If you’re at all familiar with the beauty world, you’ve probably heard of contrast. People throw the term around and talk about how important it is for fashion and makeup.
Even though the term is prevalent, you might not know what it is. What exactly does contrast mean? What’s the difference between low, medium, and high values? How can you determine your personal value? And most importantly, how can you use these values to your advantage?
In this article, I answer all of these questions and more. You’ll walk away knowing what contrast is and how to make the most of it. Not everyone has a high-contrast face, so it’s crucial to understand what works for you and what won’t. Read on to learn more!
What Is Contrast?
The term is popular in both the beauty and art worlds. It refers to the difference between light and dark areas.
In the art world, the intensities of lights and darks in a picture affect its overall tone. Similarly, your face’s lights and darks affect your appearance and how specific clothes/makeup look on you.
Low Contrast vs High Contrast
Something that has low contrast tends to be monochromatic. The light colors aren’t excessively bright, and the dark colors aren’t overly dark. The muted, soft image gives off a cohesive appearance.
Something with high contrast is much more striking. The light colors are very bright, and the dark colors are very dark. The high intensity of the colors make the image pop.
Faces and pictures can also have medium contrast. As you might guess, this balance is somewhat of a middle ground. Both the light and dark colors have a medium intensity. This neutrality results in an image that isn’t too striking nor too muted.
How Does Contrast Relate to Beauty?
Everyone has a face contrast value. It refers to the relationship between the light and dark areas of your hair, skin, and eyes.
Someone with a high-contrast face value would have dark shadows around their face, bright eye whites, etc. Someone with a low-contrast face value would have a neutral, even appearance.
The features you have often affect what value you have. For instance, dark hair and smooth, luminous skin usually mean you have a high-contrast face. These features reflect light and create distinct shadows.
What Is the Ideal Contrast Value?
One value is not necessarily more desirable than another. It’s all about using the appropriate style tips to complement your unique value.
How to Determine Your Face Contrast Value
Not sure if you have low, medium, or high value? Here’s how to figure it out:
I recommend taking a picture of your face in good, natural lighting. Then, use an app to apply a black and white filter to the image.
Examine the light and dark areas of your pictures. Are your eye whites very bright? Are there dark shadows around your nose, cheeks, etc.? If so, you probably have a high value. If the lights and darks appear more muted, you probably have a low value.
Taking a picture is the easiest way to determine your level of face value. You can also try out the styling tips below and see which look best on you. If the high-contrast styling options look good on you, you probably have a high value (and vice versa).
Styling Tips for High Face Contrast
Do you have a high-contrast face? If so, these tips will help you take advantage of your dark darks and bright brights!
If you have high face contrast, you likely have dark hair. If you don’t, dying your hair might be a smart move. It will further intensify your darks and lights to create a bold, striking appearance.
People in this category should wear clothing that produces the same, stark effect of light and dark. The style will complement their skin tone and create a cohesive look.
Your first thought is probably to wear lots of black and white. This palette is a perfect example of contrast, but you can also have fun with colors.
Pair colors that are far apart on the color spectrum (think ROY G BIV). Reds & greens and blues & yellows are two pairs that work well together. Feel free to experiment with patterns, solids with pops of color, and more!
Some people are afraid to be bold with their makeup. But, if you have a high value, you’ll be surprised how natural stark lip colors and dark eyeshadows look. You should avoid nude colors as they can create a not-so-exciting appearance.
Pro tip: Copper and bronze colors contrast beautifully with blue eyes. If you have green, hazel, or brown eyes, taupe or purple shades should do the trick.
Styling Tips for Low Face Contrast
Here are the best styling tips for low face contrast people:
Light-colored hair tends to create an even, blended appearance. If your face is a neutral color, dying your hair a light color may help accentuate your low value.
As you might expect, you will want to wear low-contrast colors to match your skin tone. You should wear earthy, neutral colors or colors that are close together on the color spectrum (blues and purples, reds and oranges, etc.). It will create a consistent intensity that will match your features.
Those with high-contrast faces benefit from bold makeup. It suits their skin tone and makes their features pop.
If you have a low value, I recommend avoiding bold makeup. It can look very out-of-place on your monochromatic canvas. Instead, opt for neutral colors. They will create a balanced look that flatters your natural beauty.
Feel Free to Experiment
Remember that these suggestions are merely just that—suggestions. They aren’t hard and fast rules; they exist to help you complement your face contrast.
So, feel free to experiment. You might discover that particular looks pair well with your unique features. Good luck, and remember to have fun with it!