Monday, April 22, 2013

Summer Seasons (Sci\Art) Defined

I thought I would jump straight into a talk about the upcoming summer season ... except it will likely be a different path from what you might expect.


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As some of you know, I generally purchase makeup and/or post comparison swatches using cosmetics that harmonize with my coloring. However, since my coloring (my "season") is in a small minority, I might branch out a bit to (hopefully) attract others, like me, who find it challenging to find good colors in a cosmetics industry that favors warm and golden-skinned, medium-toned beauties. It certainly caters very little to we pale pink porcelain people.

Color Me Beautiful was the first book I'd ever heard of that discussed a person's color palette in terms of seasons, but it had limitations. Like in nature, there were only four seasons, but the CMB system did not account for people who were not "true" seasons, those of you who bordered a neighboring season and needed much more flexibility with your palette.

Regular readers of this blog might remember that I had a personal color analysis (PCA) 18 months ago, with a result of True (Cool) Summer, but I didn't talk about my color palette much beyond that article. In my recent activity on this blog, however, I've been expanding what I show in swatches, comparing my product colors to seasonal palettes, while tossing around terms like "True Summer" and "Light Summer" and "Soft Summer."

What do these terms mean to you, especially those of you who prefer cool/cool-neutral (muted) makeup that isn't too bright or saturated?

I was preparing my next post in the Lipstick Series this morning (which includes colors that are definitely not good on me), when it occurred to me that I should first define what I mean when I say Light Summer, True Summer, and Soft Summer. I realize the vast majority of this blog's readers have not been through an in-person color analysis, but by providing context to the Summer seasons, I hope to help anyone who is trying to self-identify with one of the tonal seasons I discuss. So see if any of the following resonates with you. Given time and resources, I might later address seasons outside my seasonal palette.
NOTE: The following descriptions are my understanding of the three Summer seasons, as defined by Sci\ART founder, Kathryn Kalisz. Any mistakes are solely mine. If you see something wrong, please let me know, so I do not mislead anyone. If you want more information about hue, value, and chroma, you can start with the post describing my PCA experience, which was read/approved by the woman who analyzed me and who trains other SciART analysts in the SciART system. I do not (yet) know enough about the Autumn, Winter, and Spring seasons to write about them, but I hope to learn.

Light Summer 

The Light Summer (LSu) season rests between Spring’s clarity, which is warmed by milky, yellow sunshine,  and the purely-cool, softly-greyed hues of the True Summer palette. Because Light Summer borders Spring, LSu is the brightest of the three Summers. It's more vibrant cousin would be Bright Winter.


Light Summer's lightness and sunny clarity
(sources here, here, here, here, and here)

The predominant color dimension (the "most important thing") of a Light Summer tone is that of value—its lightness. Please don't think only in terms of baby pink pastels. Instead, think of glorious cool-neutral, sun-bleached, sun-kissed lightness that still manages to be higher in chroma (more saturated) than the other Summers. If you fall into the LSu season, you are very fortunate! Your characteristics let you create a wide array of cool and warm combinations. And you can be a Light Summer woman or man of color. My Viking husband is a LSu.

Some of Light Summer's colors include coral pink, soft teal, lilac, wisteria, light fuchsia, lavender, periwinkle, rose, pewter, taupe, clear salmon, daffodil, blue greens (such as aqua and emerald turquoise), sky blue, light grey, light navy, marshmallow white, medium and slate blues, sand, stone, pebble, spruce green, warm pastel pink, and light lemon yellow. You will look fantastic in most shades of grey. What won't flatter you are dark, somber colors, which will be oppressive and dull against your complexion. Similarly, you'll disappear under bold, dramatic prints and sharp contrasts.

A Light Summer's overall value is light, hue is cool-neutral, and chroma is medium (but higher than the other Summers).  If Light Summer were a plant, it might be an apple blossom glistening in the morning dew.

source

True Summer

The tone of a true True Summer (Tsu) is purely cool, in that it handles warmth around the face in most unflattering ways. That is, if you can wear warm makeup, you either do so knowing it is a dramatic look for you, or you are one of the bordering Summer Seasons (Light or Soft). True Summer gets the bulk of the baby <insert color name> pastels, but against True Summer skin, there is nothing infantile about those colors. Instead, the overall impression is of cool serenity.


