Image by Annie Spratt

COLOR ANALYSIS
FOR PEOPLE OF COLOR

Your color season will determine the best colors for your features. As a woman of color, of course, the system I created started as a color analysis for brown skin, but it can also be used by other POC.

The idea of a color analysis started with lighter people in mind, it was about how their characteristics such as skin, hair, and eyes determined their best colors. And then there was also the idea that people with darker skin didn’t need to get their colors done because they “looked good in everything”, which isn’t correct, the darker you are , the higher your color tolerance, but that doesn’t mean that every single thing that you wear will look great.  To know which are your best colors, you need to assess your features and how they interact with colors.

THE COCOA STYLING

Seasonal Color Analysis Method

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This is my "color analysis for people of color" system, here you will find information on how color seasons work and how to find yours.

 

It took me a lot of time and effort to create the adaptations, so if you wish you share them, please credit Cocoa Styling as the

For extra resources, you can visit my other social media platforms (Youtube, Instagram, Pinterest), and if you need extra help, you can hire me to make you a custom color chart or get one of my downloadable DIY guides to pick your colors here.

This is a copyrighted color method owned by Cocoa Styling, only non-commercial use of this method is allowed, you must credit Cocoa Styling as the creator when you share the information.

 

I do not own the celebrity images used on this website; they are used to provide known color examples that people can easily relate to. And they can also be style inspiration for people who share similar features, as celebrities tend to be professionally styled.

Image by vickholius nugroho

COLOR SEASONS FOR
BLACK WOMEN

Image by Yousef Espanioly

HOW TO MAKE A
SEASONAL COLOR PALETTE

Finding your color season can be a bit tricky since it is a lot of trial and error, but here is a simple guide on how to find your best colors.

 

Pt.1

What’s are Color Dimensions?

The reason why a color analysis can determine your best colors is because it takes into account your features and how they interact with each other, and then the colors chosen will mimic that. The three features that we will be looking into are your skin, your hair, and your eyes.

In order to understand colors, it is essential to talk a bit about color theory. I won’t go in-depth because this isn’t an art class, but you will be learning the essentials.

 

The first thing that you need to know is that colors have 3 characteristics, these are called color dimensions and they are hue, value, and chroma.

Hue And Temperature

Hue is the color itself, the purest form of a color. It would be what we know as red, blue, yellow, green, purple, orange, etc.

These would be the color that you will see on a color wheel (your new best friend). The colors in that color wheel can be split into cool and warm, all you have to do is slit it in half.

When you do that, you will notice that the warm colors are yellow and orange; and the cool ones are purple and blue. But what happens with red and green? They are in the middle, so they are neutral.

Not neutral in the sense that they are a fashion neutral, but neutral in the sense that they are neither cool nor warm. Red doesn’t have either blue or yellow and green has an even mix of them. The more yellow you add to a color, the warmer it becomes, and the more blue added, the cooler it becomes.

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Cool

Warm

Neutral

Coolest

Warmest

Let’s keep in mind that a color can be cooler or warmer, especially green and red. But it also happens with “regular cool colors”, for example, the controversial terms “cool yellow” or “warm blue”, (notice the ER ending, because it makes a color cooler or warmer, but it won’t make it completely cool or completely warm)

A coolER yellow would have a green bias, so these would be like lemon yellow or cadmium yellow. It would make it cooler because you are adding a bit of blue into the mix.

A warmER blue would also have a green bias because you would be adding yellow to the mix. You might ask why not for the red side? Well, because, when you add red to blue, it becomes purple, and purple has no yellow in it, and red is neutral. So, a warmER blue would be something like teal blue or celestial blue.

Color Value

Value refers to the amount of light or darkness in a color, it is also referred to as lightness or luminosity. You would call those subdivisions tint and shade. Tint being the amount of white that you might add to a color, and shade the amount to black.

TINT

SHADE

Chroma and Saturation

Chroma or saturation is the intensity of the color, it is “the colorfulness” of a color, as the saturation increases, the purest the color will look, and as it decreases, the more muted it will look. Tone is when you alter the saturation of a color, the saturation of a color is measured on the gray scale, meaning that in order to alter the tone of a color, you would add grey to it to make a “softer” version of it.

TONE

Pt.2

What are my Undertones?

