Friday, December 17, 2010

19. [I] Looked Really Good!

A CUSTOMER WITH N2 SKIN TONE: Hi Janis. : ) I just wanted to let you know that today I discovered that, yes, in fact all the colors on my N2 palette [First Edition] are 100 percent perfect for me! I went out shopping today and found a large rainbow-colored beaded necklace at Aldo. The colors of the beads were all a perfect match with a number of the bright, clear colors on my palette. (Some of the ones I wasn't sure I could wear, including bright, clear orange, magenta and really bright lemon yellow.) I put the necklace on over my orange sweater (which is also a close match to an orange on my palette) and I instantly saw that all the colors harmonized perfectly! It looked really good! : )  Thank you so much for creating this wonderful system of color analysis! For the first time in my life I fully realize what my true colors actually are! They are perfect.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

18. I Went...To Test Your Theory

A CUSTOMER WITH W2 SKIN TONE: "So I went with a friend to test your theory that a mauve colored top could mesh with my W2 skintone [First Edition color]. Since my skin is light, I went with a light to medium mauve. Once on, the shirt put a definite gray cast to my face which in my opinion wasn't flattering. My friend's comment was, "It's alright, you could wear it." I agree. It's just "alright", but who's looking for that when they buy their clothes? To contrast this I tried on a light warm yellow-green top. We both agreed it was a superior choice that left a nice peachy glow to my skin. So here are my thoughts. I am not sold on your system yet. Yes, I do not own it [the mauve top] and I wasn't using an exact match from your palette, but I do understand the concepts of light/dark, cool/warm, and clear/muted so I feel that I couldn't have been too far off...

MBC: Hello Amy. I'm glad to hear from you. Your concerns are not surprising. Let's see if I can help you with them. First of all, it's very interesting to me that you have put a considerable amount of effort into experimenting with your palette of colors. Clearly, color is important to you.

The first thing that comes to mind is the possibility that your skin tone match may not be correct. Frankly, I don't think that is a likely problem. You are an observant, thoughtful person. It's my guess that you made a good choice.

The next consideration is to look at whether or not you were considering at least three of your palette colors together when judging color compatibility/harmony. By this I mean skin color, perhaps your hair color, and the color of the mauve top. The color analysis method requires at least three colors working together to establish a harmony. More colors than that will only add to the beauty of the mix.

Third, if your hair, scarf, cosmetics or another item added a third color from your palette to the mix, then the mauve--if it was a very close match--was a good color for you. You may not like the way the color looked on you, or you may not have been looking for the mood that particular color helped to set, but technically, it was a harmonious color on you.

Here's my suggestion: If you basically like the colors the 4 or 12 palette seasonal color analysis method suggests for you, use it to guide you in discovering your very best matches. For example, if a "warm yellow-green" is in the seasonal color palette, look for the closest match to that "warm yellow-green" in your MyBestColors palette.

MyBestColors will give you the precisely correct version for you. If you read the fine print about seasonal analysis, Carol Jackson explains that the suggested colors in her method are approximate, not exact. The colors are exactly correct. Be careful about loosely selecting a color that falls somewhere between "light to medium." This will cause you to loose control of color harmony. Your match must be very close.  I hope this helps you, Amy...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

17. Color Me Beautiful Discussion

READER, SHANNON: "Hi, my name is Shannon and I am very impressed with the way you have figured out people's best colors by basing the choices solely on our skin tones. I have been trying to figure out my best colors for awhile now by using the old "color season" and 12 season flow approach, and I find that I have only kept continuously changing my mind about what color season I am, and that in almost every category some colors seem to 'fit' but others don't."

"I am a huge fan of Loreal's True Match makeup as well! I have been using it for some time now and I know that I am N2." [This sentence refers to the First Edition selections. The Second Edition skin tone choices will come out in 2012.]

"...I started to become confused about my best colors when I noticed that I suit some warm hair colors and that I receive compliments when I wear some orange or peachy colors, and warm yellow-based greens too (maybe this is normal if you have a neutral skin tone?)"

