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Is light summer the same as soft summer?

With so many different color analysis systems out there, it can get confusing trying to determine what your best colors are. Two systems that sound similar are light summer and soft summer. But are they really the same? Let’s take a closer look.

What is Light Summer?

Light summer is one of the 12 seasons in the Color Me Beautiful color analysis system developed in the 1980s by Carole Jackson. The seasons are based on your dominant coloring – your skin tone, eye color, and hair color.

Light summer is characterized by:

  • Light skin with pink, peach, or rose undertones
  • Blue, green, gray, or hazel eyes
  • Ash blond, sandy blond, gray, or white hair

The light summer color palette consists of soft, light, cool colors like:

  • Icy blues
  • Muted pinks
  • Dusty lavenders
  • Seafoams
  • Light grays
  • Soft rose browns

These colors complement the light summer’s neutral skin tone and hair and eye colors. They bring out the rosiness in the skin without being too harsh or contrasting.

What is Soft Summer?

Soft summer is one of the 12 seasons in the Sci/ART color analysis system developed by David Zyla. Like Color Me Beautiful, it categorizes people into seasons based on their physical characteristics.

Soft summer characteristics include:

  • Fair, porcelain skin with peach undertones
  • Blue or green eyes
  • Ash blond, sandy blond, light brown, or gray hair

The soft summer color palette consists of light, muted, warm-leaning cool colors like:

  • Dusty pinks
  • Lavenders
  • Soft greens
  • Warm grays
  • Peaches
  • Light browns

These flattering colors complement the soft summer’s neutral to warm skin undertones and their overall delicate coloring.

Comparing the Palettes

When you compare the typical light summer and soft summer colors, you’ll see a good amount of overlap. However, there are also some key differences between the palettes:

Light Summer Soft Summer
Cool, icy blues Muted, dusty blues
Cool muted pinks Warm peaches and terra cottas
Light grays Warm grays
Pastel lavenders Muted mid-tone lavenders

While both seasons look best in soft, light colors, light summer veers cooler with hints of icy blue and gray. Soft summer is a bit warmer with peaches and warm grays. Soft summer also embraces slightly deeper versions of similar colors than light summer.

Are They Interchangeable?

The similarities between light summer and soft summer may have you wondering – are they essentially the same thing? Can you be both? Here are a few key considerations:

  • Most color analysts say no, you can’t be a light summer and a soft summer. The palettes have distinct differences, and you’ll look best sticking to one or the other.
  • That said, there is definitely overlap. Colors on the cooler end of the soft summer palette may work well for light summer. And colors on the warmer end of light summer can flatter soft summer.
  • If you feel directly between light summer and soft summer, exploring both palettes is recommended. See which colors make your skin glow and which seem to wash you out.
  • Hair color can make a difference. A very ash blond or platinum blond may point to light summer, while a warmer sandy blond may be more soft summer.
  • Your ideal palette can evolve over time. Skin often becomes warmer with age. So a light summer may shift towards soft summer over the years.

The bottom line? Start with the season you feel is the best fit, but don’t be afraid to borrow some colors from the neighboring palette.

How to Determine Your Season

Wondering if you’re a light summer or soft summer? Here are some tips to help determine which one fits you best:

  • Look at your eye color in natural lighting. Soft summers have blue or green eyes, while light summers can also have gray or hazel eyes.
  • Examine your skin undertones. Soft summers lean warm with peach tones. Light summers are more neutral-cool.
  • Drape the pale, muted colors of each palette near your face. Do the light summer colors or the soft summer colors make you look more radiant?
  • Ask a color analysis consultant for an evaluation. They can help identify your dominant characteristics.
  • Try the color analysis makeup kits that contain swatches from each palette. See which complements your coloring best.

Pay attention to how the colors enhance your eyes, hair, and skin. The ones that make you look bright and alive are likely your season!

Celebrity Examples

Looking at celebrity examples of light summer and soft summer can help illustrate the differences between the two:

Light Summer Celebrities:

  • Gwyneth Paltrow
  • Cindy Crawford
  • Michelle Williams
  • Ashley Judd
  • Carolyn Bessette Kennedy

Soft Summer Celebrities:

  • Cate Blanchett
  • Jennifer Aniston
  • Jessica Alba
  • Ellen Pompeo
  • Jennifer Lopez

You’ll notice the light summer celebrities have very cool, neutral-pink skin and lighter hair. While the soft summer celebs have warmer, peachier skin with hints of brown in their hair.

Best Colors for Light Summer vs Soft Summer

Here are some of the best clothing and makeup colors for light summer vs soft summer:

Light Summer:

  • Icy blues
  • Mauve pinks
  • Lavender purples
  • Cool grays
  • Seafoam green
  • Platinum blonde
  • Silvery gray shadow
  • Pink mauve lipstick

Soft Summer:

  • Watermelon pink
  • Dusty blue
  • Warm gray
  • Moss green
  • Peach nude
  • Strawberry blonde
  • Taupe eyeshadow
  • Rosy brown lipstick

See how the light summer colors stay cooler and lighter, while the soft summer shades have warmth and a little more depth.

Choosing a Color Palette

Determining if you are a light summer or soft summer takes some analysis of your natural coloring. It also requires draping fabrics in each palette and seeing which is most flattering. Don’t be afraid to borrow some overlapping colors from each season.

While confusing at first glance, the light summer and soft summer palettes do have distinct differences. Being matched with your best colors can make a big impact on your appearance and give you a glowing confidence.


Light summer and soft summer may sound very similar, but they are distinct seasons with some key variances. Light summer is cooler with neutral-pink skin and light ash blond or silver hair. Soft summer is a bit warmer with peach undertones and light sandy or strawberry blond hair. The palettes overlap but have slightly different ranges, with light summer on the cooler end and soft summer embracing warmth.

Determining if you are a light or soft summer requires draping fabric swatches and seeing which brings out your best, most radiant coloring. Work with a color consultant if needed. Pay attention to how your eye color, hair color and skin tone interacts with the colors. Then embrace the palette that makes you positively glow!