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Have you noticed that in the summer, when you have a bit more of a tan, you pull off some colors that may have been far more difficult for you to pull off in the winter when you’re a bit lighter?
This is something that happens to everyone, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re changing undertones as you tan (although it is possible, and for more information on this, you could watch my video about the Lightest Skin Tones)! Here, I want to focus on the effect that takes place when you specifically don’t change undertones—that is, your best colors are still your best colors, but at the same time, you find you can pull off more of your ‘ok’ or ‘worst’ colors much better in the summer than in the winter. So what’s going on?
What’s really going on is that having more pigment in general enables you to pull off more colors. To understand why, let’s first think about what happens when you wear your own colors in general. When you wear your own colors, the eye picks up on that same color in your skin, and since your undertone is the color that your skin has the most of, your skin glows the most because more of its color is being brightened and accentuated.
But let’s say you have a very clear blue dominance to the skin, so you would be Cool and Radiant, and look your best in cool high chroma colors such as royal blue, fuchsia, and purple. When you’re very light and have very little pigment and wear your own colors, the eye picks up on your undertone and agrees that it’s harmonious, and implicitly likes this harmony.
When you don’t wear your own colors as a very light-skinned Cool and Radiant—let’s say you wear orange, the eye tries to look for this pigment in your very light skin, but can’t detect it at all, so it reads as very disharmonious.
But everyone’s skin has all the colors—your skin isn’t BLUE after all!! It still has a touch of yellow, a touch of red, but it simply has more blue than yellow. This is why you’re cool. It’s just that when you’re at your lightest, there’s so little pigment—meaning there’s so little yellow, so little red, and so little blue, that the eye has trouble picking up any pigment at all to pick up on the harmony of your clothing and your undertone. So it can only pick up on the blue, since you have the most blue. But when it tries to pick up on some orange in the skin, even though there is some, because there’s so little, the eye says, ‘I don’t see that at all!!’.
But what happens when you add pigment (that is, get a tan), in the summer? Let’s say you maintain your cool, blue dominance, but this time, you have more of every pigment. You have more yellow, more red, and more blue, still with a blue dominance of course. But the difference is that when you wear orange this time, the eye may say, ‘Hey, I do see a touch of orange in her skin, even though it’s not the main color, or the dominant color, I do still see it and this doesn’t look completely horrible!’
So having more pigment in general enables you to pull off more colors, because it makes every color in your skin more detectable to the eye if any random color is placed next to the skin. This doesn’t mean that you still don’t have the same best colors, and the same worst colors, but you may find that your worst colors don’t look as bad on you as they used to! There may be less of a difference between your best and worst colors when you’re tanner than when you’re lighter!
This is also why anyone who has a medium or deep skin tone is so often mistyped. These people just don’t look that bad in their worst colors because of this effect! Anyone with medium or deep skin is going to look alright in pretty much everything when you compare them to someone who’s extremely light and wearing their worst colors. But this doesn’t mean that we don’t all have our best and worst colors all the same!
NataluchiClub member(6 months ago) (Reply)
Thank you so much for your dedication and work Merriam! Could you show some visuals next time? :)
suzysmoonClub member(6 months ago) (Reply)
Thank you for this article! It explained a lot, I noticed that I can get away with brighter colors in the summer. The same colors would be too much in the winter time.