"I greatly appreciate your help with choosing my best colors. Have a good day. :)"

MBC: Shannon, initially the palettes will appear both delightful and confusing. They're confusing because we all became used to the seasonal color palettes presented to us by Color Me Beautiful about 30 years ago. At that time, computer-aided color selection was not a possibility. Carol Jackson was working with the only tool available to her. Called a spectometer, it was used to measure how much blue and/or yellow was in a handful of colors. And nobody was using transparent skin tone test cards to quickly and accurately assess one's skin tone, so holding cloth samples of the precategorized (winter, spring, summer and fall) colors up to a customer's face became the standard method for personal color analysis.

This method resulted in questionable results. The method is fraught with a lot of guess-work, opinions and approximations at best, but probably the most problematic aspect of that color analysis method is the shaky premises the method is based on. Why were the test colors chosen in the first place? Why not other colors with equal amounts of blue and/or yellow? Much of the color selection was predetermined by the fabric industry. Colors had to be selected from fabrics in colors that were already being manufactured. And then, why not assess green, red, orange and purple, etc. too? What about the value (lightness and darkness) of colors? What about intensity or chroma (the clarity or dullness) of colors? Also, no theory is proven correct unless it can be precisely duplicated by other people. The seasonal color method shifts results according to the interpretation and opinions of the person/people doing the testing.

That being said, Color Me Beautiful served to put us on the right track, and it often pushed us toward more pleasing results than most of us were achieving on our own. Color Me Beautiful made color FUN.

Today, we are able to go much, much further toward accurate personal color analysis. In fact, we can achieve precisely correct results for anyone once their skintone (color) is determined. And computer processing looks at ALL colors in the visible color spectrum. Color Me Beautiful looks primarily at hue (the usual way most people look at color i.e. red, yellow, blue...). assesses hue, value and chroma of ALL visible colors, and then selects only the colors that fall within a close color contrast (difference) distance from a particular skintone. Next, this select group of colors is further processed through an algorithmic mask to allow through only the colors that fit a proportional doubling pattern. Thus, every single color in the resulting palette is there for good reason, and contributes to the color harmony of the rest of the colors, including your identified skin tone color. Computers quickly performs the work. It's mistake-free and thorough, so you may relax and trust your colors.

Color harmony is objective and precise, while color preference is subjective. This is not generally understood, probably because the ability to achieve perfect color harmony was never before possible, so we did our best to put colors together that seemed pleasing. With, subjectivity enters the picture AFTER a harmonic palette of colors is selected. At that point, color choices within the palette can be opinion-based. ALL of the 620 [380, 2012] colors in your personal color palette can be mixed-and-matched. Your whites may be used with any of the other colors in your entire palette. However, you may also use your white, or any other color in your palette, within the parameters of one of the suggested color schemes.

I hope this clarifies things for you. Please feel free to contact me at any time with other questions or comments.

16. Reader's Concerns

READER, AMY: "I have a W2 [First Edition] skin tone (aka warm ivory).  In your illustration the model appears to be wearing a mauve colored top, berry lipstick, and dark burgundy shorts.  In my opinion, while these colors may harmonize with each other, their cool, muted, and/or dark natures seem more suited to a cool or at least more neutral skin tone."                                                                                                                                                    
MBC:  I always enjoy hearing from customers.  I believe you will be delighted with the range of colors you can wear.  Everybody can wear every hue in the rainbow.  It's a matter of selecting the right color note(s) within each hue.  And the selection of those correct colors could never have been accomplished by human judgement alone.  Computer technology searches millions of colors to perform the very intricate job of selecting your precisely correct palette of colors.  Once your colors are identified, you can play to your heart's content.  Mix-and-match all you want.  All 620 [380, 2012] colors, plus your natural eye and hair color(s), are right for you.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

15. 10 Ways to Wear a Scarf

MBC: Not sure how to wear a scarf? These quick style tricks will turn those fussy closet staples into something cool. This video demonstrates ten ways to wear a scarf.

