Sonja is a Light Summer

Meet my sister. Sonja could never find the common thread between the colours that look best on her. Cool and warm colours both worked sometimes. In certain deep blues, she unsure. She has neither the time or the interest to invest in worrying about her appearance too much. She does not wear makeup and probably never will.

My sister, Sonja.

Clothes that cannot speak the truth about us cost as much as clothes that do. When we communicate accurately about ourselves, it feels surprisingly peaceful to both us and the viewer. As a PCA progresses and we begin to identify the perfect colours, there are two expressions that consistently come into the client’s eyes. One is ease, a complete absence of tension. The other is humour. The eyes look quietly joyful. In men, I see either this inner satisfaction come out, or a more um, predatory ?, expression as, “How YOU doing?”

Summer with a hint of Spring

Within the first 5 drapes, we had established that any dark colour, warm, cool, soft, clear, did not matter, was unflattering. Sonja disappeared. All your eyes could see was the overpoweringly dark drape. Her skin had virtually no colour. It could not compete with the drape. The overall effect was of aging, fatigue, and a weak presence.

We found her skin to be predominantly cool, but needing a little pale yellow light to be well balanced. The Light Summer was right. In 12 Season colour analysis, this is one of the Neutral Seasons, blending a trace of Spring with the Summer base. This is a surprisingly different palette from True Summer, given that the seasons are neighbours. Just as their colours are very different, so are their energies.

These are more cheerful, energetic colours, but no spice market. These are more like Popsicle colours. Warmer and cooler options exist, as for all Neutral Seasons. None of the colours ever gets extremely dark. They are the June Garden Party colours. The summer holiday.

Hokkaido 4.

Think of Princess Diana. A sunnier, more activated personality, but proper nonetheless.  She can still be relied on to behave and contain her reactions. Her soothing voice, understanding manner, and unfailingly decent conduct may cause her to be the sounding board for many a rant and rave that she did nothing to incite.

Her colours do not compete with who Sonja is. They allow us to know her better. She looks relaxed and calm wearing these tones. Light Summer women often shy away from makeup because they have been put in colours that are too bright. Someone got the idea that a pop of colour would liven them up. There are no pops of colour in their natural blueprint, so painting one on their face feels ridiculous. They have been put in eyeshadows that are too earthy, eyeliners that are too dark, and blush that feels silly. They need light,fresh, cool colours, halfway between soft and clear, with a little pale yellow sunlight.


Everyone wants to be a blonde or have blonde highlights. Fully 75% of those highlights were put on heads that should never have them. Light Summer women actually look great as long as it’s not overdone. The colour is like this child’s. The base colour shows through, because a whole head of blonde looks completely flat. The highlight is a cool beige, not very yellow at all.

Prague tchquie.

Sonja adds streaks to her light ash brown hair. She knows that she can go very light, to a light creamy beige. When it shines, it looks almost silvery, very good with the cool skin. A common mistake for these women is to have golden highlights. The yellow in the hair does not calm the skin. It fights with it. It flushes the nose with red and causes the face to look oily or sweaty. Unless Mother Nature gave you that colouring, don’t try to work gold from a bottle. There is no gold in your Colours Book, so don’t wear a hat hair in that colour.

In Sonja’s Words

I hate shopping, primarily because there is too much choice and it boggles my mind. Having the little color book with me is great because it is like I have a personal stylist in my pocket. I whip it out wherever I am and I know that if the color matches, I am safe to buy the item. I actually get compliments on my color choices now.

It also allows me to reduce the amount of clothes in the store that I have to consider. I bypass entire sections if the color is not one of mine and so I can narrow the field. This helps me shop.

Plus, of course, I feel more confident knowing that I will look good. Now, if you could only make me thinner!



Winter’s Jewelry

Seasonal colour analysis is about a whole lot more than what clothes and makeup to buy and not buy.

Colour is as much about feeling than looking. It defines how it feels to be you and how it feels to others to perceive you.

Winter: cool, dark, and icy colours, stillness, and balance.
Winter: cool, dark, and icy colours, stillness, and balance.

Take a True Autumn, whose energy is practical and efficient, unpretentious, truthful, natural, and comfortable. In thick sweaters and layered wools, in their gorgeous earthy colours, with leather belts and boots and functional watches, they look so real and right. Each part of the design enhances every other because they all follow the same harmony.

