Spring and Autumn Makeup Colours

December 7, 2010 by  

Spring is light. Literally, figuratively, subliminally, Spring is light.

Colours are light to medium on the Light >> Dark scale. The brown that looks dark on Scarlet Johanssen looks pale and insignificant on Julia Roberts.

Colour deposits are light and /or sheer, though color is still lively. Like putting makeup on a porcelain doll.

Autumn color is heavy. Like a rug, a warm blanket, a stone fireplace.

Colours is medium to dark.

Colour deposits can be more opaque. The skin is more opaque and needs heavier color. Like putting makeup on a quilted cloth doll.

I just said something dangerous. The Soft Autumns reading this are thinking “My skin is pale and easily overwhelmed with heavy makeup. I look fake in heavy makeup.”  For many Soft Autumns, or any Season that contains some Summer, that can be very true.

Spring is a Season of more translucent colour. Mix that with Summer’s thinner skin and you have extreme fragility and youthfulness of complexion. For me, Light Spring is overwhelmed by the same weight of colour that Soft Autumn can wear, in fact that would be barely visible on a Soft Autumn (either that, or it would be far too candy pink).

Note too than when someone says something about a colour, like Soft Autumn needs heavier colour, the next question should be “heavier than what?”. Alone, adjectives are meaningless because it’s all comparative.

Soft Autumn is generally darker than Light Spring – but not as dark as the other Autumns. Soft Autumn still has light flesh tones, light golden browns, and peachy terracottas. They are not dark people. Any colour extreme, be it too dark, too hot, or too bright will dominate them entirely.

Their colours feel heavier than Spring’s, but this is not the same as saying they have the density of Winter’s. They are just not airy.

Any woman can be well within her Colours Book and still make a darkness adjustment as to which swatches she matches in makeup, based on her comfort level with colour on the face, the rest of the makeup, the occasion, and so on. Some Soft Autumns prefer their lighter colours, but sheer colour can seem like not enough. A Light Spring in sheer colour can still manage to look overdone.

From top to bottom, these collections belong to Light Spring, True Spring, and Soft Autumn.

For anyone new to 12 Season Colour Analysis, Light Spring is mostly a Spring person, with a small hint of Summer. Soft Autumn is an Autumn coloring that contains a trace of Summer.

As with clothing, even if one colour is a little off, it’s not that big a deal. The rest of the makeup, clothing, and colours in the face will pull it in seamlessly. Many of the eyeshadows are probably interchangeable enough. You can see that True Spring is the yellowest. Light Spring is cooler. Soft Autumn has some neutrality (meaning warmth and coolness at once), as in the center eyeshadow in the left column. Soft Autumn is not clear yellow when viewed as a whole, and they are yet as orange as True Autumn will be.

Light Spring is confusing, as are all the Neutral Seasons, because the question becomes “How warm?”. Both Light Spring and Soft Autumn take a pure warm Season and mix in a trace of Summer. To get every colour perfect the makeup counter, you need the personal colour palette or swatch book.

I find eyeshadow the most difficult. Using descriptors like earthy, heavy, dense, opaque to distinguish browns doesn’t help a whole lot when you’re standing at the counter. Colour is always relative. Standing at the cosmetics counter trying to match a dot in a book will be an exercise in discouragement. Smear the makeup on a piece of white paper, and smear a bunch of similar colours next to it. Even if the colours aren’t that close, it doesn’t matter. Your eye will use the range and position every colour more accurately. With clothing, if you’re choosing a blue sweater, collect several blue items, any shade of blue, and line them up. That’s when you’ll pick out the cool blue, the muted blue, etc.

Spring eyeshadows are light and yellowish. Autumn’s can be yellowish too, but it’s a duller yellow. More gold than yellow usually.

Lipstick is easier. It’s clear for Spring and browned for Autumn. The blossom or the brick.

Invoke all 5 senses when looking at color. There is a world beyond what your eyes can see.

Spring tastes sweet, ripe, and wet.

Autumn tastes savoury, spicier, and drier.

