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making faces :: summer's here! and here. and here too.

following on the heels of my look at spring colour palettes [using the sci/art colour analysis model of 12 seasonal categories], it's now time for summer.

back in the early 1980s when the "colour me beautiful" book first appeared and everyone was having their appropriate season designated, my best friend proudly told me that she had been categorized as a "summer". since i've never been good at admitting i don't have an answer for something, i decided that i was a winter, which was, i think, based on my understanding that "winters" could wear brighter and darker colours and that they could wear purple and magenta. i believe i was around nine, so i can't imagine when i thought i was going to be heading out painted in vibrant shades of purple and magenta at that age, but i was sort of interested in the concept that faces and skin tones could be categorized that way. even when i was a child, i had an adorable, pathological need to group and segment everything.

of course, looking at the more modern take on colour analysis, i have learned a few things:

1. many children of the same race are kinda the same colour. white kids are all sort of beige-toned and many are blonde, but it isn't until we hit our late teens or early twenties that we've developed our adult colouring. so it was silly of me to go around saying that i was a "winter" at age nine, because i really wasn't anything. in terms of colour, i was embryonic.

2. people classified as winters can wear purple and magenta, but there are variations of just about every colour in every season. finding colours that "click" for you is more about identifying the variations.

in fact, purples of various sorts are actually very present in the palette of all three summer seasons, because, if you can clear your head of the apparent oxymoron, summers are exclusively cool-toned. yes, the weather may be scorching, but think of the other side of summer: early morning mist where cool waters meet warm air; a white sand beach strewn with shells; the soft, hazy blue of the sky in full sun.

this isn't to say that the summer palette [or the summer complexion] is cold- it isn't. winter is cold. winter has hard edges of ice, whereas summer floats and blends like a vapour. if you go back to the first seasonal post i did, it might help to think in terms of the three-dimensional model of colour: hue [roughly interpreted as temperature], value [light vs dark] and chroma [saturation].

for spring, we saw colours that tended to be high on the scale of chroma [brighter, more saturated], mostly medium in value and warmer in hue. as things moved towards summer, however, the balance began to shift. the bold, colourful hues of spring softened as they were touched by summer. summer tones have an undertone of blue- coolest of the cool shades, but what might be most noticeable is that the saturation gets turned down.

i compared spring shades to andy warhol pop art. think of summer as being monet's waterlilies or the hazy splendour of jmw turner. one shade gradually fades into another, so that it is difficult to say where one ends and another begins. everything is comfortably cool and light, the energy of spring's contrasts is subdued.

light summer :: this is how the cycle of summer starts, summer that still carries a hint of spring. think of the summer sun reflecting on the water. it doesn't appear yellow, but there is still a hint of warmth. it's the cooler analogue to where we left off last time- spring and summer mixed, but with the balance pushed towards the blue. so whereas the light spring palette was soft, warm neutrals and pink-corals, i saw the summer as introducing cooler aquas and pink-berry tones. it's a palette i'm pretty comfortable with so, unlike my struggles with spring, i was able to pull not just appropriate makeup, but appropriate clothing together.



because i'm pale and on the cool side, any of the summer seasons are possible matches for me. that said, i'm not in love with how this looks. it's not bad, but i don't think it's the best combination. to give a little sparkle [remember the light on the water? i took it seriously], but either i didn't blend my shades carefully enough or the combination is just a bit aging on me. the shades i used were urban decay "asphyxia" [a staple in my collection for more than a decade], the fascinating blue-pink duochrome "arctic sky" by estee lauder and two mac shades- cool plum "hepcat" and whisper pink "rosy outlook". to bring that hint of spring warmth, i smoothed a little bit of armani's eyes to kill #19, a cool platinum, over the other shades. although summer seasons are not about contrast, i allowed myself a softer liner, stila "spectrum". [although it's described as black with multi-coloured sparkle, the sparkle makes it look more charcoal grey and the base makes the sparkle delightfully subtle.] i also used mac's white liner "fascinating" along my water lines to help brighten my eyes.

