Color Analysis Explained
I know you want to dive right in to figure out your best colors, but humor me for a moment. There is so much information out there about color analysis. Many have conflicting information. You may have already hit the point of confusion. I’d like you to read this post with a different mindset.
Your goal is not to find your season or your color type. Yes, you WILL determine your color type, but that is not the goal. The goal is to find the color palette that beautifully aligns with your coloring and tone… and knowing what colors to avoid. It’s not about a specific color being in one color palette over another. Color analysis is about knowing that a color is right for YOU.
I have color analyzed women who I have typed as Bright & Warm, but I recommended that they not wear the oranges in the warm color palette because they were TOO warm. You are about to learn how you can define the colors that are perfect for YOU. Isn’t that exciting?!
So, let’s jump in…
Color Analysis Over 40
Why am I so specific about the age? As we get older, our coloring changes. Whether we like it or not, we start to lose pigment. Our hair might go grey. Our skin might get cooler or more grey. Even our eyes can soften as we get older. It is not uncommon for a 50 year old woman, who was once a vibrant red head, have white hair.
Your Color Style was created for you, because you may not fit neatly into a color type. Seasonal color analysis doesn’t really help women who have color combinations that are unique to getting older.
- Brown skin with white hair
- White hair with deep brown eyes
- Ashy blonde hair with bright blue-green eyes
The combinations are endless. My goal is to help you know what colors are in perfect harmony with your natural coloring and tone. It doesn’t matter what “season” you were twenty years ago. We are going to learn what colors flatter you NOW. Maybe they’re the same colors as when you were younger, but if that were true, you wouldn’t be searching for your colors right now.
The fact is, we’re getting older. Instead of fighting it, let’s embrace it. Let’s find colors that add vibrancy and youth to you versus making you look overdone, trying-too-hard, washed out or tired. Who needs that?!
3 Steps: The Your Color Style Methodology
The following chart outlines the Your Color Style color analysis system.
Here are the steps:
- Determine if you are bright or soft
- Determine if you have warm, cool or neutral undertones
- Determine your depth of color
- Get your color palette
- Edit your wardrobe
- Receive tons of compliments 🙂
Lean into this article and pay close attention — I’m about to reveal the EXACT process we use to professionally color analyze our clients of all skin tones…
- Grey hair, silver or white hair
- Combinations of dark eyes and light hair
- Warm features with cool features
- Brown skin
- Olive skintone
… just to name a few.
Let’s begin with…
1: Chroma: Are you bright or soft?
One of the most important things to consider when figuring out what colors look best on you is the chroma of a color and the chroma of you. Chroma is the brightness of a color. It is how bright or muted a color is. Your natural brightness or softness will align with the types of color that flatter you best. We are looking for colors that are in harmony with your natural coloring and tone.
The colors on the left are bright. They are clear in chroma. No white, black or other color has been added to it to change it’s properties. When you think of a standard color wheel with the primary and secondary colors, it is likely showing bright colors. Unaltered, pure versions of a color.
The colors on the right are soft. They are the same HUE or color as the color on the left but they’ve been softened. The saturation is less.
Adding black, white, grey or its complement to a color will soften the color. In the example I’m showing here, the color’s complement was added. This is the color directly opposite the color wheel.
Adding black to a color will darken it and therefore, soften it. Adding white to a color will lighten it and also, soften it.
What does chroma have to do with the colors you wear?
As I’ve mentioned before, our goal is to find colors that are in perfect harmony with your natural coloring and tone. If you have very bright features, then a bright color will look great on you. If you have very soft features, then a soft color will be more in harmony with you.
One of the biggest reasons a color may not look good on you is because you may be wearing the wrong chroma of that color.
“I can’t wear red,” a client once told me. “I have a red sweater, but every time I wear it, I look like a fire engine.”
When I asked to see the sweater, I learned that she was wearing the wrong type of red. Her sweater was a pretty bright red. It was almost a pure chroma. It was very bright. My client’s coloring had a lot of softness and she was fair. This bright red was too strong and overpowering on her. She really needed the softer colors.
When we found a soft red top for her, she glowed.
This happens all the time. The brightness or softness of a color is one of the most important things to consider when understanding if it is going to flatter your natural coloring and tone.
Let’s dive in a little deeper…
You are likely bright if you have bright blue eyes or shiny black hair. You may have white hair or bright coppery red hair. It’s not always obvious if you are bright. Take a look at the examples below and then go through the 6 levels of intensity. This will really help.
Examples of women that wear brighter colors best
You are likely soft if you have soft hazel eyes or a blend of grey in your hair. A combination of warm features with cool features can soften you. A grey quality to your eyes (blue-grey, green-grey) may also indicate that you wear softer colors best.
Examples of women that wear softer colors best
If you’re still not sure if you are soft or bright, all is not lost. It’s not always easy to figure this out. Understanding your intensity and level of contrast can really help you understand if you should be wearing brighter colors or softer colors.
So, let’s learn if you are Bright or Soft based on your level of intensity…
6 Levels of Intensity
Understanding your level of intensity is the signature concept of Your Color Style™. Your level of intensity drives the types of colors you should wear and HOW to wear your colors to enhance your natural beauty.
