The Culture of Color

Twenty-five photo journalists were asked to participate in an experiment to define the standard of beauty for their country. One single makeup free image was provided with the instructions to depict the hair and makeup techniques that would represent beauty. Color intensity, feature definition and individual artistry were used to create the beauty image perceived by each culture. This study resulted in a varied array of hair and makeup statements. Culturally, the depiction of beauty represents the beliefs, roles and independence of women.

Starting with the basics, some skin tones were lightened. Other skin tones were deepened and bronzed. Representations from countries like Argentina and the Philippines used dramatic and lavish colors. Other entries from Israel, Greece and Argentina responded with muted shades and minimal lining and defining. The United States depiction was adventurous! There was shying away from maximizing the use of makeup or hair techniques. Another noticeable distinction was the lining and defining of the eye. Some cultures are known for structured eye makeup, brow and lash definition. Other cultures apparently prefer minimal shading of the eye.

This experiment is very akin to the various cultures that traffic OTC stores. Consumers define their look based on their culture and beauty identify. Once a consumer experiments with hair color, they are forced to reconsider the eye, blush and lip colors. Darker consumers may use hair and makeup shades that were historically associated lighter skin tones, or vice versa. The culture of color is individual and less restricted to national origin.

Elayne McClaine has identified and developed emerging domestic and global trends in hair care, skin care and other consumer categories for such firms as Chesebrough-Pond’s, Revlon and Pharmacia (div. of Pfizer). Her expertise in therapeutic treatments for hair, skin and scalp led to the creation of the Women’s Institute for Fine and Thinning Hair, sponsored by Rogaine. McClaine has been acknowledged by the American Academy of Dermatologists for marketing and promotional excellence. ESME Market Specialists, LLC consults with firms that require expertise in strategy development, multicultural marketing and account planning. For more information, visit

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OTC Beauty Magazine

May 2024


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