As you look at these groups of colour, what musical note would they have? Which dance? Which is the flute and which is the drum?


46 Responses to “Spring and Autumn Makeup Colours”

  1. Susan on December 7th, 2010 11:36 am

    God, I love how you write about this stuff, Christine. Love it.

  2. Caroline on December 7th, 2010 2:21 pm

    This was an informative and helpful article. Please identify the Soft Autumn colors you swatched. The colors look promising, and I’d like to go shopping.

  3. Cathy on December 7th, 2010 9:04 pm

    Another great article. You create images with words that other color experts don’t and your words are so informative. Can’t wait to see what you write for True Summers’ makeup. However, in reading about all the categories I’m getting a very clear understanding of what you describe. Thank you so much again.

  4. Andrea on December 8th, 2010 10:56 am


    thank you so much for this article! It is a great help for me. Finally I can see what the Soft Autumn lipstick and blush colours look like when they are swatched. They’re more earthy than I thought… But the Light Spring colours surprisingly swatch similarly to my current make-up, lol, and I thought I have make-up in Soft Autumn colours. Verbal descriptions of colours can be very helpful, but sometimes quite tricky, they are best when they are accompanied by pictures.

    I thought a Light Spring should wear a light peach lipstick and blush, but according to swatches it looks like (on my monitor) that a warm pink is also a choice for a neutral Spring.
    Thanks again.

  5. Ashley on December 8th, 2010 4:15 pm

    What Caroline said, but I am also interested in knowing what the other seasons’ colors are. Great article! :)

  6. Kathryn on December 9th, 2010 2:52 pm

    Christine, how do you determine whether skin is transluscent or opaque? I think of transluscent as see-through like those very pale Irish skins that are poreless. Mine has definite pores and is not totally see-through, yet, I have a large blue vein running around my jawline and one next to my eye and in various places across my chest. Also have skin that turns red easily upon touch and sunburns and tans at the same time. Are some people just mixtures?

  7. Christine Scaman on December 12th, 2010 12:47 pm

    Most people are mixtures. Even within the True Seasons, nobody will have all the textbook characteristics. In medicine, any disease often does not present precisely the same way twice. Many clues are helpful, many need to be ignored. I have no good photo examples of the Spring poreless skin. It is certainly not in every Spring or Spring blend. It resembles a sleeping child’s. It is not the same as Summer’s fragility, which is more a thin-ness and the sensitivity you describe. It often accompanies very young feature(s) like dimples, cuteness, or a sharp small nose. Nothing is always.

  8. Christine Scaman on December 12th, 2010 12:48 pm

    I’ll get the colours posted tomorrow…

  9. Charlotte on December 13th, 2010 9:57 am

    I love reading your website. Are you familiar with Nars Belle de Jour lipstick? If so, would that be a good Soft Autumn color?

  10. Christine Scaman on December 14th, 2010 4:29 pm

    I’ll look ASAP and post back. Hopefully a few days.

  11. Caroline on December 14th, 2010 5:12 pm

    Hi Christine,

    When you get a chance, could you tell me what season Clinique “In a Nutshell” lipstick is? I know you’re having frightfully bad weather now…

  12. Christine Scaman on December 19th, 2010 1:54 pm

    NARS Belle Du Jour is a yellow caramel, right? The one I looked at is. It’s one of those colours that I can imagine in clothes or eyeshadow, but not lip or blush. Makes me think “who has lips this colour??” . Not at all to say it wouldn’t work, might be a beautiful nude, just that I have never seen it worn. It belongs to True Spring, very similar colour to the True Season Spring drape used early in a PCA.
    To help you compare, the NARS colour is very similar to Stila Longwear in Adorable. Stila Longwear in Serenade would be for Soft Autumn.

  13. Christine Scaman on December 19th, 2010 2:37 pm

    So sorry, I got delayed posting those SA colours. I’ve only done SA so Caroline can shop at last, but you won’t find every colour in stores. Some come from beauty wholesalers, or colours long discontinued that clients have donated, or out-of-the-way brands I see when I travel that are not in wide circulation.

