Some suggestions for people with light colouring

posted in: Colour Analysis | 27

Last week I gave some information on how to choose colours that work well with deep colouring. And then Ceci wrote that she would look terrible in the deep shades with her “pale pinky skin, grey/khaki hair, pale hazel eyes”. I have never met Ceci, although I always love her comments, and I have no idea what her primary colour direction is – even if she is not deep she could be muted, bright, warm or cool as well as lighter. I myself am predominantly cool, but I have light as my secondary or tertiary direction.

Although I have some light features in my look my primary colour direction is cool. But I have noticed that when I wear lighter colours I get better feedback. For example my “best nine” Instagram pictures last year were predominantly of light outfits. White, very light grey, pink, and a few splashes of colour on a white background seem to appeal to people who just click through lots of photos on a daily basis. The picture of our kitchen and my fabric cabinet are also a little on the lighter side.

So how do you know if your colouring is light? You are pale skinned with light hair – usually blondish or light red. Your eyes are probably blue or green and your eyebrows are not very evident. And you will probably have been avoiding black and very dark shades instinctively realising they make you look even paler, “washed out”, not very well, or “drained”.

If you have light colouring I would keep your hair its natural shade – blonde and light red are really the most wonderful shades and really sparkle in the sun. Don’t colour your hair darker. If your hair is going grey I suggest you embrace it – there is something quite stunning about silvery, light grey hair. Also don’t wear heavy make up – the old adage of just wearing eye make up or lipstick can work well for lighter looks. I always think Tilda Swindon does light eyes well, avoiding mascara, liner and even eye shadow. The basic idea, with natural beauty, is to celebrate the way you are. If you have light skin then don’t cover it with foundation, fake tan or bronzer. Just let it be, or use a little blusher that looks like you do when you blush or exercise.I  find her look very beautiful and intriguing – the lovely, cool pink lipstick looks vibrant and strong, compared to her overall soft look – providing impact and contrast, but still with great delicacy.

So what advice would I give people who have very little colour in their eyes, hair and skin? Keep the colours you wear light! This does not mean wearing head to toe pastels which is way too sickly for most people. But look for colours that are diluted and a little ethereal. The grey-blue Tilda is wearing seems to be a sand washed silk that echoes the grey-blue of her eyes. This is her “black” – a light navy or a faded blue grey. Here are some shades that work well on a person with light colouring:

These colours do look a bit sickly sweet all put together – like sugared almonds – but on the right person any one of these could look stunning. A light brown summer dress with white polka dots, or a fitted mauve sheath dress with tan sandals, for example. It is not necessary or even ideal to wear light colours head to toe – I often combine them with medium or deeper colours – for example a light yellow jacket with a white shirt and navy skirt. I am also very partial to a light coloured jacket – stone, light beige, cream or very light grey all look professional but appropriate on people with light blonde, red or light grey hair. Excuse the large numbers of photos of me in a work context. Which looks better – the darker or the lighter choices?

27 Responses

  1. Deb

    This is interesting. Does the colour range change as we age? What would the dark eyes and hair colour range look like as the hair begins to grey?

    • Michele

      I’d say yes, I have found that I’ve had to change colours and tones in my make up and clothes to reflect the change in my colouring.

    • fabrickated

      Often people with deep colouring have deep grey hair, although white hairs do lighten their naturally dark hair. Their skin may loose some of its youthful flush and the colour that comes from circulating blood. But the melanin level is unlikely to change. Fundamentally you are unlikely to go from dark to light as you age. If you are light already you may go lighter but you won’t go muted if you are bright or vice versa.

      Everyone’s colour palette includes some deeper and lighter shades. So a deep person will have say black and white in his or her palette, and some brighter pastels. However if you are say an African person with lots of grey in your hair you may like to choose some of your lighter shades eg bright blue rather than navy, or orange rather than burgundy. It’s a nuance rather than a completely different palette.

      I hope this helps Michele and Deb.

      • Michele

        Yes it does thanks Kate and realised I should have said different tone rather than colour. Something I did forget to say was I did have to change the colour of my hair as I’ve become older too (partly I had forgot that until I was reading this page again this evening and since being menopausal has made a difference too).

  2. Sew Ruthie

    I agree the lighter looks better!
    Hopefully you have ‘Muted’ or ‘Soft’ planned in your series as well.
    I’d be interested in that because you may recall you draped me as ‘Muted’ and slightly warm (in Sep 2015) and I’ve allowed the white to start coming through my medium brown hair. However much of the advice for the ‘Soft’ people is angled towards those with light hair and mine isn’t really as the white is only a tiny percentage. I have been incorporating medium dark fabrics with a fine light stripe or textured weave with some lighter threads and that seems to sit well.