Take that same True Autumn and dress her in Winter white and black abstract designs, shiny fabrics, and minimalist platinum accessories. Now give her fuchsia lipstick. She looks all wrong. The energies are so conflicting that the person is an ongoing battlefield. The black and white read as bold and dramatic. By comparison, the woman can feel like a brown paper bag with crazy lips. This is not her brand of glamour.

The viewer interprets the picture as ‘feels unpleasant to look’. It feels off, like seeing all the hot colours of an autumn landscape on still frozen ground. There is visual tension instead of visual connection. To the viewer, this feels like effort. Easier to look away.

This piece of jewelry is very in keeping with Winter accessory style. Like its namesake season, Winter feels uncluttered, immobile, and timeless. The piece is silver to represent the absence of heat in the season and the person’s skin tone.

Winter necklace.
A Winter’s necklace.

The shape of the stones is oval. The design is simple and repeating. It does not move or dangle. It is of a substantial size and drama, but uncomplicated. It is not exaggerated but it is noticed.

On any of the 3 Winter seasons in 12 Season analysis, this feeling in jewelry is perfect. When the person repeats those same rules in clothing, accessories, hair, and makeup, the looks is getting reinforced and lifted higher in each element. From the viewer perspective, the fusion is undeniable and compelling. It feels so right and connected that you just want to keep looking.

To the wearer, it feels like the inside and the outside just merged. When your outside and inside are perfect mirrors, the key turns in the lock and the real you steps forward.



Icy Colours and Pastels

Personal Colour Analysis determines the colours that are in perfect harmony with those already in you. Those are  the colours that perfect your skin tone and best define and enhance your overall appearance. We use terms like icy and pastel when we describe light colours. The distinction is most important when you go shopping.

The Winter seasons wear their light shades as icy colours.

The Summers wear their light shades as pastels.

Since this is a Winter/Summer discussion, you can tell that it pertains mostly the cool Seasons. That includes all 3 Winters (Dark, True, Bright) and the 3 Summers (Soft, True, Light). It could be expanded to include the Bright Spring who wears many light colours as icy in the sense of light and pure, but really, these are too warm and too pigmented to be called icy. Similarly, Light Spring, has light and soft colours but they are on the very warm and clear side of what would be called pastel.

What is the difference?


Icy colours are pure. They are not grayed, dulled, or dusty (that’s called a soft colour). They are very clear. Their language feels  formal and quite cold.

Icy colours are also very, very light. On a light/dark scale, they are much closer to white than pastels are. This is why they harmonize best with the Winter palettes, since these have a light-dark range that extends much closer to white than the Summer’s light-dark range. Icy means those colours reflected when ice crystals act as prisms and split white light. Icy colours are cool, crisp, and frosty.



Icy Colours


A pastel is light, but not extremely light. They contain more pigment than icy colours and are grayed or softened. Pastels are gently cool, soothing as watercolours. They are in keeping with the delicacy of Summer, whose mood is peaceful and calm.

Each of the 12 Seasons has an atmosphere all its own. True Summer dressed in their tranquil, conservative pastels are so harmonious that it feels wonderful to look at.

Put True Winter in that outfit and it is flatter than flat. Dressed in an icy Winter colour with one dark contrasting colour, with the drama created by the colour simplicity, it is difficult to tear your eyes away.



Wrong Colours Away From The Face

Whenever people cannot agree about something, it is usually because there must be many right answers. If there were only one right way, everyone would be doing it, not unlike dog ear cleaning methods. With appearance, much of the answer comes down to taste.

Business woman.


The question about wrong colour away from the face most often refers to black. As a general rule, wearing colours that are not in your palette creates conflict. When colours are in conflict, one will win. One will lose.

For any person with very light colouring or very low contrast, black is overpowering. It will win, meaning that in the contest between what is getting noticed, it will be the black. If black in on the top half, it gets noticed more and the person fades back and looks smaller. Even if it’s black mascara, it can look like railroad tracks on a face that doesn’t have black in its native colours. If the black garment is bottom half and gets bigger in our awareness than the rest of the body…let’s just say that I don’t need my bottom half looking any bigger.

