Your main signature colors come from your skin, hair, and eyes. Use these to offset wrong neutrals, add a pinch of brightness where needed, or balance the value contrast of an outfit. These, together, define your aesthetic harmony.
Let’s get started.
Skin blush/lip color
Your lips and cheeks do not contain precisely the same colors. What you’ll find is a range.
Check the inside of your lips right at the pucker spot, nearest to the gum. Find the darkest color there and match it as exactly as possible, taking care to look for nuances of orange, brown, violet, etc. If your sample doesn’t match the nuanced color, it’s not right yet.
When you get that color, find a swatch, a bit of fabric, a color chart, paint chip, an object and write down whatever you want to call that color just so you can refer to it later. That color is the base for your lipsticks. You can go slightly brighter, or darker for your version of “red”lipstick or go very sheer and slightly lighter if you only want a hint of color. If your red is slightly browned, take care not to go too brown, as this can make teeth look yellow. (What I’m giving you here does not apply to dramatic theatrical looks. That will be a decision you make when you get to the personality section).
Next look at cheeks. This will be the color you naturally blush and it will be related to but not exactly the same as your lips. Do the same process and write down your color name. This will be your base color for blush makeup.
Having trouble finding any cheek color? It could be because your overall skin tone is pretty neutral or blended. Try your nose tip instead. That color may also look deeper or brighter in different parts of the body at different temperatures. This was my problem, also, and suggestions of pinching parts of the body (ears, fingers) made me think I must be quite a bit brighter and clearer than I actually was. If that is your option, pinch away, but wait for the deepest and brightest color to settle down, and that will be your version. (I find that the red under my fingernails at room temperature matches the blush of my nose. Previously, wearing the wrong red made my nose stand out. When I matched it correctly, the nose color blended back in to the face.)
- Together, your lip and cheek colors create a range of reds and those are part of your signature colors. Use them for makeup, but also see how bright, dark, light you can go. They should not look obviously separate from you.
If you have a seasonal fan, check that some version of those colors is in it. If it isn’t, you have the wrong seasonal fan. If the fan colors seem right but something still feels heavy or anemic about them, then you likely are darker or lighter than the average person of your season. Use only the shades that relate to your depth of coloring.
You can wear your lip and cheek colors anywhere, anytime. You can also wear blends of them if you like. This is your “red” (even if it looks more orange or violet). You cannot go wrong with it, and it corrects all sorts of things.
The main thing is to find a readily available neutral color that approximates the hair tone from a casual glance across the room. It will become a go-to. This will work for shoes, handbags, belts, and coats. Your own neutrals also tend to correct wrong neutrals when added to those.
Some people have a definite hair color like white, grey, platinum, red, etc. Others have variegated or blended colors. If you have very dark brown to black hair, lucky you because your signature hair color will be pretty easy. You can choose simple black. If your hair is blue-black you might even choose dark navy or the inkiest black.
Most hair neutrals can be tweaked a little, but just remember that special colors can be hard to find. You don’t want to overly complicate things, which is why I recommend black as the easiest option.
If your hair is red — really red — you will want to look at its nuances. Is it a fiery red pretty much to the roots? Or is it a rich, cool red? If the orangey part is caused only by the sun and is not dominant, then look towards the roots for definition. Some redheads will
want to consider colors commonly referred to as oxblood, cordovan, burgundy. They aren’t precisely the same color, and you cannot always tell by the name. Check whether it runs cooler or warmer, deeper or lighter. Other redheads may find a stronger connection to golden tones like cognac, camel, whisky and spicy versions of brown like ginger and cinnamon. Lighter redheads, like golden blondes or golden brownettes may prefer colors closer to golden browns or tans.
Whether the hair is platinum gray, blonde, or white, it may be light enough to work with white or silver. I have seen such women interchange silver and white accessories with great ease. White is more available, in most cases. The point is, such coloring, if it’s very definite, requires a definite looking neutral. But at least it’s an easy choice.