True Summer's cool, muted hues
(sources here, here, here, here, here, and here)

The predominant color dimension (the "most important thing") of a True Summer tone is that of hue—its temperature. The coolness should be obvious, and no cool can ever be too cool. If a color seems too cold on you, the issue is probably something else, such as the value (too light or dark) or the chroma (too muted or saturated). The most common TSu mistake is trying to wear Winter colors.

A True Summer's palette is softened by the blue-pink-grey of early twilight. Flattering colors include Wedgwood, greyed navy, and Chinese blue, along with muted shades of lavender, mauve, orchid, lilac, periwinkle, wisteria, grape, plum, cool strawberry and watermelon, briar rose, rugosa, soft fuchsia, clear blue-red, pale banana yellow, mushroom beige, dove grey, pearl white, white sand, cool sage, soft blue teal, turquoise, jade, charcoal, clover and mint green. There is nothing bronzed, golden, dark or bold within the True Summer tone. Both pure white and black can create contrasts that are too sharp for all but the highest-contrasting Summers.

A True Summer's hue is cool, value is medium, and chroma is medium.  If True Summer were a plant, it might be Campanula, nodding in the balmy afternoon shadows of a blue spruce tree.

source


Soft Summer

The Soft Summer (SSu) tone borders Autumn, which means the SSu palette is informed by the rich, velvety, earthy tones from its neighbor's warmth. From everything I have read and heard, most people do not want to be Soft Summer, probably because adjectives like "mousy" and "dishwater" have traditionally been used to describe this tone. Nothing could be further from the truth. When you think of the Soft Summer palette, imagine a fantasy landscape where misty tints of dawn embroider deeper, muted shades of post-twilight dusk. If you see a mouse in that vision, it's probably just nestling down for the night beneath the soothing, grey-green foliage of a hosta.


Soft Summer's hazy colors
(sources: here, here, here, here, here, and here)


The predominant color dimension (the "most important thing") of a Soft Summer tone is chroma—the saturation. Exceptionally low (muted), its tone is velvety, soft, and richly elegant. The SSu wears a palette that is sultrier, darker, and more subdued than its cooler neighbor, True Summer. In fact, a Soft Summer has pick of the line with Bobbi Brown eyeshadow products, colors that are predominantly too muted and warm for True Summers, and your celebrity icon is the gorgeous Katie Holmes. Lucky you! The SSu also comes closest to wearing Winter's black successfully, and her skin glows in charcoal grey and deep rosy brown.

A Soft Summer's colors are cool, yet neutral enough to accept radiating golden warmth of Autumn. Flattering colors include ivory, stone, wheat, oatmeal, soft taupe, seashell pink, dove grey, pewter, grey-greens, cocoa (the Summer that wears brown the best), rose beige, burgundy, deep wine, antique turquoise, powder and dusky pinks and blues, pale yellow, heather mist, sea green, charcoal, dusty spruce, forest and pine green, deep periwinkle blue, raisin, aubergine, mauve, amethyst, rose violet, sage, willow, warm pink, dusty and deep rose, watermelon, raspberry, true red, and wine. Soft Summer looks sublime in the pinks/roses and has far more rosy colors in her palette, compared to TSu and LSu.

A Soft Summer's chroma is low, hue is cool-neutral, and value is medium. If Soft Summer were a plant it might be Artemisia (Dusty Miller).

source

And that sums up my understanding of the different Summer seasons.

Here are some other blogs that discuss color theory and seasonal color. If you know of others, please let me know.

  • To read one of the original SciART trainer's blogs (and the woman responsible for calibrating the color fans), see Amelia's True Color International blog
  • If you are a Winter type, make sure you follow the explorations of London Makeup Girl, recently analyzed a Sci\ART Bright Winter. (Retired blog)
  • If you know or think you are a Light Summer, subscribe to Three Drops of Sunshine.

34 comments:

  1. I'm pretty sure I'm true summer too although I've never been colour matched but all the colours that I know suit me are true summer - taupe around the eyes, mauve and watermelon colours on the lips. I've naturally medium blonde hair, true blue eyes (in that they never look green/grey in different lights) and a pinky skin tone.

    Finding this Sciart series very interesting - thank you!

