Best Makeup Colours Dark Autumn

Over the years, a series of posts appeared showing a graphic of the best makeup colours for certain groups of natural colouring, a term synonymous with Season. In the archives so far, you will find a post about best makeup colours for the 4 True Seasons, Soft Summer, Dark and Bright Winter. You can search them as

July is a holiday month, a good time to finish the series. Today, Dark Autumn.


As a session begins, clients are seated and surrounded by the neutral gray of an accurate colour analysis. The moment I switch on the full spectrum lights, I look right at their eyes. If I see diffusions of dark yellow, cognac, rust, or dark mossy green, I wonder about Dark Autumn.

The skin of this woman contains a lot of colour. To make any impression, her cosmetics need muscle both in the strength of the pigments and in the density of their application. The Summer drapes look like they can’t hold up her head. The makeup, the same.

She is almost great in black. There will be a little something that excites. Appearance excitement is important. Brown will be more relaxing and feel more harmonious overall. She certainly has spice and darkness in the brown, both of which thrill on this colouring. Spanish coffee gets into your blood a little faster, right?

Your PCA result will be personalized to your particular colouring and draping reactions. For instance, in her later years, many a Dark Autumn woman moves closer to True Autumn. The most excitement is still in Dark Autumn. The lightest, most muted True Autumn colours and the darkest, coolest Dark Autumn colours are not perfect.

If you saw one of our group of analysts (see the 12B Analyst Directory), we will explain how to use the more challenging colours in compositions instead of putting them in large blocks under the face. You will know your own formula, how you excite. You might shop with both Colour Books. People at the office will be talking and you may wonder why. They will be saying good things. I have never met the Dark Autumn woman who has any idea of how remarkable and superb she looks. They all seem a little oblivious to it. Which is a good thing!

She has often avoided the makeup colours below because her clothing colours were too gentle. She was quite right. With soft colours in clothing, Dark Autumn makeup will seem too bold and strong. The problem is not the makeup. Once everything below the neck comes up to balance her head, the makeup will be stunning. To find that balance needed for take-off, we have to deconstruct the appearance, take you back to the beginning and rebuild you in your own colours.


And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.

– T.S. Eliot



The makeup is not necessarily dark, though it is compared to Light Spring. Every Season has light colours, here as parsnip, lemongrass, asphalt, greige, goldenrod, barley gold, and many others. In our five years together, we have understood that Dark Seasons neither look dark nor wear only darkness. Nor do the Light Seasons look light, and so on. That’s one of those ideas that got taken too literally, without the continuous counterbalances of comparison and relative relationships that are the sine qua non of colour.



The Dark Autumn woman contains much glamour. She is mostly OK with being noticed, unlike her True Autumn sister who can only take so much being fussed over. Sofia Coppola is among my iconic Dark Autumns (remembering that I have no idea what her Season is till she is drape). Glamorous and exotic with no interest in taking that anywhere. Not a great blonde. Always dressed in black, white, and gray, which are not awful. Neither are they one little bit exciting, provocative, evocative, nothing. They are just there taking up space and better than the infant clothing that Light Spring would be. Her Autumn self will go this far on her looks and no further. She has things to do after all.

Whisky colours in the eyes. I split the Know Your Best Hair Colour board at Pinterest, adding a Makeup For Your Natural Colouring board. You can find some images of Sophia and other Dark Autumn ideas there.

All Neutral Season colouring has warmer and cooler versions of every colour, still within the saturation and value scale for the Season. The choice of brown flesh tones in blush and lip, red orange, or bronzed berry, is yours. Though I find black in eyeliner too harsh on anyone unless they are Halle Berry dark, have black eyes and brows, or the black is a Soft Black (meaning dark charcoal), this person does have Winter coolness. Just as their navy in clothing or a suit is a fantastic complement to the orange tones in skin, hair, and eyes, so is it a great eyeliner. The graphic does not include one but the list at the bottom does.

