) cool, a bit (but not a lot) on the light side, and very, very faded. These are cool pastels that are smudgy and smoky.
Check out Soft Summers Leona Lewis, Carmen Electra, Emma Roberts, and Emilia Clarke looking like the most beautiful versions of themselves. No masks here.
If this makeup is your makeup, you may be a Soft Summer. You might consider trying the Soft Summer makeup list; compared to expensive in-person color draping, the list is a steal at $15. It could confirm your season.
You might also consider home draping cards; they are Sci/Art color-accurate, and at $24 or $48, much more affordable than in-person draping (which costs hundreds.)
The True Summer (a.k.a. Cool Summer) makeup list has almost 800 products on it that have been precisely matched to original Sci/Art True Summer colors.
(For those of you just joining us, if you're a True Summer, the colors in your True Summer palette are your most beautiful makeup colors.)
In terms of hue, value, and chroma, True Summer's colors, and therefore its makeup products, are
- very cool (appearing blue-toned)
- somewhat more light than dark
- somewhat faded
When you look at a list of makeup products that all match a very defined palette, you start to see certain color words over and over again. Let's look at the list of ~800 products that match the True Summer palette, and see which color words appear the most often.
Pink, blue, and grey. That pretty much sums up True Summer, actually.
Here's True Summer's makeup word cloud next to Light Summer's makeup word cloud, which I talked about last week:
Pink is super-important for True Summer, as it is for Light Summer. But as we move from Light Summer into True Summer, the colors become both cooler and darker. The increase in coolness explains why blue and grey suddenly become much more important, while brown almost disappears; the increase in darkness explains why plum is now making a huge showing.
While we're on the subject of darker colors, you may be wondering why "black" appears in any True Summer makeup names, since True Summer technically does not contain black in its palette. (And True Summers are overwhelmed by black.) In the True Summer makeup list, you see "black" appear as a modifier indicating a darker shade: for example, Estee Lauder's Black Plum eyeliner, or CoverGirl's Black Sapphire mascara. True Summer neutrals don't go as dark as pure black, but True Summer does have some deep blues, purples, charcoals and purple-browns. (By contrast, there's no Light Summer makeup color that could be described as "black" anything.)
Here are True Summers Ashley Green and Georgina Chapman in makeup that's great for their season.
If you're a confirmed or suspected True Summer, do you recognize your best makeup in these color names? Share in the comments!
(If you don't know your color season, consider trying the at-home draping cards.)
Many of you will be very happy to see me continue my series of posts about the word clouds I've made from products in the seasonal makeup lists. :-) I apologize for the delay!
To orient those just joining us, there are 12 color seasons, each with its own palette of colors that exist at precise points on each of these three spectra:
light ............................... dark
Light Summer is a color season. Its colors are mostly cool-toned, a bit faded, and very light.
The Light Summer seasonal makeup list has hundreds of products that have been precisely matched to the Light Summer color palette. (Because a Light Summer's perfect makeup is makeup that matches those colors.)
Since the products on the list all occupy a small, defined area in color space, one tends to see the same color names over and over.
Here's what happens when I feed all of the color names from the Light Summer makeup list into a word cloud generator. The size of the word represents how freqently the word appears in the list.
Pink! Wow. Pink is important for Light Summer.
That makes sense if you think about it; pink is technically just light, cool red, and Light Summer is a light, cool palette. Light Summer's "oranges" are peachy pinks, and Light Summer's "reds" are deep pinks.
"Rose" is basically a synonym for pink, so it makes sense to see it feature so prominently in Light Summer's makeup word cloud.
The importance of "brown" in Light Summer makeup reflects the fact that, for deep neutrals (like we typically use in eyeshadow and eyeliner), Light Summer will never get black or charcoal. It's just too light a season. Brown and grey are the neutrals that lighter seasons rely on in makeup.
Light Summer's browns will always be cool browns: pinkish browns or purplish browns or greyish browns or silvery browns. You'll see words like "cocoa," "mink," "taupe," and "stone" use to describe these cool browns.
In the background of the word cloud, we have many more forms of pink: fuchsia, watermelon, cherry, berry, and raspberry. We also see coral, which is a peachy pink; Light Summer borders light and warm Light Spring, and has a hint of warmth. (Light Summers, but not True Summers, look gorgeous in a buttery yellow.)
If you have cool undertones, and you see the makeup that flatters you reflected in this word cloud, you may be a Light Summer.
If you're not sure which of the 12 color seasons is your perfect fit, consider trying the home draping cards. They're precisely matched to original Sci/Art colors, the gold standard of seasonal color palettes.
Each of the 12 seasonal color palettes, taken as a whole, is unique.