    • fabrickated

      Well I didn’t but maybe I will now Ruth! I have met quite a few deep-muted and muted-deep people over the years – my daughter in law for example is actually muted, like you, but her colouring is quite deep with black hair and dark brown eyes.

  3. Michele

    I think that the darker colours make you look older and draining. The other range makes your skin brighter and radiant.

  4. Anne

    I like your hair shorter too.
    My hair is grey – my children used to refer to it as ‘disco silver’. Sometimes I like it, other times I’m almost tempted to dye it or do something as I feel it can make me look old and drained. (I won’t dye it though) Its length and the colour of my clothes are crucial.

    • fabrickated

      I am pretty sure you are a bright-cool or vice versa Anne, but would have to do a consultation to be sure. I think disco silver is exactly the right description of your hair. I agree that hair length and style can make a big difference – I always chose a young “cutting edge” hair dresser and give her or him the authority to chose a suitable, modern style. The colour and style of clothes is also important. Personally I don’t believe in “age appropriate” as much as wearing what suits your shape, lifestyle and personality.

      • Michele

        I find ‘…..chose a cutting edge hair dresser’ interesting…… could I ask how do you do that? I’ve been trying to decide what to do with mine as it’s not doing me any favours. I do go every month to for a root tint and cut….I’m not ready for grey yet (partly like demented fairy it’s not an even colour). My hairdresser is lovely but not very imaginative. I do need someone to understand my hair, me and what I’m prepared to do with it and my capabilities, i.e. I really need a good style. That is a good cut ? lol.

        So do you just find someone you think will do the job on occasion, go to the same salon?

  5. Stephanie

    I always enjoy these colour posts. I have been wondering myself if I should be adjusting the depth of my colours as I go more and more grey. (I also have horrible under eye circles!) I love Tilda Swinton’s look. So striking.

    • Stephanie

      When I say “also” I mean in addition to grey hair and not that you have them! Aging is very interesting and as you know I prefer a natural look. I think a lot can be done with clothing colour palette. You do look great in the lighter shades.

  6. Elaine Sabin-Simpson

    Interesting, but not good choices for this pale, blue eyed, drab-haired creature. If I don’t colour my hair, it’s now a very draining grey-mouse colour. If I had the glorious white or silver of my mum, my wife, or you yourself, I’d love it. Colouring it blonde works better. I have switched from gold tones to beige since menopause though, and shifted my eye shadow colours more neutrally in general. My lipsticks still are, and always have been, rose shades.
    No makeup? Eeek. I always get solicitous comments asking if I need to lie down if I don’t wear makeup- I often used this to my advantage when at school, by wiping off any paint, I could guarantee an afternoon reading in the sickroom!
    I don’t use strong coloured foundations, a clear ivory is always best, and I no longer wear blusher, but I have to wear lippy and full eye slap to look barely human. I very much admire the stunning Tilda, but then, she is a true beauty, and can go bare faced with impunity. I have no discernible features other than my beaky conk without paint!
    And no pastels. Ever. No no no. I do look good in white though, apparently. And black. I think I’m just weird!

    • fabrickated

      I would love to work out your ideal palette Elaine – but we have never met IRL and I can’t begin to guess as hair colour and make up obviously cover up the natural beauty which I insist is there in everyone. I can see Dawn looks amazing with her natural look and I am pretty sure you are naturally beautiful too. But sometimes the unnatural hair colour means you have to add colour in the form of make up in order to balance it. I think you suit blonde hair and look young and vibrant, but there maybe an even better solution. When I dyed my hair I matched my colours to my hair which was actually a bit of a clash with my skin and eyes. It was only when I got them all coordinating/harmonising that I think I finally looked my best. This surpasses age, weight etc (which many people obsess about) – the natural colour palette of each human is – to my mind – one of the most beautiful things about them. Even hair or flower petals losing colour and fading a little is beautiful – think of rose petals slowly drying out.

      • Elaine Sabin-Simpson

        Oh I’d love that too, it would be fun [although I still doubt it would change the colours I gravitate towards, cos I’m a stubborn old cynic lol]
        I’ve always worn makeup, from the age of 14 on, for the reasons quoted above, long before I started colouring my hair. My hair gradually shifted away from its natural blonde shades after I had kids, and became more mousey, very boring. Since then, it’s been every colour imaginable bar black, and I’ve even worn black wigs to good effect.
        When my hair goes a nice and even grey, no more dye…but as it seems to be following my dad’s greying pattern, not my mum’s, that’s not likely to be till I’m about 75!
        My skin tone has changed, and I’ve muted the gold tones now as I said, which is softer, and kinder. I still get way more positive feedback, IRL and in pics, when I wear vibrant colours. Interesting isn’t it? Old-school colour analysis would peg me as ‘Winter’ I think.
        Natural beauty is fine…for other people, I do better with support!