14. Color Me Confident

Barnes & Noble is one of my favorite places to explore. Yesterday, while sitting with a white mocha frappuccino in hand, I glanced to the book shelf on my right. In the Beauty & Grooming section, a colorful book jumped out called Color Me Confident: Change Your Look - Change Your Life!. This book promotes the seasonal color analysis method, and then flows into a very impressive look at fashion and cosmetics. Leading image consultants, Veronique Henderson and Pat Henshaw, will earn your respect with their highly competent and colorfully interesting presentations on such topics as how to work with various body shapes, features and style; makeup; hair styles for various face shapes; accessories; dressing for pregnancy; dressing up; organizing your closet; how to shop for a wardrobe; and capsule wardrobes.                                                                     

Now, let me be clear, I emphatically know that offers a precisely correct palette of colors for each of 24 [33, 2012] different skin tones, whereas the seasonal color analysis process deliveres colors based on judgement calls and approximations, but nonetheless, these image consultants have a lot to teach. Many of their suggested color combinations can simply be replaced with your own precisely correct similar colors, while retaining the lovely effect. Treat yourself! If you love color and style, you will love this book.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

13. Use of Neutral Colors

Would you like to know why it's important to wear colors that harmonize with your personal coloring? The answer is so simple that, once it's pointed out to you, you'll immediately respond, "Of course. I knew that." It's important to wear your colors because the colors you wear accentuate the same colors in your skin tone, your hair and your eyes. To illustrate, think of choosing matting for a painting. The color of the mat will emphacize the same color in the painting. On the other hand, if a mat with no color relationship to the painting is selected, the effect will be of disharmony/discord...and it will feel uncomfortable to look at.

Naturally, then, one's own natural hair color(s), eye color(s) and skin tone would make excellent color choices for the basic structure of your wardrobe. Suits, shoes, purses, jewelry, etc. in your neutral colors would serve you well. Other harmonizing colors, such as those found in your palette would make excellent accent colors for accessories, a blouse, cosmetics, nail color, etc. Or, you could do it the other way around; use your Primary and/or Secondary Neutral Color(s) to accessorise, while selecting a color from your personal color palette as the main color.

The examples above demonstrate just how flattering neutral color choices can be, whether you draw from skin tone, hair or eye color.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

12. What About Hair and Eye Colors?

With 620 [380, 2012] colors offered in every personal color palette, it is highly likely that you will see your eye and hair colors in the lot. In some cases, however, your natural hair and/or eye colors will not be featured in your palette. You needn't be concerned about this. There is an elegant solution to the problem. Your natural hair and eye colors trump your personal color palette. You may wear any of the natural color shades in your hair, and you may wear any of your natural eye colors. In fact, wearing one or more of these colors will enhance your natural coloring by bringing more attention to it.

Wearing one or more of your hair and eye colors will also lend an immediate "pulled together" look to your appearance. Additionally, the combination of your skin tone, hair and eye colors create a natural color harmony. Any additional colors you add from your personal color palette for cosmetics, clothing or accessories will add to the richness of the harmony.

Think of your natural hair color as your Primary Neutral Color. Be aware that when others look at you, they certainly see your hair color along with the other colors in your ensemble. The trick is to build a color bridge from your hair color to the color in something your wear. A shirt, for instance, or a belt or tie...Pick up, and repeat, the color in your hair somewhere else on your body.

Your eye color is your Secondary Neutral Color. It also can be worn at will. It will always look good on you regardless of whether or not it is in your personal color palette. Many people have multiple colors in thier hair and eyes. In those cases you may expand your Primary and Secondary Neutral Color Palettes to include those various colors.

Follow a different course if you are selecting hair coloring products, or colored contact lenses. In these cases, it's best to match the end result with colors in your color palette. I say "match the end results" because the color on a hair coloring box will not necessarily look the same once it's applied to your hair. Similarly, colored contact lenses will be influenced by your natural eye color, and may not look like you expect them to. Sometimes a professional opinion can be helpful.

