Skin Colouring

Human colour theory is a structured approach to the understanding of an individual’s colour characteristics and colour profile.


The diverse range of human skin pigmentation that we have today is inherited from both parents and the result of thousands of years of natural selection. In prehistoric times, as the human population spread across the globe, many and varied climates were encountered.

Over generations the skin pigmentation, hair and eye colouring of each dispersed group began to adapt to their environments. Cultural issues such as diet, clothing and shelter had an effect, but the major factor was the sun. The diversity of human pigmentation largely resulted from variations in ultraviolet radiation levels experienced by the different groups.

Humans living around the equator – where sun exposure was relatively constant and intense – evolved to have high levels of melanin, resulting in a darker skin colour. Darker skin provides greater protection against UV radiation, enabling regulation and processing of greater levels of vitamin D.

Populations that settled further from the equator experienced less overall sun exposure, and had less need for natural protection from UV radiation.

People in the middle latitudes, where sun was seasonal, experienced partial de-pigmentation – a lightening of their skin colour; however, their skin retained the ability to tan. Humans living in the cooler climates evolved to have lighter skin and a reduced capacity for tanning.

Generations of living in the same environment created dominant and recessive colour qualities within an individual’s skin, hair and eyes. The dominant and recessive colour qualities are most often the same across all three colour characteristics.

Human migration

In modern times, accelerated global migration has seen people travelling to and from all parts of the world, often settling in areas where the sun’s radiation is different from where their skin, hair and eyes evolved.

Global migration has resulted in breeding between cultures and the mixing of different colour characteristics. Generations have consequently developed with new colour profiles, and unique combinations of dominant, recessive and moderate colour characteristics.

Melanin and human colour

In the context of human biology, pigment is the colour-forming chemical matter that makes each person’s colour characteristics unique. Pigment is a substance that changes colouration.

Three pigments affect the wide variety of human skin tones: melanin, carotene and haemoglobin. While there is still a great deal to be discovered about skin pigmentation, we know that the more melanin the darker the skin.

Depending on its pigmentation, skin absorbs and reflects different levels of radiant energy, thereby defining which colours harmonise with its undertones and which do not. Colours that harmonise highlight the skin’s natural colouring and produce a positive and balanced energy. Colours that do not match the skin’s undertones reflect an unnatural appearance and create discord.

Natural colour characteristics

The contrast between a person’s skin, hair and eyes may be minimal or extensive, and is the result of a combination of inherited characteristics from both parents. However different the colour characteristics are between parents, nature has the judicious ability to combine two people’s DNA and create a combination of colour characteristics that have balance and harmony.

Skin colour and its relationship with hair and eye colour dominates the balance of an individual’s colour harmony. The skin receives the reflection of colour from clothing and most often determines which colours create harmony and which result in discord.

The hair is a block of colour and can connect with the right tone of clothing. The higher the contrast between a person’s hair and skin, the more influence the hair has in determining the depth and tone of clothing colour to create a balanced appearance.

For example, if a person has ivory skin and dark brown hair, dark-coloured clothing will form a connection and provide an opportunity to create harmony. Dark brown-coloured clothing will form a special connection and balance.

If the colouring of a person’s eyes is the same or similar to their hair colour, the combination will strengthen the ability of the hair to determine balanced shades and tones of colour in clothing and accessories.

If the natural colouring of a person’s eyes is different to their hair colour, the eyes alone can determine or fine-tune what tone or shade of hue creates harmony. If the contrast of eye colour is radiant, then accessories, jewellery or clothing in the same or a similar colour will find a connection and highlight the natural colour of the eyes.

The natural colour, tone and contrast of a person’s characteristics is what determines the colours, tones and contrasts which best suit them. The harmony or discord created from wearing matching or clashing colours provides personal positive or negative energy.

Wearing the right colour and colour combinations highlights the natural colouring of a person’s characteristics, providing life and vitality, personal confidence and comfort. They are perceived by those with whom they interact to look younger, healthier, naturally comfortable and ‘as one’ with their make-up and clothing.

Wearing the wrong colour and colour combinations can create a visual discord, drawing natural colour from the face, highlighting imperfections and quite often making a person look and feel older, insipid, unhealthy and uncomfortable.

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