How Do I Choose a Color Pallete?

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Selecting the right color pallet for you may be complicated.  There are many color theories out there that work to varying degrees.  A Simple solution is to match a color that has the same three elements as your skin.

All colors have three basic elements(including that of your skin).

  • Hue or skin tone – light, medium or dark
  • Value or skin undertone – warm, neutral and cold
  • Chroma or your complexion – bright (clear) and muted (soft)

Don’t use grey it is neutral.

Select a color that you know looks good on you, study the hue, value, and chroma of the color.  You match it with other clothes or colors, and you will have the formula that is uniquely you. 

What you need to understand when choosing a color

There are a few things you need to know and understand to help you make color choices.  I will explain the three elements of color in color theory and how these elements determine your skin color.  I will give you the term in color theory and the related beauty term to make it clear. 

How to identify which of the elements of color

All color theories are limited as people cannot be boxed into neat little packages, and you may fall somewhere in between.  The 12 seasonal color analysis is a color theory that is easy to interpret. Many people will be able to use this color pallet. 

It is important to remember that the color pallet is a guideline and not an absolute rule. Colors with a similar or darker hue, value, and chroma may not be listed and will look good on you too.

The three elements of color

All colors have three elements that change the characteristics of the color.


This is the warmth or coolness of a color.  All colors are either warm, cold, or neutral.


Value in color terms means how dark or light a color is.  In other words, how much white or black is present in color.  The whiter there is the paler a color will appear.

Chroma or Brilliance:

Colors can vary between bright and dull.  The more pigment is added the more dull a color will appear.  Don’t confuse this with dark, dark colors can be bright, for example, cherry red or emerald green. Colors can be dull and dark, for example, burgundy or dark olive green.

The image below will illustrate the Three elements of color.  All pictures use the same base green as indicated in the line around the colored in block.  The green changes its appearance based on the three elements of color.

Green color

The three elements of your skin

Skin undertone or hue

This is the hue that reflects from under your skin.  Your skin’s undertone can be warm, cool, or neutral.

Skin tone value

This is how light or dark you are depending on your ethnicity.  Are you light medium or dark in comparison to other people in your ethnic group?

Complexion called chroma in the 12 seasonal color theory (soft and bright)

This is your overall coloring and can be divided into soft or bright

Also read – How to Do Makeup: A Step by Step Guide for Applying Makeup Like a Pro

Determining the three elements of your skin

Now that you understand the three elements that makeup color and skin, you need to determine which element you are.

Your undertone or hue

There are different methods you can try on yourself to discover what type of undertone you have.

You have cool undertones

  • The veins on your inner wrist appear blue or purple.
  • Silver jewelry looks good on you.
  • A foundation that appears pink in the bottle matches your skin tone better than one that appears yellow.
  • White looks better on you than off-white.

You have warm undertones

  • The veins on your inner wrist appear green.
  • Gold jewelry looks good on you.
  • A foundation that appears yellow in the bottle matches your skin tone better than one that appears pink in the bottle.
  • Off-white looks better on you than white.

You have a neutral undertone

  • The veins on your inner wrist may not be visible.
  • You can wear either gold or silver jewelry.
  • Both white and off-white look good on you.

Deciding your value

There are three basic values light medium and dark.  One look at the foundation aisle will tell you there are many different variants of light, medium, and dark.  Select what value you have light, medium, and dark by comparing yourself to other members of your ethnic group.

Chroma or brilliance

Chroma is the easiest to determine.   Look at the color of your eyes and hair in comparison with your skin color. 

People with a muted or soft chroma have low contrast between their hair and eye color and skin tone.  An example of this is blonde hair, light blue eyes and pale skin or dark hair, dark eyes, and dark skin. 

Brilliant chroma is when a persons’ hair and eyes are different from their skin color.  Dark hair, dark eyes, and pale skin.

If you are an in-between person, hold a bright and a dull color top to your face and decided which looks better.  If the dull color looks better, you are soft and muted if the bright color looks better, you are bright.  Remember the hue and value of each must be the same.