Monday, July 19, 2010

11. Questions From A Customer

I want to share an email I received this morning from a delightful male customer, and my response to him: Hi Janis, I received my Palette in the mail on Friday. I love these colors! Though I have to admit some of them scare me! I assume I should match anything i wear as closely as possible to the colors herein. I'm really wondering if I can actually wear some of these colors. I'm thinking of the more muted ones or the very bright ones.... There are so many variations on each color its hard to believe. There is even hot pink! Although I don't think I'd ever wear hot pink, I am surprised it was included. I didn't think my skin would respond to such a color, like maybe it was too cool or bright or something.

Interesting....Some of these browns are quite close to my skin tone so I'm wondering if they are best worn as jackets or away from the face. For example #121 of the N8 [First Edition] color palette is the same color as the skin color border. So wearing that color would make me appear naked. Talk about slipping into something more comfortable LOL. I'm thinking it depends on the effect I want to achieve when wearing it. So if I wanted to have a very quiet, intimate effect these colors that are closer to my native coloring would be the thing. Also going by your blog when taking into account color coordination number 3 skin tone would be included in all my choices. Its all very fascinating. I'm looking forward to discovering how this will work out. Cheers!

MBC: The colors in my system are quite different from the 4 or 12 palette color season system. They are derived in very different ways, but with the same goal which is to identify colors that work well on an individual. The older system is necessarily cumbersome. Either a spectrophotometer, or a draping technique of material, must be used to determine the "temperature" of the skin, and then a palette of colors are subjectively selected for the individual. One of the errors of the seasonal system is in not recognizing that the temperature of a color is relative to the other colors around it. A color cannot be an absolute "cool" or "warm."

With the method, one's skin tone color is treated just like any other color, and can be identified with the following measures: RGB (red, green, blue), CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and black), HSB (hue, saturation, and brightness), or HVC (hue, value and chroma). The computer, not a human using his best judgment, then objectively looks at the numbers and selects only the colors that fall within a restricted/proscribed distance from that skin tone. Now if all of those filtered colors were the final color selection, there would still be a degree of chaos within the palette because colors, even those found within a particular hue group (such as blue) could only be selected at random.

It would be like hitting keys on the piano keyboard at random, which would sound obnoxious, even though the number of keys had already been restricted to 88. So, like notes written within guidelines to create beautiful music out of the chaos, the colors in each palette must also be further refined. The last significant action is to give rhythm and harmony to each palette by applying another filter. Any one of a variety of progressive mathematical algorithms could be applied, but I have chosen a very simple, basic progression: All colors except those that are precisely 5%, 10%, 20%, 40%, [+60%, 2012] and 80-88% contrast(difference) distance from the targeted skin tone are eliminated. It's like writing notes to create harmony in music. At this point the colors are controlled because the numbers are controlled.

Theoretically, all of the colors can be mixed-and-matched at this point. Now, as you are already sensing, you will not necessarily want to wear all of the colors. You may not like all of the possible combinations of colors. And you will need to be selective of colors to achieve the look you desire. provides you with a precisely correct collection of 620 [380, 2012] best colors for your skin tone, including nuanced colors. We offer you color scheme suggestions, and carefully organize the color swatches on each page of your album so that you can easily and quickly work with them.

However, there are many great resources for clothing style. Color Me Beautiful, for instance, offers excellent tips on style. I really think their color system is on the right track. It's just that we can determine a cohesive, harmonious color palette now with much, much greater accuracy than the older seasonal systems can, and yet their supplemental style information is spot-on.

It is to be expected that you will see colors in your palette that you had never considered wearing before. After all, a computer can analyze information with greater speed and accuracy than can a person using their best judgment, as in the older color palette selection systems. A hot pink, for example, can be a fun color to try. Maybe in a summer Hawaiian style shirt with a bold print that uses a little of the hot pink for a man. And perhaps in a summer dress for a woman.

My advice to you is to relax and have fun with your colors. You may hesitate to trust some of your colors at first, but the more you use them for your wardrobe selections, and for any other art or craft, the more impressed you will become.

Another tip, if you see a look you like--on a manequin, in a magazine, or on another person--just substitute in your colors for similar colors in the outfit, and you've got your own "better for you" version of the look.

