Matching Colors to Skin Tones

Skin tones can be one of the most important factors in choosing clothing and makeup colors. Fashion magazines may try to dictate colors by season in order to sell an endlessly rotating carousel of styles, but color analysis will tell you that your season-another way of describing skin tone in combination with hair and eye color-is far more important to your individual beauty.

According to the Color Me Beautiful method of determining the best colors for your skin tone, eye color and hair color, your personal color palette can be broken down into four seasons: winter, spring, summer and autumn.

Winter people have black, very dark or cool-toned hair. On the other end of the spectrum, they can also have platinum blonde, very light or cool-toned hair. The winter woman's veins look blue rather than green, and she looks better in silver jewelry than in gold. Pure white is better for her than cream. Her skin is pinkish if light, olive if medium and blue-ish if dark. Winter women's eyes are generally dark brown or bright blue.

Bright, pure, cool colors such as jewel tones suit winter women best. Great colors for winter women are blue-toned reds, cobalt blue, royal blue, true purple, black and pure white. Dark skin tone and high-contrast winters can wear the brightest and darkest of these jewel-tone colors, while lower contrast winters (pale blondes, for example) will want to tone them down a little, but not too much, as winters look terrible in powdered or muddied colors like pastels or heathers. Bright, warm colors such as true orange might work, but winter women will still look better in cool tones. Black, navy blue, red or hot pink look great on almost all winters, while beige, orange and gold make winters look washed out.

Spring women have golden blonde, reddish-brown or auburn hair, along with warm skin tones, which means their veins look green rather than blue. Gold jewelry suits spring women better than silver does, and cream looks better against their skin than pure white. Most spring women have porcelain-colored skin and blue, green or hazel eyes. Springs look great in clear, but warm colors like peach, golden brown, ivory and coral. They should avoid black and white, which are too stark, and muted colors, which clash with their clear, bright coloring.

Summer women have cool skin tones, pale hair and eyes, and low contrast between their skin and hair, which means they look good in cool-toned but muted colors such as soft neutrals and pastels. Examples of colors that look best on summers include powder blue, dusty pink, mauve, lavender, plum and pale yellow. Intense, vivid hues, including black, white or orange, are too harsh for summers.

Autumn women have warm skin tones like peach for light skin tones, golden beige for medium skin tones or golden brown for dark skin tones. Most autumn women have golden brown eyes, and their hair can be golden blonde, reddish or dark brown. Their hair and skin tone have depth and richness, so spicy, gold-toned, earthy colors look best on them. Camel, beige, olive, orange, gold and dark brown are great colors for autumns-think fall foliage and spices. Autumns are also the only people who can wear rich warm grays successfully. Autumns should avoid black, white and most cool colors, which will wash them out.

Asian skin tones and very dark skin tones present a special challenge to the color analyst because they sometimes look better with contrasting rather than matching colors. If you are Asian or have a dark skin tone and are finding it difficult to determine your undertones, do the color test backwards by trying out items first rather than searching futilely for undertones. Try silver jewelry and gold jewelry near your face and see which looks better, and then drape yourself in a pure white sheet versus a cream-colored sheet. If the silver jewelry and pure white look better, you should investigate cool colors, but, if the gold and cream look better, then check out warm colors. If your skin, hair and eyes have a high contrast, like paler skin against darker hair, you'll look better in pure colors. Women whose skin, hair and eye color have less contrast will look better in muted colors.

All of these rules should be used as guidelines and are not set in stone. Paying attention to color seasons will help women of all colors make the most of their own personal style and beauty.

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