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making faces :: a winter tale

so this is it. we've reached the final season in our colour year. so far we've looked at spring, with its heart of citrus yellow, summer and its symphony of cool blues and autumn with its spicy bronzes and golds. and i'm still not sure i've found a good place to rest my face. i've chosen seasonal winners in each category, but are they really me?

it's a bit of a rhetorical question, of course, because i already had an inkling that my precocious childhood self might have been onto something when she declared herself a "winter". not that she knew what she was talking about, of course, but sometimes even fools say the right thing without meaning to. even a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day. [unless you're in europe and use a twenty-four hour clock, which actually makes a lot more sense.]

as with all the other seasons, winter is divided into three parts, the true winter at the centre, flanked by neighbours who carry a hint of the adjacent season- fall and winter respectively. they're all essentially part of winter, though, which carries with it a few key considerations. and it's those considerations that lead me to believe that my best palette might be found among the final three options we look at. i'll enumerate them, in case it helps you select or eliminate the season for yourself.

1. saturation. nowhere is the saturation level higher than for the winter season. this is particularly true of bright winters, for whom no colour is too intense. winter light is weaker during the days and the dark part of the nights are at their longest. if you think about how colours look at night, they are less easily distinguished. the saturation can be turned way up without looking like it's too much. colours that look shocking on others will be restrained on someone who has winter colouring. this is definitely something i've experienced.

you would expect that colours would appear brighter and bolder against my skin because i'm pale. you would be wrong. i remember seeing the puzzled faces of experienced makeup artists when i was blonde and therefore pale in all aspects when i'd try on a bold lip colour. logic dictated that it should be too much, but it wasn't. soft, more pastel shades that should have worked completely disappeared. there is something in my complexion that simply dampens most colours, as if they were being seen at night.

2. contrast. winters are distinguished by their ability to wear the lightest and darkest extremes- white and black are perfectly suited to them and they actually benefit from having both at once. what looks stark, heavy or squared on anyone else will snap into place on the right person. the flip side is that a lack of contrast has a tendency to make the person look withered. for my part, i notice that looks i've tried in this series that haven't worked are ones i've had success with in the past simply by including dark, sharp eye liner.

it's another theoretical conundrum: dark liners are understood to shrink the eye, but on me, the opposite is true. you can peruse the looks i've done for this series to see what i mean: my eyes look smaller when there's less of a defined border around them. they benefit immensely from contrast and definition. softer colours of liner barely show on me at all.

i'm not eliminating other possibilities here, of course. remember, i went around for years wearing the palette of a soft summer, convinced that whatever i wore had to be muted because my colour didn't allow for brights. as it turns out, that might have been one of the worse choices for me.

but let's look at the specifics...



dark winter :: the cooler half of the "dark season" between true autumn and true winter. if dark autumn was the "steampunk" season, dark winter is the victorian gothic. it has winter's cool palette and carries winter's extremes, but tinted just a little with a residual bit of autumn's brown. as soon as i think about this, my mind goes to images of industrial era england, where even the richly coloured tapestries and sumptuous fabrics that adorned the houses of mayfair and soho could be coated by the soot of coal smoke and the brightest light of day could fall victim to an onset of river fog.



as with all winters, the colours in the palette can get pretty intense, but they fall a little short of the clarity of true or bright winter. all winters can wear red and purple, but the shades for a dark winter will fall more into the range of mulberry, blackberry and fig. they all carry just a hint of brown in them.

being the darkest aspect of a season that swallows colour whole, dark winters can tolerate a lot of colour around the face and eyes without looking overdone [provided it comes from the right palette]. i think that the look i did is great evidence of this, when you compare it to the look i did for dark or true autumn, or true spring, i'm wearing about the same amount of makeup and the dark winter colours are arguably heavier [certainly the lip and cheek colours are deeper]. but that's not quite how it looks.



on the eyes, i used urban decay's blacker-than-black "perversion" eye liner to get that defined eye i spoke about earlier. i stuck mostly to neutrals, all with a slightly brownish "dirty" tinge: chantecaille "basalt" and "sel" and mac "keep your cool". i used mac "vanilla", a slightly peachy off-white shade to highlight, but all the other colours are smoky taupes. funny how different it looks from the soft summer look i did with taupe shades...

the cheeks actually have a fair amount going on. i used edward bess "south of france" on my cheek bones, combined hourglass "mood light" as a slightly mauve contour and mac "amazon princess", a combination of wild rose pink and plum to add colour. the lips are an old mac favourite "desire", another of those shades that i always have to keep on hand.



i do think that the shirt i'm wearing fits very well within the dark winter palette as well. [it was a lot easier finding items in my wardrobe that worked with the winter season looks, let me tell you.]

my thoughts? me likey. i know that i want this one to work, because i adore berry-toned and vampy lips, which this palette can wear better than any other, but having admitted my own bias, i think it does work fairly well. i get kind of a kick out of how in focus my eyes look in these shots compared to the autumn ones. and, yes, that's something i observed in person as well. the area under my eyes looks just a little dark, although i can't swear that i had a great night's sleep before, so it's possible that i would have looked like that no matter what. worth noting, though.

true winter :: i'll be honest, i have the hardest time pinpointing what distinguishes a true winter from its partner seasons, particularly from bright winter. certainly both can handle an incredible clarity of colour. the difference is that bright winter is able to carry that just a little further, because it has a drop of warmth from spring's influence. winter, on the other hand, is purely cool.

i tried this look a few times before i felt i got it right. i wanted something that looked like jewel tones- true gems, with their clear, pure colour, but i found that i struggled to make it work. in the end, i went with icy lights and the deepest black and tried to keep everything very minimal.