summer skin tones are all about ethereal translucency, so i switched from foundation to nars tinted moisturiser in "terre neuve". the colour on the cheeks is illamasqua "katie" [hey, didn't we just talk about that?] with a bit of cooler highlight courtesy of lancome "glowy ballerine butterflies fever". yes, that is seriously the name of the blush. it's lucky it's beautiful. i also swept hourglass "diffused light", synonymous with spring sun in my books, over my forehead, nose and chin. again, that's just to add a little warmth.

i thought that a slightly sheerer formula would work best for the lips and since i already tried out chanel's rouge coco shine in the light spring look, i thought that chantecaille's lip chic in "damask" would be good to try. [i'll have a review on this coming up. short version: my wallet hates me a lot right now.]



my thoughts? like i said, it's not bad. i love the actual combination of colours and i think it backs up the theory that a cooler palette suits me better. but i find that exclusively cool tones around my eyes almost always seem aging. this is no exception. whether it's because they harmonise too well with the designer satchels under my eyes, or because they make the colour of my veins more prominent or both, the best i ever get with this kind of combination is a "near miss".

edit :: looking at this, i'm not entirely convinced that i didn't miss the mark a little here, incorporating too much summer and not enough spring. this look is an alternate that might capture the season more accurately. [note that the eyes still look a bit fatigued.]

true summer :: truly the coolest of the cool kids. this is light at its ethereal apex. the sound of a million angelic harps playing every classic cocteau twins album at once. [actually, that would be pretty noisy. maybe not the best example.] think again of monet: the softly blended lavender, iris and lilac hues we see in his paintings, one folding into the next.

being a pure season, without a hint of spring's yellow or autumn's brown, the shades here are light and fresh and cool with virtually no warmth. even more than white, which is a hard, stark winter colour, summer should call to mind silver: the silvery light of the moon on a clear summer night.

sign me up!

MORE SUMMER FUN AFTER THE BREAK...



ok, the truth is that i don't think i really have the silky-fine, almost translucent complexion of a true summer. i want to have it, but wanting don't make it so. i think i'm a little too solid to pass for a real moon maiden.



you can clearly see my moon maiden longings in my eye shadow collection. i have a hell of a lot of soft, cool purples in there. in fact, the ones i chose for this exercise are newer ones but have already seen some heavy usage: rouge bunny rouge "lilac reef currasow" and "trumpeter koel". [yes, there will be a review of those coming soon as well.] i used urban decay "desperation" eye liner, a soft, slightly taupe-toned grey which adds a smudgy, smoky line rather than something too sharp. although black is verboten on a true summer- sits way too heavily on such a light colour frame- i did use a soft black mascara [korres volcanic lash], but very lightly. i just don't have a lot of colour options when it comes to mascara and brown seemed like an even worse choice.



to help me capture some of the lightness of the skin, i used rouge bunny rouge highlighting liquid in "sea of clouds", which does give that moonlit glow, along the cheek bones. i also brightened things up with bobbi brown "porcelain pearl" dusted on my forehead, nose and chin to help that overall look of whiteness and brightness. [on a related note, i would absolutely love to see a true summer woman of colour. i'm wondering how the principles of the complexion would translate.] to get a bit of colour in there, i used mac "azalea blossom" blush.

although true summer faces can wear deeper [but not stark or very high-contrast] colours, i wanted to keep with the feeling of coolness, so i selected mac "lavender whip" for a lipstick. this cult shade, re-released for the first time this year, lives up to its name, in that it is a pink-tinged lavender that is purely cool. because lavender shades and very cool pinks can be dodgy on me, i was hesitant about this one when i first got it, but i find that there's a softness to the colour that makes it quite wearable for me. on me, the shade pulls more pink than i've seen on others.



my thoughts? i was kind of shocked [spoiler alert] that this was my favourite of the three summer looks i did. the glow-y skin looks rather healthy, i think; more so than when i use highlighters that add a little warmth or pigment. although the blue in my eyes basically disappears, the resulting grey has a sharpness and intensity that surprised me. interestingly, the fatigue that i saw in the slightly warmer blue tones of light summer is gone here. what i don't care for, and this isn't as obvious in the photos as it was in person, although you can see a hint of it, is that i find that very light, cool colours make my nose look a little red. note anywhere else on my face, just the nose. i guess i know what to wear if i ever need to look like i'm suffering from allergies.

