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Brazilian Artist Trying to Catalog Every Human Skin Tone

A selection of portraits from the Humanae project. (Photo:

We eagerly wait for Pantone's color forecasts every year to start raving about the “It” colors of the season (here's to you, Tangerine Tango). The company’s bread-and-butter, however, is their famed universal color matching system. Now Brazilian-born artist Angelica Dass is using the Pantone shading system in a whole new way with the Humanae project. Dass, who studied fashion design in Rio de Janeiro before turning to photography, is setting out to “record and catalog all possible human skin tones,” as her website explains. 

To create her work-in-progress, Dass is gathering subjects from a wide range of ages and ethnicities and takes a portrait of each person. She then extracts a pixel sample of his or her face and finds the matching Pantone shade. Next, she fills in the background of the portrait with that color and adds the corresponding Pantone alphanumeric code. The assembled portraits look like paint swatches, which underscore the staggering diversity of skin tones out there. 

We’re intrigued by the Humanae project, and as beauty buffs we’ve been thinking: wouldn’t it be cool if we all knew our exact Pantone skin tones and could reference the shades to describe our complexions? Instead of self-identifying as light or medium-skinned, we could say, “I’m a Pantone 7220 C.” By this logic, foundations and concealers could also be labeled with their Pantone shades, which would eliminate a lot of the guesswork that goes into finding the right makeup for your skin tone. 

Do you think Pantone shades should be used as a universal labeling system for makeup?


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  4. sendthetrend reblogged this from birchbox and added:
    ridiculously interesting. Read...Birchbox for more deets!
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    (via birchbox)
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  9. aegmora reblogged this from birchbox and added:
    The colors of the human rainbow. Fascinating.
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