The heat feels more intense to me here than in Soft Autumn, perhaps because of the added darkness and presence of red as Winter arrives. We tend to feel red as heat. Wear bronzer as a contour. It looks good and is easy to find. Bone structure is always fantastic here. Why not take it further if your facial anatomy calls for it (Mariah Carey is not improved by carved edges. They are only weird. JLo is more feline, more powerful, more good stuff.) ?

Make the hair colour all it could be. Natural is always just fine. If you colour, be not wimpy. These colours are easy to find. Auburn and rich chestnut work if the base colour is as dark as Julia Roberts. Her natural base is probably dark ash brown. Adding auburn or using chemical colour to add gloss and body elevate her inborn way of looking expensive and delicious.

Many Dark Autumns have a near-black base colour or are lighter medium brown. In both cases, chemical colour will probably not be as enhancing or interesting as what you have on your own. Near black hair with these clothing colours is a furnace of presence and potential. Lighter hair colour is an amazement of improbability and surprise, as is blue teal or other light eye colours. The viewer feels a fascination of, What is happening there?

If we colour our hair, we all need to find the right one. All the clothes and makeup in the world will flop without it. Please ignore the myth that women need to go lighter as they get older. Nothing is true for everyone, but that one might actually apply to no Dark Autumn.

In the next article on Light Spring best  makeup colours, you will find an explanation of how to swatch makeup colours to Season.


I will post some thoughts on the Makeup for Your Natural Colouring board at Pinterest.



Try before you buy. 5 women in the same Season will look their best in 5 different lipsticks.

Blush: MAC Ambering Rose. NARS Taos. Lancome Shimmer Tamarind.

Eyeliner: MAC Coffee. Revlon Colorstay Navy. Urban Decay Corrupt (Demolition could be good for darker women and/or those closer to Dark Winter looking for a near black. Bourbon for lighter women, closer to True Autumn). Smashbox Sumatra is an interesting inky brown, and 3DGalaxy could be a good dark gray without being too dark.

Eyeshadow: Bobbi Brown Burnt Sugar, Cocoa, and Mahogany. Stila Twig. NARS Lola Lola. Clinique Portobello (light greige) is OK as a colour but the application properties are weak on this colouring compared to Urban Decay Tease. Aveda Copper Haze (could work well on a True Autumn also). Benefit Bronze Have More Fun.  MUFE #165 is a great basic greige. NARS Cordura  offers two good darks for smoking the eyes, a believable and successful effect on the Dark Seasons (Key Largo may work for those near True Autumn, but is probably best for True Autumn, and even better on True Spring.) Smashbox Screenshot is a nice trio. Lancome Burnt Sand.

Lipstick: Too Faced Sweet Maple. Chanel Rouge Vendome is a brighter orange red. Clarins Red Terra (awesome, dark side), Spicy Cinnamon (warmer, for those near True Autumn), Grenadine (nice mid berry), Cedar Red. Elizabeth Arden Wildberry (bit muted, closer to True Autumn). Laura Mercier Sienna for those nearer Dark Winter, though could be a great red on many Dark Autumn. Lancome Ruby Silk a mid-warm-red, not too dark, while Jezebel is a purple containing subtle metallic bronze effects. Smashbox Cognac could be a very good nude on many, where nude is not the same as Lip Eraser.

Bronzer: Bobbi Brown Bronzing Powder Medium 2.




38 thoughts on “Best Makeup Colours Dark Autumn”

  1. Such stunningly sensual, bold, exotic colours! I will always wish to be a Dark Autumn deep down. I am so drawn to the swatches you posted up there. The colours are so intense and passionate! Soft Autumn seems pretty lacklustre in comparison (though I know SA looks normal *on me*).

  2. It’s one of my favourite series cause it gives an idea of the seasons skin better than descriptions. I can’t wait for next seasons – I like to see the practical difference between DA and BSp neutral eye make up cause I like some of this DA colours a bit too much and I’d like to stay on track while shopping. I would buy BB Mahogny and think it’s ok cause it’s not orangy, on the swatch on my monitor it looks like a darker version of taupe colour which I really like and know it works for me but since my hair&eyes are fairly dark is a bit too light as a crease colour (with hooded eye I like to define crease more). Would it really look wrong on dark haired BSp?

