How The 5 Autumns Add Brown To Hair Colour

February 3, 2010 by  

Pardon, but what 5 Autumns?

Well, in Seasonal Colour Analysis, there’s Soft, True, and Dark.

But Autumn’s blends include Soft Summer and Dark Winter too.

Only 1 True Season, and 4 Neutral Seasons all comprise some Autumn colour influence.

Autumn’s biggest misconception is the copper red hair. Usually, these people have brown hair.

The Autumn=copper association is often extended to include clothing colours, skin undertones, and makeup colours.

In fact, the shade of brown used to warm Autumn colours doesn’t attain copper’s heat till you’re way into the middle of the Autumn action.

Let’s start at True Summer. No orange. No gold. No yellow.  The brown is grey and the grey is blueish.

As Autumn starts phasing in, we move to Soft Summer. A little brown is being added. A neutral brown, not orange yet, not even amber. The blue undertone is taken out. The colours appear to have a faint tan.

Soft Autumn comes along next. We see a soft amber brown. Yellows re-emerge, where True Summer barely had any, and they are golden as an amber-brown patina lays over all the colours of this palette.  This is the beginning of the metallic quality we talk about in the skin and hair of Autumn people. It’s hard to describe. It doesn’t look like a tan, it’s much more in the skin than on it.

Finally, True Autumn. NOW the undercurrent is truly orange. Not before. Brown, remember, is just dark orange. This is an orangey brown. It is in the skin. It is also in the eye colour.

Up to Dark Autumn, a trace of Winter is felt. Winter’s colours are cooler and bring in red, the essential colour of the Winter group. The result is the red-orange undertone that defines the perfect disappearing blush and lipstick on Dark Autumn. Colour Analysis is all about cosmetic colours custom-coloured for your skin.

Since Winter is dark, we must add another Winter effect for Dark Winter : the addition of perceptible black. What orange remains is turning neutral brown again, like it was in Soft Summer, but a darker version caused by the black.

Now, we leave Autumn altogether and it’s True Winter. Orange is gone again.

Watch me do it.

Be careful.

Soft Summer’s hair is almost always too light and too highlighted with a colour that’s too yellow. At first glance, they seem like light people and it looks ok. The Colour Analysis drapes soon show us how aging the light hair is for the skin tone. Once it’s corrected, it is much better.

A Soft Autumn can too easily be put in too red hair. It is overkill every time. Unless Nature gave you red, it is VERY hard to get right from a bottle. Like thinking a bottle can replicate your childhood colour. Won’t happen. This is light tawny hair.

True Autumn in light tawny hair looks F-L-A-T. And instantly 10 years older. They need warmth and rich colour. They do not need highlights, lowlights, or other bizarre f/x. The colour should speak for itself.

Dark Autumn often adds a red rinse. You NEED to know if you’re on the warm or cool side of the Season. If the red is too cool, like red wine, it can be very artificial. Artificial works on the staff of the hair salon, not the clients.

Dark Winter should do what all Winters do. Think twice before lightening hair. They can have a dark force that is to be reckoned with. Breaking it up with  frosted tips, well… I’d rather have the force. The skin-perfecting hair colour is a dark neutral brown, most of the time.

What’s the hair lesson? Nature will never give you hair colour that is your skin’s perfection. They accord automatically. Your natural colour is always your best base colour.


33 Responses to “How The 5 Autumns Add Brown To Hair Colour”

  1. Kathy on February 5th, 2010 12:17 pm

    My haircolor as child was a light, coppery brown but got darker and less vibrant as I got older. I color it auburn or warm brown now (my hair pulls a lot of red, so a color labeled “golden” shows up auburn on me). I’ve noticed that it looks much more natural with an orange rather than a blue base. Most drugstore reds, especially the darker ones, have a burgundy/mahogany tint that would probably look awful on anyone except maybe a dark winter. I still think my hair is a little too dark, but I’m hesitant to go any lighter than medium red/brown as my eyebrows are fairly dark.

  2. Michelle on February 9th, 2010 11:47 am

    If a Soft Summer has (and always has) had plentiful natural yellow and gold highlights (and some orange-y red highlights, too) among some medium ashy brown hair, I’m confused as to how you can say that nature always give you colors that accord naturally. By your hair color description, my natural coloring does not work, and is aging me unnecessarily.