But if you compare color-by-color, some individual colors in neighbor palettes can look so similar to each other as to be almost indistinguishable.
Light Spring and Light Summer, for example, have several pinks, yellows, blues and purples that look an awful lot alike.
Light Summer and Light Spring palettes. Yikes! Which is which?
If you have narrowed yourself down to these two seasons, knowing a few colors that are inarguably unique to each palette can help you make a final decision.
Here are 6 colors, 3 from each season, that don't resemble anything in the sister season's palette.
1. Light Summer has a greyed wine neutral that looks something like this:
Nothing in Light Spring even remotely resembles this. If you're flattered by this color, rule out Light Spring.
2. Light Summer also has blueish greys, such as this one:
On a Light Summer, this color may harmonize with subtle tones in the eyes or hair. On a Light Spring, this color may create an unhealthy pallor in the face or emphasize undereye circles.
Light Spring's greys are more yellowed. (For a quick side-by-side comparison of warm and cool greys, check out this great Wikipedia image.)
3. Many of Light Summer and Light Spring's pinks and reds may seem to overlap. So we look at the extremes. Light Summer's raspberries get this blued:
Light Spring won't go that cool.
4. If we go to the extreme of warmth within Light Spring's pinks and peaches, we'll find light oranges:
A color like this may pick up delicate tones in a Light Spring's cheeks, but seem to turn a Light Summer's skin uniformly orangey or muddy.
5. Light Spring has a cheerful greenish gold that's not the least bit Summery. It looks like this:
This is a color many Light Springs have in their hair or eyes. There's nothing close to it in the Light Summer palette.
6. Light Summer's greens are neutral to blue-green. Some Light Summer blue-greens can be hard to tell apart from Light Spring aquas. But only Light Spring green goes the other temperature direction, into yellow-green:
Clear yellow-green is an especially fussy color. Not many people are fantastic in it. If you are, and you know you're Light Something, now you know you're Light Spring.
I hope comparing these six colors helps you Lights find yourselves. Let me know how it works. :-)
If you're having trouble diagnosing yourself, consider investing in color cards to drape yourself at home.
Originally published February 2013.
I think a great way to distinguish a True Summer palette from a Light Summer palette is by using the yellows.
True Summer gets almost no yellows; the yellows it does get are pale and dusty but also totally cool -- like lemon chalk.
True Summer yellows are elusive in fabrics, so a typical True Summer almost never finds a yellow that looks good on her and thinks it's one of her worst colors.
Light Summer, though, can handle a range of cheerful, buttery yellows. On a Light Summer, yellow often picks up yellow in the hair or in the eye.
This difference is part of the reason why Light Summers are often convincing blondes but True Summers seldom are. Blonde hair is essentially a big swatch of yellow hovering around one's face, you know?
If you're not sure of your season, try at-home draping.
All the lippies on the list are recommendations from the women of the 12 Blueprints Facebook Page, Christine Scaman of 12 Blueprints, Mary Steele of Luminosity, or my own swatching.
If you're a Light Summer, you'll look natural in almost all of these colors, and be able to use them as blush as well.
Though none of these palette-matched colors will look awful on you, Light Summer, the occasional shade may seem less than perfect for your individual face. Not all Light Summers wear the same colors on their face equally well, because of individual variation in the way the palette colors manifest themselves in your bodies.
Many of these colors will be discontinued, but you can often still find them on eBay.
"Try before you buy" is prudent advice. But I personally buy Soft Autumn - recommended colors sight-unseen all the time, and I'm rarely let down.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Bobbi Brown Bright Pink gloss
Bobbi Brown Nectar
Boots Stay Perfect Mischief
Burt's Bees Lip Shimmer in Watermelon (works for Ssu
Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in Boy
Clinique Different Lipstick in Glazed Berry (BSp too?)
Clinique Glosswear Kissyfit
Clinique Think Bronze lipstick
Cover Girl Smoky Rose
Cover Girl Midnight Mauve
Cover Girl Rose Cashmere
Cover Lip Perfection in Coquette?
Jane Iredale Lip Fixation in Fascination.
Loreal Sparkling Rose
MAC Hot Gossip?
MAC On Hold
Maybelline Pink Wink
Maybelline Superstay (new formula) in 010 Raspberry
Maybelline Superstay (new formula) in 130 Cinnamon
Maybelline Superstay Lipcolor Plus Conditioning Balm in
Maybelline Superstay Lipcolor-Flame
Merle Norman Hot Stuff Gloss
MUFE Rouge Artiste 33
MUFE 's #426
NARS Jungle Red
NARS Scandal gloss
NARS Velvet Gloss Lip Pencil in Baroque
NARS Velvet Gloss Lip Pencil in New Lover
Revlon Colorburst Lilac
(leans quite cool)
Revlon ColorBurst Lipstick Carnation (also LSp?)