    Across the top, the middle one is MAC Soba. The R one is Lauder Elizabeth Pink.

    Middle row, the L is Clinique Bronze Satin, mid is Paula’s Choice Natural Blush (I think), and R is e.l.f. Malt Shake gloss.

    Lower row mid is Revlon Nude Lustre (I think), and on R is Revlon Ginger Rose.

    The dot at the bottom is a Cargo blush that was donated, label long gone.

    Ask if you wonder a particular Spring one, and I’ll try to dig it out.

  14. Shirley on December 19th, 2010 9:46 pm

    Yes, please let me know the Light Spring lippie colors particularly the lower right smudgy warm red. Been wanting this color for ages.

  15. Shirley on December 19th, 2010 9:47 pm

    Looks like rhubarb.

  16. Caroline on December 20th, 2010 1:30 pm


    Thank you so much for posting the Soft Autumn color names. I already have and love MAC Soba. I went shopping today and bought Estee Lauder Elizabeth Pink lipstick and elf Malt Shake gloss. Revlon Nude Lustre lipgloss looks alot like my Edward Bess Soft Whisper lipgloss, and it’s 1/3 the price.

    I want you to know that, thanks to you, I bought Rimmel Sable eyeliner, and have been wearing it every day. Also, I like your recommendation on Facebook for MAC Hug Me lipstick for Soft Autumn. It’s my exact lip color. I’m on the warm side of Soft Autumn and I really appreciate all your advice!

  17. Chasity on December 24th, 2010 3:24 pm

    I’m confused on my coloring?!?! I’m naturally blonde but it’s a dark dirty dishwater blonde that I don’t like so I dye it a chestnut which looks wonderful. I think my skin tone is autumn but I tried dyeing my hair auburn but it didn’t suit me. It looked to bright and overwhelmed my appearance. The chestnut has just the right amount of warmth. My eyes are a green hazel. I’ve been reading every website I could about soft autumns. I think this might be my skin tone considering I’m very pale but no pink cheeks. I’m more neutral. Any more info on soft autumns would be appreciated!!! Thank you :)

  18. Chasity on December 25th, 2010 9:59 am

    I’m confused once again :( I’ve seen drew Barrymore who is a soft autumn wearing red and it doesn’t suit her at all. I can wear bright reds and navy with no problem. I have no clue what my season is :(

  19. Christine Scaman on December 26th, 2010 5:25 am


    It is amazing how many subtleties there are to take into account. I wish I could help with your Season. Is there a shade of red you think Drew could wear? Miley Cyrus, Molly Sims, probably Soft Autumns. What colours do they wear well in common?

  20. Heidi on December 26th, 2010 2:25 pm

    The True Spring makeup colors are spot on! We need a bit more color intensity than the Light Spring colors, but not too much. And a little more yellow in the tone.

    I suspect that eventually, as I get older, my coloring will soften to Light Spring. I have (warm) blond hair which is just starting to get white strands in it. I don’t plan to dye it, but may change my mind one day.

    Would be interested to see an article on changing seasons as we age. Is it true most people get lighter and cooler? Or do most people stay the same? With so many women dyeing their hair after 35, it’s hard to know what the right color would be.

    Love your writing, as always!

  21. Samantha on December 27th, 2010 3:11 pm

    Great stuff on the Spring and Autumn colors, but I do have one ‘complaint’. I still don’t see anything on Dark Autumn, not even the best makeup colors for such women.

  22. Maryjane on December 27th, 2010 4:53 pm

    Yes, please Christine…..please post best makeup coloursfor Dark Autumns
    (waiting with Visa/Mastercard in paw) :)

    MJ x

  23. ChasityC on December 28th, 2010 9:32 am


    here’s a pic if it helps.

