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Bright Winter Makeup FAQs

Jorunn Hernes (Nordic Simplicity) and I recently posted a 3-minute video on LinkedIn (Take the Guesswork Out of Buying Colour), with colours relating to Soft Summer.

The most recent short video is Look Better Tomorrow: Bright Winter, here at LinkedIn, along with an expansion of Business Casual for Bright Winter, here at Nordic Simplicity. The questions that follow came from a variety of Bright Winter clients who have lived with the Season long enough to aspire to the next level of looking phenomenal.

Bright Winter is the group of natural colouring that combines Winter colour qualities (cool, bright, dark) with a smaller amount of Spring colour properties (warm, bright, light).


> Why is it called Bright?

Because it receives the colour dimension of brightness from both parent Seasons, which turns that setting up to high. The two other settings float around the middle range, with

> warmth set to neutral to cool

>and darkness set to wide, white to black, with a lighter overall effect, Winter’s version of a sunny day.

The settings apply to every colour in the person and palette of Bright Winter colouring.

For a great impression:

  • Brightness is the first ingredient to looking terrific.
  • Winter coolness, yes; and the warm side speaks volumes.
  • Winter darkness spans white to black; how they use it matters more.

I don't know the history behind Bright. Clear is another term you hear, also from before my time as a colour analyst. Both may be as descriptive and misleading as any label.

Bright and Clear refer to pure colour. The opposite is soft or muted, as in dusty or cloudy. Notes on a soft to bright scale might be, from low to high: sage and avocado > pear and clover > emerald and parakeet.

Photo by Freja Saurbrey on Unsplash.
 (The black and turquoise give meaning to one another and inspiration to the image. "I see the beauty, hear the story, and understand the meaning." Would half as much black balance the turquoise? a quarter? Would white work as well?)

> Nothing about this palette or the personality speak to me.  I identify with soft, relaxed, semi structured, natural, and easy going. I like cashmere and cotton. I want to embrace the colours as I saw first-hand what they did for my eyes and hair, but it feels so incongruent with me as a person.

Ignore the personality thing. Put it on a shelf, you won’t be needing it. Once you’ve lived here awhile, you may want to reflect on it again and if you never do, you wouldn’t lose anything.

Soft, unstructured, and easy-going may describe a clothing or fabric style that would suit you well. You said it yourself actually with ‘semi-structured’, which describes a shape rather than an property of colour.

Your colours are one thing. Your lines are another. The same words could apply to either or neither. You could have soft colours in dramatic shapes, or bright colour in relaxed shapes. If you don’t have this information about yourself yet, your colour analyst can connect you with how to acquire it.

Image left: Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash
Image right: Florian Klauer on Unsplash.
(Left side, colours are bright and light (Winter), and shapes are relaxed. Right side, colours are soft and light (Summer), and shapes are structured. Would switching the backgrounds look as good or mean as much?)

> Does everything have to be shiny? Bright Winter seems so cold and artificial.

Heck no. Shiny textiles are rare, at least, where and how Canada lives, and the rest of the world looks much the same. Any Season’s colours can be rendered in most any textile.

Fabrics are shiny in the Testing fabrics, called drapes, to allow the analyst to distinguish the Seasons. The Testing drape colours are planned to consider your colours from many angles and points of view. One angle is to use an extreme that a Season supports well that the others don’t. Bright Winter manages high shine and saturation together because both create effects the colour analyst is looking for, whether the client is Bright Winter or not.

“Well, yes, in cotton, the colours are nice. And OK, the raspberry in silk is drop dead gorgeous. The blues are terrific.”

Right. Plus, they may be normal, intense, bold, or neon relative to what you’re used to seeing yourself wearing or when another Season wears them. Give yourself time, especially if you’ve been wearing a softer Season, which is the eleven others.

The effect can be bright in combinations with other bright colours. Softer Seasons wear several colours together and it looks good, easy, like Nature’s variations when she uses colour nuance, compared to single colour blocks. Spring people wear many colours together and look normal as long as they stay in their palette, because they’re already colourful by Nature. Winters are neither of those. They have their own way of wearing colour well.