I know a heavy set, blond-haired, blue-eyed man. He favors dark shirts and pants, presumably to look thinner. Because his body clothed in black takes over his face, his head seems to shrink by comparison. The illusion of a small head is very weak on a man, about as unflattering as having no chin or jaw. His body appears disproportionately large, even larger than it already is, because the eye is occupied with looking at the body all the time. The black pulls your gaze down from his face.

Business tie.

Cheating in black

Of the 12 Seasons in personal colour analysis, only 4 or 5 can balance black without disappearing in it. The 3 Winters are easy enough, though only the True Winter is automatic. The Dark Autumn and Bright Spring can manage black if they mix it with larger blocks of their better colours.

There are darker True Summers who are Wintery looking, but they do not wear the Winter dark drapes well. The young QE II is an example. They could wear black as pants and shoes, because their hair tones approach black. Their colouring is dramatic enough to balance that same effect in the colour black. They do not do so well in a black top, scoop-neck or not. Black looks too heavy, cold, dense, and solid.

Many of these women have thought of themselves as Winter for so long that they are comfortable in black. Once they see how old and tired they look in the solid colour, they quickly learn to adapt it with sheer fabrics, or by adding their cool roses and incredibly sophisticated neutrals. By softening the black with better colours and feminine details, it becomes a possibility.

Soft Summer is the darkest of the Summer group. They also can manage black, better if they are naturally on the darker side. Charcoal is still the better choice for the face and skin tone.

Better than black

I  agree with the convention that pants and shoes look best in the range of tones of the hair,  not going darker than the darkest tone in the hair. You have many tones in your hair when you study the range from lightest to darkest or warmest to coolest. You still have a lot of choice.

Among the very liberating features of a colour-analyzed wardrobe is the mix and match. Everything works with everything else.  Black gets in the way. Among colours that don’t meet its darkness and coldness, the black takes over. It looks aggressive and big. The rest of the attire, as beautiful and Season-perfect as it may be, will be ignored. Seems a shame. Rather than insisting on black, know your better-than. Charcoal, espresso, silver birch, steel blue, dark green, and many others are available and participate more happily to create a fully functional wardrobe.


Although black is often dominating, many Seasons tolerate a lot of darkness in ‘colour colours’. Navy and gray are especially accommodating. They get along among other Seasons’ colours even if they’re pretty close. They adapt better than black, look more creative, and are more flattering to the skin, hair, and cosmetics.



Warm and Cool and Colour Analysis

This may seem like an obvious question. In fact, it is the least obvious of them all, and very worth thinking about as the foundation for so many decisions in personal design.

The one and only correct answer when presented with a colour, or a face, and asked whether it’s warm, cool, or neutral, is: Compared to what?

Any colour can be made cooler (by adding blue) or warmer (by adding yellow). Even shades that are inherently cool, like blue, can be made warmer.

The primary colours behave a little oddly.

Red is easy. Add yellow or blue, and predictable things happen. You get an orange-red or a purple-red, respectively.

Yellow be made cooler by adding blue, and it turns greenish. A warm yellow is orangey.

Warm and Cool colours.

Blue…. If you warm it as you would another colour, by adding yellow, it turns blue-green. Green is on the cool half of the colour wheel, isn’t it? And yet, blue-green, or teal, often appear among the Warm Season palettes.

If you add red to blue, you get purple-blue. But red is warm, so why don’t we use this to warm up blue instead of yellow? And yet, we usually think of purple as a cooler colour.

It all seems contradictory. The answer is that among a group of otherwise warm colours, the green-blue feels like it belongs better.

And remember, to further confuse things, you can have warm and cool teals and purples.

Warm and Cool Blues.

Here’s a question : Can you make a cool colour cooler? You can only add so much blue to an already blue-based colour. The more blue you add, the darker the color gets. So the answer is yes, to a point, and depending on the darkness of the colour you begin with.

In the 4 Season Colour Analysis system, the warm colours belong to Autumn and Spring. The Cool colours belong to Winter and Summer.

4 Seasons of blue.

The Spring blue is clear, not dusty. It’s pretty light too, like all Spring’s colours.

Summer’s blue is dustier, but still light. I could have made that blue dustier – meaning grayer. So are all Summer’s colours light and grayed a little. They tend to be cool too.

Autumn’s blue got warm. And it got dark. And more soft than pure (we’ll talk about Soft and Clear in an upcoming post).

