Finding Best Cosmetic Colours for Your Season

The article , Getting More From Your 12 Tone Swatch Book, talked about the most effective way that I know of matching the colours in your palette.

Edit – about the link not working, very sorry, I fixed it twice and it’s working on my machine but nobody else’s. Here is a new link. Also the link to paste into your browser,

Getting More From Your 12-Tone Swatch Book

Terry discovered it. Together, I think we’ve made it into an absolute art form, still recognizing that there may yet be a better way.

Your palette or swatch book is a diagram of the colours in your body separated individually. It’s the board the artist dipped her paintbrush in when she filled in the lines of the sculpture of you. Which is a beautiful concept, IMO.

In the same way that, when I look at you, I don’t see only your eyes or only your mouth, neither do I see only your blues or only your reds. I see everything all at once. Your pinks are not stronger than your greens. When the swatch book is fanned out, no colour is more prominent or more vanishing. Our attention is divided equally.

Looking at a painting with a more prominent colour block – that colour grabs our attention and won’t let go; that block seems to get bigger in our awareness. Black is not slimming on everyone.

Great makeup elevates the composition of your face like it’s been there from the start. Each colour enhances the woman and the rest of the makeup. Wonderful blush intensifies eye colour. Lipstick clears dullness out of skin. Foundation alone should strengthen eye colour. Eyeshadow and lipstick are beautiful together.

When I see you wearing a blouse, I see all of you in that blouse, all the colours in you together with the blouse, hopefully bringing out the best and most in each other. I don’t see only your purples matching the purple of the blouse. Trying to match a blue blouse to one blue dot or square of the swatch book will make a less-than-best choice most of the time.

For one thing, our eyes are not that good at matching colours from single, small samples. Our brains are not good at all at recalling colour accurately. We think we’re good at both but the fact is, we’re not.

Besides, we have many more colours than what’s in those books. iPods came along so you didn’t have to carry around 30,000 CDs. Until we get you the iPod version of your palette, you need a way to figure out all those other colours that either didn’t fit into the swatch book for lack of space or would have looked too similar to other colours to tell apart.

Secondly, the Season concept is holistic. It’s all of you at the same time. Not the blues in this shirt on Tuesday and the reds in your lips on Saturday. All the colours in your swatch book are together for a reason. The Reason for the Season is You.

The reason is your DNA. Applying colour theory to the measurement of human colouring results in 65 connected colours, just as your blues and your reds are strongly united in you by genetic inheritance. What begins our genes and the pigments they code, carries through until we’re dressed and painted.  As the visual manifestation of our DNA, we send out energy signals that others translate as beauty and harmony.

When you match a blouse to your swatch book, match the whole swatch book. That’s how we’re going to be looking at you in the shirt. Lay the open book on the shirt. Does one drain energy? Are they even? The  matching article linked at the beginnning outlines the rest.

The lipstick below next to the swatch book. How does it feel? Because that’s exactly how it’s going to feel on the face that contains those colours.

Cosmetic match 1


Cosmetics, like clothes, should be matched to the entire palette. Our eyes can’t match single swatches to cosmetics accurately. Between any 2 or 3 Seasons, there may be colours that appear similar if viewed individually.

They’re not similar when comparing the entire Seasons. If I transplanted a peachy orange from a Bright Winter swatch book into a Light Spring book, where there are many peachy pinks, I guarantee you’d see it. It would be the only thing you’d see, in the Light Spring book and on the Light Spring face.

Matching makeup to the whole palette works for eyeliner, mascara, bronzer, anything. I think it’s easier than matching clothing. It’s not just me, student analysts pick it up very fast and can place any cosmetic colour within a single Season. In our last analyst training course, a student had swatched one of those “lipsticks that match every woman”. We found that it matched nobody.

Smear or draw a fairly thick application on white paper in about a 2×2 inch area. Use more than you’d ever apply to the face. If a colour is right, it will belong perfectly on the face.

Hold the swatch book alongside the makeup. Anchor the bottom page with one hand. With the other hand, flip through book slowly, opening it up enough that you can see all the swatches. Watch from the side.

Cosmetic match 2


Do the makeup and swatches have your attention equally?

Are you looking at one more? If  yes, you will be IRL too.

Go even slower when you come to the most similar shades. Do they belong together? Are they truly beautiful, surprisingly so, even inspiring somehow, making you want to pause and look a little longer?

In analyst training situations, we are learning to place a colour in one Season so that analysts can recommend beautiful makeup to their clients. As always always always in colour analysis, you never cancel one till you have a Better-than. Once you think you have the best choice, be sure you’ve compared it to its neighbour Seasons. A colour analyst is always comparing. As Terry has said, “Compare everything to everything.”

The matching images in this article are all with Bright Winter. To make your decisions, you’d have to try Bright Spring for sure. And then you’d say, “Fine, but I don’t own a Bright Spring swatch book.” You don’t really have to unless you’re a colour analyst. If you’re a Bright Winter woman, you only have to decide if you would wear this lipstick, not who would wear it better. I do believe that owning the swatch books for one’s neighbour Seasons can be very valuable, just to have something to compare with.

Whether the identical colour is there or not is irrelevant, as it is with matching clothing, as it is with my drapes. That’s paying attention to the wrong thing. Back up. Bird’s eye view. Telescope not microscope. How does the whole thing look as one composition?

