Human Variable Saturation

What is human variable saturation?

This week we tackle variable saturation, which in colour theory is chroma.

In general colour classification, chroma is used to help describe one element of a colour.  

The element chroma describes is saturation – how much light the colour reflects and how clear/bright or muted/unclear it is.

Imagine trying to determine the chroma of a human portrait, where there is a range of different tints and tones. Theoretically each tint and tone has its own chroma.

Each colour characteristic has its own chroma

Saturation is theoretically the colour quality responsible for determining the neutrality of human colouring.

If humans were void of neutrality, and their foundation hue was highly saturated, they may look something like the bottom image

Some people have a range of different levels of skin saturation, caused by such things as blemishes, discolouration, scars and freckles.

This man has a range of different saturation levels, both on his face and in his hair

Considering the diverse range of multilayered human colour qualities, a practical two-word term, variable saturation, has been created to describe human chroma.

‘Variable’ describes the characteristic variables which occur on most people, such as facial freckles and hair, blemishes, wrinkles, scars, discolouration, particoloured skin, hair variance and eye colour variation.

Sean Conway – Brock Elbank’s  #Freckles series                                 © Brock Elbank

‘Saturation’ describes the purity and evenness of clear skin, hair and eye colouring.

The saturation level of a person’s clear, even skin can be measured, from dull through to vibrant.

The general health of a person’s colour characteristics can make a difference to the appearance and description of the skin, hair and eyes.

The young woman’s skin is clear, even and vibrant, meaning she has a high level of saturation. The aging mother has light wrinkles and skin blemishes, which reduces the high level of saturation

If a person has taken care of their skin, including such things as removing dead skin particles and clearing pores, the hydration and purifying of the skin can improve circulation and stimulate the production of collagen.

The skin will be cleaner, healthier and younger for longer and look vibrant and smooth, producing a higher level of saturation through its purity.

If a person has not taken care of their skin through exfoliation and other methods, the build-up of dead skin and impurities will make the skin look dull, older and listless, producing a low level of saturation.

Clear, even, highly saturated skin
Clear, even, highly saturated skin, with isolated variables – acne and blemishes
Moderate to high saturation, including dark blemished low saturation areas

To classify a person’s colour expression a general variable saturation classification is required. To do this, the skin, hair and eyes need to be classified separately and then combined.

The analysing process is complicated further, considering humans are organic, three-dimensional beings and don’t live in a static sterile environment. This means any classification result and its application is also animate.

Light, shade, shadow, make-up, hairstyle and jewellery have made an impact on this woman’s colour expression

Every person has their own multifarious range of biological skin, hair and eye colour variations which occur naturally.

However, everyone also experiences individual lifestyle, health and aging effects which affect their colour expression differently.

This woman has variable low saturation across her skin

Facial hair above the length of 4 (4/8 inch of hair) clipper size is classified as hair and not as a variable of the skin.

If the hair has been shaved to a zero and there is no facial shade or stubble, it also will not be classified as a variable.

This man’s face has low, muted even saturation, with overall variables such as facial hair and particoloured skin

The clearer and more even a person’s variable saturation is across their skin, hair and eyes the higher it is.

The more muted, dull, uneven, rough and blemished a person’s skin, hair and eyes the lower the variable saturation.

Low saturation, variable uneven skin, with clear, even hair and eyes

Most societies and cultures view high, clear and even variable saturation of a person’s face as a form of beauty.

Jenny Kim, from Black Pink, has highly saturated clear, even skin, hair and eyes

This is one of make-up’s main purposes – to keep variable saturation clear and even, which enhances the appearance of youth and beauty.  

Make-up on this woman’s face has enhanced her high variable saturation to perfectly clear and even

Variable saturation consistency across the skin, hair and eyes can be difficult to recognise in some people.

It can be especially difficult when there are different levels of tone between the skin, hair and eyes, or the categories of hue in the eyes are different to the skin and hair.

This man has low, even, dull saturation with minimal variables across the different levels of tone in his hair, eyes and skin

It’s also difficult to determine the level or type of variable saturation of a person who has low-medium saturation, uneven particoloured skin or hair, and blemishes.

This man has low, uneven dull skin with multiple variables and high even saturation in his hair and eyes

Most often, people are born with a similar level of variable saturation across all three colour characteristics.

An obvious example of this is someone who has clear, even skin – their hair and eyes will most likely be a solid even tone as well.

This man has high even saturation across different levels of colour characteristic tones and hue categories

However, there are people who are born with different levels and types of variable saturation across their skin, hair and eyes.  

Individual levels of saturation and variables can be difficult to determine, unless they are model-like, with very clear and even skin.

This woman has clear, even, high skin saturation, with uneven saturation across her hair and eyes

It is also possible to have a number of different variable saturation qualities across one colour characteristic – especially skin.  

A person’s variable saturation changes throughout their life, as they pass through puberty into adulthood and older age.

Unclear, uneven, low saturated skin and hair with variable wrinkles and age-based blemishes

The environment we live in and the choices we make create change. 

Changes of all types can be both voluntary or involuntary, and chronic, sporadic, severe or moderate, all of which affect a person’s personal colour expression.

The severe scarring and tattoos on this woman’s face have permanently changed her colour expression

Such changes may be due to illness or accidents, or may be the result of negative or positive lifestyle choices.  

These choices can affect a person’s health and consequently the condition of their skin, eyes and hair.

The dominating red areas on this man’s face are due to health or lifestyle issues

The greatest natural changes to variable saturation are, of course, caused by aging, which continues to affect the variable saturation of a person’s skin, eyes and hair with every day that passes.

Considering human variable saturation includes such a wide range of variables, it is common for a person to develop different levels of saturation within the one characteristic as they age.

This man's lifestyle has compounded the variable saturation levels of his natural aging process

Variable saturation is the colour quality which is most affected by a person’s lifestyle and environment.

First Name
Last Name
This is some text inside of a div block.
Thank you! Your comment has been received. It will be reviewed and posted, if it meets our policy.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Leave A Comment

First Name
Last Name
This is some text inside of a div block.
Thank you! Your comment has been received. It will be reviewed and posted, if it meets our policy.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.