    I’ve always thought my cool/warm combo worked because I have light freckles of similar coloring to my natural highlights and some similarly colored yellow/gold/tan blobs in my otherwise blue-gray eyes.

    But that’s an overall blending, not a seasonal color analysis thing, I think.

    So how does that work?

  3. Christine Scaman on February 9th, 2010 3:04 pm

    Do you know your Season? I’m not a fan of too much hair tampering, you’re given your perfect base colour automatically by Nature. However, those Seasons that are Light or Soft, often with naturally mousy hair, can certainly do some playing with light to make things a little more interesting.

    Great e-mail name, hopefully not a sign of how you’re feeling :)
    The colours in you, every one of them, all sit in the same place on the 3 scales that define any colour – the light/darkness, the warm/coolness, the clear/softness. They can’t NOT work together. They are unified by the fact that the same genetics colour your whole body.
    You can find ANY hair colour among ANY Season. One reason it’s so hard to do this from books is that very few people IRL follow those rules of averages shown in the book’s illustrations. There are Light Summers with red-brown hair.
    You’re right that freckles and eye colour are not helpful to knowing Season. They’re far more misleading than anything else.
    I want to answer your question but I’m not certain exactly what it is. Can you ask it in a different way?

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ’0 which is not a hashcash value.

  4. Kerry on February 9th, 2010 3:23 pm

    I was analyzed a couple of years ago as a Soft Summer that flows to Light Summer, so I’m definitely cool. Assuming that was correct, I’m a Soft Summer who has (and always has) had plentiful natural yellow, gold, and orange-y red highlights among some medium ashy brown hair and cool blond highlights. I’m confused as to how you can say that nature always gives you colors that accord naturally, since by your hair color description, my natural coloring does not work. I may be wearing my right colors, but there’s still not harmony, right?

    From the analyst, I’ve always thought my cool/warm combo worked because I have light freckles of similar coloring to my natural highlights and some similarly colored yellow/gold/camel blobs in my otherwise cool eyes.

    But that’s an overall blending, not a seasonal color analysis thing, I think.

    When the warm highlights are really running the show, which isn’t 100% of the time, do I have a high degree of contrast that is both aging me and creating a striking coloring that doesn’t fit with the softness of Soft Summer? And when the light highlights are running the show, again not 100% of the time, I’m aging myself?

    Is there anything to be done besides dying it? Which I staunchly won’t do. I feel like I hit the genetic lottery having hair that can “change” from blond to brown to red in the space of a day or a week. I’ve never dyed it and have no intention of doing so.

  5. Christine Scaman on February 9th, 2010 5:01 pm

    I see the other half of the post. You don’t live near Detroit, do you? These are really difficult questions to answer when I am not convinced you have your Season quite right and when I can’t see you.
    There is no genetic lottery. I confess that I don’t understand what you’re describing between your hair and skin. I’m picturing Miley Cyrus or SJP hair. Close? Whose hair/skin is similar…though we still won’t know your Season.
    It sounds to me as though you have spectacular hair that nothing from a bottle could approach or improve. The problem is that you don’t understand your skin (yet).

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ’0 which is not a hashcash value.

  6. Kerry on February 11th, 2010 11:52 am

    You’re just so darn helpful!

    From your first answer, are you saying that a person can’t have cool skin and warm hair? Or warm skin and cool hair? Even if both the skin and hair share the other two characteristics, like soft and light? I suppose the striking effect (as in exceedingly fair, cool, and pale skin contrasting with the orange-y red) might be more of a result from when I wear the wrong colors (I know! I know. But gifts and things that I just really loved that didn’t come in my colors keep weighing me down.)… I’m emphasizing the coolness or the warmth over the other? Or, as you mentioned, it might just be totally wrong. :)

    As far as celebrities who share my hair color, I haven’t really seen any. The closest, I think, would be Jennifer Aniston in the early seasons of Friends, before she started dying it really blond and tanning. My skin is a little lighter than hers, and my hair turns orange-y red too, but the early darker hair color and into the first phase of her blondness are good examples of the idea of the range my hair takes. Miley Cyrus’ hair is waayyy too dark. Maybe like Sarah Jessica Parker. I’m not really sure which is her real hair color.

