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Reflecting human diversity, Pantone expands its SkinTone Guide to include 138 shades

Pantone, the standardized color reproduction system widely used in design and production, has announced the expansion of its SkinTone Guide. The updated 2023 edition includes 28 new shades in addition to the existing 110 to better represent the vast array of human skin tones. Pantone specifically focused on adding darker tones and yellow undertones to address customer feedback and demand for more accurate color matches in those ranges.

To pinpoint which shades to add, Pantone's color scientists captured skin tone samples from volunteers around the world. They used a handheld spectrophotometer, a color-measuring instrument, to sample skin on different body parts. That measurement data was then 'spectrally matched' using paint on paper to produce accurate color swatches for the SkinTone Guide.

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People of all colors expect to see themselves and their skin reflected in the products they purchase. That's especially true for Gen Z, the most racially and ethnically diverse generation ever. Brands that respond to those expectations — whether with toys in true-to-life skin tones or with 'nude' underwear that actually blends with a wearer's skin — can reap the benefits of catering to a broader range of demographics and fostering stronger connections with their customer base. 

Reflecting diversity sometimes comes down to using the right tools. Having a fan deck on hand that shows the wide range of skin colors can prompt designers to expand their palettes. It's a subtle shift in perspective that can have a significant impact on the inclusivity of the products they create.