  7. Hari

    Tilda Swindon is a unique goddess and chameleon who looks incredible in a diverse range of looks and colours. I must admit I love her best in rich jewel tones and simple yet striking designs. Even in dense black she glows. It would be very unfair to compare us lesser mortals with her.

  8. Abbey

    These posts are always so interesting to me! I agree that the lighter shades look best on you in the sample photos. And what a difference a new hairstyle makes: wow!! Your hair is lovely when long, but the shorter cut really creates an entirely different “mood” to your style and features–I love it even more after seeing how different it is to your previous length.

    I struggle with knowing what colors are “right” for me, since my hair is very obviously artificial/not natural to me. At this point, I just wear whatever colors I like best, regardless of whether they are “flattering” or not! I tend to be drawn to bold colors and patterns and avoid pastels like the plague. I will say that I think my hair has actually opened up possibilities for me to get away with colors that wouldn’t “work” well with my natural color, and I’m really enjoying that. =)

    • fabrickated

      Thank you Abbey! You have a very dramatic look (white blonde fringe on a deep purply red bob for those who don’t know your lovely blog yet). You are young, very slim and beautiful and don’t necessarily want the most harmonious look – you have a dramatic style that means you would wish to stand out/rebel. You play in a band and wear loud statement clothes (as well as some ordinary stuff too). Colour (and style) analysis, in my view, is always useful in that you know what the underlying situation is, even if you then break the rules (which I do myself fairly frequently).

  9. Lindsay

    Well, this is an eye opener (sans mascara). I am at the begining of a declutter and minamalist approach to my wardrobe and I will take your suggestions onboard. I see what you mean re lighter colours on yourself.
    I have to agree with Hari. Tilda Swinton and I, although never seen in the same room, are incomparable.

  10. Michelle

    Another fascinating post, and comments.

    Tilda Swinton looks fabulously pale and ethereal.

    I had also thought that going grey would change the colour range but I can see from your explanation that that’s not the case. I used to have mid/dark brown hair (with green hazel eyes and very dark permenant shadows underneath), and was far more confident with strong dark colours than I am now (perhaps youth has something to do with that!). I’m quite happy to accept my greying hair but it’s not at all uniform – very light directly around my face but still quite dark further back; sadly no lovely silver here, more like steel. It hadn’t occurred to me that fair and dark hair goes grey differently, but of course that makes sense, and I also hadn’t considered the effects of aging on skin tone either. However, I’m now reasonably sure I’m not a Light, but as quite a few dark colours seem to drain me, I’m not sure how deep my colouring is. But it is such an interesting topic.

    And I agree that the lighter outfits look better, and a short haircut is the best.

  11. Annie

    I’m late to this party, as others have said, you do look livelier in lighter shades. You suit your hairstyle in the last photo best but tbh you can carry off long hair very well too. I sort faces into ‘bears’ softly defined or ‘foxes’ well defined also one must take into account jawlines necks when choosing the most fitting hairstyle. Those lucky enough to have taut features suit most styles.

    I’m from Irish stock pale skinned, once vivid (now faded) freckles and dark hair Iirc when I had my colours done years ago I was an autumn although I have learnt what colours like me and stick to those, although I will keep trying out mustard and really I can’t tell if it’s hit or miss, which suggests it’s a no no.

  12. ceci

    Thank you for this very interesting discussion! I’m going to go look at my fabric collection and add a summer top or 3 in a cool pale color!


  13. Ellen Miller

    In the Olden Days we used to talk about “what season were you?” So the post about deep colors would have been classified as a Fall or Winter, and the lighter colors would be Spring or Summer. If you can wear black and white with pops of color that means you’re a Winter. Black deadens me, but brown, maroon, dark green are great on me, making me a Fall. Summer people look great in pastels and Springs blossom in bright colors. In the seasonal coding, Kate is a Summer. (Kate mentions the seasonal color theory in July 2014 post.)
    Color Me Beautiful by Carole Jackson c. 1987, is the book that explained this theory in great detail.

  14. Linda galante

    Fascinating post. I think the light colors compliment your coloring to my eye. I am fair skinned as well and used to think intense shades worked best for me, but now find that the light colors are better. They seem to ‘reflect’ light that brightens the tone of my skin and makes me feel good. And that’s what it’s all about isn’t it? To wear what makes us feel good…

  15. Hélène

    Pale shades certainly look best on you. Same goes for Tilda Swindon. Have you seen her in a movie called The Big Splash? Some scenes refer to her pop singer career when she was sporting black hair and it looks really aweful on her. She is meant to be pale! I like that you suggest to embrace your own look. I think this is the key.

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