Soft Summer Best Hair Color

August 15, 2010 by  

This is really Part 2 of the previous article, Shannon Is A Soft Summer.

For reasons of hair chemistry that I do not understand, this seems to be the hardest hair of all to attain at a salon. This is the Season that most often arrives with the wrong hair color. It is the color that colorists resist creating, in favor of blonde or red or something much too perky on a low-key energy and a very muted, grayish skin.

Soft Summer can balance more darkness than one might think. The hair base colour is usually fairly dark but there is no black in the hair, lashes, or eyes. Shannon has her right hair, or the closest I’ve seen at the PCA appointment. The odd yellow bit is a growing-out highlight, but it’s not really interfering because the rest of the head is so good.

They need some dimension or the woman can feel “plain brown” or mousy, next to her friends. They feel more themselves with another color in the hair. So add a highlight. Be sure that it is never yellow. The yellower the hair, the more the eyes turn grey and dull. Don’t fool with red, it’s the easiest color to regret and the hardest to fix after ink black.

Choose a highlight that is light brown. Too much ash will look flat. Too light will look striped and jarring. Pick a medium to light ash brown with a little warmth, only a couple of shades lighter than the base. Not apricot, not toffee, not butterscotch. They’re all too warm. It should be pine cone brown, maybe a cool caramel at the lightest.

That landscape we saw in the previous post is here again.

Put a daffodil yellow streak through it. Doesn’t feel good. Feels crazy.

Now put a streak this color through it.

Did you feel your guts relax? Said in a prettier way, did you feel a sense of relief? The sense of belonging and being right is palpable.

See the same color around the pupil of the eye? See how the good hair repeats the center of the eye? Is human coloring not the best thing ever? Fills me with wonder, it does.

Hair effects should never be obvious on anybody. There are too many processed-looking heads out there already. This Season should NOT look radiant, or luminous. Soft Summer is NOT sunshine.  Don’t listen to ideas about brightening the whole head anymore than you would listen to pops of colour in makeup. Just as people will only see the dark eyeliner, the too-bright lips, they’ll only see the grating hair effects (and ignore every word you speak).

Does everyone in a Season have the same hair, or should they? Of course not. But the skin’s reactions to color are the same within a Season, so their best clothes, makeup, and hair will be the same shades. Common things are common, but there are always exceptions.

Nature creates lots of variations. Adjust your darkness level to be 2 shades lighter than the brows, or both will look fake and hard and angry to children. Shannon’s brow is cooler than the hair, but it works, and we chose an eyeliner to match it since it’s more perfecting to the skin tone. Some Seasons can wear a dark brow with much lighter hair, but Soft Summer is not it. The whole concept here is the opposite of bold or sudden.

This Season is NOT trendy because trend is by definition fleeting. The all-out glamour that everyone woman thinks she seeks, is momentary. You can only be glamour for a few moments. Fleeting belongs to Spring, and glamour to Winter, so only the Bright Seasons can look right in it.

The Soft Seasons are constant and even.


21 Responses to “Soft Summer Best Hair Color”

  1. Pia on August 16th, 2010 4:24 pm

    Hi there
    First of all I just want to say you are a great writer Christine , really, it is a pleasure reading your articles on the website.
    I have read all of the articles about color analysis ,seasons etc. I really wish I could get to Canada one day to get a PCA even though it is rather impossible ,I live in Italy ..
    I have been having a rough time to analyse myself ( at least I tried to analyse myself because here in Italy there is no such thing as PCA ,so I did my analysis trying to follow advices from your website) .I know that analysing ourselves is more dificult than analysing others but I am really at a dead line. I look good in black ,bright white ,bright red ,violet,purple. On the other hand I am not dark haired(I have medium ash brown hair and green eyes with golden rust circle around the pupil) as a winter and so I have been diagnosed as a Soft Summer .Now I have to ask you a big big favour .Can you have a look at my eye’s photo in the gravatar ? I read in one of your articles that in many cases the color and patterns of the eyes can tell much about the season of a person .I f you just could have a look at my eye you would help me a lot.
    Thank you and compliments again for your website

  2. Christine Scaman on August 17th, 2010 4:07 am


    Thank you for your lovely comments. It’s important that people find usefulness here.

