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Skin Deep

Cataloguing the World’s Diversity

Brazilian artist Angelica Dass’ look at colour has taken her on a mammoth journey to catalogue all possible human skin tones. The Humanae project is designed to highlight the diversity across the world beyond our traditional view.

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Dass’ work has taken her across the globe photographing men, women, children and the elderly to capture all their different skin tones. Despite having started the project a number of years ago, Humanae is still very much a work in progress.

A person’s skin tone is determined using the Pantone categorical system of colour. Dass takes an 11 x 11 pixel swatch form the face and then assigns them a matching pantone reference. Once a person’s skin tone has been identified they are photographed and placed over a background of their matching Pantone colour.

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Dass is not the first person who has tried to match people’s skin tones. For decades the cosmetic industry has spent millions in research and development trying to match people’s skin tones to their makeup lines.

With 79% of women saying they would happily ditch their current foundation in favour of a closer match, it’s hardly surprising the cosmetic giants are constantly trying to out to do each other by offering an ever increasing range of colours.

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This cosmetic arms race is great news for the consumer as it means an ever greater choice in finding the perfect foundation and makeup.

With Dass’ work to scientifically catalogue all possible skin tones still on going, perhaps the cosmetic industry can learn a thing or two and provide an even better matching range of cosmetics.

Pantone Spectrum