Winter’s blue is dark and cold and intense.





Colour analysis for private clients is scheduled with great flexibility as it suits our schedules, including holidays and weekends.

Appointments are seen in a private studio in London, Ontario, Canada.

Your best approach is to contact me by email with your interest in having a private PCA session. A 4-6 week minimum advance notice is recommended.

Reach me by e-mail at :

Please do read the page of PCA FAQs. The most commonly asked questions, including cost, duration, and preparation, have been answered there. If you have further questions, I am happy to answer them at the e-mail address above.



Colour Analyzed Cosmetics

When I listen to conversations about beauty, it sounds as if everyone has a different definition of it, one that they’re never really defined even to themselves.

For me, beauty is a feeling best described with words like truth, rest, or peace. The other face feels like distracting, processed, or forced, with effects that could never believably have happened by themselves. The person’s natural colouring just can’t find a home for the colours because they’re so far removed from the woman’s natural pigmentation.  A defined, sophisticated, polished, and still natural beauty comes from taking the colours that you already are and adding more of them.

The best makeup feels invisible. It doesn’t somehow worm its way between us and the viewer or the dialogue we’re having. It enhances the features without needing to be noticed. This so not the same as the trend called Neutral Makeup, which is heavily weighted with beiges and browns. Fine on some, but what if there are not many browns in your natural colouring?

Let’s clarify some terminology. Neutral Makeup can mean a generic, flesh-tone, beige and brown group of shades, like many of the neutral collections makeup companies come out with. Any of these colours probably looks good on someone, but none of them will look perfect on everyone. Any given colour is still only right on certain people, neutral colour or not. Wrong colours will sit on the top of the skin and look like an island of obvious colour. These collections sell well because they feel safer when we are not sure what better colour to wear. The problem is that it looks flat and lifeless on those it’s not meant for.

The other definition of Neutral Makeup has to do with finding YOUR neutrals. That means grays, mauves, or greens for eyes, and pink/peach/purple/red for lips and cheeks. This is the makeup that just becomes part of your face and that others don’t notice before they notice you.

The best makeup  for any face will make use of the native colours. These colours enhance, rejuvenate, brighten, and define, but never look artificial. When the makeup colour is right, it will disappear into your skin. It will fuse with your face believably because the colour is already there.

When you think about it,  our best makeup look is neutral…OUR neutrals! Yours are brown, mine are reds, hers are peach-pink. That’s the magic of colour analysis. We can identify the precise shades that are present in your natural skin coloring and give them to you in a swatch book. Match those shades when you buy makeup and you will never look “made up”.

What if you knew exactly what cosmetic colours would look custom-made for you? No more hit-and-miss or believing wrong advice. No more having 5 tubes of the same shade of lipstick at the bottom of your purse. No more drawer full of makeup to never wear. What if you owned 3 eyeshadows, 2 blush colours, 2 lipsticks, and a gloss, and they looked so perfect that you never stopped at the makeup counter again?  With PCA, this is so easy.

Lipstick should have more colour than nude. If you are 25 or less, with the great lip definition of youth,  wear flesh-toned lip colours. Even at those ages though, the only women who can wear lip colour that is lighter than the skin are on the pages of magazines. Once over 35-ish,  a brighter shade, still from within your palette, looks more youthful. Feature definition is as big, if not bigger, in how we see youth as smooth skin.

Are there makeup colours that everyone can wear?  There may be very neutral grays and champagne beige eyeshadows. That’s about it. Your natural colouring  is your perfect makeup and there are 12 different types. If you wear the wrong shades, it’s like wearing someone else’s size or style of clothes. The effect is disorganized. It doesn’t have the impact that it could.

Are there makeup colours that are shared between Seasons? Sure, yes. Some colours could cover 2 Seasons. Also, cosmetics are harder to predict because they interact with the surface colours and chemistry of the face. Several women of the same Season will prefer different lipsticks.

Visit Sci\ART analyst Darin Wright at Darin is the source for correctly-coloured cosmetics for the 12 Seasons. The quality is outstanding (in fact, this product changed my mind about loose powder makeup). The colours are precisely matched to your Season, whether you are looking for light, dark, gray, or coloured products. I am happy to see that the job of right-coloured cosmetics and easy shopping for women has been done right.