Indefinite Hair Color
This covers a lot of hair questions that go unanswered elsewhere. Your hair might be taffy colored, ash blonde/brown, some shade of grey or taupe, and it might be a blend of colors with ash, gold, red all sprinkled in there. If your hair is just grey, that’s an easy one: wear your shade of grey. If it’s kind of blonde, wear something on the lighter beige side that is as warm or cool as your overall hair color, no more than 2-3 inches from the roots. If it’s on the browner side, do the same as the blondes but go deeper into taupes or browns that are correspondingly warm or cool.
If the hair is a variegated sun-kissed blend, do not wear warm tones just because your hair goes warmer where the sun hits it. First determine what the color would be if you mixed all the colors in a blender. If the roots are definitely ash, go towards the cool taupe and no warmer than neutral toned. Cool blends with sun-kissed gold or red can use those extra colors in smaller amounts away from the face, but they are not go-to signature colors. If you’re sure your indefinite color is warmer up to the roots head for the warmed taupes and beiges.
It’s not possible to cover every hair color here, but the primary thing is to wear your hair color as your main neutral.
I did not mention one other person who can wear black as a neutral. Some with white, grey, blonde, or red hair can also wear it IF they also have very dark brows. You will likely prefer one main neutral if you have several possibilities. The others you can add as you wish.
Anyone can wear a version of grey, though you may not prefer it as your go-to if you don’t actually have grey hair. Grey is the most interesting neutral, in my opinion, because it can be mixed in with other skin, hair, and eye colors to create off-palette receding neutrals that customize your look.
Eyes are incredible. Most social transactions travel through the eyes first. Friendships, business deals, opportunities are mostly won or lost through eye contact. Eyes also have more to do with the harmony of our coloring than their small territory warrants.
Some have called eyes the jewels of the face. I think that is easy to see when people have blue, green, or amber eyes. Brown-eyed people often think their color is boring, but in fact it’s not. Their eyes are every bit as nuanced and individual as other eyes. Superficially, eye color does one of two main things. It either creates a distinct color accent or it notably affects the value contrast of skin, hair, and eyes together. (And often a bit of both.)
Look at your eye color in natural morning daylight. How many colors can you see? Is there one main color, two main colors, a main color with extra colored specks? Note the color of the band around the iris, whether it’s different from the dominant color inside the iris. Is there a dominant color on top of the iris and another, lighter color that seems to emerge from under that? List every color you can see.
Can’t figure out your main color? Colors blending in and out of each other? You may have what was anciently called a glasz eye — usually some mix of blue, green, grey. In that case, stand back from a mirror at what would be a speaking distance. Hold swatches of blues, greens, greys up until you find one that matches the overall blended color of your mid-iris. That will be your dominant color.
Brown eyes? Do they look pretty black with no other colors? You probably have a very deep value overall, and your main color, brown-black, establishes that. These are the eyes of romantic, swashbuckling adventure. Perhaps there is some nuance of violet or navy. If so, try deep versions of those colors — or even grey. Some brown eyes run a little lighter and contain gold, red, fiery orange, or green. These colors can stand in as eye dominants in many brown eyes where they nuance the overall color.
- Whatever your dominant iris color is, that will be the basis of your signature eye color. The addition of your dominant color pulls “iffy” outfits toward your natural balance. You can wear other colors in your eyes, but they will not have the same ability to pull other colors into line as this one.
You can generally wear all the colors of your eyes, though in some cases where they are too warm or cool to wear directly against the face, you can modify them to the appropriate temperature. If a color makes up less than 25 percent of your eye color, you probably don’t need to bother with it as a dominant color (except where I’ve noted for brown eyes above). It will be a secondary color to wear as you please.
If you have a very blended eye color, you may not have strongly marked delineations between all your eye colors. Your secondary colors may be greener, greyer, or bluer versions of your eye dominant, and they may be lighter or deeper. You can wear these as well, though they will not ground you as well as your dominant.
I have blended eyes and often wear my own dominant as a neutral since it’s so similar to denim. If your dominant is any kind of color-color, you can grey it down into a quite believable neutral that will work away from the face.
- If you’ve gotten this far, don’t forget to list your top signature colors (or save visuals of them) and remember that these create your color structure. Save this list for the Style Myst Formula.
If you have different favorite colors from the ones you listed, you can still use them. But you absolutely need these colors in your tool box.