  3. This is super, thank you! I can’t wait to try some of the colors mentioned. I already love NARS Cordura and Clarins Cedar Red. A lipstick I’ve recently found is LM Maya which is somewhere between 6.2 and 2.7 (looks a bit like the latter on paper but more like the former on lips). I am going to try the MAC Ambering Rose blush but it looks like it may bea close to another favorite which is NARS Lovejoy. I would love to hear if anyone has matched to one of the corals in a lipstick. I am always trying but wind up with something that is too bright/springy.

  4. It would be fine, Daga. For BSp, as long as it doesn’t read as muted orange, tan, camel, rust, and so on, a dark brown is perfectly good.

  5. Thank you Christine for reassuring me, I stopped wearing rusted, orangy browns years ago (I felt that this kind of warm browns had an artificial and ageing effect on me) but I still discover what works the best and sometimes make wrong choices.

    Corinne, Spring coral is very in fashion so if you have troubles finding right coral for you, try to look for lip liners in coral colour – they tend to be more muted, browned or brick colour than lipsticks. I sometimes wear lip liners instead of lipstick (with a touch of lip gloss or balm to make it less dry).

  6. Lip liner! I love this idea. You’re right, they are usually muted. I was looking through old posts and found the one about ‘Valeria is a Dark Autumn’ and noted that there a coral lipgloss was put over a more muted liner. I suppose this might be an option too. Thanks for the suggestion!

  7. I had the idea cause I ordered a lip liner from Oriflame (Wonder Colour, Hot Coral) that was supposed to be bright coral but turned out a little too muted and bricky on my lips, I still wear it as nude (close to my lip colour) but I think it might work as more bright coral on others, it’s the third one here

  8. Christine, I have been wondering about this “no black eye liner unless they are Halle Berry dark” – that sentence has come up before.
    For the sake of truth which I feel is always at the core on this site I think it would be fair to mention, that there are probably quite some fair skinned BW with light eyes, who simply dominate black eye liner to such a degree that it turns kind of charcoal and very pleasant on our skin. It may be true about other winters too. I for one cannot find a grey eye liner, that works as well as black does – and I am not nearly as dark as Halle Berry. I have tried 3 different brands and they all turn on my skin. I haven’t tried a fluid eye liner though – they look unnatural to me – but who knows. You have described this phenomenon of colours that disappear into skin somewhere … and how some of us subdue even black on our skin. Not all winters do, but some do.
    I agree that many perhaps even most women who wear black eyeliner look overdone and all you can see is black eyeliner and lashes. I understand that way too much black is produced and you are asking women to try other colours and ask for grey or brown at the counter – how else will the industry produce what is needed? I have just seen my best friend who has recently been analysed a Soft Autumn by your excellent student Anette – and the improvement my friend has made by letting go of black in clothes and make-up is unbelievable. I didn’t even like SA colours – but on her! Wow. Didn’t know it could look like that. What a golden girl.
    My point is that for years I didn’t even dare try a black eyeliner – because of what I read here and because I didn’t like they way it looked on most women (except the very dark ones) … yet I cannot come up with a more stunning “fast and get going out the door make up” for me than black eye liner and black mascara and a slightly transparent lipstick in a clear colour that is somewhere between pink and red. I didn’t dare to try on a lime green blouse for the exact same reason. Most women look ridiculous in that colour – but BW doesn’t.
    You put me on the right track to red-pink lipstick with your good article on BW make up … and perhaps there should be room for a slight adjustment when it comes to who can wear black eyeliner.
    As always thank you for putting such an effort into all of this. Your site is in my eyes the worlds best on personal colours.

  9. I went looking for Revlon’s Navy eyeliner at my local Ulta. I finally found it – in the clearance bin. (Sadness.) I also got to try Cognac, and it was absolutely gorgeous. Did you know it also comes in a gloss? Said gloss has bits of glitter, granted, but to each his/her own.

    I own Nyx Sparkling Chestnut lipstick, which would be lovely for lighter DAs. It’s pretty metallic, which not everyone is into.