Skintones

Your skin tone is composed by tour undertone and your overtone. Overtones will range from light to dark, the Fitzpatrick skin scale (the one used to determine the amount of melanin in someone’s skin) can be very helpful to understand the concept. And your undertone will determine how warm or cool you are.

Type I

Type II

Type III

Type IV

Type V

Type VI

For the skin tones in this system, we won’t be using the Fitzpatrick scale, even if it measures the level of melanin in someone’s skin, the scale jumps significantly when it goes to the darker skin tones. And that makes it very limiting when using it for a color analysis for people of color. I divide skin tones in 8 different sections (I used to do 6 with just darker skin tones, but as my system has evolved, 8 seemed more appropriate)

Deepest Brown

Deep
Brown

Dark
Brown

Brown

Light
Brown

Light
Tan

Light
Skin

Light
Fair

I. DEEPEST BROWN

These are the people with the darkest skin tone, cooler colors tend to be darker, this is why people with this skin tone tend to have cooler undertones, not always, but 90% of the time this will be the case. Sometimes their skin will have a slight blue or violet hue, and it is sometimes referred as blue-black people.

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Nyakim Gatwech

Khoudia Diop

Anok Yai

Alpha Dia

Tamsir Thiam

II. DEEP BROWN

They also have very dark skin, but they are a bit lighter than people with a “deepest brown” skin tone. You also find that they can have warmer undertones even if they are very dark.

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Lupita Nyong’o

Viola Davis

Danai Gurira

Taye Diggs

William Jackson Harper

III. DARK BROWN

This is the skin tone that is more widely considered as dark skin in America,  but they are not as dark as Deep Brown people or Deepest brown people

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Letitia Wright

Kiitana

Simone Ashley

Winston Duke

Chadwick Boseman

IV.  BROWN

This would be the in between skin tone, they are not necessarily considered dark skinned, but not light skinned either.

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SZA

Kerry Washington

Halima Aden

Donald Glover

Michael B. Jordan

V. LIGHT BROWN

This is the skin tone that is commonly associated with the “light skin label” in America.

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Chloe Bailey

Beyoncé

Jameela Jamil

Jesse Williams

Trevor noah

VI. LIGHT TAN

This skin tone is the lightest one in the dark-skin spectrum.

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Zendaya

Zoë Kravitz

Hannah Simone

Alex Landi

Haechan

VII. LIGHT SKIN

This skin tone is also widely found among Caucasian people, but not every single POC has darker skin

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Jasmine Sanders

Karisma Kapoor

Havana Rose Liu

Ross Butler

Manny Jacinto

VIII. FAIR

This is the lightest skin tone there is. It can be found along many ethnicities, in regard to black people, this happens when they have albinism.

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Xueli.png

Diandra Forrest

Fan Bingbing

Yeh Shuhua

Sanele Junior Xaba

Xueli

Skin Undertones

If you pay close attention to the pictures above, you will have noticed that even when these people have a homogenous same skin tone, they look different, some of them look more yellow, grey, green, red, etc; that is because of their undertone. 

For undertones, we have warn, neutral, and cool. The best way to determine your undertone would be with makeup foundation, but there are a few other methods, here is a video in which I go in depth into it.

WARM UNDERTONES

Gold ● Yellow ● Peach ● Warm Olive

COOL UNDERTONES

Blue ● Red ● Pink ● Cool Olive

Your undertone is what will determine if you look better in warmer colors or cooler colors. Almost no one will be completely neutral, they will either lean toward the neutral cool or neutral warm spectrum. If your skin undertone IS 100% neutral, look at your other features (eyes and hair) to see if they are warmer or cooler. If you are still undecided, it’s time to drape colors on yourself, it might be a 50/50 split, but that is very rare.

 

Hair and eyes also have undertones, it can be very helpful to use them to find out if you are neutral warm or neutral cool when your skin is 100% neutral.

Hair Colors and Undertones

If your hair has a warm undertone if it has a red, yellow, or orange tint to it. If your hair has a cool undertone if it has a blue, violet, or green tint to it. You can have any hair color and be warm or cool, here are a few examples for each case

BLACK HAIR

Warm blacks tend to be on the red side or have warm brown highlights like off black and cherry black

Cool toned blacks look a bit blue or purple like jet black. Ashy black hair also indicates that you might be cooler.

BROWN HAIR

Warm browns tend to be more yellow and golden like chocolate brown and golden brown. Red browns like auburn are also warm toned.