As to the differences between the 24 [33, 2012] color palettes, they are both different and similar. There are a total of 620 [380, 2012] colors in each of the 24 [33, 2012] palettes. Each palette contains colors that fall within all of the color hues around the color wheel ( red, orange, yellow, green... ). And the colors are carefully arranged so that any single page contains only colors that fall within the color hue indicated by a symbol at the top of each page. This page organization makes it easy to use the suggested color schemes at the front of each palette, and to determine if the color of a particular garment or item is in your personal color palette.

There are definite differences from one palette to the next. Of course, the closer one palette falls to the next, for instance, an N4 and an N6 palette, will carry more similar (but not identical) colors than an N1 and an N8. As you glance through all of the palettes it becomes quite noticable that as the palettes progress from the lighter skin tone palettes to the darker ones, some of the colors become darker and more vivid, and there is more contrast between the lighter and darker colors, and between the vivid and more muted colors. All hues, a variety of values, and a variety of chromas are present in each of the 24 [33, 2012] palettes.

All colors are selected with mathematical and computer precision to be exactly correct for the indicated skin tone. Keep in mind there are well over 3 MILLION colors visible to human beings. A computer is able to look at ALL of them and to select out only those colors that fit the criteria being searched for. looks for all of the colors that fit within a very closely defined relationship to a particular skin tone, and then it looks again for a further refined group of colors that work together in perfect color harmony.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

10. Contributors to Skin Color

Three primary substances contribute to the coloration of skin tones; melanin, oxygenated hemoglobin and carotenes.

Melanin has the greatest effect on skin tone. The cells that produce melanin are the same in all races, but the amount and colors produced can vary greatly. Color can range all the way from black to tan. Two variants of melanin effect skin tone. One is called eumelanin. Emelanin is most abundant in people with dark skin. The other, pheomelanin, emparts a pink to red color and, therefore, is prevalent in red-headed people.

Hemoglobin has the next strongest effect on skin tone. When well-oxygenated, it is a bright red. We associate good health with the rosy complexion it produces in light-skinned people. Poorly oxygenated hemoglobin can cause the skin to take on a bluish tone. Because of it's weaker effect on skin tone, the influences of hemoglobin are generally only apparent in light toned people.

Carotenes provide the weakest contributor to skin color. They impart a yellowish tone that can be increased with the consumption of yellow foods such as carrots and oranges. People with darker skin tones generally do not exhibit the influence of carotenes because the stronger melatonin pigment will mask it.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

9. Another Model, Different Colors

Our beautiful model, above, has a Cool 8 skin tone [from First Edition]. Keep in mind that colors on a computer monitor tend to vary from monitor to monitor, so while this demonstration will lend clarity to color scheme concepts, it is not intended to help you determine if you are a C8.

In the first photo on the left our model is demonstrating a triadic color scheme with colors from the number 2 (skin tone), 6 (blouse) and 10 (suit, background) positions on the color wheel.

The next photo demonstrates a positions 2 (skin tone, blouse) and 10 (suit, background) complementary color scheme.

In photo three, our model has a brown skin tone but her suit, blouse and the background color are all found in her palettes' #1 position. This would be considered a monochromatic color scheme. If a third neighboring color wheel section were represented, then this would be an analagous color scheme.

Finally, the photo on the right also demonstrates a monochromatic color scheme for the same reasons as the previous photo. The suit, blouse and background colors are found in her palettes' # 1 color wheel position.

Many, many other possible color combinations can be found within our model's C8 personal color palette. For instance, picture how these suits might look if the blouse and jacket colors were reversed. Or, imagine print blouses or scarves that pick up more colors in her palette.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

8. Model With Skin Tone W2

Here we have a model with Warm 2 (W2) [from First Edition selection of colors] skin tone wearing colors from her correct personal color palette. As you see, her clothing, hair, cosmetics, jewelry, shoes and the background color are all perfectly compatible with her complexion. The images have a pleasing look.

Possibilities for hair color, clothing, etc. are endless. For example, many people with a W2 skin tone have blonde or red hair. As long as W2s select their colors from the W2 color palette, the colors will harmonize.

