Viewing entries tagged
Bright Spring

The Brightness of Dark Winter (or, How Dark Winter Can Appear to be Bright Spring)


The Brightness of Dark Winter (or, How Dark Winter Can Appear to be Bright Spring)

Let me tell you a little story. For some of you it may be very familiar.

A woman whose interest in finding her best colors has been peaked joins a forum or a facebook group, or multiples of both. She's hoping they can help her save a few pennies on a color analysis, or maybe she just lives pretty far away from an analyst and wants to see what she can accomplish on her own before one comes to town. Inevitably if she wants their help, the ladies in these groups tell her she's going to need to post some pictures of herself, usually in a variety of colors. Here's what they see:

My colleague Cate 's Dark Winter client, A

My colleague Cate's Dark Winter client, A

My Dark Winter client, K

My Dark Winter client, K

My colleague Gabi 's Dark Winter client, L

My colleague Gabi's Dark Winter client, L

My colleague Jorunn's  Dark Winter client, S

My colleague Jorunn's Dark Winter client, S

Thank you so much to the clients willing to share their pictures! Gorgeous women, all.

  • A woman who has a lighter hazel or darker blue-green eye color. She may have fairly light hair, often of the sort that sits right on the line between blonde and brown, but may tip in favor of the former. Sometimes, she might have red hair instead. It might be cooler looking (in which case she has typically considered it mousey), or a warmer looking, golden color. Her skin might range from very fair indeed to a light tan. The skin might have some apparent heat to it, but it might not.
  • A woman who looks decently convincing in black, but not totally.
  • A woman who obviously seems to need some darkness. Light, chalky pastels are possibly the worst thing she could do.
  • A woman who can be upstaged by some very intense colors. Put her in BW's most vibrant, cherry reds for example, and definitely if that red happens to be a lipstick, and there's something obviously not right there. Someone might come along and insist it's too cool as well. It certainly might feel that way. Because of what she looks like, and also because black, pure white, and bright red seem too much for her, Winter is more or less ruled out.
  • Speaking of color temperature, this woman seems to need some heat. People are generally not agreed on how much, but most agree she is neutral. Silver and gold both seem to work. Sometimes, gold might even seem to be better. Because Winter seems too much, and Summer is draining and not good at all, it is presumed she must be warm neutral.
  • A woman next to whom rust and camel look like food or dirt. She may have come in liking and wearing these colors to begin with. She very quickly gets the "Honey, no." from girls on the group. She may or may not keep trying to convince them otherwise. Still, Autumn lipsticks look really muddy.
  • A woman on whom, compared to the aforementioned rust and camel, coral and turquoise seem pretty effective. Her eyes brighten, her skin clears, she seems somewhat healthier.  She may tell them this is a Bright Spring trial, or they might tell her that based on what seem in the picture to be those colors. Lipsticks may look better than Autumn as well. Some will continue to argue that they are too bright, but compared to the Autumn ones, they might still look better, because after all it is true she need some brightness. Because Autumn is the comparison presented, and because hue effects are some of the ones most poorly represented in photos, no one notices that her face has turned yellow the minute she put the lipstick on.

So the group decides after extensive trials that this woman is a Bright Spring. Except she isn't. They weren't totally wrong though. Here's what they missed:

