Color Analysis for Women of Color

I see very few women of color in my studio. I wish that were not the case. But unfortunately, women of color are less likely to be interested in seeing a color consultant and especially a caucasian one. “What does a white woman know about my coloring?” they might think. Some women of color think that the process of color analysis is really only for women with  light skin tones and that dark skins are all suited to pretty much the same colors. But nothing could be further from the truth. There are  variations in darker skins just as there are in light skins.

Back in the 80’s and 90’s  when there were only 4 generic palettes most women of color were typed as being in the ‘Winter” color palette. Few were given a palette that was ideal for them unless they were lucky enough to find a skilled personal colorist who could create an individual palette for each client. These consultants were few and far between back then and are only slightly less scarce in 2011.

Just as they found that many makeup lines had few flattering choices for their coloring, women of color given seasonal color palettes back in those days were usually very aware of the shortcomings of the seasonal color harmonies to properly flatter their darker, richer coloring. Subsequently, they had very little interest or belief in a trend that seemed to not include women with their coloring.

For many years (about 20), I taught personal color classes in the city of Boston. This put me in an environment where I was far more likely to analyze women (and men) of Chinese, Japanese, Hispanic, Indian, Carribean, African American and Middle Eastern coloring. People that would probably never come to my home studio in a primarily white suburb outside of Boston for a color analysis consult. This was by far the greatest perk of teaching adult ed classes in a big city for me. It allowed me to show women of color that they had their own beautiful array of enhancing colors.
Darker skins tones can be warm….or cool…..or somewhere in between. Darker skins might be enhanced by colors that are bright, subdued,  clear, soft, sharp, rich, muted, or toasted BUT certainly not  all of these intensities. The value contrast between the color values they wear is also important. And on top of that, what looked great on them at 20 might not work well at all when they are 50 or if they change their hair color.
I would advise women of color to try to find a color consultant who creates individual or personal palettes. Short of that, they will still do well if they find an experienced consultant using a color system that offers a minimum of 16 different color categories.
It’s sometimes easier to use photos of men to make my point since makeup colors aren’t part of the equation.  The young man in the bright orange shorts and jacket is completely upstaged by his outfit. The warm orange color is at odds with his decidely cool skin tone and its brightness, which is heightened by the sheen of the fabric, makes it difficult for us to focus on him. This model is not enhanced by bright or warm colors. This outfit wears him. But the object of this photo was not to enhance or call attention to him. It was to give the outfit center stage which is exactly what it does. That’s fine if you are a model selling clothing but not if you wish to be seen in your most flattering light.

This is a footnote posted well after I wrote the article above. A reader informed me that the individual in the photo is not male. She is a very successful female model. Boy is there egg on my face!!!! 


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