    As far as living near Detroit (and therefore you), I’m way out in California. I do have family I visit in Northwestern Ohio every summer, and often fly into Detroit, so this summer might be an option.

  7. Christine Scaman on February 11th, 2010 3:51 pm

    A person can certainly have cool skin and warm hair or eyes. I do. These Cool + Warm combinations are found in the blended Seasons. The 4 True Season are “true” because they are absolute regarding warmth and coolness, and hair/skin/eyes all accord. So my skin is *relatively* cool, hair *relatively* warm. I’m a Winter with a trace of Autumn.
    You’d enjoy an analysis a lot. I would clear up questions you don’t even know yet that you have. I am never here in July. Otherwise, plan the trip!

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ’0 which is not a hashcash value.

  8. Soft Summer Jewelry : 12 Blueprints on February 22nd, 2010 11:23 am

    [...] take a quick look at How The 5 Autumns Add Brown To Hair Colour – or to any colour, for that matter. There is an overlay of gray-brown. It is not orange, yellow, [...]

  9. Adriane Is A Soft Autumn : 12 Blueprints on April 30th, 2010 4:45 am

    [...] They often have a copper subtlety in the hair or freckles in the skin, and someone along the way will have suggested some shade of red. This can be wildy successful, but red is also tough to get perfect from a bottle. It has to be extremely gentle, so the viewer isn’t even sure if it’s there. Full on True Autumn’s molten, burnished heat isn’t here yet. This is the end of September. (See How The 5 Autumns Add Brown To Hair Colour) [...]

  10. Sarah on June 18th, 2010 6:37 pm

    This discussion of blended seasons is so relevant to me! I’m a musician with a website, so you can actually see a few pictures of me ( and elsewhere on my site). I have red hair, so “ought” to be a spring or autumn. I do seem to like warm colors in clothing (cream, muted greens, khaki, never white, charcoal, fuschia), but warm makeup shades look yellow or orange on my skin. I hate “peach” blush more than just about anything! Back in the Prescriptives days, I was typed a blue-red, and those colors were great on my skin. But compared to my husband, my palms are yellow, and my winter-pale feet are ivory. What do you make of me?

  11. Christine Scaman on June 19th, 2010 3:55 am

    I get nowhere with photos, colors of palms, colors of veins, and so on. Others can do it, but not me. Your verbal description is brilliant though, and sounds very much like a Neutral Season.

  12. Sarah on June 19th, 2010 12:51 pm

    Thanks so much! By neutral season, do you mean something like soft summer, or is it outside the 12? Sorry–I’m just becoming familiar with all this!

  13. Christine Scaman on June 21st, 2010 11:58 am

    Neutral means a blend of 2 True Seasons, so the skin contains some degree of warmth and coolness. Still within the 12, where there are 4 Trues and 8 Neutrals.

  14. Sarah on June 21st, 2010 5:00 pm

    got it! I can’t stop reading about this . . . You have an excellent site!

  15. Sarah on June 22nd, 2010 5:27 am

    I never understood until now that some “non-true” seasons actually exhibit both warm and cool characteristics. I thought that each was still definitively warm or cool (while being lighter, softer, etc.), and that if I saw both warm and cool in my coloring that either I must not get it, or else I’m a freak of nature (still always a possibility!). There are no sci Art analysts in Vermont, where I live, so I know I’m just guessing, but I’m working with the idea that I may be “soft,” probably a very neutral soft autumn. I’m enjoying trying out some soft summer colors and taking a step back from all the cheery (manic?) spring colors I’ve been encouraged to wear, as a fair redhead. At least I can rule out winter!

    Thanks again!

  16. Christine Scaman on June 22nd, 2010 2:33 pm

    I always love the descriptives I read. Adriane’s “visual ripple” when wrong color meets a face, your “cheery, manic”. A Spring doesn’t see their colors (or character) as manic, but they can fatigue everyone else. Similarly, a True Autumn will sit there happily in the schoolbus yellow drape and wonder why everyone else is groaning and twitching, saying “Get the drape off, get the drape off”.