  • Hue reactions. Unless it was very extreme, they really couldn't tell how much heat was too much. It's pretty hard, if not impossible in a photo to make much of that. They used other factors to rule out cool neutral, and her appearance was a major sticking point there. Basically, they thought she was so light looking that if she was cool or cool neutral she'd have to be a Summer, which did not end up working at all. If they could see that warm neutral was separating the pigments in her skin, they thought that was just her skin. Which it partially might have been, just not as much as they think. Or potentially not at all. (No, we are not putting you in extreme colors to "fix your problem skin". You might not really have problem skin, or not half so much as you think. We just remove the simultaneous contrast effect making it look that way.)
  • Value reactions. They couldn't tell that Bright Spring was too light to define her. They forgot to check and see if she had edges to her features and to her face, or more likely they didn't know they were supposed to. Or, they could see that but they just assumed she was kind of a darker leaning one.
  • Chroma reactions. The major points of argument for her being Bright Spring were basically her appearance, and the fact that everyone could see that the brightness of that season over Dark Autumn helped her considerably. Surely it would have been impossible to notice the greasiness of her skin in Bright Spring in a photo, if anyone had been checking. And again, because they have already decided that Bright Winter is too Bright (true), and True Winter is too cool (true), and she can't really be a Dark anyhow because she is too light looking (false), the group arrives at what seems to be the only logical conclusion.
  • This probably was not lost on those trying to help online, but it's pretty hard to tell what looks good when colors in the photograph change with every shift of light, and on each persons different screen, etc, even as a trained analyst who knows what to look for. You really need to be in the room with the person, and in controlled lighting. 
  • The possibility they were never looking at Bright Spring colors to begin with. That is still true if she eventually went out and bought the fan. She doesn't know how to use it really, and even if she did it's easy to make this mistake sometimes.

I hope what you are starting to see is how complex PCA truly is. Even if you followed all that perfectly, hopefully you begin to understand why we need to be together in the same room, in controlled lighting, looking at very calculated and specific drape comparisons in order to come to an accurate conclusion. And one of us should probably be a trained color analyst, who knows what to look for and how to know when a color is working or not, and if not, what might be wrong with it. (Oh, and, you can change a few minor things up here and have this same story with either Dark and with either Bright or True Spring)

Ok, so the story continues. This woman eventually senses something is not right, and she shows up at my door for a PCA. She's pretty sure she's wasting her money and she's just going to be what everyone says, but she just wants to know for sure. When we reach the Dark Winter conclusion, her mind is blown. She's seen it all happen of course, she knows exactly how we got there and can see with her own eyes that it does work. Sooner or later though, whether right away or after a week of looking through Dark Winter pinterest boards, she becomes upset. "How can my colors be so heavy, dark, and sad?" she asks me. The simplest answer, one that happens to be true, is that they aren't. Of course everyone idea of what colors are depressing is different, but the main thing here is, when she asks this question, she inevitably thinks she has nothing but mulberry, aubergine, and blackened navy (not that there's anything wrong with those colors!). She's come to love the color she discovered in Bright Spring, and for good reason. Let me show you what I mean.

Often, this woman has walked into her analysis telling me how well she suits coral and turquoise. Quite so, she does. Coral and turquoise can be some of the most surprising and flattering colors in the Dark Winter pallet. While, for this woman, the draping will reveal that these colors really have to be gotten right (meaning that they need to be precisely in her season and not any other sort of coral or turquoise) the effect can be excellent. Add to that list teal, a color which is extremely flattering on any of the 5 Autumn blends, and hot pink, a color that all 3 winters have some version of, and you start to see why it can be easy to mistake a light looking DW for BSp and why it is simply untrue that one is all happy and bright and the other dark depression. 

Please note that polyvores were created on my screen, using digital palette representations for harmony. Many of the actual items may be different seasons in reality, and the images of them may look very different on your screen. I hope that some of the general concepts will come through.

It is certainly true that the overall look and feel of the Dark Winter colors here as a group is deeper richer and yes *a bit* duller compared with the light, bright airy, feeling of the Bright Spring group. Usually, regardless of her feeling about Bright Spring's light tangerines or palest aquas and yellow greens, she knows that those colors are not particularly flattering on her. Bright Spring on the other hand wears these colors very naturally as lightness and warmth at the same time her very much and her wheelhouse. What about the purse in the middle? Is it Bright Spring? Is it Dark Winter? Is it neither, perhaps? Does it really matter if this could be a logical part of either of these wardrobes? Especially of she loves it, probably not.

Worth mentioning, it's totally okay to find another season more beautiful to look at than your own. What I see often is women who discount their own season without really knowing what it looks like, usually because of the name and/or what they see on Pinterest. Spend time with your pallete, see what you can make it do. 