    That gravatar is opening at an 80 pixel square, about 1″ square. To see eyes, there needs to be a 400 pixel square and VERY focused. Even then, it is easy to be wrong. In a green eye, Spring and Autumn could be similar. Brown eyes are very hard. Blue, I find easiest but certainly not foolproof. If you sent me a picture, and I don’t mind if you do, and I said Soft Autumn, and let’s say you are really a Bright Spring…well, you’d have listened to wrong advice. Whatever my guess would be, I’d then tell you to ignore it.

    Do you know that Lora at is very good and will do an analysis online, from a photo?

  3. Pia on August 17th, 2010 10:02 am

    Thank you so much for your answer .
    I know eyes can be deceiveing when it comes to guessing a person’s season .But I wrote you so because as I told you I read about you having some fun looking at the eye’s photo after draping the person ,and that you discovered that the eye has its importance .Anyway I will send you the photo of my eye and of me with a bright red shirt on with no make up at all .That shade of cool bright red is the most appealing color on me is simply WOW ! Whenever I put a black shirt my face come to life.The same in Royal purple ,violet bright white.
    As about Lora ,I already know her site well ( I am in love with colors ,PCA and I hope I will be able to do it as a profession one day ) and I realy think she is very very good in doing analysis on line .I already sent her photos and ordered an online analysis .The fact is that in June when I did this order to Lora I had an old camera wjich made some not so good photos ,the light was wrong and much the same for all the photos . She gave me her “verdict” ,she said I am right in between COOL and Soft Summer so I could choose the colours and make up from these two . The fact is that Soft Summer colors or even Cool Summer colors are just not enough for my skin ,eyes .I repeat Lora is great in doing PCA but due to the bad photos I think , it is possible she didn’t see my true colors .I don’t know what to think anymore . Anyway she asked me to send her some more photos.
    Now there is only one more thing I want to say : when I read the description of the winter woman (the real winter child too ) I couldn’t believe my eyes !! I said to myself : She must have known me ! It’s me she is talking about .I don’t know if this thing about the connection between coloring and character is true or if you noticed so since you do color analysis ,I don’t know yet for sure what my season is ,I only know that winter ‘s character is mine .Inside contrasts included.
    I really thank you for you time .

  4. Inga on November 2nd, 2010 8:39 pm

    Can soft summer really not have dark/black lashes? I’ve seen earlier pics of jennifer aniston and sarah jessica parker with quite dark hair and darker almost black brows. Their current looks are lighter than what god graced them with. Likewise I have characteristics of a summer, but have reddish tones that disqualify me from the cool summer category as well as softer/muddy eyes.. Could dark lashes/brows (darker than the hair) disqualify one from the soft category? I’ve always felt mine were dark but have never lightened them.

  5. Christine Scaman on November 4th, 2010 3:38 pm


    Color analysis is about perfecting skin. I’ve seen Light Springs with brows that are very dark and appear black. ANY Season can have ANY hair color and ANY eye color. There are NO absolutes. I’m not sure of SJP’s Season, her eye pattern sometimes says Spring in photo close-ups. Most stars, even fair ones like Renee Zellweger, are much darker than they’ve been marketed to be. Forget your hair and lashes, there are no “always” rules. Focus on what the colors that make your skin perfect have in common.

  6. Inga on November 4th, 2010 6:51 pm

    You know Christine you are so right. It really bugs me that it seems everyone is getting lighter and brighter than they really are. We get to see less colour combinations than there are, less depth, less true beauty. Its’ all because everyone has been sold this fascination with becoming blonde, and the blonder the better and then the blonde gets yellower. I’ve been sucked in again adding highlights in my hair thinking there is no beauty found in the real colours that are already there. Neon highlights seem to blast everything out of the way. Why do we do it? I think sometimes its just tough gritting down and saying ‘Im going to be different!’ Adding to the confustion of the too yellow hair is the problem of, now makeup and colors dont seem to blend.

