From online color tests to cosmetic color consultations to in-studio color analysis with a certified analyst, options for color analysis abound. Guaranteeing that colors are done properly, though, is an entirely different matter. The accuracy of a color analysis is determined by the tools and surroundings used, as well as the analyst’s skillful eye.
Personal color analysis is based on a concept called simultaneous contrast. This means that when two or more colors are seen simultaneously, each is directly affected, and indeed altered, by the color or colors next to them. In color analysis, various color coded drapes are placed around the face and neck. The colors surrounding a person will produce a color effect, either positive or negative, and those observations are used to place him or her into a certain category of ideal colors. This is precisely why it is imperative to conduct an accurate color analysis in person, as opposed to online.
When deciding who will perform the color analysis, here are the top 10 ways to guarantee the most accurate and complete results:
1) Natural sunlight or full spectrum artificial lighting must be used. Special light bulbs are available for this purpose, and the accuracy of the analysis depends on the use of this lighting. Natural daylight or its equivalent is always best because it holds a balanced blend of all colors in the visible spectrum, and thus enables the analyst to observe the optical effects of colors next to the face. Any other lighting drastically alters the appearance of skin tone and the testing drapes, which in turn creates inaccurate results.
2) The walls and surroundings must be a neutral grey, one that will not detract from or compete with the test drapes used in the analysis. Color is seen most accurately when surrounded by neutral grey.
3) Both hair and clothing must be covered using a neutral grey cap and gown. The color analyst should wear a neutral grey cape, as well, to avoid visually competing with any of the test drapes used during the analysis.
4) The test drapes themselves should be selected by a company that scientifically measures color using an accurate standard, such as the Munsell system. The Munsell system, widely recognized as the worldwide standard for color, measures color in a complete, three-dimensional way. The results of a color analysis are only as accurate as the test materials themselves.
5) The color analysis system used must account for the possibility of neutral skin tones. As is the case with other sciences, the field of color analysis has evolved. Popularized during the 1980s, color analysis originally offered four categories, two for warm undertones and two for cool undertones. While this method served us well for what we knew at the time, it is now understood that up to two-thirds of people fall into a neutral color category that is neither fully cool nor fully warm. A modern analysis builds upon what was done in the 1980s, and creates even more precise and complete results.
6) No makeup should be worn during an analysis. Makeup both improves and alters the look of the skin, which makes it difficult to see any optical changes that take place during an analysis. For accuracy’s sake, it is vital to see how a colored drape affects, be it positively or negatively, the look of the skin. The right color creates a visual face lift, and imparts a look of vitality, youth and brightness to the skin. The wrong color visually emphasizes fine lines, wrinkles, and imperfections, yellows eyes and teeth, drags down the face, and makes the skin appear unhealthy. These effects cannot be seen in their fullness if makeup is worn.
7) No facial tanners should be used for at least one week prior to the consultation. Some facial tanners will shift the skin tone too drastically and render an analysis ineffective. Likewise, no colored or tinted contact lenses should be used, as they prohibit the analyst from observing the optical effects on one’s natural eye color.
8) Consider how many choices are included in a personal color palette. The palette should have at least 60 colors that all mix and match seamlessly. This provides a breadth of color to work with and facilitates easy wardrobe planning.
9) A personal book of color should be provided as part of the consultation. Ideally, the book should be printed on special canvas that can be compared accurately against any fabric or cosmetic colors. Some books of color contain fabric squares, which are extremely difficult to match against other clothing fabrics seen in stores. Matching fabric to fabric is complex, even for master colorists, because fabric has a sheen that changes appearance as light reflects off of it. The most accurate personal books of color, when printed on archival canvas, are not only guaranteed to last a lifetime and will not fade, but they serve as a constant against which various fabrics can be compared.
10) The analyst chosen should be fully trained in the field of color analysis. Ideally, he or she should have been trained in person by a company that specializes in the field of hex color code. There is simply no substitution for receiving hands-on training, despite the many online training programs available today. The art and science of color analysis take practice to understand and time to perfect.
Not all color analysis is created equally, so research options well before making the final choice. The more accurate the results are, the more slenderized, rejuvenated, polished and put together one will appear. Why go for looking okay when one can look fabulous? After all, the analysis will determine if and how to color treat hair, as well as what makeup, clothing and accessories to choose.