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What lead to the creation of the 12 Season Color Analysis?

4 Season Color Theory

Color Wheel Johannes Itten

The 4 season color analysis exploded in popularity in the 80’s, largely due to Carole Jackson’s successful book “Color me beautiful”. Jackson’s book was based on the theory of Johannes Itten.

Itten categorized all colors into two sections:

–  WARM <–> COOL

–  LIGHT <–> DARK

This resulted in four harmonized groups of colors, each named after every season of the year. Interesting theory but it doesn’t work for everyone.

There is one fundamental aspect missing in this theory, namely “Chroma” or “Saturation”. The solution to this problem? Munsell’s 3-dimensional color theory.

The color wheel of Munsell

Munsell’s color model demonstrates relationships between full-spectrum hues (color families) as well as tints (value) and shades (chroma). Chroma distinguishes strong, saturated colors from weak grayish ones.

High chroma = rich and clear
Low chroma = dull or muted

Adding “chroma” to the 4 season color theory created a more accurate 12 season color theory (also called flow theory)

How do these values work in the 12 season color theory

1.    HUE defines the color family. Each color is either warm or cool.

2.    VALUE designates the brightness of a color. Colors vary from dark to light.

3.    CHROMA  defines a color’s saturation. True red is fully saturated and clear. Sage is considered a muted blue.

These three aspects of color determine six dominant characteristics:
warm – cool – dark (deep) – light – clear – muted (soft).

Find your season

In a large mirror, with good lighting, study yourself from the shoulders up. Leave your hair down unless it is dyed very differently from its natural color. In this case use a cap to hide your hair color. Wear no makeup. The features to focus on are your hair (if it’s your natural color), eyes and skin tone.

A. Determine your Dominant characteristic

The dominant characteristic is the most obvious trait you see in yourself.

Look for one of these 6 traits:

1. DEEP: Strong, rich, dark coloring. Dark hair and eyes. Skin may or may not be dark.

2. LIGHT: Very light. Light eyes and hair. Usually a natural blonde at some point in their lives.

3. WARM: Yellow based skin color; no blue undertones. Red hair and green or blue eyes are common. Other warm hair colors are found, too.

4. COOL: Blue based skin color; no yellow or golden undertones. Pink or rosy glow on the cheeks. Eyes are most often blue, but gray is common too.

5. CLEAR: Bright, clear colors; no single face feature is muted or dusty. Eyes are often clear and sparkly.

6. MUTED: Soft, dusty colors; nothing bright and overpowering. There is little contrast between the eyes, skin and hair.

B. Determine your Secondary characteristic

Next, you’ll decide if “warmer” or cooler “colors” look best on you. If “Warm” or “Cool” is already your dominant characteristic, decide whether “Clear” or “Muted” colors look best. After finishing these two steps, you will find your “season” in the table below.

DOMINANT  CHARACTERISTIC

SECONDARY  CHARACTERISTIC

 

YOUR
SEASON TYPE

Light

+

Warm

=

Light Spring

Clear

+

Warm

=

Clear Spring

Warm

+

Clear

=

Warm Spring

Light

+

Cool

=

Light Summer

Muted

+

Cool

=

Soft Summer

Cool

+

Muted

=

Cool Summer

Deep

+

Warm

=

Deep Autumn

Muted

+

Warm

=

Soft Autumn

Warm

+

Muted

=

Warm Autumn

Deep

+

Cool

=

Deep Winter

Clear

+

Cool

=

Clear Winter

Cool

+

Clear

=

Cool winter

 

If performing your own color analysis was easy for you, you’re lucky! You can start applying your newly gained wisdom. If you have difficulties or doubts while finding your season, let me help you define your “season”.

14 Responses to 12 Season Color Analysis

  1. Wes Savage says:

    Can you wear colours from a catty-cornered palette? For example, I believe I’m a light summer since I have blonde hair, light skin and blue eyes. Could I wear light spring colours or true winter colours? And what colours should I completely avoid? I’m a guy too, so I don’t know if that would make a difference in anything!