Friday, May 21, 2010

7. Whimsical Color Combinations

You might enjoy creating some whimsical color combinations. Be sure to use the colors from your personal color palette to ensure selection of harmonious colors.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

6. What About Hair and Eye Colors?

I am sometimes asked to clarify the following issue; "Will a person's eye color and hair color naturally show up in their palette if their skin tone is properly determined? I can imagine a wide variety of different hair and eye colors for people who have the same skin tone match on your scale."

The answer is no, not automatically, but you are to add them in. Eye and hair color will not necessarily be found in one's palette if skin tone is properly determined, but these colors should always be added to your personal color palette. Your natural hair color(s) is/are your Primary Neutral Color(s). Your natural eye color(s) is/are your Secondary Neutral Color(s).

It is very possible that hair and/or eye color(s) will be in your palette, but they won't necessarily be. This is because of how the colors are selected. First, all of the visible colors that fall within a certain contrast distance from the skin tone are selected. Next, the process selects out the colors that fall at proportional contrast distances from that skin tone color, at 5%, 10%, 20%, 40%, [+60%, 2012] and 80-88%.

It is this precise rhythmic color selection processs that provides absolute harmony and cohesiveness to the structure of the palette as a whole so that your colors may be mixed-and-matched with impunity. A person's eye color(s) and hair color(s) will not necessarily be positioned exactly at the 5, 10, 20, 40, [60, 2012] or 80-88% contrast distance from the skin tone. They almost certainly will, however, be included within the first selection of all colors that relate very closely to the skin tone color.

Occassionally, however, a person will have a very light skin tone (warm, neutral or cool) and very dark hair and/or eyes. In that case, the individual may add the color black to their personal palette of colors even if it doesn't automatically appear. The contrast between the palettes' very light colors and black will not be too extreme for such people.

Most people will find at least some of their hair and eye colors within their palette. Hair and eye colors are usually a blend of colors. My eyes, for example, are hazel. The greens, gray and golden brown colors of my eyes are all found in my personal palette. My exact hair color, however, is not in my palette. Since I like to color my hair, I select colors for highlights, lowlights and/or all-over color directly from my palette. The end result is quite beautiful. Not everyone, of course, wishes to color their hair or wear colored contact lenses, and that is fine. One's natural hair (Primary Neutral Color) and natural eye color (Secondary Neutral Color) are absolutely compatible with one's skin tone, and with all of the other colors in your palette.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

5. Color Analysis System

Our twenty-four [33, 2012] skin tone coordinated color palettes of 620 [380, 2012] colors each originate from computer-generated mathematical algorithms, making the process both efficient and precisely accurate. This method selects a pool of colors with a close mathematical relationship to a specified skin tone as measured by contrast, and then reduces the pool of colors to just those colors that create a palette of cohesively harmonious colors--harmonious with each other, and with their targeted skin tone color.

Remarkably, human beings have the capacity to see about three million colors. Instead of trying to describe colors by words (such as "light mocha" or "springgreen"), which can be interpreted differently by different people, we can now name, or identify, all three million colors numerically. Each color note has its own hue, value and chroma identifying numbers. Hue is the way we commonly understand color; red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and back to red again. Value measures the lightness or darkness of a color, and chroma measures a colors' intensity or dullness. So, for example, a particular "rose" color note can be identified as Hue: RP 2.22, Value: 6.37, and Chroma: 9.84.

In the early 1920s, to help us to envision these color concepts, Albert Munsell invented a color organization system that has meaning to this day. Imagine all visible colors floating in three-dimensional color space as illustrated by the graph to the right.

The Munsell Color System graph is designed such that contrasts between colors are all the same among groups of neighboring colors on the same hue page and neighboring colors on different hue pages, and chroma has a steady, linear rate of change with contrast reaching zero at the neutral axis.

Don't worry, you don't need to understand what that means. The important thing is to realize that the three-dimension perceptually ordered Hue/Value/Chroma color space facilitates the accurate calculation of color distances (contrast) between any two colors in the color space.