  17. Gabby on July 8th, 2010 2:58 pm

    Great post! I love the color comparison of the 5 autumns!

    There is only one thing I still don’t get. You say nature gave us the right base color in our hair, right?

    So, I’m a soft autumn and my hair is a taupe-y color that is rather cool. If I do nothing to it, it clashes with my skin, eyes and make-up. It is too cool for my skin.

    From years of trying (hairdressers included) I know that I need to warm my hair but not too much. I also know, that highlights/lowlights never look natural on me, an all over color is better despite highlights are always recommended for the soft seasons.

    And here’s the problem. All blond dies, also the darker ones, turn orange on me. I just have this underlying orange pigment.
    Redder/chestnut/cognac tones are too much but once they faded a few weeks the effect is flattering.
    Any advice what I can do about that?

    I asked a lot of hair dressers but none seemed to even understand my problem and the effects were even worse than from dies at home.

  18. Christine Scaman on July 11th, 2010 11:35 am

    I so feel your pain. I’m not enough of a color chemist to solve this issue for you. Unfortunately, exactly as you say, hairdressers don’t even understand the problem…and I have yet to meet one that wants to.
    I do not believe this is a difficult problem to solve, but it seems next to impossible to get someone willing to ask the question, willing to go out there and say “We’re just taking our best guess. Hair colorists cannot know the type or amount of heat in hair color that will perfect a skin tone unless a person is color analyzed.”
    Your base color IS perfect, but as a Soft Season, it may not be interesting. And indeed, it may look much cooler than you do, further intensified with the makeup you may wear.
    I think everyone with a certain darkness in hair has underlying orange pigment, or at least orange seems to be a stage hair has to pass through to get to blonde. Why lightening it beyond orange, and then toning/coloring a soft tawny butterscotch is impossible, now that I do not understand.

  19. Gabby on July 11th, 2010 3:40 pm

    Thank you so much that you took the time to answer!!

    I haven’t died my hair since a year, because I cannot find a color.
    Naturally it looks exactly like the color swatch you posted in this post as a soft summer hair color. And I really want to cover the grey hairs…

    It’s interesting that you pointed out that make-up will intensify the warm-cold clash with the hair as it really does!
    Especially lipsticks and blushes in those tawny peach shades make my hair look grey-ish.

    Wearing cooler shades, more on the warm pink side, works better with my hair but is almost impossible to get, because most of the warm pinks are quite spring-ish colors I feel or at least not enough muted for me. (I have no contrast whatsoever…)

    Do you think I should leave the peaches and go for warm pinks only?

    Your suggestion with bleaching the hair beyond orange and then going for a tawny color is what I did a few times but it really ruins my fine hair and also the second dye then leaves my hair within three hair washes! But the color was good this way…

    I don’t even know why I’m bothering you as you are not a chemist but maybe some other soft autumn reads my post and has a tip for me?

    I am thinking about dying my hair in a chestnut color and washing it three times or so directly after the dying process even before I put the conditioner thing on. Maybe this will mute the color down enough.

    Or maybe I should go for an ash blonde dye? I think they put green pigment in the ash toned dies so green with my orange would equal some kind of muddy brown I suppose…

    I’m starting to feel like a chemist myself. :-)

    Have a nice day!


  20. Clare on August 5th, 2010 10:14 am


    There’s a fabulous blog about all things hairy, especially hair colour, at (I’m not affiliated, I’ve just found it helpful).

    This post in particular explains colour theory as it relates to hair in some detail and would be useful for any dye enthusiast, DIY or otherwise. It may help to shed some light on the difficulties you’ve been having with colouring your hair. Coupled with the colour analysis information you have, I’m sure you’ll be able to arrive at a solution that will unify and enhance your natural colouring.

  21. Christine Scaman on August 6th, 2010 3:49 am

    Thanks for this link, Clare. That’s such a good article, very clear about the 2 different concepts. Although I have a sense of what the best color for a woman’s hair is to best perfect her skin and eyes, I would love to leave the coloring itself to a true colorist. One of my dreams/goals is to be affiliated with a colorist to whom I can say “Georgia is a Soft Autumn” and have he/she understand exactly what that means in terms of base, highlight, the eyebrows, and the individual. There should be no work whatsoever for Georgia herself except to choose her hairstyle. Till then, the information in that article helps everyone communicate better.

