Friday, August 12, 2011

54. Notes on the System

[The following pertains to the First Edition color palettes.  Thirty-three new palettes of 380 colors each will be released in 2012.]
I had to select a makeup brand that offered a wide range of skin tones, AND that was easy for people to access for testing. It was a tall order. There was no perfect solution because no makeup brand has products that match to every single person’s skin tone. I had to work with that fact.

The system IS precisely correct, but you must identify the CLOSEST skin tone match. I could not create a different palette for each individual. There had to be a method to categorize skin tones. I chose L’OREAL for its range of skin tones, and for its accessibility for onsite testing. [L'OREAL skin tones will not be used in the Second Edition color palettes which will become available in 2012.]

When selecting colors online it must be remembered that computer monitors differ in how they show color depending on how they are calibrated. Most people don’t know about and/or can’t afford the equipment to obtain an accurate reading. Also, as you’ve probably noticed, the images on monitors are brighter than the actual item is. Nonetheless, respected makeup brands allow purchases online as well as at the retail level where a customer can test the makeup first hand. The most accurate method is to test yourself with the liquid makeup.

 “Neutral,” “Cool” and “Warm” are relative terms. Cooler than what color? These are simply the categories that L’OREAL uses. To avoid confusion, I named the colors and categories the same. These categories have no bearing on how the color palettes are created.

This new method requires that the precise Hue, Value and Chroma numbers of each of about 3 million colors be run through complex mathematical algorithms to arrive at a single contrast number which can then be measured against the precise Hue, Value and Chroma numbers of a particular skin tone. For our purposes, those skin tones are preselected by L’OREAL.

We mathematically select thousands of color notes that appear in 3-D space (see the Munsell system) in very close relationship to that particular skin tone. “Coolness,” “Neutrality” and “Warmth” have no place in this calculation—only the Hue, Value and Chroma numbers matter.

Now, if I were to present you with all of THOSE colors, you still would not have color harmony. Think of it this way. There are 88 keys on a piano keyboard. If you were to sit a small child down at the piano and let him hit notes at random to his heart’s content, the sound would be very obnoxious. Instead, music is created with scales, rhythm, rules…

Likewise, color must be controlled. The computer software does that by mathematically selecting  just the color notes that appear at precisely 5, 10, 20, 40 [+60, 2012]and 80-88 contrast levels from the targeted skin tone. The progressive doubling ranges NOW give you color control which translates to true color harmony.  You may mix-and-match this final selection of 620 [380, 2012] colors or, better yet, use one of the suggested color schemes.

Master Colors, the creator of the software system that uses, has contracted with Pantone (the most respected authority on color in the world) to apply its Hue, Value, Chroma contrast harmonics methodology to the Pantone system. Pantone is utilizing this unique technology to aid designers in creating perfectly harmonious color schemes.

So, you see, the method of personal color analysis is completely different from anything that has preceded it.

To their credit, many smart people have TRIED to "get it right," but the technology simply wasn't available until just recently.

There's still a lot to learn from others, though. provides exquisitely beautiful color harmonies, but we are not personal stylists. Books such as The Science of Sexy, The Pocket Stylist and Color Me Beautiful's Looking Your Best, among others, pick up where we leave off.

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