Learning the warm side of the Season is most helpful to remove the 'cold' effect, with an upcoming blog post to help you with that. The 'artificial' part only looks that way on people in other Seasons. 

> Why have other analysts thought I’m some kind of intense Autumn? Could I be a Dark Autumn? I look awful in True Autumn.

You might be, I could only know from in-person testing, but Dark Autumns rarely say that True Autumn was their worst colours. It’s usually quite decent.

I have an impression that Autumn was a brighter palette years ago. Previous analysts may have seen that True Autumn wasn’t right, but something worked, hence qualifiers like Bright, Bronze, Burnished, and so on. When I see a few of the outfits from those days, they look more like Bright Something, but that’s maybe five images.

PCA systems each have their methods, like any industry. Expect agreements and conflicts, or advice that sounds like conflict, but when you see the suggested products, it was agreement all along. If you feel curious and relaxed, have a PCA in a few systems, it’s educational.

I wouldn’t be concerned with the labels. Like foundation makeup, pay attention to the colour more than the words.

> Would the warmth of Dark Winter be more comfortable?

The temperature of Bright and Dark Winter is the same, neutral to cool. Most Bright Winters look better in True Winter than Dark Winter, depending on how the visual effects are prioritized. There's a lot more to identifying Season than shadows.

Dark Winter is the Winter Season with a bit of Autumn, making colours softer, with more visible gray. Combining Autumn softness with Winter brightness, the result is a touch of log cabin effect in the jewel tones, easier to see in the olive and burgundy than sapphire and purple.

> Can I tell my Season by trying makeup?

The question then becomes, “Is this how it’s supposed to look?”

How do you recognize the endpoint, let alone your version?

I don’t know myself, but here are a few suggestions to narrow it down:

Given a few choices, which are definitely out? Compare at least 3; 6 is better. Look for the definite worst and keep eliminating.

Look at a shoulders-up image of neutral gray clothing and scarf if hair is dyed, makeup, and natural hair. What makes colour harmony happen is other colours. To say something, attractive or not, colours need other colours. Words need other words for language to have meaning and plants need other plants. Otherwise, it’s a monoculture, which Nature doesn’t tend to do.  Winter is a monoculture in the sense of one colour plus neutrals, therefore less ‘natural’ in everyday landscapes. We feel they've been manufactured somehow, which gives colours a synthetic flavour that looks normal, real, and right on Bright Winter people. 

Don’t look at a close-up. Others don’t look at us that way and there’s a loss of context. As a foreign substance, makeup texture can separate in a close-up or be more noticeable than from a social distance. Since nothing is seen equally from 2 inches, 2 feet, and 2 yards away, apply makeup with the event in mind.

By request, the script for the video is above, available to read. More ideas after the video. 

The video is also here on YouTube.

Look at side by side images, not halves of a face. The closer colours are in space, the more they affect one another and how we see them.

It's easy to wonder how many degrees of imperfection are too many. In Winter palettes, the difference between colours is big. Neutral eye makeup (in your Season) goes with everything, leaving women uncertain about blush and lipstick. How similar should they be? If one is warm and the other cool, at this pigment intensity, pink blush with red lips or coral blush with purple lips will be visible, so how far apart is too far? Decide your own preference and do what artists do. Adjust pigments to work for the painting. Adjust opacity/transparency. Ask someone who knows your comfort zone how your makeup looks without leading them to what you want to know. Others often don't notice what distracts us and they can bring our attention to something we didn't see.

Many colours improve with a touch more red, or darkness, or avoiding lipsticks that are more intense than any human.  Juliet lipgloss (Bright Winter collection under the Shop tab) is terrific alone or with other colours. Look to True Winter for Winter-compatible reds, a bit of darkness, and a trace of softness relative to Bright Winter.