  7. Renata on May 6th, 2011 6:08 am

    Hi Christine,
    You’re probably familiar with me a little bit because I follow your facebook page and post on their all the time. In the past I’ve been analyzed as everything from a bright winter to a deep autumn and now most recently as a soft summer. Since I’ve switched to wearing Soft summer makeup I have never felt more myself and I love the colours – now that I’ve established my season and the colours I feel most comfortable in, hair colour has become a bit of an issue – if my natural base is a darker brunette and I’m on the deeper/darker side of the SS spectrum – what are my colour options in terms of hair colour? I look forward to hearing your advice and reccomendations!!!

  8. Christine Scaman on May 14th, 2011 5:11 am

    Hi, Renata,

    This seems such a straightforward question, but really a very tough one to answer. Hair colour and/or hair darkness is wildly variable in most Seasons. The most beautiful skin and most believable hair happens for Soft Summer when there are no big colour jumps (so you wouldn’t use a highlight that is much lighter or warmer than the base). If your natural is darker, then it wouldn’t classify as the ‘mousy’ colour many Soft Summers try to enhance with hair effects. To my eye, I’d consider doing nothing. When you say hair colour options, can you be more specific? Do you mean highlights? covering gray? laminates? darkening? I’m a real big fan of looking like your appearance might have just happened by itself and darker hair is harder to fuss with, without it being quite obvious. Jaclyn Smith was a Summer, I believe whose natural brunette was the best hair she could have had. Anytime it was lightened or deepened, it wasn’t as good.

  9. Tessa on January 3rd, 2012 4:32 am

    Hello there! I find your site fascinating. I did a clothes styling course in November with a bit of colour analysis thrown in. My colours were cool and soft but I hate all those colours I feel I need a bit of depth and feel completely washed out in the soft summer colours I think I am more of a neutral colour person but I would love to wear colours! My colouring is a bit similar to Jennifer Aniston I have dark eyebrows and my hair is highlighted but I keep a dark blonde caramel colour close to my roots otherwise I look washed out by the blonde. My eyes are grey/blue sometimes look green with gold flecks in them! Thank you for your advice.


  10. Christine Scaman on January 6th, 2012 9:46 am

    Hi, Tessa,

    Are you asking about which Season you are or how to wear SSu colours? Maybe you’re a True Summer, still cool and soft, but cooler than soft (rather than SSu which is softer than cool). I can’t even tell Season from photos, let alone verbal descriptions, but you seem unsure of the Season to begin with?

  11. Aiden on March 5th, 2012 1:46 am

    Hi Christine
    Thank you for your wonderful articles that help us understand more about ourselves. I have recently discovered I am a soft summer and am really enjoying all the beautiful colours there are for me! I don’t need to wear make-up any more but have ordered a kit from Elea Blake just for fun. I have also decided to experiment with growing myhair out to it’s natural colour, and that’s where your advice comes in… This article is so true for me, expecially seeing as I used to be a hairdresser. My hair is medium to light mousey brown, can’t tell if it’s a 5 or a 6 level. It is also about 20-25% grey, and I am only 35. So while I am excited at the idea of seeing my natural colour again for the first time in years, wow, that is a lot of grey for a young looking person! My hairdresser and I discussed doing highlights, not in an ash or natural, but a pearl tone and at a 7 level, with a very low lift developer (20 Vol if that helps). I think it would be pretty, but there is still the issue of regrowth (sigh), and wondering if it will look just too light with my eyes, which are dark brown. Maybe still not natural enough? Do you have any suggestions or comments? I would be grateful.