Personal Colour Analysis

What is a Season?

Season is really just another word for group of natural coloring. The term has been around for 50 or 60 years. Many people might remember when people when folks were called Summers, Winters, Autumns, and Springs back in the 1980s.

The idea is as good today as it was back then. It says that we all have a natural colouring. We all contain some version of every colour, blue, red, green and all the others, like a personal rainbow. By choosing from the menu of our inborn colours when we add to our appearance, our clothing colours are ultimately flattering to our skin, hair, and eyes. Our makeup is perfect for our face. Our hair colour is fantastic with our skin colours, as if it happened by itself. Every accessory enhances the natural beauty that exists in every human being.

Four groups were not enough. You can’t divide all human coloring into just four categories. The other problem is that those the full on version of the four Seasons is actually quite rare in the population. Most people are a combination of two of those groups, in the so-called Neutral Seasons.

Why 12 groups of colours? Because that’s about what human eyes can tell apart. It’s quite important to have 12 groups that are all different from one another instead of 12 that flow into one another where it becomes very hard to tell what the boundaries are. 12 is a great number to divide human colouring, all ages and races. Each person is learns easily how to make preferences and adjustments in their group.

Let’s say your inborn colours combine Spring and Summer, as a Light Summer. There’s a technical meaning that defines certain properties about your colours that they all share. That’s what makes the whole group mix and match so well in a wardrobe. On 3 scales, you have a setting that decides how warm or cool your colours are, how light or dark, and how concentrated the pigment is (called saturation or chroma). Everyone of your colors in your whole body, your teeth, your tan, your freckles, your veins sticks to the three settings on those dials for your entire life once you settle into your Season, around the age of 18 to 20.

What is a Personal Colour Analysis (PCA)?

What has improved dramatically since the 1980s are the scientific measurement and classification of colour. We now understand how important the surroundings are to influencing how we see colour. We know that photographs are highly misleading, as are stereotypic ideas like “Brown eyes are Winter.” There’s no way around it, we must be analyzed in person.

A PCA is the measuring of your colours. To know what a colour is, we have to compare it to something calibrated. We use carefully selected drapes, which are coloured fabrics about the size of a bath towel. With special lights, in a gray room, the drapes are just laid across you and a trained analyst interprets the changes that happen in your skin, hair, and eyes. You’ll be able to see this happen. How strongly and unpredictably your skin will react to colour will amaze you.

The analyst will evaluate wide angle effects, such as looking younger, thinner, and healthier. She/he will also evaluate small scale effects on skin texture, eye colour intensity, and many other things.

In a PCA with me or the analysts that I have trained, it takes about 1 – 1.5  hours to complete the testing comparisons and know which of the 12 groups is yours. Next, the analyst will explain your setting on the 3 different scales, show you a book of 60 to 70 colour swatches to shop with, and explain how to use it correctly. Depending on the analyst, she will spend some time on cosmetics, and importantly, discuss with you other concerns you might have had – a more flattering hair colour, going back to your natural hair colour, an upcoming purchase, such as eyeglasses, or occasion, perhaps a wedding or investment suit, and so on.

What Can A PCA Do For Me?

Bottom line: You look better. You shop smarter. You feel better.

When every item you add to your appearance is in exact synchrony with who you already are, the result is a picture that is extremely appealing and highly compelling. Others will notice the harmony of your coordinated appearance. They will not be able to recognize why your look is so real and right, but they will be highly sensitive to seeing it nonetheless.

You will have become an educated consumer, with the knowledge and tools to make selections that are perfect for you. Rarely will you stand in a return line. You’ll use up the makeup you buy. You’ll take control of your hair colour and guide your colourist to the right choice, not the trendy choice.

A feeling of settling and calm begins to emerge. Our clothes tell the world the story of us. When our narrative is honest and genuine, we discover the peace of seeing who we were meant to be all along. The most valuable gift we can give one another is perfect acceptance. When a woman leaves feeling at peace and content with who she is, often for the first time since her teenage years, that’s the best service of all.


You will find answers to the most commonly asked questions about your PCA appointment in the article, PCA FAQs.

Information about training to become a Certified Personal Colour Analyst can be found in the article, The PCA Training Course.


Science, beauty, truth. Transformational results.