  10. Thanks for all the ideas and suggestions :)

    You’re quite right, AC, about the black liner. My daughters wear it. As you said, on them, it looks more charcoal.The cosmetic doesn’t apply black, in that ‘so black, it’s blue’ way, and it looks just fine. When I see a product that applies true black, with an application that delivers a distinct eyeliner presence, and for sure when it’s liquid liner, it works sometimes. Most often, all I see is liner. Instead of writing off black eyeliner for everyone, what I should be saying is to be judicious with its use and with the product one chooses.

    I’m on board with lipliner as a way to mute lipsticks. Or brighten them, cool them, darken them. I find MAC Prolongwear very tenacious. The colour Staunchly Stylish is a light-medium flesh tone, a touch warmer than I’d like but works well and no dark outline even if lipstick has worn off.

  11. Hi Christine! I am so excited to see this finally. I’ve always wondered about Clinique’s Angel Red for DA. Is this a good match, or is it closer to DW? Also, Rimmel’s Smokey Brun eyeshadow quad looks like a perfect match for the colors you have here.

  12. I also had a question about DA and skin tone. The prime examples all seem to be darker skinned – Sophia Loren, Jennifer Lopez, Natalie Portman. Are there any examples of very light-skinned DAs?

  13. Erin, are you on Facebook? I would check out the Moda in Color and/or Invent Your Image business pages; they both show pictures of draped women, some of whom are lighter-skinned Dark Autumns. One is even fairly light-haired for a DA.

  14. M.D. – I have not found a coral for DA or DW. Took me ages to find their coral in fabric.

    Erin – I agree, it’s not so common in celebs, but not rare at all in the real world. You could look through the analyst intros at Cate Linden is a DA. Natalie Portman…I’d need some convincing to buy DA. Possible but I’m far from sure about that.

  15. I’ve been waiting such a long time for this post about DA makeup colors, so thank you lots! But my hangup here is when you say auburn would be a great hair dye for a DA woman. Does this mean that a woman with natural auburn hair (such as myself) can’t be Dark Autumn?

  16. Christine, any idea why there are so few celebrity lighter DA? Do you think for some reason that’s a type of coloring that doesn’t work well on film? Random curiosity compels me to ask!

  17. Samantha – hair colour is next to useless as a guide to knowing Season. Natural auburn hair can suggest many Seasons, all 12 if we’re very loose in our definition of auburn. It sure doesn’t disqualify DA.

    Cordy – I don’t think there are few celeb DAs. There are few stereotypic celeb DAs. Those stereotypes were among the several ideas that took colour analysis way off the rails because we developed such narrow views of what a Season can or should look like. I still use them because they allow me to paint a word picture that is hopefully a little accurate for articles, but too many people get stuck there. They don’t want to believe the disclaimers that say, The real world truth is that any Season could look many, many different ways. Thankfully, the public is updating its beliefs about human colouring and PCA and many of those old beliefs are being replaced. I am not a film expert but there is no colouring that I find works better or worse on film.

  18. Beautiful new look for the website Christine!!

    Is the picture at the top of the article designed to depict some of the lighter dark-autumn colors?


  19. Thanks, Denise. The images are just random from what’s around me at the moment. They may coordinate sometimes with articles but it’s not planned that way.

  20. I live in windsor, on… Not very far from you, I’m an asian with da colour, I wear mostly in da palette but I can’t wear warm foundation, the best foundation match for me is shiseido i20 fluid foundation, I love deep purple, cuz I got lots of compliments when I wear such colour, even as eyeshadow or eyes liner, I’m currently enjoying the Elizabeth Arden neoclassical coral lipstick, it’s fun. Is the in between season wear neutral tone foundation, or is it just some individual?

  21. There is no rule about cosmetics and Seasons, Karen. Because they adapt to each woman’s skin, many colours can work in 2 or more Seasons. Foundation is the same, meaning it depends on each woman. Also, cosmetic companies are inconsistent in how they label foundation (one company’s warm is another’s neutral) and also how they colour foundation (lots of Spring yellow out there, not a lot of Autumn gold, in the choices of products for skin tones). The short answer is that every woman starts at the beginning to choose foundation.