Bright Level 6
Bright with extremes. Your eyes have a high intensity. They may be sparkly bright blue or very deep and dark.
Your hair is likely deep and shiny. You may fall into this high level of intensity with bright white or silver hair (not grey) but your eyes or your skin must be deep. If you have silver or white hair with bright light eyes, see Bright Level 4.
As a Bright Level 6, you have a high contrast between your skin, eyes and hair. You may have fair skin with deep hair. Bright light eyes with deep hair. Very deep skin with bright whites of the eyes.
Bright Level 5
Bright with depth. Your eyes have a high intensity. They may be sparkly bright and light or very deep and dark.
Your hair has brightness. It may be deep and shiny, silver, bright red/auburn or medium brown.
The greatest difference between a level 5 and level 6 is the contrast. You fit here if you have medium contrast between your skin, eyes and hair. You don’t have the extremes like the level 6.
Would you like to see the color palettes that best suit each level of intensity?
Check out the Bright & Soft Color Guides.
Bright Level 4
Bright and light. Your eyes may describe your eyes as “bright and sparkly” or “light and bright”. Your hair has brightness and will likely be light. You have a low contrast between your eyes, skin and hair.
Soft Level 3
Soft with depth. Your hair is typically dark. Your eyes may be medium to dark brown or a soft hazel. Soft hazel may be a mix of browns, golds and blues or maybe grays, greens and blues.
Your hair is likely dark. You may be a Soft Level 3 with blonde hair but your eyes must be darker. You may also fall into this higher level of intensity with salt and pepper hair but your eyes must be darker (not light). If you have salt and pepper hair or blonde hair with lighter eyes, see Soft Level 2.
As a Soft Level 3, you have a medium contrast between your skin, eyes and hair.
Soft Level 2
Soft and neutral. Your eyes are soft. They may be a soft light hazel or soft grey-blue. You may feel that your eyes are a bright, but the colors in Bright Level 5 and 4 feel way too strong.
Your hair is soft and ashy. It may be ashy brown, dirty blonde or a mix of browns and greys.
The greatest difference between a level 2 and level 3 is the depth. Level 3 has darker hair, where as a Level 2 is more “flat” in contrast.
Would you like to see the color palettes that best suit each level of intensity?
Check out the Bright & Soft Color Guides.
Bright Level 1
Soft and light or soft and grey. Your eyes are light. Your hair is soft and light. You have a low contrast between your eyes, skin and hair. You likely are dominantly grey. If you fall into this category, you should be wearing colors from the BRIGHT color palette. You would consider yourself bright and light. Dark colors will age you and muted colors may drain you.
Which level of intensity are you? Share what you’ve learned in the comments below this post.
2: Undertones: Are you warm, cool or neutral?
Knowing your undertones will help you know what colors to AVOID. Many people believe that if they have warm undertones that they can only wear warm colors. Or, if they have cool undertones, they can only wear cool colors. Nothing could be further from the truth.
This is the bright color wheel. It is the full spectrum of color in the Your Color Style system. There is another one for the soft colors.
All of the colors on the right side of the color wheel are warm colors. These are the colors that someone with warm undertones can wear.
All of the colors on the left side of the color wheel are cool colors. These are the colors that someone with cool undertones can wear.
The colors marked with an asterisk are universal colors. These are the “neutral colors”. They can be worn by either warm or cool individuals.
You likely have WARM undertones if you have…
- Green eyes
- Blue/green eyes
- Golden hazel eyes
- Golden brown eyes
- Golden quality to your skin
- Golden highlights
- You can wear peach well
Below is an image of eye colors that are typical of a person with warm undertones. Notice the golden quality to them.
Note from Jen: Upon further inspection of the image I created above of warm eyes, I don’t think the far left eye that is second from the bottom is a warm eye. That looks like a cool eye. The whites are super white and the skin has a pink quality to it.
You likely have COOL undertones if you have…
- Blue eyes with no variation
- White, silver or grey hair
- Grey in your eyes
- A pink quality to your skin
- A blue cast to your brown skin
- Black eyes
- An absence of warmth
- Olive toned skin
- Golden browns and yellow make you look ill
Below is an image of eye colors that are typical of a person with cool undertones. Notice the lack of warmth in their coloring.
Some people say they are neutral, but I believe that even if you appear neutral you still lean towards warm or cool. It IS possible for a person to wear both sets of warm and cool colors, but typically they will look better in one set over the other.
3: Depth: Are you light, medium or deep?
Hopefully, you have been successful with figuring out Steps 1 and 2. You should know if you are bright or soft. And, you should know if you are warm or cool. If not, then try the quiz to see if it helps.
In the Your Color Style system, there are 4 main color palettes (the links below will take you to the digital color palettes):
Each color palette ranges from light to deep. Not all of these colors will look good on you. Some will be OK, some will either wash you out or overpower you, and some will make you glow. Understanding your depth and how that relates to the colors you can wear will make a HUGE difference. Understanding your level of intensity will help too, so make sure you’ve gone through the section 6 Levels of Intensity.
