30 September 2023
Seasonal colour analysis, or the belief that individuals can identify colors that best flatter on the basis that each of us are a season- summer, spring, autumn and winter- based on your skin tone, hair color, and eye colour. This seems logical; after all, the right choice of colours could make a person look more vibrant and cheerful; and the wrong choice could make a person look older and washed out.
Personal colour analysis workshops in Seoul, Korea, have gone viral on Instagram and TikTok since last year. Korean celebrities such as Jisoo from Blackpink and Yoo Jae-suk from popular Korean reality series, Running Man, have had their personal colour analysis.
After seeing these sessions of swift colour drapes on TikTok and instagram and recommendations from my friends, my curiosity was piqued. When I was in South Korea recently, I tried a personal seasonal analysis session in Gangnam, Seoul. I found the session helpful; and I realised I’ve been choosing the wrong colours and shades for the longest time. Here’s how my seasonal colour analysis session in Seoul, Korea went. But first, some background information about the history behind colour analysis workshops.
Although the trend of colour analysis workshops in Korea emerged in 2022, the history of colour analysis harks back to a century ago. Swiss painter and teacher, Johannes Itten, has often been credited as one of the founders of colour analysis. Itten created the colour wheel that is still widely used by artists, film makers, web designers…etc to create colour schemes and palattes for their work. Itten was also the first artist to associate color palettes that would complement people according to their skin tones and hair colours. These four different colour palettes that corresponded to the different seasons. His concept of warm and cool colour palettes, subdivided into light and dark tones gave rise to colour palettes that are named after the four seasons of the year.
In the 1950’s, American stylist, designer and colour theorist Suzanne Caygill popularised the concept of colour analysis and psychology. Caygill developed the Caygill Method of Color Analysis which combined Itten’s seasonal colour theory. She believed that a person’s personality was linked to their colour palette; and her regular features in the television shows made her theories of colour analysis and personality types popular in the 1970’s and 1980’s.
Seasonal colour analysis continued to be popular in the 1980’s; with books and DIY colour analysis swatches becoming mainstream. The most popular book on seasonal colour analysis from that decade was Color Me Beautiful by Carole Jackson. Jackson also created a successful line of cosmetics, scarfs and swatch fans for different seasons.
In the 1990’s and 2000’s, seasonal colour analysis lost its popularity. Fast forward to 2023, colour analysis is enjoying a new found popularity thanks to millenials and Gen Zs. Videos of dramatic responses to colour drapings, as well as that of K-pop artistes have fueled the demand and explosion of personal colour analysis studios in Seoul.
A typical colour analysis session involves determining the individual’s “season” to help them identify colour palettes that bring out the best in their looks- from clothes, makeup, jewelry and hair colour.
This process involves using measurement of the user’s skin colour; and draping dozens of fabric swatches in different colours to determine the user’s most and least flattering colours.
My journey in personal colour analysis began in Gangnam Seoul one August morning. I had booked my personal colour analysis session with my best friend, Tiffany, 3 months before from Singapore. There are numerous studios that provide personal colour analysis in Seoul; but Suzy of MeimeColourNBeauty came recommended by my friend Katheryn. Importantly for me, Suzy could speak in English, so that would minimise miscommunication that could arise in translation. Colours are as diverse in their hues, tones and saturations, so I did not want any nuances to be lost in translation.
The colour analysis session started with Suzy asking me questions about my objectives for wanting a personal colour analysis session; followed by a 10 minute crash course in the basics of colour analysis. Based on one’s skin tone, hair and eye colour, we would all fit into a particular season’s colour palate.
Warm seasons were spring and autumn; cool seasons consisted of summer and winter. These four seasons could be further sub categorised into light, vivid and deep tones. Suzy also shared examples of popular Korean celebrities with their respective seasons.
With our basic understanding of seasonal colour theories sorted, Suzy then began to determine my season and ideal colour palate. She assessed the colour of my veins, eyes and hair visually. To determine my skin colour, she used a spectrophotometer. The spectrophotometer is a device that measures colour in three dimensions, based on L*a*b* colour coordinates that assessed lightness, red/green coordinates and yellow/blue coordinates.
Next was the fun part- colour draping. Having seen numerous videos on TikTok and Instagram of colour analysis sessions, I was most excited for this. Suzy first draped my hair and chest with a white cloth, like a Russian babushka. Then, she draped fabric swatches across my chest to illustrate their effects on my face. The right colours complemented my skin tone; and made me look younger and more radiant. Colours that were not complementary had the opposite effect- my dark eye circles were accentuated, my skin looked dull and lifeless; and I looked older. This was the most fascinating part of my personal colour analysis workshop; because even for a single colour, say pink, there were different tones and hues, and these nuances had a different effect on my skin.
Based on these colour measurements and colour drapings, Suzy determined my best colour palette was “Spring Light” followed by “Autumn Mute”. Suzy also shared examples of K-drama actresses who were “Spring Light” palates- Song Hye Kyo, Yoona and Park Min Young.
As part of the seasonal colour analysis workshop, Suzy also identified my best jewellery colours and makeup styles. She also shared with me tips on choosing makeup colours; with examples of makeup products to use.
I paid 120 000 Korean Won (approx SGD$122) for this one-on-one session with Suzy (Meime Colour and Beauty). The session took 1 hour. You can contact Suzy via her Instagram @MeimeColourNBeauty.
Overall, I found the personal colour analysis session a useful experience to better understand my best colour palettes back in Singapore. One might think that knowing one’s best and worst colours are intuitive; and an individual would gravitate towards the correct colour choices. I found out this was not entirely true for myself. Suzy determined that I was a “Spring Light”; which meant that pastels was my best colour palette; and dark colours that were the worst for me. The colour drapings proved those points; and I started to rue the dark coloured purchases in my wardrobe.
I’ve already started applying some of these recommendations from Suzy to my daily dressing and makeup. It’s not a drastic change from my daily choices, but I can see how it shapes my future fashion and makeup choices. As someone who does not have access to a stylist or image consultant in Singapore, these insights are, in my opinion, useful.
This personal colour analysis session with Suzy was enlightening and I’m glad I tried it. Having tried this once, it would not be necessary for me to repeat this again. If you are looking for insight into enhancing your personal image, I would recommend trying out a personal colour analysis session. For the rest of my must visit beauty stores and experiences in Seoul, please head to Best Korean Beauty Stores & Experiences in Seoul.
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• Book at least 1 month in advance for your preferred workshop or consultant. Some of them are very popular; and my contact’s sessions are fully booked 2 months in advance
• Confirm whether the consultant for your session speaks English. Not everyone of them in fluent in English, and some nuances can get lost in translation
• Avoid wearing makeup and coloured contact lens to your personal colour session; as the assessment of your skin and eye colour will be affected
• Not all companies that offer personal colour analysis allow filming or recording, so if you want to create videos for Instagram reels/ TikTok; ask in advance.