How about purple and blue? Many, many Dark Winters, as well as Bright Springs both love and look good in their blues and purples.  Many of them are not all that dissimilar, because of the inherent darkness of blue and purple. I've tried to expand these examples to include both the "Dark Winter would never" (the merlot dress in the corner) and "Bright Spring would never" (the light purple coat with the flowers) sides of the seasons. If someone didn't particularly care for either of those extreme, I think they could easily work with the tones that are neither. But ideally the colors they did choose would harmonize to those other colors, whether or not they actually chose to wear them. That's how we tested you, and how we know the difference between seasons when eyeballing it is hard to do.

One more, though I could do several. Yellows and warmer greens. Though these colors are perhaps more readily associated with Bright Spring, Dark Winter is quite vibrant and exciting here, ranging to a very punchy icy acid green we use in analysis as a proof against Dark Autumn (who does not wear icy color well at all, or anything that close to white for that matter). Again notice how key it is that Dark Winter has a maximum darkness point which by far exceeds that of Bright Spring, and vice versa that Bright Spring can tolerate much more lightness, even near-pastels (which are kryptonite to the DW). Yet many, even most of the colors exist in a sort of overlapping midrange; the main apparent difference becomes heat level and a bit of saturation. Bright Spring would never wear the olive blouse. The amount of black in the two patterned dresses could get heavy on her. Dark Winter would never wear the light yellow purse, even as an accessory, or the dark yellow hat and scarf, especially next to the face. These are the extremes that  are often not pushed in testing the seasons at home (some of these colors are not that easy to find!).

I hope that this article has served to expand your notion of what Dark Winter can be, both colors and people, and also, perhaps most importantly, your understanding of PCA in general.

P.S. If you've had a PCA from me, or one of my 12 Blueprints/Your Natural Design trained colleagues, reach out to me if you'd like to be added to our new private Facebook group. It's a great place to ask questions and share information.


Stuff I Love: Red Apple Lipstick


Stuff I Love: Red Apple Lipstick

Yes, ladies, that swatching is back on. So sorry for the long holiday! I actually swatch things all the time, but consolidating the results is another story... At any rate, I heard a lot of hubbub about this company from the facebook groups and while I'm not all that jazzed personally over the whole gluten and paraben free thing (I get that some people need/want it, just not essential for me), I DO love a brand that sells me nicely sized samples for not much money. I hope you also have a zero tolerance policy for lipsticks you can't see and try before you buy one in full size. Overall, the lipstick lives up to hydration claims and wears well over time without feathering (I seem to find a lot of really moist lipsticks do this on me, I have dry skin). And compared to other lipsticks in this space, they actually do have some exciting colors.

So, on with the swatches. I tried to order shades I thought were interesting/useful. There are a number that looked like the kinds of colors I avoid, or that didn't offer anything new. There were also others that I'd like to try and more new ones since I ordered, so if you like these I may do more in the future.

  1. Coral Crush - I like this for TA, I had expected it to be a Spring one but it's sort of brownish orange which would be very wearable as a day shade for TA.
  2. Cranberry Magic - This is a pretty and interesting shade, not what I thought when I ordered it. (they've since added more images, very helpful) I felt it was nicest with TW's fan, but would be on the subtle end for many TWs. It could be a bold red for some TSu or a nice lighter shade for a cool leaning DW, especially if she has fair skin.
  3. Light My Fire - Amazing on DA. It looks like it's going to be super warm/brown, but it's not. 
  4. Mix & Mingle - I actually thought this shade was the prettiest with the LSu fan, but on most I think it would be too much, unless worn at 1/2 intensity as suggested on the site. Some TW or maybe BW could wear it, but it's not as intense as I wanted it to be.
  5. Petal Pusher - LSu or TSu. Quite cool, another one I hoped would be brighter - if they had the product images they have now I would not have bought this one. It goes a bit into the zone of too light for most TSu/ too cool for most LSu, a place I find many lipsticks live.
  6. Ravishing - DW, very pretty, nice for those in this season whose skin eats up a ton of darkness from lipstick. Cool DAs could do well with this also. Many women of both these seasons may still find it too dramatic.
  7. Red! 101 - BW, very easy to wear compared to some reds for this season. Try it if Mary Kay Firecracker looked a little much on you, or if it looked great but you're just not ready for that yet.
  8. Sunkissed - TSp or BSp. It's not as bright as many orange lipsticks that get put in TSp but would be too strong on many of them. That said, BSp women who lean cooler and generally go more for the pinker shades may find it looks funny.