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    1. With your coloring, you sound like the "original" Summer. Lucky you! If only I could have been more sure all these years. I didn't see myself in that CMB description, with my oddly-blended eyes that appear almost olive and my light ash brown hair that's full of yellow and red highlights. It's really no surprise so many makeup artists thought I was Autumn, even though they must have looked at their warm golden-brown-based results on my face and shuddered.

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  2. This is a wonderful explanation. I wish I could see this sort of detail for all the seasons, since I'm never quite sure as to where I'd fall. I'm looking forward to seeing how the blog develops and where your journey takes you.

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    1. Kate thanks. I will see if I can pull together descriptions for the other seasons. I'll have the easiest time with True Winter (a season I "faked" living for a long time), but the others will required input from friends who are living those tones.

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    2. Thanks for all the information you've been able to provide thus far. I've loved reading about this process. I wish that there was a book or something available for those of us who don't live in the countries where we can make appointments for a full consultation!

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    3. There is a book! At least I hope it's still in print. It's called Understanding Your Color, and you can get info about it here. The author is the Sci\Art originator, so information doesn't come any more pure than that, though if she were still alive, she might have updated it.

      The information I wrote about comes from knowledge I learned from KK's book:

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    4. By "here" in the above comment, I meant you can get more info about the book at the link I provided, not on my blog, though I promise to keep trucking along. :)

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    5. Thanks a million!! I definitely have to get my hands on that, in lieu of actually being able to go for a consult. I'm currently figuring myself for either a Soft Summer or Dark Winter but will likely do better with more information... When you mentioned people being shy of the "mousy" tone of Soft Summer, my immediate reaction was "but those are some of my favourite colours!"

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  3. I love reading about this topic! Being a Summer myself it's very inspiational to learn about which colours work for me and why; as I'm trying to re-invent my wardrobe to suit my life(style) your advice is invaluable. So many blogs out there cater to the golden/warm/olive skintones, there is most definitely an audience for you!

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    1. I hope so! The makeup industry also clearly caters to golden/warm/olive skin tones, as well, likely because there are so many more of those tones walking around and buying makeup.

      I've been told Autumns are the most common, globally, True Spring the most rare, and True Winter/True Summer are endangered species, especially the "Snow White," appearance, which my father had when he was younger. (My mother is a True Autumn.)

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  4. Well, as a True Summer, I encourage you to provide alllll the reviews you want :-) Meanwhile, any path you take with the blog will be a treat. It's YOURS, you can go any direction you find moves you, and let it all shake out. That's far more interesting, anyway.

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    1. I suspect you're right, Gretchen. I'll potentially lose some readers and gain yet more. I was always surprised when my opinion pieces received more than double the comments of hot product reviews. Though I always try to consider the audience, I mostly write for myself. It's write or die!

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  5. I am really enjoying reading your new direction, even though I'm not a summer. Sigh - those Soft Summer colours. Elegant. Never dull.

    I'd love to have a blog roll full of blogs from lots of different seasons. It'd be very helpful, I think.

    www.brinnarose.com/blog is a good Bright Spring blog. She's blonde and blue-eyed, but so bright/pigmented.

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    1. Those Soft Summer colors really are right, aren't they? I feel fortunate that my fan and the SSu fan is tonally closer than my fan and the LSu, so if I have to cheat ... Actually, my cheating is best served by dipping into True Winter, and what a stunning fan that is! I basically love everyone's palettes, and need to train my eye to love the Autumns just as much as I love my own colors.

      Thanks for the link to brinna rose. I will add her to the list. And, yes, I might add a separate blog roll for seasons. I think that would be very helpful to readers.

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  6. Brilliant! You explain things so clearly. I love your accompanying pictures too.

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    1. Ammie, thanks! It was such fun building those collages. I doubt I got them perfect, but I think, overall, they should tell a story.

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  7. I find the season concept very interesting, I have been reading up on it online and thought I was maybe a light summer, but then looking at the colours I should be wearing I'm not so sure, I do really like the idea as it would take a lot of the guess work out of makeup/clothes x

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    1. I have often wondered about you. You do seem to wear the cool-neutral colors well, so Light Summer is a distinct possibility, but I have learned (the hard way) that photos are impossible to use. In the Sci\Art methodology, it's all about how skin reacts to color, not so much our hair or eyes or even the colors we prefer!

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  8. I love watching makeup tutorials on YouTube, but boy do they all seem to love their golds, corals, peaches and bronzes! Fun to watch, but not very practical for me (also a True Summer.) I'm so glad that you focus on cool colors!