on the eyes, i have mac "aquavert" and chanel "complice" and icy green and peach respectively. neither of these adds more than a hint of colour. they're like seeing a reflection of colour on a pristine snow back. on the outer part of the eye, i used emerald toned "slate green" from yves st. laurent [who i seriously wish would release more shades of their amazing single shadows!] and le metier de beaute "fin". i used a sephora brand black liner on my upper and lower water lines, but i opted for yves st. laurent "sea black" liner along my lashes, for that extra-cold effect. [i have determined that i need to buy every single colour of the ysl faux cils cream liners. damn the expense.]



for the cheeks, i used mac's "overdyed" a limited edition bright, cool pink from 2011 and guerlain's "parure de nuit" highlighter, which is an extra light soft pink with a hint of teal to cancel any redness in the skin. and although all winters wear red well, i opted for the cool purple-with-pink sheen "uma paro" by le metier de beaute. true winters and bright purple tones were made for each other.



my thoughts? these photos aren't the best, but honestly, after several failed efforts to do a true winter look that seemed somehow wrong, i was done. this is as good as it was getting. frankly, i'm not crazy about it. i think it's the absolute cold of the palette. it seems too rigid and formal compared to what i see when i look at the dark winter photos. i like the individual elements, but all together, they seem a bit too much. they have a weight that neither of the other winters has. i feel overwhelmed. [i should note that these photos were taken at the end of the day and the last four under unnatural light, unlike every other photo in this series, which may not make a huge difference, but i would say that the light makes my skin look a little rougher than it actually did.]

bright winter :: the very last one... when i read the descriptions of this season, i dismissed it, because i thought that it would be too icy clear on me. but i have to admit that, once again, i might have been wrong. ironically, if this were to turn out to be the best match for me, it would mean that i could not have been more wrong when i was colouring myself with the palette of soft summer, because arranged on a wheel, they would occupy precisely opposite points. ever time i thought to myself that i needed to wear muted shades because they were what worked, i should have been saying exactly the opposite.



i painted myself into a bit of a corner, because when i started this challenge, i did a bright spring look that honestly could have fallen on the bright winter side of the divide. the sunny spring tones were not as evident, although the shades i used on my eyes were warmer/ earthier, so there may be a bit of deja vu looking at this one.

i did, however, keep things as icy and cool as i could around the eyes, avoiding anything that might give a muddy effect. strangely, having used le metier "fin" in my previous look, i used the other three colours from the nouvelle vague kaleidoscope in this one- shimmery peach "nouvelle" [a little less frosty white than "complice"], bright frosted pink "gamine" and soft mauve "icon" alongt he brow i added mac "crystal avalanche" a cool shimmery white. i went back to "perversion" to give a subtle cat's eye to bring out the contrast and, of course, a lot of black mascara.



speaking of contrast, i went for a bit of a doll-cheek effect with rouge bunny rouge "florita" a satiny raspberry that has a hint of warmth in its cool red depths. the sheen on this blush is so glorious i didn't dare mess it up with a highlighter. this is exactly the sort of colour someone as pale as i am shouldn't be able to wear and i didn't go particularly light on the application [i wanted doll cheeks after all].

and of course, it wouldn't be a "bright" season without a bold lip. i couldn't think of a better choice than chanel rouge coco in "cambon" a bright, cool red with just a soupcon of yellow added to it. it's vibrant and cheery and bright, but i don't feel like i'm receding behind my lips when i wear this sort of colour.



my thoughts? it's hard to argue with how my complexion looks in these photos. everything looks bright and fresh and surprisingly youthful. the intensity of winter married with a touch of spring's kinetic zaniness seems to enliven everything in just the right way. wow. it's entirely likely i've been wrong about everything when it comes to putting stuff on my face. what other terrible decisions have i made?

while i'm off pondering that, i do think it's worth noting that i did feel that as the day wore on, this look didn't hold up quite as well as the dark winter one. although you might expect the opposite, the lighter, cleaner shades on my eyes in the bright winter look made my eyes look more tired by mid-to-late afternoon. of course, that might not have happened if it weren't the middle of allergy season and if i didn't spend my days in a completely arid environment.

winner :: winter round
so where to go from here? as i keep mentioning, i'm an amateur at this and the frustration of trying to do this sort of thing on your own is why people seek professional help. since i don't have that option at the moment, i plan on continuing what research i can. [and hoping that i don't end up like those people who injure themselves doing yoga because they didn't think they needed an instructor to show them how to do it.] perhaps i'll do a sort of "knockout round" for myself.

because the most tantalizing thing about studying colour harmonies in this way is that there absolutely is a right answer for everyone.

have you found your perfect season? found your inner colour groupings? agree or disagree with what i've said? feel free to leave your comments here or to email me!

see the previous posts in this series here ::

spring
summer
autumn

Comments

FlamGam said…
Great series. I'm amazed at your dedication. It is very obvious from the pics that you are indeed a clear winter. I paid £100 to find out the same thing....bravo!
Kate MacDonald said…
Thanks very much FlamGlam! I will admit that part of the dedication comes from simply not having a colour analyst anywhere nearby. I've gone back and forth a bit, but consensus around me seems to be that I'm a Bright Winter and there's no doubt that others are more objective.
I love you in the Dark Winter Makeup.. have you seen the 12 Blueprints website? The owner is Christine Scaman, and she is a Dark Winter. You look alot like her in complexion... your testing helped me quite a bit. Thanks! Great website!
Kate MacDonald said…
Thanks Linda! I did discover Christine's web site and it's excellent. I got her book as well, which I refer back to constantly.

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