Do’s and Dont’s of Matching Lipstick To 12 Season Colour Books


…remember TMIT, The Most Important Thing, for your Season. That aspect of the colour should be the first thing you see. Even if you’re a Light Summer buying red lipstick, the noticeable lightness of the red compared to all the other reds at the counter will help get it right. Your red, once it’s on your face, it will just look red, not red and dark. Light lips look good. Light colour, light colour deposit, light texture, light weight, light shine, light lipliner. Light is good on Light Seasons at every age.

…smear it out on white paper or white paper towel. This works well for colour analysis swatches that are on white backing and partly why I like that presentation better than fabric or plastic disc swatches. This is the only practical way I know to see the nuances of a colour. The same applies to eyeliner, eyeshadow, even mascara. Not foundation though, which is applied on the side of the face and jaw, about 4 colours at a time, assessed in daylight or with full spectrum lighting.

…compare several colours at the same time on the same paper in the same lighting. Colour perception and the 12 Season Personal Colour Analysis (PCA) process itself are based on comparisons. That’s how our eye positions a colour correctly. Especially for foundation, don’t buy on the basis of a single colour test.

…take samples home. Sephora and MAC will sample anything. May cost more but expensive products often have more beautiful pigment quality (though staying power isn’t related to cost). 2 beautiful lipsticks are worth far more than 4 meh ones.

…stay in touch with your analyst. Many of us are forever swatching makeup, hearing from clients about great finds, and keeping extensive and updated lists of great products for you to try. We can save you a lot of time even after your PCA. For you, it’s a frustrated afternoon. For us, it’s a Copy&Paste. We want your colour analysis to work for you and we recognize that you need help getting your Sea(son) legs once you start on your own. If your analyst doesn’t have these lists, Rachel at Truth Is Beauty blog and MarySteele at her Luminosity Color Analysis Page on Facebook have posted them online. Need something warmer than this, redder than that, darker but still in your Season? Ask us! If you want to know, so do other women and we can pass the info around.

…ask cosmetic counter staff for help with lipstick. Don’t get into the Whys and Hows of the Colour Book of swatches. Be very narrow in your question. “Do you have a lipstick in this colour?” They’re often very good at this.

…try many colours from your palette. Neutral Season women, especially those who lean to their warmer or cooler side, may feel better in one set of colours. Even pure Cool Season women have a variety of shades and may find some too purple, too pink, too dark. Dark and Bright Season women should try sheer formulas, especially if they’re not used to a lot of colour. Soft Season women look fabulous and young in naked flesh type colour, either mauvier or brownier.

…have a sense of your best lipstick range. From within your palette, consider setting the darkness and brightness of lipstick to the intensity the eyebrows have on the face. I’ve talked about using the level of hair darkness and brightness as a good guide for about how strong the lip colour should be to look balanced. That can work as often as any rule can, including the eyebrow suggestion, which is about 80% of the time. Next time you’re at a meeting or a family meal, look at all the eyebrows. Not the colour, but the darkness level and the contrast. In about 80% of the 5 Winter blend Seasons, they will be quite dark and contain some black. If they’re wearing their right colours, the eyebrows may seem even more contrasting than in their pyjamas. As pigmentation darkens and saturates, so do the brows. As complexion gets darker, a Winter’s other colours will get much darker faster by comparison with the darkness of the skin, while a Summer blend’s brows (and other colours) often remain only slighter darker than skin. Eyebrows can go in and out of focus during a draping like every other feature as we try to pin down, How light are your lights and how dark are your darks? In right colour, the brows will achieve their best darkness and best definition from the face (but be careful, they also become severe in too dark colour when the rest of the face gets too shadowed.) The eyebrow starts and stops sharply, as so most things Winter, so it looks fine if eyeliner does too. The lips look good at the same level of definition from the face as the brow. It creates a balance between two similarly sized colour blocks that are right on the face, which the hair will not be.

…explore every aspect of your Season. A Bright Winter – dramatic, theatrical, yet delicate enough to appear in a fairy tale. Bright Winter is distinctly lighter and brighter than True Winter. That brightness probably makes them look lighter relative to True Winter than they really are. But it does matter, that sunshine. Winter is a fascination to me in that they have those icy pale colours that can appear as ultimate powder puff innocence on a colouring and person that are quite intense. But in BW, the innocence is genuine and of those baby pale colours, peach is the one I love most. I find it interesting to use cosmetics to express every aspect of what the person/Season is, and all the Springs have this guileless sincerity. Their lightness of colours is important, even though they’re Winters. If BW could find a peachy pink colour with enough clarity and saturation, the contrast needed on the Winterness of the face would appear and yet look as a youthful baby peach lip. At the link, Bagatelle, Magnifique, Pink Teaser look excellent. This is a blog to Bookmark, the photos, dupes, comparisons, and reviews are absolutely outstanding. Springs will love Chanel’s Spring 2012 collection. If you’re a Light Spring looking for blush, again, look to the Beauty Look Book for great photos and comparisons.

