12 Seasons Color Analysis Overview

Thanks to Carole’s Jackson bestseller “Color Me Beautiful” the 4 season color analysis exploded in popularity in the 80s. Based on that system, you could be either warm or cool, or light or dark. While this works for some people, truth is most people (particularly darker ethnicities that ended up always being Winters) need more nuance on their coloring than that.

And this is how the 12 season color analysis system was born.

Munsell’s dimensional color theory added a third dimension to color analysis: Saturation, or Chroma.

In 12 seasons color analysis you can have muted colors, or rich and clear colors based on the saturation or chroma, or the intensity of the pure pigment. Adding this third axis to the warm/cool and light/dark dimensions created a more complex and nuanced system that is more accurate for real people.

12 Seasons Color Analysis Seasons

An individual wanting to be color analysed in the 12 seasons color analysis system needs to be evaluated based on three things:

  • Hue: Does this person suit cooler or warmer colors? – Warm/Cool
  • Value: Does this person suit bright colors or darker colors? (mixed with white or black) – Light/Dark
  • Chroma: Does this person has high contrast, and suits truly saturated colors (like bright, pure yellow) or greyed out pastels? / Clear/Soft

Based on this you can belong to one of the 12 seasons:

You may be wondering about some of the missing combinations, for example a muted spring or a higher contrast summer. There are reasons both in favour and against Spring/Autumn and Winter/Summer blends, and other systems such as the 16 seasons system try to make room for them. However, they don’t really exist in any of the mainstream 12 season color analysis systems.

12 Season Color Analysis Systems

There are several different 12 season color systems, and they have different methodologies. While in theory you would get the same results on different systems, the palettes are different and you may suit one more than others. At the end of the day, it is unlikely that one system claims a person is a Bright Spring, and in some other system she is analysed as a Soft Summer. However, there is no hard numbers that would allow you to evaluate a person coloring, so at the end of the day two analysis may disagree.

Sci/Art Color Analysis

This school of color analysis claims to be closely based in the Munsell 3-dimensional color system. It was developed in 2000 by the late Kathryn Kalisz, and tries to make the process as systematic as possible. The goal is to remove the consultant opinions from the mix, and use specially color coded drapes to compare the effects they have on the client’s skin. Sci\ART™ analysts work in a colour neutral environment, use full spectrum lighting and cover themselves in grey clothes to make sure the only thing affecting the client’s skin is the drapes. It ignores typical preconceptions about eye and hair color and goes only by how the skin reacts to the drapes.

There is still a part of skill on the consultant’s ability to understand color and how the skin reacts to the different colors. It is not something a computer could do! But it’s considerably more systematic than other systems that work by elimination based on the client’s skin, eye and hair color. Often in-person color analysis is the only way sci/art consultants will evaluate somebody’s seasonal type.

Dominant Characteristic Seasonal Color Analysis

This is the most popular DIY and online color analysis system, and for many people it will give as good results as Sci/Art. However, if you are a particularly complex case (like a blue eyed dark autumn) you may feel you have been mistyped.

This system looks first for a dominant characteristic, then a secondary one. This can be very subjective, and particularly difficult for darker skintones (they would all be Dark at first glance). So it’s important to keep ethnicity in mind: are you Dark for somebody of your ethnicity, or just compared with a pale caucasian person?

First look for one of the following traits:

  • Deep: Dark hair and eyes, strong rich and dark coloring
  • Light: Light hair and eyes, usually natural blondes as a child
  • Warm: No blue or pink undertones, hair is warm and eyes are warm
  • Cool: No yellow or golden undertones on skin, pink blush, gray or blue eyes
  • Clear: Sparkly clear eyes, glass like skin, high contrast between skin, hair and eyes
  • Muted: Soft and dusky colors, no facial feature stands out. Hair is usually a mousy or gentle color

Then look for the second Most Important Thing in terms of coloring. Do you need Warm or Cool colors? Do you suit high contrast or muted best? At this point is often useful to use some clothes to compare colors. For example, a Light primary that suits peach and warm pink colors over blue will most likely be a Light Warm (Light Spring).

DOMINANT  SECONDARY     YOUR SEASON 
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

You can also use lipsticks to discard or confirm your seasonal color analysis intuition.

Online 12 Seasons Color Analysis From Pictures

Some consultants, particularly in the sci/art color analysis system, are stringent that the only possible result comes from an in-person analysis on a grey room under neutral light. Others are more relaxed and claim to be able to seasonally type a client based on good pictures taken in the right kind of light. Both sides are probably correct:

  • A good consultant will be able to seasonally type you even if they need to use pictures.
  • A bad consultant will get your season wrong even in the most controlled environment in person.

It is best to go with somebody you can see a portfolio of happy clients. Most importantly, those happy clients need to be wearing the right colors. If you feel that the portfolio images don’t look right, and you disagree with the portfolio clients of a particular analyst, you won’t be happy with your own analysis. There is always a certain amount of subjective opinion and two analysis can disagree about your season.

There is no much use in paying for an online color analysis that requires you to wear loads of makeup to look good. You can probably change your season if you wear enough makeup and change your hair color, but the point is to make life easier. You want to find your seasonal colors so you can work with your natural colors in an easy manner, not have to work harder and wear a full face of makeup every day. It may be cheaper, but if you think you are a complex case or are very unsure you will most likely benefit from an in-person analysis.

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