You are light if you have light eyes, hair and skin. Super bright colors and dark colors will overpower you. You may have blonde, white or grey hair. Your eyes are light. Your skin is fair.
You are medium if you have some depth of color to you. You can tolerate a little darkness in your colors. Too light of colors may wash you out. You may have medium brown/red in your hair… or medium hazel, green or brown eyes… or light/medium brown skin.
You are deep if you have a dark feature. You may have dark eyes, dark hair and/or dark skin. You will be able to wear dark colors very well. Depending on your level of intensity, you may be able to wear light colors well too. Deep individuals can stick to deeper colors if they are unsure of their chroma (bright or soft).
Your Color Type – Putting It All Together
We don’t do seasonal color analysis here at Your Color Style… but I know that you may still want to know what season you are. The color types listed below are not direct matches to the seasons. In fact, I find the seasonal color palettes are extremely limiting. However, I have listed the best relationship to the seasons for your reference.
Bright, Warm and Light
This means you likely have natural golden blonde hair, warm undertones and light blue/green eyes. I bet you look amazing in bright tomato red and turquoise. Download your Bright, Warm & Light Color Palette
In seasonal color analysis, this might be a bright spring or light spring.
Bright, Warm and Medium
This means you likely have natural golden blonde hair, golden brown hair, bright coppery red hair or bright auburn hair. You have warm undertones. Your eyes might be light blue/green eyes, warm hazel, or golden brown. I bet you look amazing in bright tomato red, camel and charcoal grey. Download your Bright, Warm & Medium Color Palette
In seasonal color analysis, this might be a warm spring, light spring or warm autumn.
Bright, Warm and Deep
This means you likely have dark brown hair, deep brown eyes and golden skin. I bet you look amazing in bright tomato red, deep teal and marigold. Download your Bright, Warm & Deep Color Palette
In seasonal color analysis, this might be a warm autumn or deep autumn.
Bright, Cool and Light
This means you likely have fair blonde hair, cool undertones and light blue or gray eyes. I bet you look amazing in bright turquoise and light pink. Download your Bright, Cool & Light Color Palette
In seasonal color analysis, this might be a light summer.
Bright, Cool and Medium
This means you likely have medium brown hair, cool undertones and blue eyes. I bet you look amazing in magenta and summer blue. Download your Bright, Cool & Medium Color Palette
In seasonal color analysis, this might be a cool summer.
Bright, Cool and Deep
This means you likely have dark brown or black hair and cool undertones. You may have blue eyes, bright hazel eyes or deep brown/black eyes. You may have fair skin, olive skin or dark skin. I bet you look amazing in black and bright icy pink. Download your Bright, Cool & Deep Color Palette
In seasonal color analysis, this might be a winter.
Soft, Cool and Light
This means you likely have light ash blonde hair, cool undertones and soft hazel or blue/grey eyes. I bet you look amazing in soft pink and soft mint. Download your Soft, Cool & Light Color Palette
In seasonal color analysis, this might be a soft summer.
Soft, Cool and Medium
This means you likely have medium brown hair, cool undertones and soft hazel or blue/grey eyes. I bet you look amazing in soft wine and teal. Download your Soft, Cool & Medium Color Palette
In seasonal color analysis, this might be a soft summer.
Soft, Cool and Deep
This means you likely have dark brown/black hair, cool undertones and soft hazel, grey-green or blue/grey eyes. I bet you look amazing in soft deep wine and deep grey-green. Download your Soft, Cool & Deep Color Palette
In seasonal color analysis, this might be a soft summer with dark hair.
Soft, Warm and Light
This means you likely have natural golden blonde hair, warm undertones and soft golden hazel eyes. I bet you look amazing in soft tomato red and soft teal. Download your Soft, Warm & Light Color Palette
In seasonal color analysis, this might be a soft autumn with blonde hair.
Soft, Warm and Medium
This means you likely have natural golden brown hair, warm undertones and soft hazel or golden brown eyes. I bet you look amazing in soft tomato red and navy. Download your Soft, Warm & Medium Color Palette
In seasonal color analysis, this might be a soft autumn.
Soft, Warm and Deep
This means you likely have natural golden brown hair, golden blonde hair or dark brown hair. You have warm undertones and soft hazel, deep brown eyes or golden brown eyes. I bet you look amazing in tomato red and charcoal grey. Download your Soft, Warm & Deep Color Palette
In seasonal color analysis, this might be a soft autumn with deep eyes and hair.
Receive Weekly Color Style Tips and Inspiration
Subscribe to the Your Color Style Newsletter
Jen Thoden is a writer, speaker, entrepreneur, runner & mother-of-the-year (not). She is the international best selling author of “That’s My Color: Discover Your 5 Signature Colors To Transform Your Life“. Her mission is to help women transform into happier versions of themselves by being true and authentic. She is the founder of Your Color Style™, a proprietary color system that makes it easy for women to discover their best colors. Jen is the go-to expert on color, confidence and authenticity. Her expertise has been featured in Inc.com, She Knows and Thrive Global. She lives in Ashburn, VA with her husband and 3 kids.