soft summer: i had a feeling about this one. knowing [or assuming, since it's been a while] that my natural hair colour is quite muted and a real blend of tones and that my complexion is milky rather than translucent, i suspected that this would be the summer variant that was the closest match for me.

the cooler of the two "soft neutral" seasons, this is a palette based on summer's cool tones, but muted by the dawning of autumn's rich, warm influence. the colouring is still predominantly on the cool side, but it's made a little earthier. the term often associated with shades of this palette is "fog". nothing is extremely distinct. soft seasons have the lowest tolerance for contrast of any. think gradient. think chiaroscuro with the ends lopped off. this is the middle ground. think the moors or the highlands.

these shades are the ones that might sometimes be derided as bland, lacking the strength of winter, the passion of autumn, the jubilance of spring or the grace of the other summers. but that's only true if you put those shades on someone who isn't suited to them. placed on the right complexion, these are colours that give a grounded, fixed strength that's just a little remote.

of course, the biggest boon of this colouring for beauty lovers is simple:

all your taupes are belong to us

ok, there are taupes enough for all, but when you talk about cool shades that combine grey, brown and a hint of purple, nowhere will they complement the base colouring of the person wearing them as they will here.

similarly, heather tones of mauve, pink and purple that stop short of being completely cool, woodsmoke greys and berry tones go extremely well. i think of them as sweater weather colours. nubbly, warming, comfortable but not heavy.

keeping that in mind, i thought this would be a great opportunity to make use of some of my very favourite mauve/ silver taupes in a gentle gradient: edward bess "storm", nars "lhasa", le metier de beaute "corinthian" and mac "mothbrown". once again, i went with the soft smoke of urban decay "desperation" to line my eyes and a very light coating of benefit "they're real" mascara. no sharp contrasts, no harsh lines, nothing too earthy. before i started drastically colouring my hair, these were the sorts of shades- not to light or two dark, with a lot of subtleties to them- i wore all the time.



gah!!!! kill it with fire!!!!

did i seriously leave the house like that for years?

i can't believe how heavy those shades look on my lids, how prominent the circles under my eyes become and how the skin all around the eyes looks vaguely like it's made of used condoms. now that i look at this, i realised that the only reason it might have worked in the past [and now i'm questioning all my judgments] is because i didn't wear these shades together. rather, i used them in concert with light or dark shades to give more contrast. this is probably a good example of why we aren't reliable arbiters of our own colouring. [in other words, don't do what i'm doing.]



instead of something subtly smoky and pretty, i ended up with what the beautiful grace london [herself recently "diagnosed" as bright winter] refers to as "sludge". 

the other thing that surprises me about this look is how bold and pink the lipstick seems  compared to the rest of it. the shade is mac "radicchio" and i've worn it many times as a sort of muted plum purple. It's always been just a shade brighter than a "my lips but better" colour. here, it looks much pinker and brighter than i've ever seen it. check for yourself here and here.

the only part of this that does work for me is the skin. i used foundation rather than tinted moisturiser [rbr milk aquarelle] and added a little shadow courtesy of chanel "notorious"- the very definition of soft shading. i used beige-greyed-pink "rose ecrin" also from chanel, for a little colour, but nothing too bright, or too obviously cool.



my thoughts? i think i've expressed them clearly enough. although i still dream of being a cool, clear winter lady, i thought there was a strong chance that this would be a more natural fit. i'm slightly cool rather than warm. my natural hair colour is soft. my eye colour is soft. my complexion is soft. but i was wrong. and now i'm not allowed to make decisions for myself anymore.

winner :: summer round
do you see yourself in any of these colour palettes? agree or disagree with anything i've said or used here? i'll say it again: i am 100% amateur at this. i've not had a personal colour analysis, which means that i'm just making my best estimates. [and even further, i'm making editorial choices about which shades i choose.]

for a more educated perspective on the summer seasons, you should definitely check out everyday beauty's post on the subject.

now that we've tackled spring and summer... autumn beckons...

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