Column: Understand your ideal color palette


Commentary by Stephanie Grabow

PCA, also known as personal color analysis or seasonal color analysis, is a discovery process based in color science that identifies the best color palettes that objectively match to your unique skin tone.

Understanding your ideal color palette allows you to:

  • Simplify shopping, save time and money with a framework to help you choose pieces that you know are exactly right for you.
  • Create a wardrobe that works because all the items harmonize with each other, making outfit combinations almost effortless.
  • Shrink your makeup drawer and stop wasting money buying products that don’t flatter you.
  • Look healthier because your best colors make your teeth look whiter, your complexion smoother and your eyes clearer.
  • Feel at home in your skin and love what you see in the mirror.

Think you’ve heard of color analysis before? A rudimentary version of PCA was popular in the 1980s and ‘90s, but the science has evolved significantly over the last 30 years (I bet you have too!).

Performed in person by a certified professional, the most accurate PCA focuses on your skin’s undertones to understand its specific properties.

Undertones are created by the melanin, hemoglobin and carotene in your skin and are described in terms of temperature: warm, cool, warm-neutral or cool-neutral. Features like your hair color, eye color and lip color are your overtones and most obvious facial features but analyzing only those gives inaccurate results.

A certified analyst uses professionally calibrated fabric drapes to compare the effect of each color against your face, watching for changes in your facial contours, shadowing, eye brightness and other significant differences.

Color groupings are referred to as seasons and are made up of colors that have similar properties of hue, value and chroma.

Why seasons? Each palette could just as easily be named A, B, C, etc., but that’s not very memorable or descriptive. Color palette names refer to the natural seasons that they evoke: autumn colors are darker, winter colors are cooler, etc.


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