  22. Patrice Shannon on November 29th, 2010 10:37 am

    I love your website and really enjoy reading all the posts. Your site is the first one I have seen which stated that hair does not automatically determine what season you are. I would give anything to be able to travel to meet you and have you drape me as I firmly believe you are one of the few people who actually know what you are doing. I have been analyzed as a summer, a light-bright, and an autumn. I have the gray-blue ash toned hair but was a pale blond as a child. (I color my hair now of course). I am told by all the color sites that ash toned hair makes you a “summer” but when I try to wear summer colors I look drab.

    Attached is a picture of myself taken just a couple of days ago. My sister told me that the color was “not great” in the top I was wearing. My eye is a muddy, blue with a definite teal tone. I also have light yellow around my pupil. I usually wear an ivory or light beige makeup base. I would love to figure out what I am since trying to fit into the summer category is not working for me. I am 67 years old and I will never lose my interest in color analysis and clothing and beauty.

    My question is this: How does one determine if they are a soft summer or a soft autumn?

  23. Christine Scaman on November 29th, 2010 11:20 am

    Hi, Patrice,

    Thanks for the kind words. I think all Sci\ART analysts would interpret colour and human beings much as I do. The writing just publicizes my work a bit more. :)

    The picture just comes out as a tiny avatar, 1cm square. I cannot tell anything from photos anyhow, I find that there are way too many variables to contend with.

    Soft Summer will wear a soft pine green or dusty mauve.
    Soft Autumn will wear light terracotta and avocado green.

  24. Patrice Shannon on November 29th, 2010 11:36 am

    Thanks Christine: I find that dusty mauve does nothing for me, as do most pinks, especially if they get too cool. I have always enjoyed peach, some corals but they must be soft and not too intense. My favorite blue is aqua or teal, but I look better in the darker, toned down shades. Dark brown looks too heavy on me and black makes me look ill. I have a really hard time with lipsticks. i have found that most colors “leap” off my face, but I also cannot wear shiny or pale lipsticks, which also make me look ill.

    I automatically gravitate to avocado green in my choice of greens, but cannot wear most oranges or yellows unless they are pale.

    I am thinking I am a soft autumn, and that I need to wear toned down colors. Your website actually has been very helpful. The funny thing is that all my life I would never have thought I was an autumn! I thought maybe I was a spring or a summer since I am so pale. Whenever I have a cosmetic makeover they always try to put a light ivory makeup on me which makes me look dead. I can wear a deeper ivory, and sometimes a light beige.

    In the picture you cannot see of me, I can readily see that the color of the top I am wearing is definitely too pink, even though I thought it was a soft raspberry. I was trying to make myself wear summer colors, although I have never responded psychologically to any shade of pink or burgundy. Maybe a soft rose tone, but I always end up back at the peach shades.

    I hope you will do more articles on soft autumns, I am not finding much at this time.

  25. adela costa on December 26th, 2010 12:36 pm

    Hello,Christine.Can you being a Soft Autumn having(as in my case),olive-yellowish skin?


  26. Christine Scaman on December 29th, 2010 2:24 pm

    This is a hard question, Adela, when I have nothing to compare it to. Yes, many Soft Autumns have yellowish skin, and it can have a sallow-pale-olive aspect. Jennifer Lopez without makeup could look like this. On the other hand, your description could well apply to some Winters as well.

  27. Susan on January 3rd, 2011 9:28 pm

    Hi Christine,
    I wonder what your feelings/thoughts are in terms of hair color and age.
    I am 39 and have naturally black (or what one would consider black) hair. I keep it very
    short and am finding quite a few grays now ( I would definitely be a true salt and pepper by 50 if I let it go). I have always been typed as a Winter (my skin is quite light) but everything I
    read recommends lightening up hair as you age. My mum is 74 and has same hair color with less gray than I do, and it looks perfectly natural (nothing “hard” or unnatural about it).
    My skin is smooth and line free at this time, but wonder what would be the right direction
    in which to go regarding hair color. Should Winters ever lighten up? Curious what you think…your comments are always so helpful and insightful.
    Thank you!