…remember the companies that have done the thinking for you. eleablake and Pretty Your World create gorgeous cosmetics custom-coloured for your colour analysis result. If you haven’t tried the blushes for your own colouring from eleablake with a soft diffusing brush, I feel very comfortable saying that you don’t know how good blush can be.



…apply lipstick to your face first. To really be impartial about a colour and decide if it matches the swatches, it can’t come within 4 ft. of your face. Also, clothing colour doesn’t change on your body but cosmetic colour does, adding another level of confusion and distraction. Use the paper, not your arm or hand. Get the decision away from your body.

…assess the colour by looking at the product in the package, the sticker on the tube, the plastic tag under the tube, or the pan. Every product has too many variables of warmth, yellowness, green tinges, shimmer, etc. As you really come to understand your Season, you’ll get more discriminating – and more often disappointed if you just buy from the tube. Every person will see more by smearing the colour out. Keep a pad of unlined paper and a pen in your purse. Get paper towel from the cleaning isle or the Ladies Room if you have to. I’ve done both and haven’t bought a loser lipstick in many months. Dedication pays off!

…apply a cosmetic on its own on an otherwise un-made-up face. All the products together bring in the harmony and the balance. Yes, they balance what’s in the face already but the intensity of chemical pigment will dominate natural pigments. Even in your best colour, it can just look odd or off.

…get discouraged. Analysts understand that matching makeup is the hardest thing, which is why many give you a list to get you started. Some Seasons are much more difficult than others. Some personalities may be more questioning than others. True Summer has a tricky and unexpected palette to begin with, being given to an idealistic personality. The perfectionism of True Winter can get in the way too. Both continue to seek, though with different motivation. Might Autumn, the pragmatist, and Spring, the optimist, be easier to satisfy?

…assume that every colour recommended for a Season will work for you. At the end of all this, you do need to try it on your face, with your hair and your clothes. Be open to the possibility that even after a PCA, you don’t really know what looks good on you for a few months. You have a pretty good idea of what doesn’t suit you. Ask for opinions by finding an honest friend and giving them a choice. Not “Do you like this colour?” Rather “Between these two, which lipstick is better on me?” And expect that once you think you’re onto it, some family member will come along and say “Dear, are you sure you should be wearing that lip colour?” and you feel doubtful and disoriented all over again.

…ask cosmetic counter staff for help with blush and eyeshadow. You can’t be sure that they have a strong concept of colour saturation or the difference between Spring and Autumn warmth.

…give up. Getting anything perfect the first time doesn’t happen. Don’t be letting that keep you at home. This is where less expensive products are a great option. Get to know e.l.f., Palladio (at Sally Beauty), and the many drugstore brands that do let you test. You’ll buy a few duds. And you will have learned something when you figure out what made them duds.

…wear your hair down if the colour is off. Hair colour usually takes a few tries to get right but nothing can get in the way of right cosmetic colour more. Those months while hair is being adjusted can delay or drag out that feeling of reaching a finish line. You’ve come this far, keep going. You’re almost there. Tie hair back in a grey or right-coloured scarf.

…overdarken your hair to get your love of red lips to work. Especially with dark colours, chemical dyes create so much more heaviness of colour deposit than a natural head would have. It’s demanding on the skin to try to balance the hair and the other more intense cosmetics needed. As if constantly trying to be heard over a background din, the skin can look drained and tired. It’s also very demanding of the viewer’s visual processing faculties who have to clear the solid black wall to get to the woman behind/beneath it. If the words unexpected, unique, surprising, and delicate apply to your colouring (Spring), all the sparkle will be sucked into the black hole. Even those Seasons who wear darkness and saturation well, don’t go darker. You’ll overwhelm what your skin tone can pledge as “this is the real me”. By all means, enrich the colour you have or gloss it up.



28 thoughts on “Do’s and Dont’s of Matching Lipstick To 12 Season Colour Books”

  1. Thank you for sharing your expertise with us once again, Christine. I must admit, lipstick shopping is very frustrating for me as a true summer. I work in a very conservative enviroment and would love to find a natural looking lipstick suitable for us true summers. I bought Giorgio Armani Pink 504, but it makes all my red spots evident an looks a bit dramatic. Any suggestion for a “my lips but better” natural look for us? Thanks in advance!

  2. Grace,
    Perhaps Clinique Angel Red is the one you need. Extreme Pink is a cool coral, perhaps good on those with warmer hair. Heartfelt is fine, but a bit too muted.