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    1. I thought I had found my skin twin in Café Makeup, but I believe her skin is warm toned, even though very fair. The Best Things in Beauty ... Charleston Girl might be cool, or cool-neutral, but she is extremely adventurous and tries just about everything—which provides a valuable and varied service to her readers.

      Me? I am more selfish. I no longer buy makeup that won't suit me, though I still make mistakes because I am often drawn to colors that are too high in chroma for me (e.g., too bright). I can assure you that you will never catch me buying a golden-brown eyeshadow or nude lipstick.

      So if you're a TSu, you've come to the right place! I am not an expert and don't always claim to be right about which TSu colors are the right makeup colors (makeup is more challenging than clothing because it goes on top of and blends with existing pigment), and taking accurate photos is a challenge unto itself, but I am working at it. :>

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  9. I would love to be tested and finally know my colours. I know I suit cool colours best even though I can make warm colours "work" for me and I like how they bring out my eyes. I've experimented with so many hair colours and make up looks (which I love doing and would never stop) but I would love to know what really suits me best. Great post! I love the idea of having a blog listing organized by seasons. I just need to figure mine out!

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    1. Christa, are you anywhere near Ontario? If so, you could to go Christine Scaman. She also has a blog: http://12blueprints.com/analyst-directory/

      I have always thought you looked cool. The red hair throws things (or lets you get away with more), much like Christina Hendricks, who also looks cool to me.

      It would be fun to know. Do it!

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    2. Zuzu I am in Ontario. I will look her up. I do think I'm cool maybe cool to neutral. This whole seasons thing is so neat though! I want to know more!

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    3. You MUST see her! Check out her blog at 12blueprints.com. She's a veterinarian who somehow ended up in love with color. I am not even sure if she's still practicing medicine, as she's become very busy with PCAs. She has also written a book, Return to Your Natural Colors, which is very very good.

      If you want more info, feel free to email me. I don't know Christine personally, but I know how the PCA works (and about what it will cost). She is one of the best out there for draping, as she's a real perfectionist and uses a completely controlled setting so no outside influences get in the way of the analysis. Actually, do email me because I believe she sells a couple different types of fans for each season, and you will one one in particular--the 12 Tone fan made by Amelia Butler in Austraila (though C should have them in stock, unless there's been a wild run on your season ;)

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  10. Soft summer it appears to be!

    Well that's kind of nice to know.

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    1. Based on photos I have seen of you, I always thought you looked cool in tone, and I wondered about Soft, especially after you mentioned that NARS Damage was a YLBB color, when it was a hint too muted on me. You also wear the darker colors really well, which is more typical of the Soft Summer tone.

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  11. This is a very beautiful post! But I need to see people's faces that represent the seasons in order to fully grasp this! :)

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    1. I agree it would help, but I put little stock in people who are perceived to be a particular season. There's no shortage of celebrities who have been "analyzed" online, but I don't want to perpetuate what could possibly be wrong info. I was analyzed online, and it was wrong.

      What would be most useful is to show faces that have been through a PCA, but I don't have access to that info. There's me (Trhe), and I know one Soft and one Light Summer who were recently analyzed under the Sci\Art system, but I don't see them letting me post their face on my blog.

      Goya, you can probably get loads of faces on Christine Scaman's blog 12blueprints.

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    2. You know, I left following here on facebook all this groups dealing with seasons and colors, and mainly for 2 reasons:

      1. Pretty often I see someone draped in colors that are not flattering the person. So, this from my stand point ruins the credibility of the system.

      2. Second thing would be very much not politically correct said: pretty often where too many women involved-it becomes sticky, going-nowhere women's yada-yada, and I don't like this :).

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  12. I'm so enjoying the new direction of your blog! (Actually, I've loved reading your blog for the past year and a half or so--pretty much since you had your Sci/Art analysis done. I was quite worried that your absence this past winter would be a permanent one; I'm happy you're back and hope it works well for you.) Over the past several months I've been reading, reading, reading anything I can get my hands on about the Sci/Art system and seasons, and have concluded I'm a SSu. I was one of those you mentioned in your post: pretty bummed about being SSu at first because it seemed so dull. But in actuality the results have been glorious. I moved away from the warm browns, golds, bronzes, etc that I'd been wearing for the past 5-10 years, and I look SO much better. I'd basically come to the conclusion that I couldn't wear makeup anymore because it looked so dreadful on me. But when I wear SSu colors--both in clothes and cosmetics--I look, well, great. Luminous and relaxed, if that makes sense. I can actually wear MORE makeup, if I want, without looking overly made up. Happily, the SSu colors were in my embarrassingly vast makeup collection, I'd just been ignoring them for the most part. It's great to explore them anew--and awfully fun to read about your own explorations and experiences as a True/Cool Summer. And thanks for all the SSu references/comparisons you've done!

