Have you ever wondered why wearing certain colours make your eyes sparkle and your complexion glow, while others seem to make you look dull, sallow or simply tired out? The secret lies in the art of colour theory, a personalised approach to makeup that takes into account your unique skin undertone and features.
Understanding your undertone – whether it’s warm, cool, or neutral – is fundamental to the process. The undertone forms the basis for selecting makeup shades that complement your natural colouring, enhancing your features and creating a harmonious look.
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The idea of personal colour analysis has a history spanning decades. It began with the four-season colour theory by Swiss theorist Johan Itten, who used the analogy of seasons to group colours. This approach gained popularity in the 1980s as “seasonal colour analysis,” categorising people into four seasons based to harmonise with their individual complexions.
Today, this concept has evolved further, breaking the four seasons into three distinct groups, each align with specific complexions and undertones. Beyond classification, a thorough personal colour analysis considers makeup shades, foundation tones, hair colours, and even jewellery hues, offering a holistic method to enhance individual beauty.
Colour palettes are divided into various categories, each catering to different undertones and bringing out the best in your complexion. Here’s a glimpse into some popular palettes:
Cool Tones: If your skin has bluish or pinkish undertones, cool tones are your best friends. Think icy blues, soft pinks, and jewel-like purples to make your features pop.
Warm Tones: Golden, peachy, and earthy shades work wonders for those with warm undertones. These hues add warmth and radiance to your complexion.
Neutral Tones: For those lucky enough to possess neutral undertones, a wide range of colours can be embraced, making it easier to experiment and find the perfect shades.
In some cases, the colours are categorised into four main seasons and sub seasons – spring, summer, autumn and winter, and each have their light and dark extensions.
For those with cool undertones, spring and summer hues are their colour allies. A spring palette consists of soft, delicate colours. Think soft florals and pastels. Summer, on the other hand, serves up a range of serene, calming tones reminiscent of tranquil seas and gentle skies.
Warm undertones fall under autumn and winter. Autumn, like its name suggests, calls up rich, earthy shades, invoking warmth and comfort. Winter, with its icy elegance, is all about bold and dramatic hues that evoke the frosty landscapes and starlit nights.
Each season further branches into sub seasons, refining the colour spectrum even more. These subdivisions are based on the nuances of undertones, complexions, and personal preferences.
An example would be “Summer Light,” which delves deeper into the palette of the summer season, for those with lighter complexions. This intricate breakdown ensures that every individual finds their unique place within the colour analysis framework, guiding them toward shades that truly resonate with their essence.
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The benefits of a personal colour analysis
A personalised colour analysis session allows you to discover your colours and can transform your wardrobe and makeup routine.
Carmen Stevens, the founder and personal colour stylist of Carmen’s Colours based in Singapore, guides individuals through this illuminating process. “I teach people how to look at colours and use this ‘colour intelligence’ to their benefit.”
Through draping techniques and colour comparisons, she identifies each client’s undertone and guides them towards their personalised seasonal colour palette. “It’s more than just wearing colours; it’s about enhancing your entire look – from clothing to accessories and makeup,” Carmen adds.
Her personalised sessions range from $325 per person for the Duo Colour Analysis and Report, to group workshops at $195 per session.
During a session, Carmen determines a client’s undertone by using colour drapes. “I have over 140 drapes and collars which I use to determine a client’s undertone. The drapes always reveal the truth of a person’s colours. With my experience, I can now often determine someone’s colour type just by looking at them. However, I always make sure to validate this with drapes and go through the complete process. Clients really enjoy this process as it can be quite eye-opening for them as well.”
After which, Carmen will also share makeup colour advice according to her client’s colour type. “It makes a major difference if you use your palette in your makeup,” she explains. In the workshops, makeup advice is general and she will be able to delve further into makeup colours, textures and application techniques in the one-on-one or duo sessions.
At the end of a session, participants will receive a handy card with their seasonal colour palette. “It helps you to select those colours that will make you look bright, light and awake. And it will help you to mix and match.”
Colour analysis session
As founder and makeup artist at Suburbs Studio, Kat Zhang signed herself up for a session of colour analysis with Palette Pro by Chi Chi Allure, a certified image and colour consultant in Singapore, to enrich her craft.
She had heard of personal colour services that first took off in South Korea, and wanted to explore the synergy between colour analysis and makeup artistry. “I went for the colour analysis mainly for understanding what clothing colours would suit me, as I am aware of what works on my face, given my profession as a makeup artist. Interestingly, whether a colour analysis is focused on clothing or makeup styling, our face is the main point of reference,” says Kat.
With a bare face and covered hair, Kat underwent the colour analysis process with her colour consultant. “Different colour charts framed my face,” she recounts, “If a colour complements you, your flaws become less noticeable. Conversely, colours that are not ideal for you will accentuate your flaws like dark eye circles and blemishes and make you look dull.”
A colour wheel was also used to identify Kat’s undertone. “As a makeup artist I always knew my undertone is neutral; however, during the colour analysis session, we realised it is neutral with very slight warmth. The difference is really subtle, which took us quite a while to identify,” says Kat. “This neutral-warm undertone means that I can get away with my foundation being more yellow-toned rather than peach.”
For Kat, her colour analysis session reinforced the colours she already knew worked well for her and it made her realise why she could get away with a bare face and just red lipsticks in neutral tones or soft coral tones.
However, she notes that it could be useful for anyone who are unsure about what colours suit them, both for makeup and fashion. “I will say go in with an open mind, give the recommended colours a try even if you are not used to it. Also, when going for your colour analysis session, it’s a must to go makeup-free. Not even tinted sunblock. This allows the consultant to best identify your true undertone,” she says.
How to do a colour analysis at home
Delving into colour analysis begins with an essential step – identifying your undertone and season. While professional consultations provide expert guidance, there are simple at-home tests that can offer valuable insights into your unique colouring.
Undertone Exploration: To determine your undertone, observe how your skin reacts to different metals. Hold silver and gold jewellery against your wrist and assess which metal complements your skin better. If silver enhances your complexion, you likely have cool undertones. If gold harmonises with your skin, warm undertones might be your match. If both metals work well, you could have neutral undertones.
Seasonal Connection: A quick self-assessment of your veins can offer clues about your seasonal match. Examine the veins on the underside of your wrist. If they appear bluish or purple, cool-toned seasons like Winter or Summer could suit you. If they have a greenish tint, warm-toned seasons like Spring or Autumn might be a better fit. Neutral undertones often find compatibility with a mix of both cool and warm hues.
The Impact: Elevating Makeup and Self-Expression
Both Carmen and Kat agree that colour analysis transcends makeup – it’s a holistic approach to personal style.
“Colour analysis isn’t confined to cosmetics,” Carmen emphasises. “Understanding your undertone enhances not only makeup but also clothing and accessory choices, aligning your entire aesthetic with your natural colouring.”
As Kat attests, “With the right colour palette for you, half your battle is already won.” The boost in confidence and the ability to use the right makeup and clothing colours is empowering and liberating.
The journey of colour analysis is quite a revelation if you aren’t familiar with what colours suit you – one that can redefine your makeup routine and evolve your style. So, when are you going to get your colours done?
This article originally appeared in Her World.