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Rina Teslica
Writer and expert24 days ago
View Rina Teslica's profile
two models one with olive skin dark hair and eyes, and another with pixie blonde hair, fair skin and blue eyes, shot against a baby pink background

Have you ever wondered why you get multiple compliments throughout the day when you wear a raspberry hued lipstick, but when it's a brick red shade no-one says a thing? Well, you may be wearing hues that aren’t in your colour season... 

Having made a comeback into our consciousness (much like dad trainers and low-hung jeans), colour seasons aren’t a new concept. Making waves in the 1980s with the book Colour Me Beautiful, Carole Jackson taught the beauty industry the importance of understanding your natural colouring and how wearing correct shades can help accentuate your best features. 

Still confused? You won’t be after we go through each colour season palette and explain why you’re a Cool Winter, Light Spring, Deep Autumn or Soft Summer (and that’s just four out of 12 possibilities). It’s time to pick and choose make up that truly suits your skin and ensure those compliments never stop coming... 


Although there are countless TikTok filters and many, many viral videos on the topic of colour theory, the actual analysis is far more advanced. Through a process of comparison and elimination, a colour analysis professional places cloths of varying hues, tones and brightnesses against your bare complexion to determine which colours bring your face to life and which don't. Taking into consideration your eye colour, hair colour and undertone, it eventually puts you into one of four ‘home palettes’ – these are summer, spring, autumn and winter.  


Colour analysis doesn’t end with the four seasons... Although your undertone helps determine your initial colour season, the process then considers the value of the colour. Value is essentially how light or dark the colours fall. For example, high value shades are pastels and greys, while low value are navy and charcoal. 

Next up is the saturation. This is how intense and pure colours are. Muted and soft pigments have lower saturation while those that are bold and vibrant are higher saturation. These then work in tandem with the home season to determine your overall colour palette.  As such, a person will sit warm or cool, light or dark and muted or bright within each colour season. This gives the four home seasons more depth. For example, a person could sit as a bright winter, which means high contrast, bold, cool toned hues suit them best, while someone who is a light spring suits more muted, warm shades. It can get very technical, but for ease we’re going to concentrate on the main four seasons. 



Combining warmth with brightness, a spring colour palette tends to fall on those blessed with warm undertones, light hair and eyes. You can however still have dark features as a spring, but there shouldn't be much contrast within your complexion, strands and eyes 

When choosing make up we suggest opting for hues that fall at the warmest end of the spectrum – colours that contain a yellow undertone and avoid hints of cool blues. We’re talking peachy pinks, warm greens and natural yellows. Being a warm tone also means you can use bronzers 'till your heart’s content (but avoid the burnt orange variety). For lipsticks, peach, coral and muted nudes... and a glossy, satin finish will complement your skin tone better than a bold matte... 



A summer colour palette sits on the cool side with a much lower contrast. Those in this palette typically have fair skin with medium to dark hair and eyes. This is a gentle palette that works best with muted tones. Dusky hues with a grey edge work best. Interestingly, this colour palette should avoid bronzers and stick to cool, grey-toned contouring sticks instead. For blushers and lipsticks, the cooler the tone the better. While overly bright and warm shades won’t complement the skin, shades like soft rose, carmine and baby pink do wonders. As for finishes? We recommend a matte over anything shiny or glossy. 


Rich, glowy and muted is the definition of the autumn colour palette. Placed at the warmest end of the colour season spectrum a person that falls here has distinguishable and vibrant hues in their hair, complexion and eyes.  Think red tresses, green peepers and an olive skin tone. As it’s a warm toned palette, bronzers are this season's BFF. Go for shades that are deep, warm and don’t be afraid to contour and bronze all over. For lips and cheeks go for shades such as oranges, reds, warm pinks and browns — especially if they have a matte finish or a slight golden shimmer — the perfect partner for this colour palette. 


Blending coolness with brightness, the winter colour palette is contrasted, cool and crisp. A person that sits in this colour palette has high definition between their hair, eyes and skin. For example, they’ll have dark strands, a fair complexion and cool, icy coloured eyes. As such, make up can be bright, bold and daring to complement the stark contrast in the natural features. While bronzer isn't recommended, glossy, shimmery highlighters are the ideal alternative. Eyeshadows can be powerfully pigmented and dramatic with cool toned metallics working wonders. For blush, cool toned pinks work great for lighter complexions while purples work beautifully on deeper skin tones. And finally, that raspberry hue of lipstick we’ve mentioned before? That’s winter’s signature shade... 

a dark skinned model with short hair and purple shimmery blush sitting next to a fair skinned model wearing the same shimmery blush both looking at the camera


Still not satisfied? We've got the answers to your most commonly asked questions... 

What is the colour theory of the 12 seasons?

From the original four colour seasons (spring, summer, autumn and winter), each primary season is divided into three sub-categories: true, light and deep for spring and autumn and true, soft and cool for summer and winter. This results in the 12 colour seasons. What these subcategories relate to is the contrast and hue of the colours within that season. A case in point? The comparison between true summer and soft summer... True summer shades are lighter and gentler, while the light summer shades are cooler, muted and slightly darker.  


How do I know if I'm a spring or an autumn?

As both spring and autumn sit on the warm end of the colour spectrum, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish them both. However, a rule of thumb is that autumn is slightly darker and spring slightly lighter. What this means is that typically (but not always) if you have dark hair and eyes, you’re more likely an autumn and if you generally have lighter hair and eyes then you’re a spring.  


What is the least common colour season?

A true summer is the least common colour season. Why? Because it is a 100% cool palette, that’s light in value and muted in contrast. Dominated by greys, blues and pinks it's a feather soft palette that most people don't fall into. For reference, Emily Blunt, Emily DiDonato and Barbara Palvin are all true summers. 

And there you have it, the ultimate rundown to the 80’s trend we’re not so sorry is making a comeback. Now, who’s looking at their make up bags differently... 

Rina Teslica
Writer and expert
View Rina Teslica's profile
Rina is Cult Beauty’s Junior SEO Copywriter and has always had a passion for beauty and skin care (rich moisturisers are her obsession). What started as a love for The Body Shop and their famed Born Lippy lip balms (in ‘Watermelon’ of course!), she is now more interested in finding products with proven effectiveness instead of broken promises. A loud and proud VIEVE fan, Rina owns nearly every item of the range and recommends the brand to anyone who will listen... When she’s not intently reading ingredient lists, you can find her either immersed in multiple true crime podcasts or co-hosting her own parenting one, with an *extra* hot cappuccino in hand.