Words by Vandana Pawa
Fashion is less restricted by rules and guidelines than ever, but users across social media are rediscovering the trend of color analysis. Color palettes are flying around and influencers and fashion fans alike are diving into the process to figure out an answer to the age-old question in the fashion world: what season am I?
There are a variety of ways to go about figuring this out. YouTuber Safiya Nygaard posted a recent video where she traveled to Canada to get her colors analyzed, sharing the entire journey with viewers. In the video, she notes that the process has changed over the years, as the guidelines that were made popular in the 1980s, which prioritized facial features like eye color and hair color, have become outdated as users strayed away from rules that were limiting to certain racialized and ethnic features. Myths dating back to this time, like the idea that those with black hair can’t be suited to spring or summer palettes, showcase how Eurocentric the trend was when it first came to light in the West.
@joarahyun Finding your personal color season in Seoul. One of the coolest things to do in Seoul! @cocory_personalcolor on IG #coloranalysis #personalcolor #seoultravel #kbeauty #traveltiktok ♬ Karma - Taylor Swift
The old days focused on palette options rooted in the four seasons—you could be a cool winter, warm spring, soft autumn, true summer, or anything in between—while the current model allows multiple variations between seasonal palettes to exist as well. Now, across all skin tones and facial features, the root of color analysis begins with an understanding of one’s undertone. TikTok is ripe with videos outlining experiences of users getting their personal color analysis, both in Asian countries as well as by experts like Omyo Color Studio seeking to bring versions of the analysis that were developed in Asia back to the United States. The process typically includes an analyst draping a series of colored fabrics against one’s body and employing the process of elimination to find the skin’s undertone, brightness, and depth, to create a palette that best suits a client.
This new understanding of color analysis has Asian people across ethnicities realizing that they may have had the wrong idea all along. One TikTok user writes that she “grew up being told Asian women are all warm toned but now I’m not sure,” while another Southeast Asian woman underlined the ways the misconception of having a warm undertone caused her to feel as if her makeup and clothing looked dull against her tan skin.
@parisbynightcore thats why warm toned blonde hair dye doesn’t look good on us and why nude lip colors often turn mauve on our lips! #makeup #southeastasian #viet ♬ original sound - 🍪
For those who are unable to get their colors professionally analyzed, the skyrocketing popularity of the trend on social media has led to the existence of filters that make it easy for anyone curious to test out color palettes. Beauty expert and creator of a popular analysis filter on TikTok, @gracemchoi, explained that she hopes the filter will help users discover new shades that look good on them, or just try out new color palettes for fun. I tried it out for myself, and was surprised by how immediately clear it was that some palettes flattered my skin tone more than others, making my face glow—I’m definitely not a summer. My personal style is dominated by colors: bright pinks and greens make up the majority of my wardrobe. Luckily, the palettes that stuck out to me were those that included more vivid shades, like clear spring or deep winter. Regardless of what season you might be, remember: some rules were made to be broken.
Published on May 17, 2023
Words by Vandana Pawa
Vandana Pawa is a New York based culture and fashion writer, currently working as a programs curator at the Asian American Writers' Workshop. You can find her on Twitter or Instagram @vandanaiscool.
Art by Ryan Quan
Ryan Quan is the Social Media Editor for JoySauce. This queer, half-Chinese, half-Filipino writer and graphic designer loves everything related to music, creative nonfiction, and art. Based in Brooklyn, he spends most of his time dancing to hyperpop and accidentally falling asleep on the subway. Follow him on Instagram at @ryanquans.