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Soft Summer Cosmetics

I love it when readers send me questions as they apply their Season colours in their real lives. I get a better idea of how I can help, where I can explain better, and it keeps me focused on what you want to know.

A Soft Summer reader recently found the best foundation match she’s ever had. With the foundation, the service matched her with 3 lipsticks. She has kindly agreed to share the foundation colour and sent a photo of the lipsticks with her palette so we can talk about using the palette to choose gorgeous for you makeup.

Because OMG-gorgeous and gorgeous-for-you are not the same. It's on us to tell the difference, and to manage this, I like knowing where reviewers are coming from.

Women want different things from their makeup. As one of the choices to think about, do you prefer makeup that wants to be looked at, or makeup that doesn’t want to be looked at? All answers are correct. My preference is the second one.

I’m also coming from a baseline of natural colour harmony for this reason: it doesn’t need to be explained to us. We already sense it as beautiful, settled, and right. We don't wonder what to take from the choice, like the handbag that doesn’t know quite what it is, the architecture of a house you can’t understand. Nature’s use of colour knows what it is. When you wear it, you know who you are. So does everyone else, as if you come into focus for them.

The video is also here at YouTube.

The foundation

Beginning with what you want to know, the foundation is Clinique’s Even Better CN 52, a medium fair cool neutral. People in the same Season with similar skin darkness often wear similar foundations, if not the same, or can use them as a starting point for shopping. (This is least true in the True and Bright Winter.) Today’s client is Caucasian. How satisfying to find great makeup, it must reassure our root Chakra.

Putting cosmetic colours in a Season

Working with colour, both of us applying it in our lives, learning to see colour for what it is, is a process that never ends. By being around colour, we learn about ourselves.

As a part of that, we might discover our tendency to give darkness too much emphasis, or giving warm-cool too much attention. We often think dark colour is more pigmented than it is (brighter) or with Soft Summer, that the whole Season is darker than it is. But this is Summer. Lightness is one of its general properties. Summer overall is light, cool, and soft.

The podcast at Chrysalis Colour, Episode 25, to be published Mar. 23/21, is about using your seasonal colour palette. You use it for hundreds of purchases and the application is the same, with slight variations depending on the item. Textured fabric for example, has nap, which gives it shadow, giving an impression that the fabric is darker than it is. Shine in textile may give an impression of warmer colour, lighter, or both. In the podcast, we talk about how to work with these to get real information.

Harmonizing makeup is different from fabric because of what makeup has to do (look like skin), where we use it (on to face, next to eyes and hair), using swatches that are smaller than items of apparel.

Begin by matching the swatch fairly well with the lipstick. Because both colours are the similar and small areas, we often stop there, but others see what we wear with all our colours at once, not just the nearest palette match. 

Next, think about, could the lipstick colour fit into the whole strip? Cover the palette swatch if it helps.

If you're still feeling positive about the colour, hide the palette strip with those colours. Here's how I do it:

Anchor the palette's lower strip with your hand. Have the swatch on paper beside it about halfway down, in a 1-2 inch square application. Begin slowly flipping the strips. Look up and down each whole strip, from the light to dark ends. You want to see nice combinations, evenly divided attention, a very sophisticated effect with the neutrals, an overall sensation of better together. When you get to the similar colours in the palette, slow down. Could the swatch slide into the strip?

Palette with 3 lipsticks

Lipsticks, lightest to darkest (right to left): Clinique 04 Subtle, 13 Closer, 28 Mink.

The source for the colour palette is True Colour International.

Lighting may change colours, as does software. Let’s assume the colours are exactly as they appear for each of us, and if what I’m saying seems impossible, our monitors may differ.

The overall image seems warm, probably from the light or phone. iPhones especially seem to warm up images. The strips between colours, and the colours themselves have a light golden reflection. Knowing the strips are white, you can do a mental adjustment, but likely both are being warmed to some degree, meaning if lipstick still looks warmer, it probably is.

The lightest colour looks close and would be better if it's a sheer enough for the lip colour to come through. In the final decision, the woman's natural colouring, current hair colour, preferred cosmetic look, and outfit would have some say, along with possibly the most important, how it looks when she wears it.

The centre one seems warm and earthy (warmed with gold-orange and softened). It feels heavy, losing the water and raincloud sensibility of Summers. For me, this is the colour I feel most doubtful of, but once again, how it looks when she wears it is the deciding factor.

To decide if a colour is too warm, see how it works with the cool side of the Season, just as the warm and cool sides in the palette itself work well with each other.

I’ve said before and will remind us that cosmetics won’t look the same on every woman in a Season; they really must be tried.

For anyone wondering if I'd recommend these lipsticks, the honest answer is, "I'm not sure. I think they're warm. I'd like to see a pinker light coming from the lipsticks (like in the eyeshadows below). Let me give you some tools for deciding."

