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Why Wear Grey During Your PCA?

In the past PCA was conducted in an environment which did not make it easy for an analyst to achieve accurate results.  This includes the use of innappropriate lighting, covering the clients clothing and hair in a white robe and cap, analysts covering their own clothing in a white robe (or not covering their clothing at all) and lastly, conducting PCA in a space where the general surroundings e.g. the colors used in wall and floor coverings adversely effect the quality of lighting within the analysis environment.

Human vision is based on contrast and as a result of this mechanism color is also seen by contrast.  We know that two or more  adjacent hues produce an optical illusion, this effect is called simultaneous contrast.  During the analysis process the only optical effects which are of interest (to both the analyst and client) are those produced between the individuals natural color tone and the test colors.  To observe these effects with accuracy the analyst must isolate the area being analysed (the face) from all adjacent colors including: client clothing, dyed hair, any reflection seen in the mirror, the analyst’s own clothing etc.  Neutral grey (a grey with no hint of any other hue) is the only ‘color’ which does not alter adjacent hues.

Below is an example of simultaneous contrast. You can see the actual color of the ‘flesh’ tone when placed on the neutral grey square.  Notice how the ‘flesh’ tone is altered when viewed on both the yellow and the blue background.

In industries where color accuracy is paramount–for example in graphic design, photographic and in auto motive manufacturing, the use of neutral grey surroundings (viewing rooms/booths) is standard for the assessment of color relationships. The use of neutral grey accessories is one component of the analysis process that the consumer would be wise to insist upon when choosing a PCA provider.

If you have access to a copy of the Text Book “Understanding Your Color” by Kathryn Kalisz, Chapter 4, pages 77, 79 and 81 give examples of different skin tones altered by adjacent hues (including the neutral grey control).

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