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    1. Hi SoftsummerSam, I know exactly what you mean about being able to wear more makeup when the colors harmonize with your skin tone. I get ready for work early, with the guidance of a tiny light from my makeup mirror, so that makeup has to work or I'd discover that by 8AM that I look like a 80s reject from Studio 54.

      I am happy you have found your perfect tone, and I hope to keep up the Summer comparisons. As much as I love the sunny brightness of Light Summer, The True Summer and Soft Summer fans are much closer in tone, so the product reviews I do will predominantly fall into cool-soft territory.

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  13. I got Maybelline party pink lipstick because of your recommendation, and it is perfect, just PERFECT for a True Summer. Thank you!

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  14. I see that all of these comments were from several years ago, so I am hoping you still do this blog! I was draped in person as a TSu, and although I love the colors, they just never seemed right on me. My eyes are a little warmer and my skin is more on the neutral side. After many many failed attempts at molding myself into different seasons, I have come to my own conclusion that I am really a SSu (which was briefly thought of at my draping). I wish I could go back and take more time asking questions at my draping, so that I would have come away from it positive in my analysis. I love that you do this and expecially love that you focus on the cool seasons. It really helps a lot that you show in such great detail how lipsticks work with each of the 3 cool seasons. I just now discovered Plumful and I really don't think I will ever wear another color!!! Thank you so much for this blog, and I really hope that you continue it!

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    1. Hi Sherry, thank you for the kind words about my blog. I drifted away after fearing an avalanche of accumulated makeup would kill me--most of which has now been given away or tossed. I also felt that my focus on what is, quite frankly, a minority season (TSu) was a bit too esoteric to hold up to readership.

      Plumful is one of the few lipsticks I have worn down to a nub and repurchased, but you should know that Facebook's True Summer Sisterhood has claimed it as their own. So it might not be that your analysis produced the wrong result as much as limitations by a system that offers a single color fan per each of the 12 seasons. Some analysts will say that all True Summers should look good in all colors in the fan, but that did not mirror my experience. I did not care for the yellows and a few of the greens and blues. I was outraged that the TSu fan did not include our hard-to-match white!

      My SciART experience is still one of my happiest memories, and I adored my analyst, who has since retired. But we Summers can be tricky. My husband's draping took over three hours (!) because he looked good in all of the Summer drapes. Initially our analyst thought he was SSu, but then she did the entire draping again, in reverse, and the result was LSu. Honestly, he could have been given any of the three and looked good. He might be one of those rare birds that fits neatly into Carole Jackson's original Summer.

      I do empthize, as some of the TSu colors on my fan felt a tiny bit too cold, so I just didn't wear those shades ... and I found I was wearing the same colors all the time, growing a little bored. After I had lived with my TSu palette for a couple years, I had an in-person color consult with David Zyla, resulting in his Classic Summer archetype.

      There were many differences between the two experiences. Instead of being draped with big blocks of fabric, I sat across the table from David and he selected around 30 shades from a mountain of paint books and chips. He matched my calm skin, flushed skin, darkest and lightest colors from my hair, and from three the shades found in my eye. (His color consult also offers excellent style advice, which a SciART PCA does not.)

      What I liked most was that the colors in my CS palette were chosen specifically for me. No two palettes will be identical (though my husband, a Zyla Dusky Summer, and I have two colors that are the same). In other words, DZ didn't put me in the best group possible that offered only one color palette. Interestingly, my Zyla palette contains NO blue and seems to marry the muted, greyed cool hues of True Summer with the more velvety deep tones of Soft Summer, with the tiniest hint of warmth. Almost all my shades contain a whisper of green, including all the many greens ;)

      I did a comparison between the palettes on FB here: https://www.facebook.com/zuzusp/media_set?set=a.10205489537257098.1073741837.1211144925&type=3

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