  22. Well, I don’t know about coral, but watermelon (da 6.1/6.2) would be Mac See Sheer. Which turns a little pinkish on the lips, but in a good way!
    Another lighter lipstick would be Mac Lady Bug, a tomato red (da 2.7). Very red and juicy.
    And if anyone prefers a gloss, Chanel Fatale is great. It is more of a true red and on the cooler side (da 2.8/2.9).

  23. MAC Hot Tahiti is a nice coral red for us. It’s a glaze finish, so definitely on the sheerer side, but has a nice “juicy” look to it. Of course, in the tube it looks quite dark, but on us it’s a lighter option. I quite like it, it’s very nice for summer or days when we want a more natural lip color without sacrificing DA’s depth.

  24. Cate, belated thanks for the Hot Tahiti recommendation. I’ve purchased it, plus Dior Rouge Blossom and Chanel Vendome. I love them all.

  25. I’m pretty sure I’m a Dark Autumn and I’ve always had a terrible time with lipstick — I never wore it for years because it was so hard to find a shade that didn’t look artificial on me. Right now I’m wearing Chanel’s Rouge Coco in Étole, which is similar to Vendome (swatches here — I have much darker skin than the model and the shade comes off a lot deeper on me). Thoughts?

  26. No problem with that colour, depending on the final look you are after. The colour is probably showing more muted than it is, since Vendome is, which could be good. Vendome is quite pigmented and bright as DA colour goes. I like Baroque too actually.

  27. A great blush/bronzer for Autumns is Benefit Dallas – the colour is just as the top right hand square from blushesh and lipsticks. What’s funny it looks so natural on my very light skin, while many much lighter colours may seem flashy. I recommend trying it.

  28. Dallas has been on my DA list for ages but I tried it on a whim in Sephora the other day. Oh my gosh, it’s perfect. I’ve never been a bronzer wearer, but this is perfect for lightly contouring the cheekbones. I’m also quite fair and it doesn’t look muddy or anything. I hear it’s being discontinued, so I’m going back for a second!

  29. Hi!
    I’m trying to figure out if a shirt I got as a present is in my color spectrum or not. I’m a soft autumn deep. The shirt is a bourdeaux color and I’m finding it VERY difficult to see if it’s a cool or warm hue. I think reddish muted bourdeaux with obvious blue tones, maroon, marsala and burgundy are some ways to describe it: anyway my question is: can any of the autumns wear burgundy?

  30. Mia, I’m not a color analyst, but as far I know burgundy is a great color for all Autumns, although Soft Autumn would probably have a slightly lighter version. This pinterest page is a great tool for checking the color spectrums of all seasons!
    (“Soft autumn deep” is not a category of the 12 seasons system, though.)

  31. As Melina has said, all Seasons under Autumn influence have a version of burgundy. IDK what Soft Autumn Deep actually means in a colour palette. Your analyst might be able to help you sort out that particular burgundy. You could compare it to the page Melina linked. Or else, try laying your entire colour palette on the fabric and pretend it’s your face. How does it look next to the garment?

  32. I’m sorry, Annki, I do not know the answer. If you typed that same question into Google, you might find an answer among the many online groups who have catalogued every MAC colour ever made.

  33. Annki, I can tell you it certainly is in Rachel’s from Truth Is Beauty Dark Autumn makeup list :)

  34. I’m probably either DA or TA, and just wanted to let others know I’ve found what seems the perfect lipliner for Autumns, to me at least (for at least DA & TA, maybe not SA) – Essence Longlasting lip liner shade 06, A Girl’s Dream (the 4th in this photo):

    If any of you have tried it, please let me know if you agree :)

    I’ve never been one for lipliners as I’ve never found a good one before this; pencils are way too hard to use (this one is a soft retractable liner), and most colours have been off in one way or another…

  35. And just remembered my current favourite eyeliner is also by Essence, called “But first, an espresso” (love these names! ;))
    I think it’s fairly close to MAC Coffee.

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