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Helping patients choose their frame color is both an art and a science. That’s because it takes creativity and scientific principles to perform this task. Knowledgeable opticians already know these techniques, now it’s your turn to learn them.

The first thing you’ll need to determine is if your patient is cool or warm toned. This is usually done by assessing skin tone. Warm-based people have a yellow undertone to their skin and look best with earth tones. Cool-based people have a blue undertone and look best with jewel tones. This means that warm-toned people look best in brown and yellow while cool-toned people look best in ruby red and sapphire blue.

A simple and effective way to assess skin tone is to hold two colored swatches-amber and navy blue-against the patient’s skin. Try having her turn her forearms over and place the swatches on the skin on the underside. Just remember that almost all colors (except orange) come in either a warm or cool tone. A red that has yellow in it is warm while a red with blue in it is cool.

The next thing to consider is hair color. For the most part, people’s hair color coordinates with their skin tone. When it doesn’t, match the skin tone because the frame will be sitting on the face. Also, hair color can be changed but skin tone cannot.

For many years, the standard frame color for a woman with graying, silver, or white hair was lilac or rose. For men it was silver or gunmetal. When you have a silver- or gray-haired patient, evaluate their skin tone. Sometimes a gray-haired man may still have very warm-toned skin and a silver frame will not look appropriate; a bronze-hued frame will look better.

Consider trying frames that contrast and complement hair color. A woman with dark auburn hair may be tempted by dark tortoise colors, but try some of this year’s trending soft neutral or pastel hues.

Sometimes men can be a little resistant to color and want to stick with black or brown. Don’t be afraid to pull a few frames with such strong colors as blue, matte red, or emerald green. Encourage them to leave them on for a minute or so to really see themselves in a color. Sometimes patients just need to be given permission to wear something a little different, so it’s up to you to encourage them.

There are patients who want to embrace a frame that isn’t in a neutral color but have concerns about how that frame color will work with their basic wardrobe. In fashion, neutral colors are considered black, white, gray, and different shades of brown. There are other colors that are considered neutral-based, meaning that they blend well with other colors. Some examples are navy, dark green, and burgundy. It can be helpful to have some of these colors available to show how these frames coordinate using swatches of colored fabrics.

Remember that color is equally as important as shape and size when it comes to frame styling. As you practice matching colors to skin tones, hair color, and with other colors, you will soon become more comfortable and be considered a frame style expert!

Joy L. Gibb is the lead optician at Daynes Eye and Lasik in Bountiful, UT.


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