Cosmetic Match 3


This is Cover Girl 415 Siren with a Bright Winter swatch book (original Sci/ART). Here’s my read of this colour for this type of natural colouring:

  • Feels fine. This woman (the swatch book) could wear this colour nicely.
  • The pigment purity is good. The lipstick doesn’t look faded or dingy on this face. The dots are not overwhelming the lipstick. Neither are the dots looking weaker, where the only thing we’d see is the lipstick on this face.
  • The lipstick is a bit warmer (yellower) than the dots but that’s not necessarily bad. The type of heat is consistent with this palette. It’s pretty good with the center red dot. I like the blues with this lipstick. (The colours in these photos have been adjusted slightly.)
  • I would like this lip colour with these colour elements in a print.
  • The swatch book reads a trace redder. If the lipstick looks too pink, the addition of some red would improve it, especially if the woman is on the cool side of this colouring group.

Rachel, a recent student whom you’ll meet formally very soon, noticed recently at this line of lipstick holds its colour and saturation when swatched extremely well. Many brands fade and become truly muted. Do they do that on a face? I’m not sure but I’d bet yes to some extent. Another thing to make note of when you swatch on paper, especially if you’re a high saturation Season, and especially a Bright where colour purity is paramount. Does the colour look the same in 3 hours as when you first drew it?

Notice the PinIt button in the lower photo. My new obsession. If anyone uses the button, please do LMK if it doesn’t work. I’m just figuring this out.

My excellent web support, Rick, is adding a detail showing latest Pins in the right sidebar.

If you have a look at the Seasons And Styles board, you can see items chosen  for their colouring and receive direction from Rachel about which sculptures (Style Types) wear the designs most beautifully. Feel free to ask questions. You can be as impressed with how very smart and knowledgeable Rachel is as I am.



9 thoughts on “Finding Best Cosmetic Colours for Your Season”

  1. There’s even more now to love an enjoy on 12 Blueprints. I’m so glad Rachel is doing this.

  2. The link to the article didn’t work. I also enjoyed Rachel’s input on how the clothing relates to the Kibbe types very much. But I love vintage clothing (am probably a SSu) and I’m not sure I agree that a hat requires modern clothing. I think that with the right vintage outfit–maybe not such dark colors as were in that suit–a vintage hat could be charming and not make one look like a “church lady” or “the Queen.”

  3. Thank you, Pat and Melissa. In Rachel, I saw a woman of unlimited potential and possibility. I’m glad that she’s doing this too :)

    Melissa – thanks about the link, fixed it. I’m working at learning the lines and also seeing fashion through Rachel’s most elegant and discerning eye. I had never thought about hats the way she expressed it either. Now, I’m looking for photos of that. If you find some, can you link them here or just email them or put them on the fb page? I really enjoy hats but feel lost about what goes under them. Maybe you have to be British. Hey, I bet we’d find some examples of modern clothing + hat in Diana photos.

  4. I admit, I do have an aesthetic, like everyone else, but I don’t like vintage head to toe, typically. It depends, some vintage pieces could be from any time, but for me it’s the exception rather than the rule. There is a huge difference between an actual vintage 30s tea gown with a vintage cloche and a modern rendition of a 30s tea gown with a modern cloche. A third option is a rendition of each piece made in 1985. The former to me is a costume and only looks good on people under 25, who basically don’t look older no matter what they wear. The second outfit is workable on more people, best on a summer who looks most normal referencing the past, but depends which period. The 1985 version makes everyone in the room cringe subconsciously. I posted an image of a woman sitting at a cafe in a hat that exemplifies the all-made-now way of putting together a vintage aesthetic. It requires artistry, though. I still think the most fool proof way to wear a hat in a way that’s chic and doesn’t bring up is to just have the outfit itself be relatively simple (your type’s kind of simple) and not particularly vintage inspired. If you’re the kind of woman who can flawlessly execute the all vintage look, you probably don’t need much help, but I think more people who would seek my information on how to wear a hat just want to try it with a lower barrier to entry. Sorry for the kind of rambling reply, hope it’s helpful.

  5. The link to the Seasons and Styles board does not seem to be working.

    Just a general comment on hats… I love the look of them and I wish they were more in fashion today, meaning I wish that more women wore them as they did in the 1940s, for example. I think that a woman wearing a hat today is going to stand out no matter if the hat’s style and color perfectly suit her because the sight of a woman in a hat is not that common to us.

  6. Great article, as usual! Would you reveal the name of the lipstick for everyone that worked for no one that was mentioned in the blog. I want to make sure I am not tempted to buy it. Thanks!

  7. Christine, thank you a lot for the article! Is is very interesting and useful as usual. I’ll try to use your method in practice. If it possible I’d like to share my some problem as a soft summer with lipstick choosing. Perhaps, you have the SSu clients with the same problems too.
    I keep in mind the most important thing for SSu as you taught us – muted, unsaturated colour.. I finally understood that the satin textures in lipsticks with a bit shining are good for me. The matte and saturated cream are worse than previous ones. On the other hand many sheers textures are invisible on me.. (may be they have not good color for me, I am not sure..).
    But the main difficulty in choosing lipstick – is that the most of SSu lipsticks (that are presented in SSu recommendations from FB pages and mentioned in your blog) look too bluish on me… (and thus they seemed as unnatural and not so harmonious).
    Dior Londres, Clinique Super Strawberry, Bobbi Brown Blue Raspberry, etc – all these ones show blue-mauve pigment..
    The only lipsticks suiting me are Bobbi Brown Rose Petal and Pale Plum (last one is limited version some years ago). That is all..
    I’ve tried Italian Rose – not bad, I’d say it is a bit warmer. I think I can use it as thin layer, otherwise in more than layer my face is getting has slight heavy skin with no freshness.
    I’d not want to believe that these two lipsticks are the only ones that I can wear.
    What ways I should look for trying other versions? I’d like to investigate my range of colours on lips according to my relative hue, brightness, darkness..
    I wasted much time and money for buying unsuitable products and feel a bit tired, I don’t really know what I should find now.
    Do you have the same situations with clients?

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