  12. Christine Scaman on March 5th, 2012 4:34 am

    Hi, Aiden,
    I’m not versed in hair colour terminology and technique, but it sounds to me like you need to go darker. While I agree that many of the lighter Seasons darken at maturity to a slightly darker shade than they’d be flattered by in the entire head, I also mean SLIGHTLY. Dark roots mean money, time, and a processed appearance on most women. Plus, your natural mature colour probably is not as dark as it seems – you just haven’t seen it near your skin in awhile and the light hair right next to it makes it look darker than it is. Many Soft Summers are fairly dark (Kate Beckinsale dark) and they would not look better lighter. I’d take the whole head back to your real natural colour first, or maybe ONE shade lighter. Tell yourself ahead of time you’re going to live with it. Carry Kate’s photo around or a celeb you resemble with the RIGHT hair colour, S Su celebs number in the hundreds. You need to reset your eyes. Have enough ash in the colour to leave a dusty brown, it looks superb and necessary. Either at the same time or later, foil in a FEW medium ash brown strands (not chunks, I mean threads). Keep the darkest and lightest levels fairly close together. I’m sorry, the levels and lifts, I’m not able to help. It takes 3-4 tries to get hair right. Sounds like you’re seeing all the right things.

  13. Aiden on March 5th, 2012 5:32 pm

    Thank you Christine.
    I probably should have explained that I am growing out a colour that’s darker than my hair, usually a straight 5 natural but seems to turn to a golden red tinge after a while. It also seems to look hard in light of what I’ve learned, and beauticians are always wanting me to dye my eyebrows to match, which all seems a bit wrong to me. Also, my grandma, who is also a soft summer with brown eyes, tells me it looks artificial and “why can’t I just be happy” with what I’ve got. So, a dusty ash brown it is, maybe in a rinse so the demarcation isn’t so obvious. Thank you for your advice and wish me luck!

  14. inge on March 6th, 2012 12:47 am

    Aiden, maybe try to use a semi-permanent colour . The demarcation line is smoother in this case, and if you do not quite like the result, it is no such a problem.

  15. Karen on March 20th, 2012 11:23 pm

    I was recently analyzed by Lora Alexander as a Soft Summer Deep (a deeper version of Soft Summer like Katie Holmes or Angelina Jolie).
    My eyelashes and brows are naturally black, my hair naturally dark brown and hazel eyes. I don’t color my hair as I find it difficult to get the highlights right, and I find it looks better without them for the most part. If I do get highlights I usually ask for tortoiseshell and hope for the best.
    I highly recommend Lora if you are looking for an online analysis.

  16. Beth on June 15th, 2012 1:32 am

    First of all I want to say that I adore your website!
    Secondly, I would like to ask for advice. I am a soft summer with iviry skin, grey eyes flecked with yellow and rimmed with blue, and a mousy brown hair a few shades from blond. I have been thinking of going for a darker brown. How dark can i go and still look natural?

  17. Christine Scaman on June 15th, 2012 1:33 pm

    Oh, boy, Beth, that’s a hard one to answer having never seen you, let alone draped you to know your Season. I think good guidelines are to never go darker than your natural base colour because it looks harsh with the skin, and to not go more a couple of shades lighter just because the upkeep is too hard. In terms of highlights, what really matters is knowing your Season so we know what colours most flatter your skin. Unfortunately, verbal descriptions are too broad. I don’t even work from photos because I don’t want you going around with wrong hair colour. You need to get draped – have you looked at the analyst Directory linked in the upper crossbars?

  18. Beth on June 16th, 2012 3:54 am

    I have but I live in Colorado and I don’t see anyone on the list from here.

  19. Christine Scaman on June 18th, 2012 4:18 am

    You’re right, Beth. Nobody there that I know either, I’m afraid. Watch Colour Travels in the upper right column, you may see a city near you one day soon.

  20. Karina on November 21st, 2012 8:45 pm

    This post explains so much of what I’ve experienced trying to find colors in my hair, to take off that grayish tone. Since yellow blond to black in my teenage years.
    Once I tried highlights that were great.
    I read this post from time to time. When I need to change my looks I go to google, type soft summer hair, and end up in this great great place! This have saved me sooo many times from doing big mistakes, like red purple or chocolate.
    Really more than months you guys have been saving my hair hahahaha
    I just needed to thank you!
    Hugs and kisses from Brazil!

  21. Anna on October 31st, 2013 12:46 pm

    Can soft summers pull off a hint of red in their hair? Something very subtle, like a hint of auburn?

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