Cool toned brown looks greyed out and ashy like ash brown and walnut brown

BLONDE HAIR

Warm blondes tend to be more yellow and golden, strawberry blondes and honey blondes

Cool tones blondes look greyed out or silver toned, platinum or ash blonde

RED HAIR

Warm reds tend to be more yellow and orange like natural red, and auburn red

Cool toned red has a purple tint to it, but these ones are usually artificial.

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WARM HAIR

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COOL HAIR

Eye Colors and Undertones

If your hair has a warm undertone if it has a red, yellow, or orange tint to it. If your hair has a cool undertone if it has a blue, violet, or green tint to it. You can have any hair color and be warm or cool, here are a few examples for each case

BLACK EYES

Black eyes are very pigmented, but they don’t give us much information about undertones. However, if they look slightly greyer or slate, they usually indicate being cool-toned.

BROWN EYES

Brown is the most common eye color in the world. Unfortunately, since it is so common, this doesn’t help you much in narrowing down your season or your undertone. But, brown eyes that have a red or golden tint to them are usually warm-toned. And they are cooler when they have grey bits in them.

AMBER EYES

Amber eyes will have a yellow or copper tint to them. this means that they are warm.

HAZEL EYES

Hazel eyes are a combination of green and brown. Hazel eyes tend to be warmer, because of the brown in them, but they can be cooler when they also have grey in them.

GREEN EYES

Green is a neutral color; this means that it can be easily found in both warm and cool seasons equally. However, when green eyes have grey in them, they are usually cool-toned, and when they have brown in them it could mean that they are warmer.

BLUE EYES

Blue eyes are usually cooler, especially when they have grey in them. However, that doesn't mean that someone with a warm undertone could never have blue eyes. And they can be slightly warm if they have brown in them.

Blue eyes that are more on the teal side can also be found in warmer seasons, but it isn’t very common.

GREY EYES

Grey is inheritably a cool color, it is very unlikely for you to be warm and have natural grey eyes. Finding a bit of grey mixed with any of the other colors, also means that you might lean towards a cool season.

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WARM EYES

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COOL EYES

Pt.3

What’s my Contrast Type?

Contrast is about difference, in color analysis, we have two different types of contrast, value contrast, and opposites contrast. Each one has a low and high contrast version. Light and muted are low contrast, and dark and clear are high contrast.

Contrast is important to determine your color season, but it is even more important when you are a person of color. Since we tend to have darker features, dark features against dark features do not create a high-value type of contrast, so what we will be looking at is at our chroma/saturation level. How clear or bright are your features, or are they blended?

 

Once you know your undertone and your contrast type, you will easily be able to find your season, and from there, determine your best colors.

CLEAR vs MUTED

Opposites Contrast

LIGHT vs DARK

Value Contrast

Clear Types

You are clear if your features create either an opposites type of contrast or if they are very saturated and defined. The main color aspect of a Clear type is its Chroma level, in the sense of how saturated they are.

If you remember when we were talking about color dimensions, you will remember that tone and saturation were determined on a grayscale, so there would be nothing muted or blended about a Clear season.

CONTRAST AND SATURATION

There are two types of contrast that will indicate if you are a Clear Type.

 

The first one is being a mix of opposites. For example, if your skin and eyes are opposites, like having very dark skin and light eyes. Or if your skin and hair are opposites, like having dark skin and light hair or having light skin and dark hair.

 

The second one would be having a high saturation level, this is a very important aspect to look at if you do not have a high contrast level, for example, dark skin and dark eyes. If you have bright, saturated, and defined features, you will be able to handle intense colors.

 

That is why very dark people look great in bright colors, not because they have a high contrast level. If you have very dark skin and very dark eyes and hair, you have a low contrast level. Some stylists might tell that it is because of the contrast that their skin makes with the whites of the eyes and teeth, but that doesn’t actually play much into it, your eyes can be slightly more yellow, and you will still look good in bright colors if your features are very saturated. Also, two people can have the same skin tone and the same intensity of white in their eyes, but one can be muted and the other one saturated.

VALUE

The default is a medium value level, depending on the coloring on the person it can be slightly lighter or darker, but since it is a tertiary feature, it won’t be a lot.

TEMPERATURE

They can be warm or cool, if you are a Warm Clear, you are a Clear Spring, and if you are a Cool Clear, you are a Clear Winter.