Amazing Eye Photos Made Easy


Amazing Eye Photos Made Easy

photo 2-1

Have you missed me? I'm just coming to the end of my vacation in gorgeous sunny Boca Raton, Florida. Promise I'll be back on a more regular writing schedule when I'm home from paradise. *sigh* My own Bright Winter eye.

Anyhow, many of you ladies have seen the eye photos I take for my clients on Facebook, and wondered what kind of fancy camera I have that takes them so clearly. Happily for you, I have no such thing. A few years ago, I discovered this amazing product, tiny little lenses that attach to your iPhone or Android phone via a stick-on magnetic ring around the built-in lens (before you add to cart, make sure you've got the wide/macro lens). At the time, I just kind of putzed around pointing it at things and then got bored, not really knowing what to do with it. However, once I became a Color Analyst, I remembered the little gizmo and it occurred to me it might be a cheaper alternative to a new fancy camera with a macro lens. With a bit of practice, it has produced results beyond my wildest expectations.

Bright Spring

Before you run off into the sunset with your new $20 magical eye picture taking gizmo, allow me to give you a few pointers. First, be sure you screw off the wide angle lens. It's a combo lens and the remaining, very tiny piece underneath is indeed the macro lens. Later, you can screw the wide angle back on to take pictures of your house that make it look huge, but for now we want to see those gorgeous peepers.


Once you've got the magnetic ring on your phone and just the macro lens attached to the ring, you are going to want to go somewhere where you can face into a lot of light. Oh, and it will really help if you can commandeer the help of a friend, or in a pinch, a very confused husband or teenager. I have my clients wheel right up to one of my full spectrum lamps inside a soft box. Outside in bright sunshine, or facing into a bright lamp might be good ideas. Once you've got plenty of light, your assistant is going to need to get the camera really uncomfortably close to your eye, but don't worry they don't need to touch it. It's best, however, if you can get close enough that the person taking the photo is able to get the lens to focus on your iris rather than your eyelashes, as it is want to do. On the iPhone, you can use your finger to choose where the focal point is, which is helpful as well (just be really careful not to poke your eye, PLEASE).

Incredible True Winter eye. See how I caught the lashes a bit too much? If you can get just a few milimeters closer, you get a clearer picture of the iris.

One last thing, which I'm not sure will be helpful for those with Android phones or possibly even older iPhones, but I do it so, full disclosure. At time of writing, I use an iPhone 5S when I take these photos. There are a few built in filters in the default camera app, and I use one of them, called "chrome" when I take these pictures. You can access these by clicking the three overlapping circles in the lower right-hand corner of the camera screen. The reason why I use this filter, is because it lightens the shot quite a bit, though it does also saturate it slightly. I don't find the color in the eye pictures comes out much different than reality, however, and the lightness makes the structure of the eye, something I like to see and study, quite apparent. It should go with out saying that you can, of course, play around with it however you see fit.

Well, that's all my secrets. Good luck capturing the magical supernova inside of YOUR eye! (and back to the lounge chair with me... ;) )


Stuff I Love: YSL Glossy Stains


Stuff I Love: YSL Glossy Stains

A while back, someone from one of the color Facebook groups linked to this post about YSL Glossy Stains on Karla Sugar, and I have to say, from the moment I read Karla's review, it sounded like the lip product I'd been waiting for without knowing it. glossystain

I love lipgloss but:

  1. It doesn't last, especially if you drink a lot of water throughout the day
  2. It sticks to your hair when you're outside in the slightest breeze
  3. It's generally a mess that slides all over your face and likes to get on stuff you own
  4. You kind of feel like you're always eating it... probably you are