Also read – 3 Steps to Determine Your Face Shape and Everything You Need to Know About for (Women)

How does this help you determine your color pallet?

Your color pallet has every color in it as long as the three elements match.  You can go darker and brighter than your skin, but these colors may not look the best on you.

The 12 seasonal color pallets

These color pallets have limitations, but as it works for a lot of people, I include it here.  This is a guideline, and all guidelines should be taken as a general rule and not a hard and fast rule. 

Many people find themselves in-between.  You can choose colors from seasons with similar hue, value, and chroma to the one you are placed in.

What is the 12 Seasonal color theory?

You decide your three elements as described above and determine which is your dominant and secondary characteristics.  This will place you into one of the 12 seasons and give you a season color pallet that if you stick to, will look good on you. 

I have listed the 12 seasons and defining characteristics in the table below.  I have added to the 12 seasonal terms to illustrate how it fits in with the color theory.  In 12 season color theory, autumn means fall.

The 12 Seasons of Color Analysis

The color grey

Grey is the only color that both cool and warm people can wear it is the only neutral color.  All other colors can be either warm or cool.

Also read – For Makeup Beginners These Key Points on Your Face to Create Well Balanced Makeup Every Time

Frequently Asked Questions!

What does color say about you?

With color, you project yourself onto the world in what is known as the language of color.  Color has syntax to interpret the meaning.  Although some colors have universal connotations, some cultural meanings have been assigned to a color.

Here is a list of the western interpretation of color:

Red:  Meaning passion, aggression, danger.

Grey:  Meaning passive and low energy.

Blue:  Meaning Loyal and dependable.

Purple:  Meaning luxury and Royal.

Orange:  Meaning high energy and success.

Yellow:  Meaning happy and light

White:  Meaning formal, structured, and purity.

Green:  Meaning relaxed and calm.

Brown: Meaning grounded and earthy.

Pink:  Meaning feminine and girly.

Orange:  Meaning vitality and brilliance.

Black:  Meaning mysterious, unknown, elegant, and negative.

Pale colors have the same emotional response but muted.

Does color affect the mood of those around you?

Our ancestors used color as a way to interpret the world much like we do today.  This is depicted in the fact that women have evolved to differentiate more colors than our male counterparts as we needed to identify which fruit or berries where the ripest. 

Through time we associated a meaning to a color derived from the survival response related to that color.  Translated to today where we use that to perceive a mood.  That is why, if you are absent-minded, you jump a red traffic light.  Subconsciously the mind interprets red as dangerous, and your instinct is to flee.  Green color signify calm and peace, and that is why you may lose focus at a green traffic light.

Some interpretations:

Dangerous animals often have red makings creating an association of red and danger.  Wearing red will not automatically cause a dangerous feeling around you, but you will be noticed.  Red signifies pay attention you may be in danger. 

Yellow is associated with happiness.  This is the color of the sun and the seasonal harvest marking a time of plenty and evoking feelings of happiness. 

Color affects your mood, but is it because you feel a particular way? Or if people treat you in a particular manner that affects your mood?  Subconsciously you may have selected a color to communicate to the viewer about how you feel, and in response to the color, they treat you in a particular manner enhances your mood.

Experiments have shown that people wearing grey were overlooked by the people around them.  Causing the participants to become sad and depressed.  Is it the color or how they were treated?

Does color affect your behavior?

In clothes, this can be interpreted in different ways, either you were treated in a particular manner by wearing a certain color.  This created your mood and then behavior.  Or subconsciously, you selected the color to represent your mood and that determined your behavior and people reacted to it.

A Grey outfit could mark you as calm and intelligent in a setting of authority or to be overlooked if you are walking down the street.  Whereas red could be interpreted as angry or passionate depending if you are walking into your office or if you are on a date.

The rainbow of colors:

There are too many color variations out there for any color theory to be correct every time.  Professional consultants are available to help you select the style and colors right your you.  If all else fails, go to your local hardware store and pick up as many paint color samples as you can.  Hold it to your skin and see which color looks good against it.  With the number of color options on the card, you will find which hue, value, and chroma suit you.

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