Moderate Contrast

Moderate contrast is the range of contrast in between low and high contrast.

Moderate contrast has a broader range of contrast levels and colour quality combinations than both high and low contrast.

The dark tone of hair, combined with her medium coloured skin and dark eyes, creates a moderate level of contrast

Moderate contrast means there is a moderate difference between the juxtaposed colour qualities of a person’s colour characteristics, or within a single colour characteristic.

Similar to both high and low contrast, moderate contrast is usually determined by the tone difference between a person’s skin and hair.

The medium tone of hair, combined with her light coloured skin and eyes, creates a moderate level of contrast

Natural moderate contrast between a person’s skin and hair generally applies to all tones of skin, except dark skin tones.

People with dark skin tones generally do not have hair two shades darker or lighter, except when aging.

The tone difference between people with moderate contrast remains approximately two to five levels on the tone scale.

Moderate Tone Contrast Scale

In most naturally occurring moderate contrast, the skin is lighter than the hair.

It is rare almost impossible to have dark skin with naturally occurring lighter hair.

However, in the Melanesian population of the Solomon Islands, a genetic mutation of the gene responsible for influencing pigmentation occurs in 5 to 10 per cent of the children.

A Melanesian boy, with low moderate contrast – image from

Overall natural, moderate contrast is not exclusively determined by tone it can be influenced by the colour qualities of hue and variable saturation.

The hue, variable saturation and tone contrast of this albino woman is moderate

Moderate hue contrast is not common between human colour characteristics, considering analogous colour contrast is considered low, and different coloured eyes, such as blue or green, usually create complementary colour contrast – which is considered high.

While a person may not have moderate hue contrast, the low or high hue contrast of particular colour characteristics may contribute to a person’s overall moderate contrast.

Various levels and areas of variable saturation across human colour characteristics contribute to moderate contrast, primarily on the skin or within the hair.

The moderate level of variable saturation on this man’s skin helps contribute to his overall moderate contrast

As mentioned in previous contrast articles, each colour quality from within the skin, hair and eyes can potentially influence a person’s contrast and either keep them within the overall moderate contrast classification or identify them as low or high contrast.

The dominance of the low variable saturation in this woman’s hair changes her natural contrast. She has overall low moderate contrast, because of her low tone and hue hair/skin contrast. The high variable saturation hair/skin contrast, and the additional moderate contrast between the tone of her facial features, plus the contrasting hue of her lips, contribute to her overall moderate contrast

The diverse range of contrasting qualities and characteristics on a person’s face, such as eyes, mouth, facial hair, freckles, blemishes, shade, shadow and the volume of hair, all contribute to their moderate tone classification.

The freckles on this woman’s face and variable saturation in her hair create moderate contrast

A person’s contrast level changes throughout their life and moderate contrast is most often part of any significant change.

This man has moderate contrast, considering the remaining block of hair is on the bottom of his face, and his skin and the remaining hair on his scalp produce general low variable saturation, adding to his moderate contrast

Some people move through moderate contrast with the aging process and some move into moderate contrast as they lose pigmentation.

As this man loses pigmentation in his hair, his natural high contrast changes from high moderate to moderate contrast and will probably finish on low contrast

Moderate contrast is easy to superficially change, by altering the amount of hair a person has or by changing the tone, hue or variable saturation of the hair.

If a person has low or high contrast, it is also easy to superficially create moderate contrast through hair or make-up colour changes.

The tone of this woman’s hair has been artificially changed from dark brown to light blonde. The change, together with the addition of make-up has created small areas of high contrast and overall moderate contrast

If a person has natural moderate contrast and would like to continue a similar natural look as they age, it is possible to do so through minimal superficial changes to hair colouring and make-up.  

The diversity among the billions of humans across the globe means there will always be exceptions to human colour theory, especially with contrasting colour qualities.

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