Revlon MineralGlaze Gloss in Continuous Pink and Eternal
Revlon Rose N Shine
Revlon Softsilver Rose
Rimmel Drop of Sherry
Silk Naturals Shrieking Violet
Silk Naturals Wisteria
These women have two things in common.
1. They're all famous Springs.
2. They're all brunettes.
Their Springiness may help these particular women be convincing blondes. But like most adult American women with blonde hair, their natural hair color is actually brown.
I bring this up because we deceive ourselves about blondeness, and in doing so we deceive ourselves about seasonal color.
We want to believe in blondeness. So we smile and nod when celebs claim they're "natural blondes" and we ignore the evidence in front of our eyes.
(I think celebs have all agreed to privately define "naturally blonde" as "blonde at birth" or "blonde during some period of my childhood." One's childhood hair color is not one's natural color if one is no longer a child.)
Articles like this one perpetuate this peculiar, false faith in the supposed natural blondeness of brown-haired celebs. It doesn't take a lot of research to determine that Angelina, Brittany, Gwyneth, etc. have been natural brunettes at least since adolescence, if not longer.
OK, so what? Why do I care?
Well, partly because belief in the myth of widespread natural blondeness perpetuates an idealization of light coloring that's hurtful to darker women, especially because the context is a society that already privileges Whiteness in so many ways.
Partly because of my nature: I'm an Enneagram 4. I want to reveal the truth.
And partly - and most pertinently, for this blog - because seeing all these supposedly blonde Spring and Summer celebs leads us to incorrectly believe that Springs and Summers - especially Light Springs and Summers, and Warm Springs - are typically blonde.
I personally know many brunettes whose path to discovering their true colors was made longer and more difficult because of a shared, mistaken belief that certain Spring and Summer seasons are blonde seasons.
There is no blonde season. Every season's average or typical representative is a natural brunette.
Statistically, it's inevitable that this be the case; with the vast majority of all human beings having naturally brown or black hair, a majority of even the most delicately-colored people will be brunette as well.
It's true that natural blondeness is not found infrequently in the seasons with lighter palettes, in particular Light Summer and Light Spring.
Might a quarter, or even a third, of adult Light Summers or Light Springs have blonde hair growing naturally from their heads? Perhaps. You can think of dozens of Light-season people as easily as I can. What proportion of them are blonde at age 30?
Surely not the majority of them. Probably not even half of them.
Let's revise our mental image of what these seasons look like. The caricatures just get in the way of seeing what's real. We know it's not about hair color anyway, so let's picture what it's really about. Look at the Light and Warm Springs and Light Summers that you know: what do you really see?
P.S. Blonde sisters, I hope it doesn't sound like I'm hating on you. You're beautiful and I love you. I just like to keep it real.
P.P.S. Scandinavians, I realize what I've written here might not reflect your reality. I know there is an unusual proportion of natural blondes in your little corner of the world. :-)
Here is a hair color scale I originally intended to use in the post above, to help make clear how I'm personally defining "blonde" and "brown."
In the end, it felt pedantic to include it - but now I think the failure to attempt to define terms just added to the general chaos. So for the record, this graphic reflects how I was conceptualizing these hair colors when I wrote the post. For me, it was essentially a question of hue: more yellow than brown = blonde, more brown than yellow = brunette.
Since I blogged only about Autumns and Winters at the Golden Globes (working and mothering cut into my computer time, alas), I think it's fair to focus on the Summers and Springs at this year's Academy Awards.
I'll start with the adorable Reese Witherspoon.
Despite how cute she is, it's hard to find pics of Reese in flattering colors; I get the feeling she's a Light Summer who's not comfortable with the perceived girliness and insubstantiality of the Light Summer palette.
Here's one of the only pics I could find showing her in a color that's Light Summery:
So sweet. I'd love to see her looking like this more often.
The gown she wore to the 2006 Oscars was also a natural color:
In both of the pics above, our eyes go to Reese's face. The colors look as if they're lifted right from her skin. Her naturally low level of contrast is not overwhelmed.
For most big events, unfortunately, Reese chooses colors more appropriate for a Winter. This year's Oscars was no exception.
(I won't nitpick right now about her artificially blonde hair. Though I oppose it on principle, she is, as a Light Summer, one of the few seasons who can convincingly fake blondisme.)
Things from the neck up are pretty harmonious, I think.
Apart from the silly but inevitable black liner, the overall look is Reese, only better. She has a beautifully light and neutral-cool cheek, and a beautifully light and neutral-cool lip. The hair is a natural-looking combination of golden, neutral and ash tones. Reese presents a beautiful Light Summer visage.
