Eye Intensity – The third dimension of Personal Color Identity


There have been many theories relating hair color choices to eye color. I remember being taught that the yellow, orange or green flecks in brown eyes indicated that the hair would lighten with a more golden tone. Hairstylists may look at eyes as a way of choosing highlight colors to add to the hair. The idea of choosing a complimentary color to make the eyes stand out has been popular such as copper hair with blue eyes, red hair with green eyes, or blonde hair with brown eyes. None of these approaches can be applied in every case, but it’s important to note that eyes have been the focus of beauty enhancements for more than 5,000 years.

While researching why eyes are so attention grabbing I discovered an article written by Gillian Aeria from the University of Melborne, she states that “Humans are the only animals with obviously visible whites, with irises that are much more prominent and therefore readable.” Several studies have been done regarding human’s attraction to the white part of the eyes. People can quickly determine another’s emotional state and health. We use our eyes to signal others as to our thoughts or feelings. Eyes play a key role in nonverbal communication and building relationships.

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Eye colors change with light, emotion, or the passing of years. Part of the changeable nature of eyes is due to the structure of the iris, the colored part of the eye. The iris is made up to two layers, the front layer is the stroma and the back layer is the epithelium. The epithelium contains pigments called eumelanin (black/brown) and pheomelanin (red/gold). The visible color of the eye comes from the stroma which is made up of colorless collagen fibers, sometimes containing melanin and other times completely clear, containing no melanin. In the case of Brown eyes, the stroma contains a high concentration of eumelanin, possibly combined with pheomelanin which absorbs the light creating the dark brown color. With hazel eyes, the stroma contains a moderate amount of eumelanin and pheomelanin. In this case, some light is absorbed and some light is scattered back into the atmosphere by the stroma. This results in a patterned brown appearance with areas of green and yellow.
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Green eyes have a small amount of melanin in the stroma and most of the light is scattered back into the atmosphere. Blue eyes have a colorless stroma where the light enters the eyes and is scattered back. (Genetics of human iris colour and patterns Richard A. Sturm1 and Mats Larsson)

The fiber structure of the stroma scatters light in a similar way to what makes the sky appear blue. This phenomenon is called the Tyndall effect. In the sky, light scattering by particles in a very fine suspension reflect the shorter blue wavelengths, making the sky appear blue. So, the green eye color is the combination of the small amount of pigment and the Tyndall effect scattering out the blue light. Blue eye coloration is entirely reflected short blue wavelengths. Blue and Green eyes will change color depending on the amount and quality of the light in the room.  (Paul Van Slembrouck -structural-eye-color-is-amazing)

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With all the emotional, changeable characteristics of the eyes, it’s no wonder hairstylists include them in our conversations about beauty. The Jolie Color System uses “Eye Intensity” to relate to the third dimension of color characteristics. The three dimensions of color are Hue, Value and Saturation. The Hue relates to skin tone, the Value relates to the level of the hair at maturity, and the Saturation relates to eye intensity; the clarity, purity and brightness of the eye color.

Saturation is the characteristic of color that is sometimes challenging to understand.  A color that is saturated is one that is the most clear, distinct, and intense version of itself. An example of a saturated pink color is “Day Glow” pink.  It is a very strong, bright color.  You may see another pink that is the same value but not at saturated.  It will appear more natural or blended.  The pink and blue on the left side of this illustration are saturated.  The pink and blue on the right side are muted or blended.

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To determine the intensity of the eye color, look carefully at the iris. 

If the color of the iris is very clear and does not have any flecks of other colors, it is saturated.  Saturated colors in a brown tone are dark and intense. Saturated eye color in a green or blue tone will appear quite bright. The key to an eye color being intense is only one color exists in the iris.
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If the color of the iris is flecked with other colors, it is mixed.  Eye color in a mixed eye is always more than one color and may be as many as five or six.  Within the field of a mixed eye color, there will be wavy lines with bars or spots of darker and lighter colors radiating around the pupil.
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If the color of the iris is subdued and soft, it is muted. Eye color in the muted eye may have more than one color but all the colors are dull.  The iris color appears to have some gray added to it and has a quiet, delicate character.
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Eye intensity may change throughout a person’s lifetime.  Someone with very intense eye coloration as a young person may find with maturity that the eyes become mixed or muted in intensity.  Mixed or Muted eyes may darken and intensify with age. When this occurs, the intensity of colors chosen for both hair color and clothing need to be adjusted to maintain a harmonious composition. 

The character of the eye color is included as part of the composition when selecting a person’s Color Identity because eyes are a distinguishing feature. Eye coloration is one of the key attributes that set one individual apart from another.  The interaction of eye and hair colors makes a person’s appearance more interesting depending on the artful attention to the interplay of these colors. Within the Jolie Color System, eye intensity guides us to choosing the amount of dimension we place in each guest’s personal color creation.
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Intense eyes can wear bold color placements, mixed eyes are best in visible dimension, and muted eyes are most flattered by subtle, natural looking dimension.