I really wanted to get colour analysis done for myself when Nikki Bogardus from www.mycolorrx.com was in London recently, but work decided to send me to Birmingham that week. In a stroke of huge luck for me, a reader, Heather, did get analysis done and really generously offered to write about her experience for my blog. I am immensely grateful to Heather for her time and excellent write up.
The denouement of a PCA is like the final scene of a murder mystery that has kept you guessing all along. Suddenly the pieces of the puzzle fall into place, and you realise that your palette has been staring you in the face all along. My first inkling of this rather magical phenomenon was when I realised that the bright coral pink under my chin that was making me look rather amazing, considering I was wearing no make-up, a skull-cap, and sitting under two spotlights, was the exact colour of my bathroom towels. I told Nikki and she said ‘of course it is.’ As the colours of the palette revealed themselves, I was surprised to find this phenomenon happening over and over again. It turned out I had been surrounding myself with ‘my’ colours for years... I just wasn’t wearing them.
It was desperation really that led me to book the session with Nikki Bogardus, after first reading about her here. I had had a wonderful summer, spending two months at my family’s home in southwest France, and looking at the photos now, I can see I was wearing a lot of the light, bright colours in my palette. Back in London, I had switched over my wardrobe with the change of seasons, and when I finished and looked at all of my autumn/winter clothes hanging in the closet, I saw black, almost exclusively. There was a little navy, grey and taupe. I attempted to do something about this situation by popping into John Lewis one day after work. I tried on a deep burgundy coloured jumper and looked in the mirror. I looked to be near death. I tried on a frilly aubergine blouse. I didn’t look any better. I thought to myself, ‘is this as good as it gets?’ I am turning 40 soon, and the thought crossed my mind that perhaps I had just aged, dramatically, in the past couple of months. I decided to go downstairs and cheer myself up with some lipstick. Essentially the same process repeated itself. An SA put some brownish-plum lipstick on me and I looked in the mirror. ‘Do you think this looks good on me?’ I asked. She replied ‘Most women like to wear shades like this in the autumn.’, which made me feel like there was something wrong with me for not liking it. So I bought it, but went home feeling upset and angry.
At this point I remembered having read about Nikki’s visit to London, and I wondered if maybe a PCA could be the solution to my problem. Of course I first thought I could crack this nut on my own, so I quickly read everything I could online about the various schools of thought when it comes to seasonal analysis, and I bought two books. All of this left me none the wiser as to what my season might be. I wasn’t light because I wasn’t blonde; I wasn’t dark because my brown hair wasn’t really dark enough, and my eyes and skin were both quite pale; but I wasn’t dramatic enough to be clear; I wasn’t overtly cool or warm; and I was suspicious about the soft palette as nothing makes me look washed out more than muted colours. I had had an analysis as a young teenager, dragged along by my mother who wanted to convince me that I didn’t look good in lots of black eyeliner (which didn’t work, of course), and I had been told I was a Spring, but I had long ago ‘lost’ my book of swatches and looking at the intense yellow and orange in my book now, I didn’t think this could be right. I found my way to the 12blueprints blog and the SciArt system that Nikki also trained in, and noted that hair and eye colour aren’t actually that important – it’s all about the skin tone. I realised holding tea-towels under my chin and asking my partner if I looked good in them wasn’t really getting me anywhere (except for possibly closer to being sectioned under the mental health act by him), and so I bit the bullet and emailed Nikki.
When I met Nikki on the greyest of afternoons in central London, one of the first things she explained was that two-thirds of people are actually neutral, and so in the past they were sort of forced into a palette that wasn’t an exact fit. I instantly liked and trusted her. She looks at least ten years younger than she is, has an enormous presence for her tiny frame, and her enthusiasm is infectious, although on the day I was wearing my sceptical hat and was determined not to be convinced of something if I didn’t feel it to be true. I had had enough of going home with the wrong lipstick. However when you’re sitting there under the spotlights with no make-up, it’s hard not to be convinced when suddenly you see yourself in the right colour. The pores become invisible, as do the red blotches, the sun spots, the dark circles, the shiny nose, and your eyes pop! I found that really amazing and quite sad in a way. I felt like I hadn’t really seen my eyes in years.
But what were these colours? We quickly established that I am neutral, as the first test drape tests between cool, warm or neutral. I could instantly see this one for myself. After that, I wasn’t really sure what was what, and I realised that my vocabulary for colours has been badly damaged by too many years of exposure to Farrow & Ball and MAC. I kept calling the colours that looked good ‘bright’ and saying that I couldn’t wear ‘light’ colours. Nikki then compared the pink I had under my chin, and which I was calling hot pink, to something much brighter and more saturated in colour – ‘then what’s this?’ she asked. I thought ‘Gigi, Guerlain Rouge G?’ and then realised that wasn’t an answer. I didn’t know what to call these colours. As for my use of ‘light’, it turned out I really meant muted. But it didn’t matter, because I could see in the mirror what was working, and at the end Nikki revealed that it all added up to me being Light Spring. There could be no denying that the colours worked, but I’m not blonde! However, I once was, and over time my hair just got darker. For a long time I had it highlighted, but I had given up about three years ago after getting fed up with the shade never seeming ‘just right’ and grown out my natural colour. Nikki said this was for the best and to leave it like this, and that she always advises people to go with their natural colour. As for the light season/blonde myth, in reality most of the celebrities you’ll see if you google ‘celebrity light spring/summer’ are all getting a little help from the bottle. Nikki said that actually most of the light springs she had analysed were brunettes.
I told Nikki about my shopping fiasco, and she said I would indeed have some trouble finding the right colours at this time of year. It seems the designers and merchandisers have embraced the system to an extent, so you will find colours from the autumn and winter palettes in the stores right now (the deep ones certainly). And this explains how I accidentally wound up in a lot of the right colours for me over the summer, because the light-bright shades are abundant then. However, I don’t have to chuck out all of my black and navy just yet. I picked up a few camisoles and scarves in my colours, and I can use these to keep things light around my face. The same goes for make-up of course, and whereas I am drooling over the beauty of the latest Guerlain Liu palette, I can see that two-thirds of it won’t work for me.
With make-up, it turns out that less is definitely more, since the key characteristic of my palette is light (this explains why I always thought I looked a bit like a drag queen when I tried to do a smokey eye). That has been both challenging and liberating for me in the days since the PCA. First I tried my foundation without the layer of matte loose powder I would usually put on top of it, then I managed some tinted moisturiser applied sparingly. One of the things I liked about Nikki’s analysis is that at the end she applies some make-up from a range of brands and at different price points. There isn’t anything for sale, and she writes down a list – your personal prescription – of products and colours that will work. But it’s even easier than that. If the colour is in your palette, you can wear it. I went out and bought two Coco Rouge Shines by first matching them to the colours in my palette, then I tried them on, and of course they were perfect. I had previously purchased two that had wound up in my reject pile. It still sort of amazes me how off I was in terms of being able to determine what looked good on me, but now I am totally head-over-heels in love with my palette and when I look in the mirror, it seems so obvious to me that it’s a perfect match.
Even more generously, Heather has provided two pictures that show her in warm colours that aren't her most flattering (left) and in her better colours (right) (Heather says this one was pretty much by accident, before the colour analysis - see how the wall colour behind her flatters her delicate colouring and you really see her eyes?)