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Soft Types

You are Soft if your features are kind of muted. They can either be slightly greyed out or just blend because all of them share a similar color. The main color aspect of a Soft type is their Chroma level, in the sense of how muted they are.

 

If you remember when we were talking about color dimensions, you will remember that tone and saturation were determined on a gray scale, so there wouldn’t be any strong and bold colors in the features of a Soft type.

CONTRAST AND SATURATION

There are two types of contrast that will indicate if you are a Soft Type.

 

The first one is if your 3 features (skin, hair, and eyes) all have a similar coloring. Since all of them are very similar, none of them stand out by themselves.

 

The second one is if your features are very muted. POC tend to have darker features, therefore, you might have a higher contrast level, but if your features are still muted, you will look better in softer colors.

VALUE 

The default is a medium value level, depending on the coloring of the person it can be slightly lighter or darker, but since it is a tertiary feature, it won’t be a lot.

TEMPERATURE

They can be warm or cool, if you are a Warm Soft, you are a Soft Autumn, and if you are a Cool Soft, you are a Soft Summer.

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Dark Types

You are a Dark Type if your features are very deep and intense, this doesn’t necessarily apply to skin, as you can have light skin and be a dark type, or have dark skin and not be a dark type. What you want to look at is how intense and dark your hair and eyes look against your skin. The main color aspect of a Dark type is their Value level, in the sense of how deep their colors are.

 

If you remember when we were talking about color dimensions, you will remember tint and shade will alter the value level of a color by adding black or white, making a color lighter or darker. Because of the depth in the features of a Dark Type, their colors will also need to be darker.

CONTRAST AND VALUE

This is the other high contrast type, along with the Clear type. This will typically mean that your contrast level will be high because your dark hair and eyes look very intense against your skin.

 

This doesn’t always mean that your skin will be several shades darker than your other features, they jut need to look deep and intense against it.

SATURATION

The default is a medium saturation level, depending on the coloring on the person it can be slightly brighter or muted, but since it is a tertiary feature, it won’t be a lot.

TEMPERATURE

They can be warm or cool, if you are a Warm Dark, you are a Dark Autumn, and if you are a Cool Dark, you are a Dark Winter.

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Dark Winter

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Light Types

You are a Light Type if your features are light and blend with your skin, but they are not desaturated. In a typic color analysis being a light type would mean that you have light eyes, hair, and skin, but the color values in this system have been modified to suit darker complexions, therefore, you will be able to find POC in this section.

 

Something interesting to take into account for Dark Skin Light types, is that they don’t necessarily have a main color aspect like the other seasons, but it becomes a middle point. Meaning that typically the main color aspect would be their Value level, in the sense of how light their colors are, but that is not the case when you have darker features.

 

If you remember when we were talking about color dimensions, you will remember tint and shade will alter the value level of a color by adding black or white, making a color lighter or darker. Because of the lower contrast level of a Light type, their colors will be lighter, so they don’t compete with their features. But since they are not muted, their colors will still be a bit more saturated.

CONTRAST AND VALUE

There are two types of contrast that will indicate if you are a Light Type.

 

The first one is if your 3 features (skin, hair, and eyes) all have a similar coloring. Since all of them are very similar, none of them stand out by themselves. They will also be light, light skin, light eyes, and light hair.

 

Now, the second one applies to ethnic Light types that have darker features. In this case They would have lighter features for their ethnicity. This happens when their features don’t create a lot of contrast between each other (the are not necessarily light, but they won’t be too dark), but they are also not muted, therefore, being a Soft type would be discarded.

SATURATION

The saturation level of a Light Type would either be medium or slightly brignt, it won’t be very bright because that would turn them into a Clear type and it won’t be muted because it would turn them into a Soft Type.

TEMPERATURE

They can be warm or cool, if you are a Warm Light, you are a Light Spring, and if you are a Cool Light, you are a Light Summer.

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Light Summer

Image by Sean Oulashin

Sorry About the Lack of examples

This is the rarest type among darker POC

But I will update the examples as soon as I can :)

That would be it!

Finding your season is a whole experience, and it can take a bit of time and dedication since there is so much information. Also, let's remember that color dimensions are a spectrum, therefore, even when two people are the same color season, they might not share all the same colors.

Have fun on your journey to have a colorful capsule wardrobe, but if you think that this is all too much, you can hire me to make you a custom color chart according to your features.

If you found this information useful and wish to share it with others, please credit Cocoa Styling as the creator.​