 To bring blush closer to the lip colour, you might use lipstick as blush or add a touch of red to blush with a colour, like True Winter’s Crystal Apple, a great effect with Bright Winter’s Enchantment, both in the Shop on this website. Fast Track with Enchantment seems too blue to me, without the sugarplum effect I want, but that might be proportions. Crystal Apple has the clarity to improve Enchantment in the same way that a swirl of Blue Fuchsia improves Watered Silk blush for True Summer. (Blue Fuchsia with Enchantment is too soft.)

> How do I recognize the sweet spot of color temperature and lightness in lipstick Looking for lipsticks still feels very hit or miss. I look for the brighter lipsticks in the makeup aisle, and often I end up with a pink lipstick that's actually too light, or a fuchsia that's too purple, or a red that's too orange.

I have the same problem. That’s because great colour balance is rare. Intense colour is not.

In this Season of pure pigment, fine tuning between colours, often sensitive or reactive skin chemistry, and wide human diversity, you see static with the finest turn of the dial. For Bright Winter, you could have a lip colour for each woman.

Take a shortcut and cook it up yourself. You’d only need two or three products. Mixing pigments gives a gorgeous dimensionality as light penetrates and reflects from the layers. Own a few lipsticks and glosses and play your way to the colour in your mind. I use colours from the same or immediate neighbour Seasons, meaning Bright Winter, sometimes True Winter, and rarely Bright Spring. 

Look at yourself the way you look at others. Big picture. Aim for lips that balance eyes. Look in the eyes and think about whether you’re happy that lipstick is there. Do you wish you could cool it or dial it down? Same as, if you wonder about your hair colour, don’t look right at it unless you want others to do the same. Look at your face while you think about your hair.

Decide how you want to look. If you were in charge of helping people look their absolute best, how would you send your Bright Winters into the world? Of the many answers, pick yours. What we see online is often an extreme, either taken at the end of a colour analysis or a photo of a woman very comfortable with makeup.  If the issue is getting used to something new, try a lighter application, fewer products, and adding sheerness to lip colour.

I understand and respect the fine lines between new learning, change in self-perception, and instability of how much influence to give others. Look at pictures of yourself, take a free-hand approach and new things, and six months from now, compare the pictures.

See yourself like a stranger who has no relationship with you. A woman on the bus, in the restaurant, or whatever occasion you’re dressing for.

If you wear black, look at a few pictures without. Black can be a lot for Bright Winter unless you look at it the way colour analysts do, and liquid eyeliner can be too geometric for many faces. For makeup, black adds a level of difficulty, especially if it’s eyeliner, which is intense, opaque, adjacent to eyes, and has a plastic quality.  As the dominant colour in a waist-up composition, there’s a tendency to relate the colours we’re evaluating to the black area rather than to the person. Black may be part of the final look so you’d look at those pictures too, but I’d get a better read without it. Mascara within normal limits would be fine, whereas false lashes might tip too much attention their way. An eyeliner option for your lipstick test is to apply a little dark eyeshadow between lashes to balance lipstick. A softer liquid eyeliner effect is to start with dark shadow between lashes, then smudging the liner on your hand before applying to control how much is in the brush; aim for short strokes and run them together. 

> Will you be bringing in more Bright Winter lip colours?

Bright Winter is the one Season where perfect lip colour straight out of the tube isn't what usually happens, but the fix is one step away: add Juliet lipgloss. Both Violet Cerise and Scintillate improve. Simple clear gloss improves every lipstick for Bright Seasons. The Bright Winter face wearing intensely coloured waxy textures with a dry reflectivity is grateful for moisture, shine, and transparency.

 In Winter, steps between colours are big and colours are intense, plus red evokes emotion. The collection would need ten sweet spots for warmth and ten more for preference. In the same way that I don’t see the advantage of adding more Seasons, preferring to educate women on how to know what matters and adjust the rest, I also don’t see the point of 30 lipstick options. There’s more benefit from becoming the artist of your own face that you can adapt for occasions and over the years.

> I'm always surprised when cosmetic colours look normal on my face. Are there limits past which even a Bright Winter would look heavily made up?  I'm getting used to how wearable Scintillate lipstick looks, even though it looked Barbie when I opened it. With the purple or teal accent eyeshadows, would it be too much or blend in and look like no big deal?

