The Science of Looking Good: What Colour Suits You

Image courtesy of Helen Nuttall - Spicemarket Colour

Have you ever wondered why certain colours just don’t suit you? Or why certain tones of some colours make you look flushed or washed-out?

Personal colour analyst Helen Nuttall has the answers to all of these questions.

Personal colour analysis is a service carried out by trained colour analysts, where a client’s most natural and flattering colour palette or ‘season’ is identified.

Different coloured drapes are placed around the client’s face and the skillful eye of the colour analyst is able to determine whether the colour is working favorably with the client’s natural colouring.

“Essentially, we kind of all know some colours suit us better than others but that’s actually not arbitrary and there’s patterns for why that is that way,” says Miss Nuttall. If you know how to spot the patterns, then actually you’ll know which colours do suit you.”

Watch the YouTube video below to see Dscribe’s interview with Helen Nuttall. 

How it works 

According to Miss Nuttall there are three building blocks in all colours which determine which seasonal palette they belong to.

“Everyone is a mix of these three, every colour in the world and every human being, and all we need to do is find out what mix of those three building blocks is in that person’s natural pigmentation and then there will be a palette that shares that same mix of building blocks, and that’s the palette that’s going to suit that person,” says Miss Nuttall.


The first building block is how bright the colour is, which is the chroma of the colour.

“Some colours are really bright like canary yellow and fire engine red, and the opposite of that are colours that are very, very soft and colours like if you think of duck egg blue or sage green they’re very gentle colours, they’re misty,” says Miss Nuttall.

She says wearing colours with too much or too little brightness can detract from the natural beauty of a person’s colouring.

“People who wear the really bright colours when they should be wearing softer colours – the colour will just own them, it will really rob them of their own beauty (and) you’re just distracted by what they’re wearing,’ says Miss Nuttall. “Likewise, if a person who’s got brightness in them wears something soft they will look quite washed out and the beauty of that gentle, misty colour will just look a bit insipid.”


The second building block is how warm or cool a colour is and you can get warm and cool versions of every colour.

“Every person in the world is going to be either warm, cool or neutral (or) a bit of both, and if they’re a bit of both they’re still going to lean more warm or lean more cool,” says Miss Nuttall.

According to Miss Nuttall, if a person wears the wrong hue for their natural pigmentation this can cause their complexion to change in unflattering ways.


The third building block is the value of the colour. “We call it dark and light but it’s a bit of a misnomer perhaps, think of it as the freshness of a colour versus the richness of a colour,” says Miss Nuttall.  

“Some colours are very delicate and light-weight and you know they’re very airy, think of rose petals or Turkish delight compared to very deep heavy colours that you might imagine like a medieval tapestry or an opium den,” she says.

Miss Nuttall says that if a person wears colours with the wrong value they risk looking unusual or unnatural.

“Essentially the people that are very light weight and delicate and airy, if they’re wearing those heavy tapestry colours, they actually can look quite gothic and that beautiful pearly airiness is robbed from their natural colouring,” she says. “Likewise, a person who needs that weight in their colouring, they need to wear that really heavy dark chocolate mud-cake colour (and) then if they wear the lightweight colours it will look a bit strange.”

Becoming a colour analyst 

From a young age, Miss Nuttall has always had a fascination with colour.

“I was always an arty kid and lots of kids are, but I suppose our interest as kids sometimes goes in crazy directions and mine was definitely into colour, so I was quite obsessed with Derwent pencils, the names of the colours (are) so romantic; kingfisher blue and you know all the lovely names,” she says. “All these tiny little amazing gradients of colour in the pencils and how beautiful they all were.”

After losing her interest in the arts in high school, Miss Nuttall’s passion for colour was re-ignited as an adult.

“Over the years I often wondered, like we all do, you know we try things on and we can’t figure out why it looks so awful, there’s all these strange ideas that there’s the perfect red lipstick that suits everyone or you know the right hair dye,” says Miss Nuttall. “I wanted something that was a result, and something that was validated and something that could be backed up beyond that person’s ideas.” 

Miss Nuttall says that wearing your natural colour palette is an easy way to style yourself.

“If we wear the colours that are naturally reflecting in our own bodies then we look really natural and harmonious and everything suits us and it’s easy to shop, and we always look good,” she says. 

Helen Nuttall runs her own colour analysis business Spicemarket Colour.

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