What the client said regarding these products,

Here are the lipsticks that Clinique recommended as neutrals based on my skin colour foundation Even Better CN 52 medium fair cool neutral. It is the best foundation match I have ever found. When I first decided to try the [lipstick] colours, I thought that they would be too brown, especially the bottom [darkest] one. I wore it last night with a burgundy top and it appeared as a brownish burgundy. 

The colours are from lightest to darkest 04 Subtle, 13 Closer, and 28 Mink.

[These colours] look warmer in the tube than when swatched. The darkest color is definitely a brown burgundy. They are intended to be neutrals so do have some brown, however, surprisingly they seem to work on me. The middle color, Closer,  is really like my lips but slightly darker. I would have said that I had more blue in my lips, but when I apply the Closer, it is surprising the way that it applies on my lips.

The foundation is truly an amazing find. I have never had such a good match. When I put a dab on the back of my hand to apply you can actually see that it is the same undertone without blending it out.

Eyeshadow palette 

Let's continue with our Soft Summer theme and look at the eyeshadow palette with a few landscapes, to focus purely on colour harmony. (The eyeshadow palette is available in the Shop tab on this website.)

I’m currently updating palette images in the Shop, a work in progress as the pandemic continues to impact availability.

With light colours, 


Look at the whole pic before the particular colours. You’re seeing eyeshadows surrounded by shiny black, which may affect your perceptions, as would any background. They might look slightly different on a gray background, or with the colour of skin. Having another image, here the sand, is helpful.

Overall, the sand image is on the warm side of Soft Summer. Holding the palette in front of it, you may recognize a similar pinkish undertone, as well as various colours in the medium and darker strips repeated in the grains. They have something in common and can find a place of understanding. 

Soft Summer has good tolerance for soft warmth, which is what our lipstick client recognized. More warmth would change the picture.

We set our own parameters on any information we receive, to feel it is truly ours. The palette defines the property. Where we put the fences, how close we build to the shoreline, that’s our decision. A candy apple lipstick or camel eyeshadow might be makeup that gets noticed for its own sake, rather than ours.

With medium colours,

Once again, many colours in the palette and image are able to find one another. A few may be a little outside the palette but I can imagine the shell print as a beautiful scarf or blouse beneath the face that wears these eyeshadows. Colours are grounded, yet only earthy in a gentle, cool, chalky way.

 If I were a Soft Summer, I might not put the gold and rust tones as solid colours around my face, or wear them as eyeshadow or hair colour, but if I had gingery hair or soft rust in my eyes, these colours could make lovely details and accents. 

With darker colours,

Here are more colours that live in Soft Summer-coloured people. Not only is the soft pinkish, barely bronzed, wash present, the quality of the light is similar to the other images: soft, cool side, and light. Imagine the scene with Nordic or Ecuadorean light.

The interaction of the image with the palette is similar too, with diffusions and gradients. Our eyes can go back and forth and find reasons for these to be together, why this face would wear this makeup without the need to have it explained.

The red stone's brighter, warmer colours could be Soft Autumn but I enjoyed the shadowed areas with the cool side of Soft Summer. If this were a blouse, I would enjoy the stone detail for being expressive and creative.

With True Summer colours,

We know that natural landscapes make space for more colours than colour charts. The charts give edges to our space.

The eyeshadow colours have a lot in common with the stones, a fine choice with a lot of possibility if it were the only one offered. Which palette colour might you most want to replace? Me, it would be the lightest one. I'd like to try a light dove or gray instead.

How about the orange stone in the image? A personal decision, but my eye has trouble moving around and away from it. When I scroll the image up so the stone disappears, I relax a little.


I’ve pinned this clothing type in current retail for all 12 Seasons recently, here at Pinterest, with a few more items for Soft Summer since that was requested. The 12 BLUEPRINTS Pinterest boards show us colours. Body type information, which takes the lead in choosing your style, may be found in other boards.

One of the surprises for Soft Summer is discovering a world that’s colourful, as colourful as they usually want to wear. 

One way of picturing the brightness ceiling is to try the colour alongside a Winter colour, say white, lemon, sapphire, or fuchsia. The red stone in the Soft Summer pebble image above would come from a different world and would lose its vibrancy and interest in the presence of Winter colour.

When a Soft Summer wears their colours, they and their makeup are so beautifully pigmented that people in the audience have been known to cry. When I ask, "Who needs this item to be more red?", everyone says, “Not me. Leave it. It’s perfect. Let me look at it a little longer."

Life brings us opportunity. We have to do the noticing and the doing parts for ourselves. Nature’s colours are easiest of all, they literally run through our veins. Colour at our fingertips, all we have to do is reach out and touch them.