    I looked into Molly sims and she can wear the same red I can! I also looked into drew Barrymore a little more. I seen a pic of her in red against a white wall. The color looked so off on her like she’d look better in warm autumn. But lo’ and behold, she can wear red too!
    The only concern I have is determining whether I’m soft autumn or soft summer. I think I look better in browns and brighter colors like red and white. I don’t think the olive greens of autumn match me tho :(

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

    People do cool and soften a bit, in most cases. Few of us retain the pigment intensity we had at 40. What proportion changes Seasons? I don’t know the answer. I see it occasionally, but I think most people remain in the same Season. It depends a bit on where you begin, but a True Spring would certainly move to Light Spring, and this is very possible.

  25. Christine Scaman on December 29th, 2010 2:27 pm

    The article How Autumns Intensify Eye Colour should have some DA info. You could search Autumn, or look under More Topics For The 12 Seasons under Autumn.

  26. Christine Scaman on December 29th, 2010 2:30 pm

    Your picture just shows up as a tiny square. I just can’t do Seasons by photo. If you really are interested, Lynda at http://www.thatsyourcolor.com is very good and has done many.

  27. Christine Scaman on December 29th, 2010 2:46 pm

    Finally looked at this one. I couldn’t place it comfortably anywhere. It seemed too red for Soft Autumn, too golden shimmery which changed the colour depending on how you viewed it, too heavily brown for True or Light Spring. I couldn’t even feel good with it in True or Dark Autumn. I asked a very discerning Soft Autumn, and she never felt at home in it, too shiny yellow gold.

  28. ChasityC on December 29th, 2010 3:41 pm

    It’s how the light is hitting the shirt. It brightened up the shirt a bit. The shirt is more of a brick red. My hair is a dark blonde naturally however I dye it chestnut which everyone says looks more natural on me. I thought I could be a winter like a clear winter but I wasn’t certain. I know my mother is a dark autumn as she wears black well as well as browns and gold. My father is dark blonde with sky blue eyes. I think he’s neutral toned. Almost like a light summer.

  29. ChasityC on December 29th, 2010 3:45 pm

    I don’t know if that helps any. I appreciate the help you’ve given me. I tried placed colors around my face in pictures and soft autumns browns seemed to look good.

  30. ChasityC on December 29th, 2010 3:49 pm

    Oh and I know you don’t use eyes very much as a determining factor, but it’s hazel. A green hazel but it is dark and sludgy. More of an olive green with some gold flecks and grey with the green. the brown is more predominant making them look dark.

  31. Kathi Crise on January 8th, 2011 5:43 pm

    Hi Christine. Any chance you have the names & brand of the light springs? TY

  32. Christine Scaman on January 15th, 2011 4:40 pm

    I have some, Kathi.

    Clinique Sable Shimmer eyeshadow, Berry Delight and Precious Posy blush, MAC Cork and Vanilla eyeshadows. The others are from wholesalers, and not available to buy.

  33. Kathi Crise on January 15th, 2011 11:43 pm

    TY Christine for all your help.

  34. Caroline on January 27th, 2011 2:21 pm

    Hi Christine. Are you familiar with Chanel blush in Tempting Beige? Is it a Soft Autumn color?

  35. Christine Scaman on January 30th, 2011 4:18 pm

    Sorry, I don’t know the color. I used to look on websites to help answer these questions but the reproduction is touch and go.

  36. Caroline on February 20th, 2011 3:00 pm

    Hi Christine,
    What season is MAC Jubilee lipstick? I’m thinking it’s either True Autumn or Soft Autumn (warm side of Soft Autumn). Thanks.

  37. Christine Scaman on February 20th, 2011 4:14 pm

    I’m almost sure Jubilee is Soft Autumn, or swatches that way on paper. I would guess many Soft Autumns might find it too much like the skin colour, but it would have to be tried.

  38. Jenny on March 16th, 2011 12:02 am

    Hi Christine,

    I was wondering if you could post the could post the names and brands for the True Spring colors? Thank you!

  39. Christine Scaman on March 21st, 2011 11:13 am

    Hi, Jenny,

    Not sure I can find them and some are not available except from cosmetic wholesalers. MAC Fanfare lipstick comes to mind. I strongly recommend you to look at http://www.eleablake.com for cosmetics if you know your Season. The colours are bang on and the more I use the product, the more I love it.