Too much according to whom, for which woman and occasion, in which part of the world? Back to the woman on a bus. If you saw you at the event, how would you react? What would you change? This is incredibly hard to do, I can't do it myself. The point is to keep asking, looking, and reaching.

Bright Winter may have a brighter effect if several colours appear together, but that’s not Winter’s way. Winter’s look is to use larger, quiet backdrops of solids neutrals, with one icy or bright colour. That’s how Nature uses these colours, in humans too, and therefore how they look right and normal to us. When we deviate from Nature, costume and cartoon associations drift in.

In some places, women would feel self-conscious, or be made to feel that way, usually by other women who are passive-aggressively annoyed that you know how to use colour. They’re mad at you for looking happy and beautiful. If you’re sensitive to people, this may influence your choices, and that’s OK. In other places, you wouldn't buy bread without glamour and evening glamour would be expected to be higher.

Bright plus warm can look brighter than it is (why Autumn and Spring can seem brighter than they are). Try cooling the colour one degree; the Bright Winter dial is tuned so tight that 1.5 degrees may look blue. 

Wearing colour is like wearing a smile. Fine without, better with. 

I love colour and find people look amazing and hypnotizingly good when they wear it, but there are always limits. Soft colour can be too soft even for a Soft Season to look superb, though the item might work in a composition. 

My hat goes off to you for trying colour and knowing that the perfect first draft does not exist. You’re learning with each step you take. Confidence comes from proving things to ourselves, not to others. Owning ourselves and having control over our power are the best rewards. 


> I find these to be really versatile eyeshadow colors, but as grays, how do I tell Summer from Winter? How would I recognize clear taupes or clear greys, especially when muted refers to both Summer and grayed colour?

I had the same question. Clear gray, clean grey, muted gray, what again? I needed another way to look at this.

A place to start for Winters is gray with no other colour visible, or so little that if you had to re-colour the gray, you’d hesitate. Say, aluminum, steel, or lead, what colour would they be if you added the pigment back in?  They give me a metallic impression, even in fabric, even in matte or textured fabric.

 I accepted the artistic convention of the less saturated the colours, the more colour in the neutrals, and vice versa. The more saturated the colours, the less the neutrals. I wish I knew why it’s this way, I’ve asked artists and searched in books and online, and I still don’t know. It looks much better though, and achieves a sort of balance the brain needs to feel settled and satisfied.

It’s how Nature manages colour harmony, which we accept as beauty, since our visual system evolved with it. My eyes appreciate charcoal with red better than khaki and red. As one metric, you want your attention divided evenly.

See how the neutral works with black and white. Even if you end up with another Winter’s neutrals, it may be plenty good enough. Look at whole outfits and combinations rather than a single colour, as with lips and hair.

When the accuracy you want is high, and Winters do, and we all do around eyes, eyeballing colour falls down. It must be compared. I gather a few possible colours, swatch them on paper, and compare them to one another. I look for what could slide into the neutral strips of the palette and what looks terrific with the other colours, the eye colours, and the blush/lipstick, since that’s what sits next to our eye makeup.

The Neutrals Sets (in the Shop on this site) are useful for more than clothing. They unlock levels of understanding and progress. I couldn’t buy neutrals either till I shopped with the fabric. Solved the problem instantly and it has stayed solved for everything I buy, including eyeshadow and metals. Once I saw the grays in fabric, I understood how the colours work together regardless of the product and improved at eyeballing it. Still wouldn’t buy neutral colours without comparison.


A note from a reader,

The makeup arrived in great shape and the colors look really good on! I'm always shocked at how the Bright Winter colors look in real life. I worry about putting them on, but then they really do look normal once I get them on. I appreciate that you make cosmetics, because it's hard to make those selections at the store on my own. I usually end up buying true winter makeup thinking it looks timeless and sophisticated, and then I end up giving it to my True Winter mom. I'm really glad I did a draping, because I don't think I ever would have tried on these colors in a do-it-yourself attempt.