    • Anja says:

      Hi Wes,

      Good question. Since you analyzed yourself as a light summer, I assume that is your color season. In that case, you should be able to wear the light colors from the spring palette as well. Being a light summer means that your primary season is Summer and your sub season is Spring. So you can easily wear the light colors from the light spring palette as well. Be aware though that a Summer needs cool blue-based tones. Besides cool (blue-based), summer colors are delicate, soft and light, as if you add gray to every color.

      Because your season has influences from “Spring” as well, you can also try the light colors of the Spring palette: e.g. powder pink and light gray. It is advisable to not wear black close to your face, it is too harsh for your delicate skin complexion, choose charcoal instead.

      Instead of strong navy blue, choose a navy that is softer and grayer e.g. denim. Also stay away from warm yellow beiges, opt for the rose/pink beiges, those tints are in harmony with your neutral skin undertone.

      Regards,
      Anja

  2. Adaora says:

    Hi, thanks for a great blog. I am trying to figure out which season I am. My skin has a strong yellow undertones. I am of African descent with a caramel brown skin colour, very dark brown eyes and dark brown hair. I guess that would make me a Deep Autumn but I’m confused. Black clothes are very flattering on me but I thought black only flatters Winters. Colours like camel, khaki, ivory, charcoal grey and muted lavender colours are also very flattering on me. Gold jewellery is flattering and so are pearls, but stark silver or diamond jewellery does not look particularly good on me. Any ideas?

    • Anja says:

      Hi Adaora,

      I think you are doing a great job figuring out your season Adaora. I have not seen your pictures but from the information you provided I would also derive that you are a deep Autumn. When you look at the 4-season color theory you are right, Winter would be the only season who can wear “black” successfully. But the beauty of the 12-season color theory is that there can be overlap with the winter season. As a deep autumn you can also wear the dark and saturated colors of the winter since winter is your sub season. So it is not surprising that you also look fab in black. Same is true for the Clear Spring types, since their sub season is Winter (just like deep autumn), they can wear black close to their face as well. Good job Adaora! Hope this brings some clarity.

      kind regards,
      Anja

  3. Margaux says:

    Hello! Great useful website 🙂
    I do have a question: I have trouble determining weither I am a deep autumn or dark winter… I am aware they are very similar but one is cooler and the other one warmer. I have a pretty light neutral complexion, medium brown eyes, dark brown hair that get golden highlights in the summer and also freckles but not in winter. I look good both in silver and gold, makeup artists have always recommended a yellow based foundation as well as lipsticks…I once tried a bright magenta lipstick and it looked absolutely awful on me! also someone told me once I looked good in “soft” colors so with all those informations I am assuming I am a deep autumn flowing into deep winter? Or maybe soft winter?
    I am usually more comfortable in cream than pure white (exept in summer with a tan)
    and I feel like I can wear brighter and paler colors in summer while tanned!
    I know it must be difficult for you without seeing any pictures… but I hope you’ll have an idea!
    Thank you very much and Happy New Year!!! Xx

    • Anja says:

      Hello Margot,

      thank you for your question and for your elaborate explanation of your coloring. I have not seen your pictures of course but everything I read in your description points in the direction of a deep autumn. As a deep Autumn you can wear both silver and gold and it is normal that magenta doesn’t look good on you because from your description I can read that you have a warm complexion. You made a great self diagnose, congratulations!

      Warm regards and Happy New Year to you too!
      Anja

  4. Suzy Giacomelli says:

    Hello, Please can you tell me, which season a lady with very sallow yellow, almost jaundiced looking skin, would fit into. The lady has heart failure and her face looks a bit like the face of someone who has smoked alot, kind of nicotine orange tinged…she has olive eyes and light brown/grey hair and is 70 years of age, Many thanks Suzy

    • Anja says:

      Hi Suzy, from the description that you gave me, it is really hard to say what season the lady you are describing is. Since her eyes are olive colored, this may point in the direction of an “autumn” type. Also since she is 70 years old and her hair is not completely grey yet, that indicates that she is a “warm” season type, meaning either a “spring” or an “autumn” type. Really hard to say without seeing pictures but I hope I pointed you at least in the right direction.