    Also – re: the Q about Clinique Rose Taffy and Rose Toffee : in Canada, the first is a Light Summer/Light Spring colour, very pretty, with the code DL-T on the tube. Rose Toffee is a Soft Autumn colour, probably too warm for S Summer, very pretty, code BS-P (probably stands for Buttershine).

  3. Revlon’s Carnation is recommended for Light Spring and I love it, its the only one of the recommended Light Spring lipsticks I’ve found so far that work – Mac’s Chatterbox is too warm and strong, and Pink In The Afternoon is also too warm for me, they both kind of sit there where Carnation works well. I’m not good at assessing the quality of colour – is Carnation particularly cool or light? It matches the coolest of the lighter pinks in the fan. Is it crossing over to another season’s list like Light Summer? Or does anyone have any other good ‘cool’ side LSp lipsticks they find good? I’d love ideas for other brands/shades to try to have some variations!

  4. oooh and what season might Max Factor’s English Rose fit? It’s quite a warm and frosty pink that seems to fit spring, the mulberry is very nice too (winter?) and the chilli also looks tempting.

  5. I’d say Colorburst Carnation is cool for a L Sp and worn by many L Su. Do they make another than Colorburst? Clarins Coral Tulip is very good on L Sp but it’s warmer.

  6. Thank you, I’ll hunt that one out! It’s interesting to know the Carnation is one LSu’s find good, an awful lot of the LSp palette is too warm for me.

  7. Hi Christine,

    I’m a Dark Winter looking for a My-lips-but-better sort of brightening lip color for my face.

    I like the look of the Clinique Almost lipsticks, but I’m not sure which ones to try out first. They’re all quite sheer: this blog has swatches of what the different shades are, as do some other beauty blogs. Do you think you could help? I’m thinking either Black Honey, Spicy Honey, Chic Honey, or Flirty Honey, but I’m not sure.

    Also, could you tell me some of the great lipsticks or eyeliners you have in your stash? As a fellow dark Winter, that would really help me out. Thanks!

  8. Amy,
    I’m having trouble really seeing those swatches well and they’re not labeled. None jumps at me. I personally so dislike Black Honey (because it lasts 2 seconds, making it not worth 2 cents to me) that I’m a little biased against.
    My eyeliners: Smashbox Indigo Ink, Bobbi Brown Granite gel, Maybelline Unstoppable Pewter, Cover Girl Vivid Ruby.
    Lips: Givenchy Mystic Pink and Elegant Rouge, Stila Paramour, Lauder Double Wear Ruby, Mauve, Mulberry mixed in any combination with Chanel Glossimer 64 over top, LOreal Infallible gloss Sangria.
    Hope it helps.
    Big lists are posted by MarySteele Lawler on facebook, search Luminosity Color Analysis.

  9. Thanks, Christine, that’s very helpful! I’ll put those on a list and check them out. I love the lip color you’re wearing on your “About” page, by the way – its gorgeous.

    Have you ever tried any of the eyeshadows on Luminosity’s list? I have my eye on Clarins’ Graphites Palette (An ebony liner/definer with a charcoal grey, a silver, and a nude highlighter with an iridescent pink duochrome – not sure if its a pure Winter or Dark Winter kind of thing), and now I’m eagerly looking at the eyeshadows on Luminosity’s list as well – I’m curious about all of them, the Guerlain Rue de Sévres palette in particular. Have you used her list before/found it helpful? I’m sorry for all the questions. I love 12 season color analysis and have gotten a good grasp of picking flattering clothing, but for some reason when it comes to makeup I’m completely lost.

    Thanks for all your help!

  10. Awesome to see what lippies a dark winter colour owns! I’d LOVE to see what shades eyeshadows you wear!

  11. The Luminosity lists are excellent but everyone still has to try products out. My favorite DW eyeshadow is Clinique Totally Neutral. I wish they made each of the 3 in the trio separately. I’ve only seen the Guerlain one online but it does look very good.

  12. I haven’t tried this website yet but it was recommended to me by Lynda Tarantino. I’m thinking of ordering, and I thought it might be useful to someone.

    Based in the UK, it offers 4 seasonal makeup. For those who find loose powder makeup to be messy, these are traditional pressed powders in pans. This particular link is specifically to lipsticks for women who have been analysed to a Sci Art season

  13. Putting this here – sorry – as I can’t access the facebook group in the new format and have always found lipstick names and comments incredibly helpful when reading here in the comments. Newer lipsticks I haven’t seen yet in the usual rec lists by season:
    Chanel Legende seems like it might be a pretty good dupe for Revlon’s Captivate Me gloss, which Christine, I know you’ve suggested for True Summer? Any ideas for Chanel rouge coco shine Effrontee? I’m wondering Light Summer?