I love stains and long wear products but:

  1. They're really dry, I need gloss for comfort and to keep it from flaking
  2. They're usually quite matte, I need gloss to make the texture flattering
  3. All that glossing kind of defeats the purpose of a product with staying power
  4. Sometimes you have to scrub incredibly hard to get them completely off at the end of the day

Let me tell you, the Glossy Stains solve all these problems. You can eat and drink and still have them on, once they dry (in about 30 seconds) they aren't sticky and don't slide around. They're totally non-drying, magically stay glossy and translucent for several hours, and they're not SO stuck on there that you have to scrub your lips off to remove them. There's only one truly major drawback in my book - the price. Not that they're not worth it, but I'll still keep hunting for a replica of this formula at a lower price point. So far, no dice.

In case you decide (as I have) that one or two of these babies are worth it, wallet be damned, I've swatched most of the line and have done my best to put them in seasons. Lipgloss is a real pain to swatch, it soaks into the page by the time you get it home and smears all over your book, so please PLEASE try before you buy, especially at this price point. I would go put it on, live with it for the rest of the day and see how you like it, and then order it online. I'm probably going to get hate mail from brick and mortar stores for that one, but they don't have to wear it, and you do.

The glosses as I see them by number:

#1 -  True Winter, quite dark and very purple, and it loses brightness next to the BW fan. I think I'd like it best on a TW medium to dark skin.

#3 - This is one of those shades that is distinctly too dark and purple for Soft Summer (in my swatch more so than in Karla's picture), but still muted enough to lose energy next to the Dark and True Winter swatch books. Try it if you're one of those two, but IMO there are prettier shades in the line for both.

#6 - True Spring, should be a nice nude on her.

#7 - My swatch seems to like to be with the True Autumn swatch book, however it looks way off from the images of the color online. I've seen this one suggested for Light Spring, but it looks softer than that in my swatch.

#8 - True Spring

#9 - Bright Winter (it's cooler and redder than Karla's picture looks)

#11 - Bright Winter

#12 - Bright Spring, could try it on a Light Spring who wants a bolder lip, perhaps for evening

#13 - A Bright Winter who tolerates a dark lip well or a Dark Winter that's comfortable with lips in the upper brightness range for that season.

#14 - True Winter (I know, I know, but so many of these are profoundly purple)

#15 - I had this swatched as Dark Winter, but the pictures online look much lighter and pinker. I think this may be best as an intense lip for True Summer.

#16 - True Winter

#17 - I'm not sure who wears lips like this. It's very light and very cool. Far too cool against Light Summer, too bright against True Summer. As a color, it's prettiest with the True Winter swatch book,but it seems just far too light for a lip for her.  It's not bad with Bright Winter, and I think the relative lightness of a Bright Winter person would make this feel more comfortable.

#18 - I suppose for the fairest of Light Summers. Mind that it's not lighter than your lips, which always looks odd.

#19 - Light Summer, go for this before #18

#20 - Dark Autumn (beautiful chocolatey red velvet with some glitter in it!)

#26 - Bright Winter

#27 - True Spring certainly, Light Springs who wear warm shades well can try it, too

#29 - True Autumn

#101 - I did swatch this, but I guess I'll just say this isn't my idea of a lip color for anyone.

#102 - Soft Autumn

#103 - True Summer

#104 - Bright Winter, darker than online pictures, really pretty

#105 - Soft Autumn - has pinky glitter in it that cools the base color that you see online, might be even though many of these in the 100s are "nude" shades that look best on Autumns, the glitter and gloss will put them off it

#106 - Soft Autumn

#107 -Probably best for Dark Winter, be advised it's another one with a warm base an very purple glitter that cools it off a lot.

#108 - This would probably just go on like clear gloss with purple glitter in it.

#109 - Bright Winter - this one is a cool shade with gold glitter in it


So there you have it, those are the ones I was able to get my hands on. Have you tried a glossy stain? I'd love to hear if people of other seasons have tried these and how it went! :)