Human colour profiling includes measuring and classifying the skin, hair and eyes through the colour qualities that make up the characteristics. These are then matched with a range of colours and neutrals that best balance and harmonise with those qualities. The profile should provide a general understanding of a person’s colour identity, and enable them to discriminate between colours that create balance and harmony and those that create discord.
Considering the width, depth and subtle differences of each colour quality, together with the unique colour characteristic combinations and the natural changes that occur with human pigmentation, ageing and individual lifestyles choices, classifying an individual’s colouring is not a simple process.
In the flesh, human colouring is not definitive; it is organic, biologically alive and constantly changing. Human colour profiling is a multidimensional, qualitative process.
There is no existing scientific process to accurately identify human colouring, the combination of pigments that make up an individual’s colour characteristics and the relationship those pigments have with the reflection of colour.
The universally recognised Munsell Color System is the most practical way of classifying an individual’s skin, hair and eye colouring. It allows colour to be identified ‘three-dimensionally’, according to the qualities of ‘hue’, ‘value’ and ‘chroma’. The results can be used to understand which range of colours create harmony and which create discord with a person’s colour characteristics.
Hue classifies a colour characteristic by its level of coolness or warmth. Value classifies a colour characteristic from light through medium to dark and chroma classifies the level of clearness in a colour characteristic.
An individual’s colour profile will evolve, and be used primarily to create personal colour harmony and balance with clothing and make-up. Because different fibres and materials, such as cotton, wool or leather, absorb pigment differently and fabric surfaces and finishes absorb and reflect light in various ways, the application of clothing colour harmony should also be kept quite general.
The purpose of a colour profile is to provide an individual with a personal ‘colour identity’, and an understanding of what colours and tones create the best balance and harmony when combined with their personal colour characteristics. This is achieved by providing a comprehensive range of colours and neutrals most relevant to a person’s colour qualities.
Professor Albert Munsell’s colour system, combined with Sir Isaac Newton’s 12-step colour wheel, provides a method of creating two master palettes – one colour and one neutral. From each master palette smaller, more defined, palettes can be created, and from which all colour qualities, characteristics and combinations can be classified.
Each colour palette has a comprehensive range of tones, shades and tints, providing a broad range of colours that create balance and harmony with the colour qualities that make up an individual’s characteristics.
For the many individuals that match one particular colour palette, there can be subtle and considerable width and depth differences within each colour characteristic. It is therefore necessary to pinpoint an area on each colour palette that contains a range of tones across a number of hues that best suit an individual’s unique colour characteristics.
This group of colours is called a ‘colour constellation’, and when placed near the face, they find the optimum level of balance and colour harmony. They have an immediate affect, drawing the focus to the centre of the face, making the skin appear firmer, the eyes sparkle, hair shine, teeth look whiter and smile brighter. They are the colours that make people look and feel their best.
Most often an individual’s colour constellation colours are of a similar value and level of saturation as their colour characteristics. They may connect with the eyes or hair tone and have the ability to complement a person’s natural colouring, create positive energy and a healthy glow, tie all three characteristics together and, most importantly, be seen as one with the individual.
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.