  14. Thanks for this, Ellie. These suggestions are indeed appreciated. Captivate Me was a Rimmel product, a good colour for T Su. I’ll have to look up Effrontee. Chanel Coco, Adventure, Boy, Antigone, Rebelle, and Monte Carlo all feel pretty good for L Su.

  15. Effrontee is at the warmest end of L Su. On the women I can think of, like a gorgeous golden pink. I might love it more on a L Sp.

  16. Christine,
    As someone who has yet to discover her season, I was wondering… I recently purchased a cardigan in a color the company named spice, which I suppose is their autumn version of coral. Anyway, when I put this sweater on, it really brings out the color in my lips. Normally i can’t always tell if my natural lips read warm or cool, but the color of the sweater just makes them stand out, almost changes their color to match it, and I’ve never experienced that effect with any other reds or pinks. Would this effect be an indication of my season or does this happen often as part of the draping process?

  17. Certainly, our clothing affects our pigmentation. Only thing is, you have to decide if the change is real or artificial. A warm colour could over-warm the lips or that could be their real colour. In part, that’s what a colour analyst is always deciding: What is the true pigmentation of this person and what is either artificial or a result of unharmonious colour effects on one another. To decide, she looks at other markers in the face. A colour decision is made by observing 5-8-10 features, not just one. The analyst has to decide if the colour worn is capable of having that colour effect (a warm drape can warm but a cool one is not likely to create orange in the lip so it’s probably real) and then she looks at the other features to corroborate or change that decision. When a warm colour like spice gives warm looking lips, that alone wouldn’t necessarily make a decision. Could be the lip colour. Could be the effect of the spice.

  18. I am a relatively new TSp, and am struggling to get used to bright orange lips. I spent years thinking I was some kind of summer. I read your eyebrow rule, and it made me gasp. My eyebrows are a barely visible blonde. Add to that the post-menopausal thinning. How am I supposed to balance clear orange/coral against that?

  19. Joann, perhaps the particular lipstick is too bright for your colouring. Within any Season live many people who share more than they differ in terms of how they react to colour but they don’t all wear the same clothes or cosmetics. Everyone experiments a little to find the best choices for them within the group. Some want a bold presentation, are 25 years old, have darker hair, and green eyes. Others want a natural look, are in their mature years, have silver hair, and have never worn cosmetics. These women will not settle out with identical cosmetic kits. If I were to verbally describe TSp lipstick, I’d use options like peachy citrus, clear sunshine orange,, soft coral, semi sheer, light gold shimmer, and apricot pink, as places to start. The occasional woman wears bright orange but she would test close to Bright Spring. Bright orange can be an artificial pigment to apply to human faces, as many cosmetic pigments are. A pretty coral pink like a tulip may be better for you. If common sense is suggesting that the lipstick is too much, then it probably is. Hopefully your colour analyst can provide some resources or feedback for photos trying a few different colours.
    I’m not sure what my eyebrow rule is (if you can tell me where you read it, I may have to delete it), but brow variation is common in all Seasons. Define them to look real, belonging in the face, and believable with the hair colour – this sums up what I think about eyebrows. Gentle brows sometimes look better with gentler lip colour, but this depends on the woman and the intensity of the eye and hair colours, and what looks right and best for each woman.

  20. I appreciate you taking the time to answer my query. I am playing catch up with old blog posts, trying to learn what I can from them. Most of the lists of recommended lipsticks are obsolete because of the fashion cycle. My “best fit” lipstick from my draping was Ambrosia by Clinique, available from Amazon because the color has been withdrawn. It seems there are few TSp lipsticks to begin with, and they are soon retired. I take my fan into Sephora and try to match what I see. I look for guiding principles to help me. In the blog entry above, I read “From within your palette, consider setting the darkness and brightness of lipstick to the intensity the eyebrows have on the face”. I guess I will have to wait until the fashion wheel turns again and settle for tinted lip balms in the meantime.

  21. Joann, you might want to try Revlon Lip Butters Tutti Frutti and Juicy Papaya, possibly also Peach Parfait, those seem very TSp to me! Lovely colours, and not overly bright. (I have both the first mentioned ones, but they are a bit bright for me – I’m probably an Autumn.)

    And I certainly don’t agree that there are very few TSp lipsticks – often when I think I’ve found a nice warm Autumn-appropriate lipstick, it turns out to be too bright for me ;) (Though yes, it could be BSp as well.) But I guess everyone tends to feel *their* particular season is difficult to find, neglected or ignored in fashion or stores (this I’ve seen in various online groups and forums)! ;)

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