It would, however, help you to understand what is meant by "color contrast" because's whole color analysis system hinges on this concept. Color contrast is the measure of the visual difference between two colors when they are viewed side-by-side. For example, a black square and a white square placed next to each other create the greatest contrast possible. On the other hand, a pastel blue and a pastel purple placed side-by-side will create much less of a contrast.

Within the color space defined by Munsell's color system, it is critical to have a way to measure the contrast between any two colors.
  • We first mathematically quantify color contrast relationships in three dimensional Hue/Value/Chroma space
  • then we apply harmonic progressions or scales to those Hue/Value/Chroma contrasts. A color palette of controlled, organized contrast is our goal.
"Contrast is critical to controlling color relationships, because contrast is something we can attach a number to. Once we can attach a number to something, we can control it. Once we can control color numerically, then we can organize, arrange and harmonize color. So, in a sense there is no such thing as color harmony. There can only be color-contrast harmony, because it is not the color that we are harmonizing, but the differences between the colors, measured objectively and numerically, just like music." [Master Colors Blog: August 2007] "Harmony is not an opinion or a subjective feeling. Harmony is objective. Harmony's effect is subjective." [Master Colors Blog: January 2008]

The progression chosen by selects only the colors that are 5, 10, 20, 40, [+60, 2012] and 80-88 [black] contrast levels from the targeted skin tone color. This is a simple doubling progression that lends a solid color-contrast harmony to each personal color palette of 620 [380, 2012] colors.

Within each of the 24 [33, 2012] different palettes:
  • you will find a full range of soft, medium and intense color choices.
  • All colors within a palette harmonize beautifully with each other and with the skin tone they were selected for.
  • Though black will not appear in a personal palette if it would create a contrast too strong for a very light skin tone, wearing a print of black on white works well for everyone.
  • Additionally, your natural hair color(s) which is/are your Primary Neutral Color(s) and your natural eye color(s),which is/are your Secondary Neutral Color(s), should be added to your personal color palette, if they are not already there.
  • People with very dark hair or eyes, and very light skin may also add black to their palette.
In the system used by, 88 is the contrast level between black and white. It is the strongest color contrast possible. And interestingly, 88 is also the number of keys on a keyboard. "Combine technology with mathematical proportions and it's as if you are creating musical compositions with color." [Andrew Hussie]

Thursday, May 13, 2010

4. New Color Analysis Method Illustrated

The following illustration using concentric circles will make color quantification easy to understand. Think of your skin tone as the center color, the color all the other colors closely relate to. Next comes the ring of colors that differ from the skin tone by a 5% contrast (difference) as measured by hue, value and chroma. Then we step out to the ring of colors that vary from the skin tone by a contrast level of 10%. In turn, the colors at 20%, 40%, [+60%, 2012]and 80-88% contrast levels are identified.

All colors inside the largest circle closely relate to the skin tone color, but only those colors that fall on the pink line (at exactly 5,10,20,40 [+60, 2012] and 80-88%) will be accepted into that skin tone's unique palette of colors.

This carefully measured selection gives your personal palette of 620 [380, 2012] colors true harmonic structure. Hues, values and chromas differ, but they differ with a precise purpose. Just as there are rules for creating musical harmony, there are rules for creating color harmony.

Until now, color analysis was more of an art than a science. Now, we can KNOW what colors harmonize, which leaves us free to trust our colors, and to confidently enjoy them.

The illustration on the left is a 2-dimensional demonstration of how different skin tone palettes relate, though in reality the space is 3-dimensional. As you see, the color palettes may overlap a little, depending on how close two skin tones are in color, nevertheless, each palette is cohesively harmonious, and only relates well with the other colors within that palette.

3. Clearing Up The Mystery of Color

Much of the mystery about color can be deciphered very easily. To do so, we need to focus on some basic terms used to describe different facets of color. These terms are "color,"  "hue,"  "pure color,"  "tint,"  "tone" and "shade."   The most widely used term, "color," covers all the bases. It's a generic term used to label any color, including white, gray and black.

