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Colour analysis – your burning questions answered

I get SO many questions about colour analysis every week. It honestly seems to confuse many image consultants, almost as though there’s a bit of a mystery behind doing it well.

I think colour analysis is magical, and you can help clients change their lives once they know their perfect colours. But honestly, there’s no mystery to colour analysis. Despite being hugely transformational and valuable, it’s much simpler to do than people make it out to be.

I’ve been training image consultants in colour analysis since 2010, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on some of the most common questions I get and hopefully show that it isn’t as complex as you may think.

1) I’m really struggling to identify my client’s skin tone. What should I do?

Please don’t get too hung up on this. It’s just one of the many ways to determine someone’s season.

It can be tough to determine someone’s skin tone, even if they’re sat right in front of you! The difficulty comes because often it’s hard to see people’s undertones, either because they have dark skin or have used fake tan, sunbeds or are lucky enough to spend a lot of time in the sun, which alters the surface appearance of their skin tone.

Many people say to look at the colour of your client’s veins to determine skin tone, blue veins being a sign that they are cool and green that they are warm. This just isn’t reliable, though, because we all see colour subjectively. I could look at someone and say they have blue veins, and you’d look at the same person and see green! Do you remember that viral post on social media with a picture of a striped dress? Half of the world was convinced it was white and gold, and the other swore it was blue and black. That’s what I’m talking about!

A helpful way to start identifying skin tone is to use your own as a reference point and compare it to your clients. For instance, I know I’m very cool as I have a lot of pink undertones to my skin. If someone looks very different to me, even if still very pale, then perhaps they have warm skin tones. It gives me somewhere to start.

However, going back to my original comment, don’t get hung up on skin tone. Unless it’s really obvious, then move on.

2) My client has coloured her hair. What should I do?

It’s generally much easier to determine whether someone has warm or cool coloured hair. There’s usually a lot of it to look at, and it’s more evident than skin tone. However, you’ve identified a big problem: many people, women, in particular, change their hair colour with dye, which causes confusion!

My advice here is again not to get too hung up about your client’s hair colour. Make gentle enquiries about their natural hair colour and factor that in alongside all your other considerations. We have to work with what’s right in front of us. If your client is clearly cool in every other aspect but has chosen a very warm colour for her hair and it looks a bit off, you could suggest that she might want to speak to her stylist about toning it down slightly to blend more with her natural colouring.

Remember, you are not a hair expert. You aren’t expected to give detailed technical advice to your clients on hair colour. Hair colouring is a highly complex and specialist area of its own, so don’t be afraid to refer clients to a hairstylist for more support in this area. You are not expected to know everything about colour!

Perhaps you could build relationships with hairstylists in your local area and find out who has an excellent understanding of colour theory so that you can refer clients to them if requested? You might find that they reciprocate by referring their clients to you for colour analysis!

Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

3) Should I use the seasonal or tonal colour analysis system?

Use whichever system you feel most comfortable with! There is no right or wrong, and unfortunately, neither method will provide you with a shortcut manual on how to get it right from the first time you do an analysis. It simply takes practice.

As I’ve said so many times before, confidence comes from taking action. It’s no good continually investing in course after course and learning every single system. That will not make you confident. You have to start and keep on coding people, and then your confidence will come.

I started by coding friends, and two of them were autumns. It was only after a lot of practice that I could distinguish that one of them was more soft muted than the other, who was a true autumn. Practice always leads to improvement, deeper understanding, and ultimately confidence.

Whichever system you decide to go with, you can’t go far wrong if you look at all the clues you’ve got in front of you. Look at the skin, hair and eyes, of course. But don’t forget to take the client’s preference into account, as well as their lifestyle, the kind of image they want to project, as well as what makes them comfortable.

4) I sometimes get requests to do colour analyses for free. What should I do?

Many people are intrigued to know their colour season or type, and of course, there are the odd cheeky ones who don’t want to pay for the knowledge and experience it takes to diagnose them! I’d create a Facebook group for obviously keen people who aren’t yet ready to invest in personal colour analysis.

Inside the group, you can give away a certain amount of your colour analysis expertise for free to educate people. Sometimes they just don’t understand the value of what you’re offering, so you have to tell them. You can use many things to illustrate it for them, such as how it helps them select clothes, makeup and hair colours that suit them and in building a capsule wardrobe. You could also talk about how it helps make people more confident, particularly about some of the presentational tasks they might have in life, like making videos to promote their business and job interviews. Educating people in your group and telling them about your services over time will eventually lead to some becoming paying clients.

Be wary of offering free colour analyses, though. In my experience, it’s very rarely appreciated, and then this feeds into any doubts you might have about your abilities. Also, don’t forget that you’ve invested a lot of money in your training and spent even more time since then practising your skills. Yet another reason not to give them away for free!

5) I often see people giving colour analysis sessions for free. How will I ever get people to pay?

Although it’s not great for the individuals offering free sessions, I mean, how do they pay their bills? I think it’s positive for the industry when more people start promoting their services because the general public becomes more aware of what we do and what we help them achieve.

There is room for everyone in this business. Don’t ever tear people down if they are giving free consultations; just explain on your own social channels what makes you different and what your clients are paying for – your deeper knowledge, support in finding prints that work, not just colours, teaching them how to go out and find their colours when shopping for themselves, etc. Share plenty of testimonials from your happy clients too!

6) Is it possible to do colour analysis online?

Yes, absolutely! In fact, it was the only way for many image consultants to stay in business through periods of lockdown at the beginning of the pandemic. Levels of training in online colour analysis rose dramatically.

I teach people how to move their colour analysis services online. They’re usually already trained and experienced in providing in-person analyses and need help tweaking their knowledge to offer it confidently through online sessions.

7) But some people don’t trust online colour analysis?

Yes, that’s true because it’s still relatively new. I have personally delivered online colour analysis sessions for many happy clients. I have now trained dozens of image consultants to do it themselves through my 5 Weeks to Online Colour Expert training program. If you’re already qualified to offer in-person colour analysis, you’ll have no problems transferring your skills to the online world. The best bit then is that you open yourself up to the world as potential clients because you can work with anyone wherever they are on the planet.

Do you have any other questions about colour analysis and online colour analysis? Leave a comment and I’ll do my best to help you!    

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