It's when we zoom out that things become less sweet.
To her credit, she's showing a lot of bare skin next to her face, which will always neutralize the effects of a bad color somewhat. (Your skin acts as a harmonious color.) Also, the band of white at the top of the dress isn't bad for her.
But the huge block of black, and the contrast between the black and the white, keep dragging the eyes down to the dress and away from her face.
And when you look back up at her face, what you see first is black eyeliner and white teeth. Your brain is connecting them to the black and white of the dress.
The result is that the black-circled eyes and the grinning mouth seem to leap out at us, detached from the rest of her face. Weird. Not lovely.
Gwyneth Paltrow, another Light Summer, came very close to completely embodying her season's beauty. I believe she missed the mark by just a hair - or maybe I should say by an eye. Let's look first at those eyes:
There is something peculiar and not Light Summery happening around Gwyneth's eye here. The liner and mascara are too dark, and the shadow reads as muddy.
(The hair is also too one-dimensionally yellow for Light Summer, IMHO... but it's not a deal-killer. )
I think it's the eyes alone that prevent Gwyneth from achieving full Light Summer radiance. See her in the gown, which should flatter a Light Summer. You want to like it, but something's a tiny bit off.
Now look at the picture again, and mentally fill in a more natural-looking eye:
Way better, don't you think? The eye makeup was creating the interference.
On to yet another Light Summer: Cate Blanchett.
I almost always find that Cate Blanchett beautifully presents her true colors. Her Oscars look this year, though, was widely criticized. What was right and what wasn't?
The face was perfect, I thought.
Very light, very natural, more cool than warm as befits a Light Summer, and in the earring a tiny touch of golden glow. Just lovely.
(And she declined the too-dark liner that's de rigeur on red carpets. Strong woman!)
So why all the criticism? I believe it was nothing more than the peculiar design of the dress.
The big circle is just weird. And those crusty bits look uncomfortable.
The colors in the gown are actually darn good for her. The white is cool and a touch greyish; the darker areas of the crusty bits read as greyish-pink and greyish-purple; and the tiny bit of bright yellow is a nice Light Summer accent.
Wouldn't it have been wonderful to see her in a gown of these colors but with a more pleasing design? Oh well.
Now for a few Springs.
I suppose I'd better address Scarlett Johansson first and get it over with.
When I look at this all I can think is, "Oh, Lord."
She's so very, very beautiful. Yet most of us looked better at our high school prom than Scarlett does here. Why, Scarlett? Why the weirdly orange eye? Why the violet lace? (And P.S. - Why the messy hair?)
Well, Scarlett J. frequently picks colors that don't flatter her. (Google images of her and you'll see.) She's young and gorgeous, so we forgive her. She has time yet to discover the truth of her beauty. Here are a few examples of occasions when she has done better:
Let's look at Scarlett again in that violet, alongside a lovely Deep Autumn who deserves the color:
Like night and day. Or like Autumn and Spring. ;-)
Another dress everyone was talking about was Amy Adam's deep blue gown. I saved a picture of the gown in a file called "OK, not great."
Before we look at it, though, let's see Warm Spring Amy in a really good color, at the 2008 Oscars:
Oh, wow. Fantastic.
Notice that she can handle a fair bit of depth. Some Warm Spring colors do go that deep. Notice also that she needs vivid (highly saturated) color.
Now, to the dress in question. This blue is very close to one of Warm Spring's deep blues. And it's nice and vivid. So why isn't the effect here as magical? Why do we see the dress before we see Amy?
I think it's mainly an issue of balance.
This is a very deep blue - as deep as Warm Spring's colors go. It's in the palette because it's the complement to one of Warm Springs beautiful oranges, but blue is a cool color. Coming right up to Amy's neck, it creates an effect of too much cool and deep. Yes, Warm Springs are flattered by contrast, but in this case the deep blue is more dominating than contrasting.
See how much more flattering a similar blue is when Amy balances it with a larger expanse of very light skin:
Here, the blue and the orange balance each other. The warmer lip helps as well.
Let's look at a Spring who, in spite of artificially lightened hair and a too-dark eye, reads as very natural: Jennifer Lawrence.
The right color can make up for a lot.
Honestly, I'm not sure what Jennifer's exact season is. I never noticed her before the Oscars. I only know she's a Spring because she looks so perfectly balanced in this very warm, highly saturated color, and because the blonde hair doesn't look totally wrong on her. (Again, I won't nitpick, though I'm sure her true color would be more glorious.)
Is she Bright, maybe? I think not... Imagine this outrageous color going all the way up to her chin, like Amy Adams' gown. I don't think it would work. I think there's a limit to how much color this girl can take.
What other Springs and Summers got it right - or wrong?