What is human contrast?
Contrast is the term used to describe the juxtaposition of the hue, tone and variable saturation qualities of a person’s skin, hair and eyes.
Contrast between a person’s skin, hair and eyes is as influential in their colour expression as the colour qualities of their colour characteristics.
The seamless balance and harmony of contrast across a person’s colour expression is the result of human nature judiciously combining their parents’ colour characteristic qualities.
The contrast hierarchy of human colour, texture and proportional contrast between the skin, hair and eyes ensures balance and harmony is centred on the eyes.
Contrast is not considered a quality of the skin, hair and eyes.
It is, however, considered a quality of a person’s overall colour expression.
In the colorDNA system contrast is generally classified and graded from low, through moderate to high.
The ambiguous point at which contrast turns from being low to moderate and moderate to high is quite general, considering all the juxtaposed variables.
The level of a person’s contrast is an abstract classification, but serves as an integral part of their colour expression.
Human beings are organic and in a constant state of change, which adds further complexity to the animate state of a person’s contrast levels.
It is not necessary to gain an exact contrast classification to obtain a person’s colour expression. A general contrast level will serve perfectly well, especially considering the constant change we all go through.
Human tone contrast
The tone contrast (lightness to darkness) between a person’s skin, hair and eyes is the most obvious and common type of contrast across the human population.
The contrast of tone between a person’s skin and hair is usually what determines most people’s level of contrast.
If a person has no hair they usually have low contrast, similar to having the same or similar-coloured hair as skin.
The more hair a person has the greater the influence the hair will have, especially if their natural contrast is high through light skin and dark hair.
The more hair on the face the more contrast is created, especially if it’s dark and circles the face, such as with a beard.
The tone contrast between the eyes and skin do not have a dominating effect on a person’s colour expression, even if the contrast is high. The eyes contrast adds to the overall contrast level, or is seen as a highlight or lowlight feature.
The hue contrast is determined by the difference in hue between the skin, hair and eyes.
Natural hue contrast can also be in the form of contrasting rosy cheeks, lips, blemishes, freckles and discolouring through illness or lifestyle choices.
Most people do not have any significant natural hue contrast.
Light skinned people have a greater chance of colour characteristics which have hue contrast.
The most common hue contrast is the contrast between a person’s eyes and hair or skin.
A person’s hue contrast can’t be determined properly without first knowing the underlying hue quality of their skin, hair and eyes.
Accurately determining the underlying hue quality of most people with the naked eye is almost impossible.
The level of hue contrast will be determined by the intensity of the hues, where the juxtaposed colours sit on the colour wheel and the extent of the area on a person’s head taken up by the contrasting colour characteristics.
If the colours are next to each other on the colour wheel the contrast combination will be a low analogous contrast combination.
An example of analogous contrast is orange-based skin and eye pigmentation, with yellow orange-based hair.
Nature also has an amazing way of creating human colour characteristic harmony, even when the colours are very different.
The colours will generally harmonise through a similar level of tone and variable saturation.
Quite often the opposing colours are complementary - opposite each other on the colour wheel – creating beautiful balance and harmony.
The natural aging process and loss of pigmentation in the hair, creates a natural hue contrast – given white hair does not have a hue.
Sunburn can also create a natural hue contrast, most often only temporary.
Superficial hue contrast between the hair, skin and eyes is easy to achieve, but can be difficult to make appear natural.
Variable saturation contrast
Variable saturation contrast does exist between colour characteristics on some people.
Most people have low contrast variable saturation, which naturally occurs across the skin, hair and eyes.
An example of variable saturation contrast is when a person’s hair is a solid pure colour and their skin has an uneven, possibly dull, look due to acne, blemishes or scars.
Usually, the contrast is low to moderate and in some extreme cases it may be high.
Individual characteristic contrast
Contrast within individual colour characteristics is quite common.
An example of this is the contrast of tone, hue and variable saturation within a person’s eyes.
Variable saturation contrast within a person’s skin is normal and can include any range of facial variables, such as blemishes, discolouration and freckles.
The natural variation of tone, hue and variable saturation within hair is also quite normal in a person with light to medium skin tones, especially with men’s facial hair.
The aging process, health and lifestyle choices all have an effect to the contrast within an individual colour characteristic.
Contrast levels change over time and are generally at their most naturally vibrant before the aging process starts.
Lifestyle choices, illness and inflammation, primarily to the skin, affect individual characteristic contrast.
Artificial hair colouring and make-up have transformed this woman’s contrast and colour expression.
The type of contrast a person has affects the level of contrast which best balances and harmonises with clothing and make-up.
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