  5. LizT says:

    I had several color typings done in my life. Two said I was a spring, one said I was an autumn. I have auburn hair, ivory skin with freckles and blue eyes. According to Carole Jackson, the blue eyes puts me in the spring camp but…

    * I never looked good in the pale peaches and yellows in the spring palette
    * I find as I age, my skin is getting paler and that autumn colors (with the exception of beige and screaming orange) are more flattering.
    * Do people’s “seasons” change over time? I’m thinking I am a Warm Autumn.

    • Anja says:

      Hi Liz, without having seen any pictures of you, it is hard to say whether you are a spring or an autumn type. But I can confirm that one’s main season doesn’t change with age. What does happen is that our colors tend to become more soft and cool, less vivid and intense. If you maintain your hair color by covering grey hair, this effect will not be so evident. You can also help counter the effects of aging by modifying your makeup a bit. So it can very well be that you are a “warm autumn” type and that you start feeling more comfortable with the colors of the “soft autumn” color palette.

  6. Betty says:

    Very informative, and I do like the way you answered the comment above. Shows you can think laterally outside the box. I have had three analysis done recently and I am not 100 % convinced. All 3 said warm, with 1 Spring, and 2 Autumns. I am in my 50’s, so the top layer of skin, although very pale, seems a little tanned. Never used to be when I was younger as I burn and peel in the sun. I flush red easily, whether from the heat, exertion, etc. I had the pharmacy put on a pink and a yellow based foundation on my face. The pink vanished, whereas the yellow one was still visible to the eye. My veins are so blue, especially on my unexposed body, like my tummy /boobs area. My hairdresser swears I am a neutral on the surface. Here is the part that confuses me: if I have all these cool elements, but have light hazel eyes, plus a red tint in my hair, am I considered to be warm ? Must I accept to be warm and just live with it , or get over it as some might say ?

    • Anja says:

      Hi Betty, thank you very much for your comment. You gave me a lot of information about yourself but all these different aspects that you pointed out can still go both ways. I can’t judge based on the information you gave me. It would be great if you could send me pictures of yourself so that I can analyze you. Hazel color eyes doesn’t necessarily mean that you are a warm season. You are probably not one of the outspoken “warm” or “cool” season, you are most likely a “soft” , a “deep” or a “light” season. So you can still be any main season type derived from the information you provided here. Please consider buying my personal color advice. I really like to help you find your best colors.

  7. carol says:

    Hello!
    Congrats on your blog, it’s amazing!
    I have a question – I have a neutral undertone and very but a yellow TONE (I am not asian, I’m latin, but it is a asian-like yellow, not the normal latin tan). I look amazing in every color of the bright spring chart, EXCEPT yellows and oranges. I doesn’t look sick in those colors, they enhance my eyes, but also enhance my yellow tone. Is it possible to be bright spring and doesn’t look god on yellow and orange?
    (except oranges and yellows, I look better in bright spring colors then bright winter ones).

    Thank you,

    • Anja says:

      Hi Carol,

      It is totally normal that there are some colors (tints/shades) in the bright spring palette that are not your best colors. If you put a group of 10 bright spring women together, you will notice that one color (for example bright golden yellow) will look good on maybe 7 out of the 10. Within the bright spring color palette there are so many options to choose from and every one picks the colors that look best on them. It is a matter of trial and error. But if you stay within your own seasonal palette I am sure you will find the colors that will match with your skin complexion. In your case, try mango or coral instead of orange and just skip lemon yellow and opt for gold instead.

      kind regards,
      Anja

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