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When Colour Truly Is Skin Deep: Identifying Nature's Subtle Shading System to Select Flattering Make-Up

As part of my studies, I was keen to explore my ideal make-up colours with Clarins' House of Fraser make-up artist, Salema Uddin. And as we undertook a colour analysis prior to the make-up consultation,

As part of my Executive Personal Coaching and Branding development, I am currently undertaking a Personal Styling Course with Gail Morgan at Study in Style Training.

One of the major aspects of Personal Style is the Colour Analysis System, which involves identifying the perfect personal colour palette with which to select clothes, accessories and make-up.

Interestingly, one might think that apparent ethnicity is the major driver in determining the perfect colour palette, but this is only half the story. Surprisingly, although the geographical influence of melanin plays a predominant part in the analysis process, there is a more subtle but fundamental influence that is not dictated by the colours of racial heritage. You see the layer just under the skin contains a mixture of carotene and hemoglobin - the distribution of which affords either a subtle yellow or a pinky-bluish tinge to the skin's surface.

As part of my studies, I was keen to explore my ideal make-up colours with Clarins' House of Fraser make-up artist, Salema Uddin. And as we undertook a colour analysis prior to the make-up consultation, I must say that I couldn't have encountered a more striking example of how 'different is the same'. In other words, it was amazing to witness that an individual of western European heritage could share the same palette as an individual of Asian heritage, but not with a family member. My Mother's family is Irish and I have their typical fair skin and blue-green eyes, whereas Salema is of Asian stock with dark skin and dark eyes. On the face of it, therefore (and excuse the pun!), you couldn't find two people who look more different. However, we were amazed at how we comfortably fell into the same colour palette.

There are four palettes in the colour analysis system theory, which for ease of understanding were divided into the seasons by early theorists. Spring and summer represent paler colours such as peach and powder blue, whereas autumn and winter represent deeper colours such as chocolate brown and burgundy. The theory follows that if you have little contrast between your hair, skin and eyes you are more likely to fall into either the spring or summer category and consequently if you have more contrast you are likely to be an autumn or winter.

Based on the above, it wouldn't be a surprise that Salema suits deeper colours, but it may be a surprise that with my blue-green eyes and pale skin, I also fall into the same deep range. You see although I was an 'Irish golden/reddish blonde' as a youngster, my Father's French gene of jet black hair later triumphed (as dark genes tend to!) and my hair became dark brown in my mid teens. In addition, although my maternal Grandmother had pure blue eyes, my Grandfather had hazel eyes, which produced golden/hazel flecked blue-green irises in my Mother, which I have inherited. Overall, therefore, my genes have created a high contrast (or variation) between the colour of my eyes, hair and skin. And during a colour analysis it became clear that in order for me to maintain that balance of definition and thus look my best, nature requires me to surround myself in deep colours. On the other hand an individual with fair hair, pale eyes and fair skin such as Nicole Kidman, represents little or no colour contrast and would thus fall into a lighter range i.e. colours to complement the delicacy of her natural features. Therefore, it is about striking the balance when it comes to identifying the best colours for ourselves - literally!

Furthermore, when Salema and I compared different colours against our skin, it was clear that we were both Autumn, as we share that yellow tinge under the skin. Autumn colours are deep, muted and warm, which means they have a subtle yellow tinge such as olive green, mustard and gold and thus do not 'fight' with our natural 'yellowy undertone'. On the other hand, winter colours are deep, bright and cool such as deep blue, deep pink, bright red, emerald green etc and thus are more suitable for those with the 'pinky-bluish undertone'.

Finally and based on our colour consultation, Salema was able to select for me deep brown and gold eye shadows and a deep orange red lipstick - all of which represent autumn's depth and warmth in terms of their fundamental hues and yellow undertones. And I must say the finished result was a new glowing and healthy me - I was absolutely delighted!

To learn more about the Study in Style Training Programmes, visit In addition, you may wish to visit Salema Uddin at the Clarins Counter at House of Fraser, in Victoria, London to receive a free make-over.

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