  28. Christine Scaman on January 15th, 2011 4:37 pm

    I think this is answered on a person-by-person basis. I can say that I have never seen the Winter who looks better with lightened hair, with the exception of gray. What kind of lightening could you put on Catherine Zeta-Jones or Liza Minnelli’s head that would improve them? It always looks like white stripes with a root problem. Winter grays exceptionally well, and often early. I think that many ‘thou shalts’ get into beauty mythology for no good reason. Do you know a celebrity with your coloring? Sometimes it helps to picture your question on their head, lets you be more objective. And if you do know of one who can wear a lighter head, please do let me know. For most Seasons, we darken to a less interesting dark brown in our 30s, and a colour that is a bit lighter can be softer than that dark ashy brown, but across all 3 Winters, I can’t think of one person whose hair color needs any help. A slightly warmer shade is often needed to cover gray, but True Winter’s skin usually won’t support it, any better than it supports bronzer.

  29. Susan on February 16th, 2011 8:13 pm

    Thank you for your response Christine. I am definitely NOT someone who can carry off bronzer, even when it is the lightest shade offered and assured that it will be very natural looking on even the palest skins. I think it is very easy to get caught up in all the command-
    ments and edicts of beauty experts and insiders regarding what one should do with their
    colors as they move into their middle and later years. I know I certainly get swayed and second guess myself. I suppose the closest person I know with my coloring is my mum, and as I mentioned, she looks perfectly “right” with her naturally high contrast coloring. I think it makes things a bit more difficult that I am a Winter who desperately longs to be an
    Autumn :) I am trying to come to terms with the colors that I know deep down look good on me.
    Thanks again!

  30. Robin on February 20th, 2011 6:08 am

    How can nature seemingly contradict itself? In the spirit of remaining authentic at 47 I have grown out the often wrong over-colored (too black) hair. I am a curly girl grey with a dark base. My eyes are brown with flecks of golden topaz in them and my skin tone is warm and golden. I can’t seem to find myself in the color spectrum. My natural hair color seems to look best with icy tones, yet my skin tones look best with very natural peachy and orange colors.
    As a child I was brown with a halo of auburn light around my hair. I am in good shape, sporty, and natural and I want to simply go to the closet and pick out the few outfits that look authentically me so I can spend my day doing what I do best- nurturing others. Do I dress to my now grey colored hair or to my warm skin? I haven’t seen grey hair addressed on the color analysis sites except that they all seem to put us in a winter season. When I dress wintery it seems authentic to my hair and not to my skin tone. I know I need an in-person analysis, but I wanted your thoughts on greying across the color spectrum as more women are selecting this option – grey silver, platinum, salt and pepper as a valid color. (As in the website Going Grey Looking Great.)

  31. Christine Scaman on February 20th, 2011 6:56 am


    I figure there is no point matching hair to Season if it detracts from the face. All the blond hair out there may look even blonder against all the black jackets, but the faces are older, flushed, and the makeup not working for the woman. Respect the perfection of the skin. When the skin is at its best, hair and eyes fall into place automatically on every person. I analyzed a grey-haired True Autumn just recently. The hair colour was medium-dark, not iron grey, but certainly not soft and bluish. Just as your hair colour will mesh with skin perfectly, so will your shade of grey. When women go grey, if they had darker hair before, they look a bit lighter and maybe a bit cooler. Besides adding more greys from your palette to your clothing and makeup, I can’t see that there is anything else to be done. The Autumns may have the hardest time transitioning to grey, but once there, they look superb.

  32. Deb on November 17th, 2012 6:03 am

    Hello Christine

    I am having a hard time working out if I’m a Deep Winter or Deep Autumn. I have pale skin, but quite olive that tans well in summer. I have some Italian heritage. My hair is dark/medium brown and always had a touch of red as a child but is less red now. It’s more medium/dark brown now. I tend to colour it with a red Henna dye and it seems to make my skin lighter and milkier.

    My eyes are dark brown with a slight warmth/amber look. Dark eyebrows.

    I’m most definitely olive in colour, with a slight yellowish/orange tinge, even untanned.

    I’d appreciate your help.

  33. Deb on November 17th, 2012 6:07 am

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