  40. Kate on April 21st, 2011 6:29 am

    Dear Christine,

    On the basis of a facebook comment you made, I ordered Revlon’s Sand Beige Colourstay Active Light foundation (now discontinued sadly). It doesn’ make me look chalky or washed out ..I would never have gone for a colour advertising this much yelllow. I think it works well.

    I am at the neutral ivory end of the true autumn spectrum with imperceptible golden freckles which come out in the summer and pinky flushed cheeks or pallor. Do you ever mix this shade with a true beige say to move more towards a mid-point?

    Many thanks!

  41. Kate on April 21st, 2011 6:32 am

    ps I am looking again and I think it is a tad too yellow. I may be somewhere between a true and a soft autumn (I have been colour analysed as both by CMB people!). My eyes are quite like your soft autumn eyes but I don’t suit such a muted pallette in fact burnt orange and even warm orange look FAB.

    I am thinking I could combine it with a true, neutral beige.


  42. phee on March 31st, 2013 9:56 pm

    hi there. love the page! I’m having trouble determining whether I am a clear spring or warm autumn. my skin IS pretty pale with yellow and pink tones. hair is a medium brown. only appears warm when highlighted by the sun over time. the highlights are reddish gold. my eyes are olive green with a marble like pattern. they appear clearish. orangey coral, and nude lipsticks look horrible on me…warm brown worshipped do not flatter. bright pink blush easily looks clownish.

  43. Christine Scaman on April 1st, 2013 3:19 am

    phee, the spring/autumn distinction can be really hard to make without draping. Light Spring/Soft Autumn and Bright Spring/Dark Autumn can look similar, though you wouldn’t think it would be so. The True Seasons often seem more obviously different when you’re just looking at the person, but the only real way to tell is with draping. Though your description is fine, you could send me 100 photos and I still wouldn’t know for sure.

  44. Barb on May 7th, 2013 12:32 pm

    Wow! So much knowledge here. I have learnt more on this page than all of my internet searching over the years trying to find out if I am a spring or summer. So frustrating… I grew up with really white skin (think Edgar Winter, lol) strong pink undertones…. so I always thought I was a summer…. but then throw into the mix my veins in my arms are green (warm) but yet I look better in silver jewelery (cool) oh but wait, my eyes are green (warm)…. and golden blonde hair (warm) ~ so I have tried summer colors which only make me look drab and dull…… then I started to try warm colors which were too orange or too bright for me…. after reading here I now know I am a LIGHT SPRING… so I think! I found a few other websites showing me my best fashion colors and at least now I have tops that make my skin look healthy and vibrant. Makeup is my problem. Would you be kind enough to recommend some drugstore or Mac or Clinique eye shadows, blush, and lipsticks… preferably drugstore? I have to be so careful, too light and it washes me out, but yet too dark and it is over powering. I need classic ~working gal makeup…. while I know I can’t go too dark on the lips I would love something that is more on the darker side of the scale. I think being a light spring (which I hope I have rgiht) has got to be the hardest to work with, it’s been a nightmare, lol! Thank you so much in advance!

  45. Cheyne on July 30th, 2013 7:07 pm

    I am also a light spring and I am LOST when it comes to makeup. I am not good at picking makeup, if you could give specific brands and colors (drugstore, if you can) I would be so grateful! Looking for a “clear, yellow based red” makes zero sense to me, lol. I have tried to understand the hue, chroma stuff but sadly I just don’t get it:)

  46. Christine Scaman on August 8th, 2013 4:37 am

    You’re telling the truth of many women, Cheyne. First, in having trouble choosing makeup for Light Seasons. You can tell that you need to back off somehow, but where and how much? And what does that look like in a product? The hue/value/chroma are not transferrable to shopping, or not easily, and cosmetics are the most difficult purchase of all. I reserve cosmetic lists for my own clients, but Rachel at http://www.truth-is-beauty.com has big lists for a low price considering how much money you will save. I can name an item or two, but chances are it will be d/c or not available in your town, and it will be among Rachel’s items anyhow. Remember though, try items before you buy them. Nothing is that automatic.

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