The Cheapest Seasonal Color Analysis: All You Need is Better Lighting!


Table of Contents

  1. Color Analysis and Finding Your Season
  2. How do you determine your season on your own? 
  3. Why Lighting Matters 
  4. Draping Colors
  5. What Knowing Your Season Can Do for You
  6. Some Final Tips 


The 2020’s are exhausting, there really is no doubt about that. It feels like we are constantly living through new historical events and walking out of them trying to continue on like it didn’t absolutely traumatize us.  

I think that’s why I’m noticing a new trend in my generation, and the ones that are following our footsteps—we’re romanticizing the little things in an attempt to soften a very hard world. And in an effort to combat the inward struggle, trends are shifting outward. We’re in our Glow Up Era, as the teens would say.  



Color Analysis and Finding Your Season 

One of the biggest trends popping up across social media platforms is the practice of Seasonal Color Analysis, a system that takes our skin tone, natural eye tone, and hair color and uses them to formulate our optimal color palette. It then aligns our natural palette with those based on seasonal color palettes.  

This trend has become so popular in fact, that recently, there are salons and studios who have opened across several countries that exclusively work in color analysis. When I visited South Korea, I went and did a color analysis professionally, and while I’m glad I did, I wish I had known how to do it on my own before shelling out $200.  


How do you determine your season on your own? 

Color matching isn’t a new practice by any means. Does anyone else remember those “what’s your season?” quizzes in Teen Vogue and Tiger Beat Magazines? Just me? (Oh, no, I’ve become old!) 

People around the world have been trying to find their seasons since the fifties, with the theory of color analysis dating all the way back to the 1800s, but with new technology and a wider commotion surrounding the concept lately, I’m happy to say that we’ve come a long way since the pseudo personality color quizzes in magazines. 

Seasonal color analysis is broken up into three main factors: 

  1. Hue: Your hue can either be cool or warm (there are also neutral leaning seasons, but they will still often lean one way slightly). 
  2. Value: Your value is either light or dark. 
  3. Chroma: Muted/soft to bright/clear 



There are about 50 different color analysis filters popping up on Tiktok and Instagram to try and help you figure out your season without spending the money to have a professional stylist match you. The problem with these filters is that you have to know how to use them properly.  

As an example, when I began exploring this trend with Tiktok filters and online tools, I determined that I was a Warm Autumn. However, after getting this done professionally, my stylist informed me that I was actually a Soft Summer, and I had been way off base. When I asked how this could have happened, she essentially explained that it’s all about the lighting we use. 



Why Lighting Matters 

Certain colors of lights can really affect the way that we look, both in person and in photos. While “golden hour” or “blue hour” can give off hues that make a good, artsy Instagram post, you wouldn’t want to use that kind of light to try and determine your season. 

Natural daylight is the best lighting source for a color draping test. It provides the most accurate representation of colors without altering their appearance. Avoid fluorescent or yellow-toned lighting, as these can distort the colors and affect the results.   

That said, if you don’t have adequate natural light pouring into your space, LEDs at the proper color temperature are a great alternative. A "cool" white light (with a higher color temperature) can make colors appear bluer, while a "warm" white light (with a lower color temperature) can make them appear more yellow or orange. Many professionals have a set up including a large mirror, with multiple integrated LED lights to mimic natural daylight, but we’re looking to save money here, so before you go and shell out hundreds of dollars on an LED mirror set, all you truly need are one or two lamps to frame your set up. For the most accurate color analysis, the room's lighting should have a color temperature of around 5000K.  

Need a place to look to find the right LED? Sunco’s BR series of bulbs come in a 5000K color temperature and offer a high output of lumens to provide a close to natural environment for your DIY color analysis.   



Draping Colors 

Color Draping is the most accurate and common way that professionals will determine your color season and you can easily replicate it at home. This is basically the process of overlaying different colored fabrics across your chest and shoulders, just beneath your chin.  To get the best results, you want to use a variety of swatches in different colors, not just from the season you think might look best on you.

Tie your hair back, set up your lamps, and one at a time, hold each fabric swatch close to your face, underneath your chin, and observe the effect it has on your complexion, eyes, and overall appearance. Take note of which colors make your skin look more even and radiant, and which colors make you appear washed out or tired. It’s also a good idea to take photos so that you can compare these to one another, so be sure that your phone or camera is set up in a way that captures the light adequately (most modern smart phones have a “natural light” setting on their camera).




What Knowing Your Season Can Do for You

Discovering your seasonal color can help you hone what colors look best on you and help you discover what new shades you should integrate into your wardrobe.  It also provides clarity on why a certain shade might not work for you. 

Seasonal color analysis is a great place to start with your own personal color palette. Certainly, you can expand it and develop a color palette that is unique to you. However, this information will help guide you on how to choose colors outside your palette as well, by knowing your hues and picking colors with the correct undertones.

As an example, my favorite color is orange, so I tend to gravitate toward it when picking out clothes and makeup. Well, my stylist let me in on a little secret—Orange tones are some of the worst colors when it comes to matching my season and finding something that won’t wash me out or draw attention to the red undertones of my skin. However, with the knowledge of my summer palette, I was able to determine that there are some softer, more muted oranges that would work well paired with some of my seasonal colors. 



Some Final Tips 

  • As you are setting up and taking your photos, make sure you watch your white balance. If you notice that your background is changing, and your light source hasn’t changed, examine your camera settings. Try to make sure that it is not auto focusing on different parts of your backgrounds.  
  • If you need help determining your undertones, some people use this trick: if you tan easily, you have warm undertones. And if you burn or are unable to tan at all, then you most likely have cool undertones. Although, there are always exceptions to this one. 
  • There are 12 different color palettes that you can match to besides just the four seasons, so be sure to take a look at each individual palette before you pigeonhole yourself into something. You can determine more about your season by looking here. 
  • Remember that the charts aren’t always a good tell of your season on their own, but they are great to save for reference. They can help you hone your wardrobe and makeup to perfectly fit your complexion. 
  • Using 5000K Daylight LED bulbs is the best way to mimic natural light and get the best results when you have limited windows in your space.  

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