"Hue" refers to the purest/truest/brightest colors. These are colors with no added white, gray or black

Any pure hue with some white added is a "Tint." Tints are commonly referred to as pastels. They are clear (absent of gray), lightened hues.

"Tones" are pure hues mixed with gray (which is a combination of white and black). Tones are generally softer, muted and easy to live with.

The term "shade" refers to a pure hue with some added black. Shades are clear (absent of gray), darkened hues.

2. Can Cool Skin Tones Wear Orange?

A lovely woman, whom I've enjoyed communicating with concluded, "I've had my colors done in the past [with seasonal color analysis] and I really disagree that cool undertones can wear orange." Consequently, she decided against purchasing color palettes from What a great topic for us to address this week!

Rather than offer my opinion, I want you to decide for yourselves whether cool skin tones can or cannot wear orange. Take a look at these sample colors from's Cool 2 Color Palette:

Note that the surrounding skintone color is more orange than blue. Also, note that the orange color swatches are rusty in color, rather than a bright orange. They are highly muted, containing more blue, and less pure orange, than Warm skintone oranges do.

The border color indicates the skintone, and the inner color swatches are technically harmonious to each other and to the skintone. So, what do you think? Do the colors work together? Please realize that if even one of the colors is compatible, they all are because they are all very closely related mathematically.

A separate issue relates to an individual's color preferences. Someone may see that a group of colors work with a particular skintone, and still not like the colors. People naturally have preferences for, and against, particular colors and color combinations. Happily, though, with 620 colors to choose from, all color preferences, moods and occassions can be well satisfied.

1. What's Wrong With Seasonal Analysis?

The phenomenal seasonal color analysis system originated in the 1920s through home economics university classes. In the 1970s books began to appear about how to identify the most flattering colors to wear, and in 1980 Carole Jackson released Color Me Beautiful. Her seasonal color analysis method set off a firestorm of excitement about personal color. Interest in personal color analysis has since settled down, but it has never faded away. Wonderful, older and newer books on seasonal analysis are still available at Barnes & Noble and Borders book stores.

People can become very passionate about color, and if they've invested time, energy and money into exploring the 12-palette seasonal color analysis method, they can become strongly opinionated, so we might as well jump into the deep end of the subject.

First of all, let me say I don't view seasonal color analysis as the definitive solution. Carole Jackson doesn't either. By her own admission she believes this system to be imperfect. A recent quote by Anna Villaruel of The Chic Fashionista reported one of the flaws, "because ethnic women have less variation in hair and eye color, the Carole Jackson system often leaves out Latinos, Asians, Africans and Mediterraneans," In walking her readers through seasonal analysis, Anna begins by stating, "Seasonal color analysis can be a little bit tricky to understand..."

I found that to be an understatement. In fact, I find the process to be impossible. There can be no certain conclusion. Words that came to mind as I read through the analysis process were "ambiguity," "opinion," "subjectivity," "complexity," "imprecision," "uncertainty," "guessing," "frustration," "undefined terms" and "maze." (Yes, some of these words are redundant, but they came to mind, nonetheless.) I believe that reasonable people could very easily arrive at different conclusions about an individual's proper category placement with the seasonal approach to personal color analysis.

Look at some of Anna's phrases which are designed to guide a person in deciding whether she/he is a Light, Clear or Warm Spring:
  • "if you're a Spring you probably have..."
  • "warm in complexion, but...brighter with light to medium color intensity"
  • "light blond, medium brown, golden or reddish highlights"
  • "golden or peachy undertones"
  • "your colors are hard to find because they can never be muted or too dark"
  • "you should choose colors that are 'alive' with a hint of gold--meaning balance between muted and dark"
  • "if you get tanned you can wear the lime green and sometimes some of the Autumn colors"
  • "the same thing happens if you dye your hair darker"
  • "lighter or darker eye color"
  • And to help identify Clear Springs, look for skin tone that is "bronze, deep warm brown, brown-black, light peach or porcelain."
A gorgeous color fan of "accurate quality color swatches" is available for purchase once a person has identified their proper seasonal category. My question is, accurate by what standard?