For Rebecca Reid, discovering her personal color analysis—dark autumn—was life-changing. She stopped dyeing her hair. She cleaned out her closet. She finally understood why her favorite royal blue dress killed her confidence. It just wasn’t one of her blues.
Reid first learned about the practice more than a decade ago when a friend flew to Canada because she couldn’t find a stateside option for a comprehensive color analysis. When Australia-based True Colour International (TCI) came to Fort Worth to train new analysts in 2017, Reid, who had just had a baby, applied.
Popularized in the 1980s, thanks in large part to Carole Jackson’s book Color Me Beautiful, color analysis begins with the notion that your skin’s undertones dictate what looks best on you. Jackson divided the color palette into four seasons. For decades, the question that divided mothers and daughters was simple: are you a spring, summer, autumn, or winter?
But what Jackson got wrong—and now the TikTok generation does, too—is an oversimplification of color, Reid says. Instead of four seasons, TCI uses 12 palettes, each made up of 65 colors. The system also utilizes the Munsell Color Tree, a method developed by the American painter Albert H. Munsell to define colors in three dimensions using scales of hue, value, and chroma. For the purposes of TCI, hue refers to the cool, warm, or neutral undertones that will work best with your skin color. Value refers to whether light or dark colors will work best. And chroma refers to whether more saturated or muted colors will be the most flattering.
Those additional dimensions are key. If your chroma is saturated, wearing soft versions of the right colors could actually have a detrimental effect. “Softness for some really mutes them,” Reid says, “and doesn’t make them look as healthy and beautiful. Everyone has a rainbow. It’s just a question of what’s best.”
Reid opened her personal color analysis studio, Colorpolitan, in 2018. Appointments last at least an hour and a half. They begin in Reid’s bright sitting area, where she’ll hold up 3D color trees and give the abridged version of color theory. Eventually you’ll head to a portrait studio-like space, with a gray backdrop, bright lights, a mirror, and a rack of fabric swatches in every color imaginable. TCI uses gray as a base, Reid says, because it’s more neutralizing than white (another thing most people get wrong).
Reid works through a checklist, draping various colors on clients to check how they affect their complexion. Once the palette is picked, Reid will also walk through new makeup colors with clients, suggesting perfect blushes and lipsticks.
Some get emotional during the session. “There are tears because they just have never been told something really, really authentic about their beauty,” Reid says. “And it makes me feel like what I do is of value because people see themselves in a different way.”
Reid welcomes both individuals and groups, which she especially enjoys. Everyone sips coffee, chats, and hypes each other up. She had to ban alcohol, though. She says, “People turned red.”
This story originally appeared in the December issue of D Magazine with the headline “Not Everyone Gets the Blues.” Write to [email protected].