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What is Pantone?

Have you ever sat through a new trends class and heard the term Pantone? A lot of the trending styles in our industry are inspired by the Pantone colors of the year. If you’re anything like us, you’ve probably wondered about the what, where, and why behind Pantone. Where do these colors come from? Who chooses the colors? Why do they even exist? If you’ve ever asked yourself any of these questions, you’re in luck, this blog post is for you!

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Pantone means "All Colors"

In 1963, Pantone was developed as the first color matching system. Designed to solve the problem of complicated color matching in the printing industry, it was originally used to give graphic designers a specific number code for an exact tone of a color. Pantone provides a universal language of color that enables color-critical decisions throughout every stage of the workflow for brands and manufacturers in all industries. Pantone's color of the year can be seen everywhere from clothes to couches to kitchen appliances. The annual announcement started in 2000 with the color Cerulean Blue being labeled the color of the year.

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Pantone Color of the Year (Spring, 2000)


The Pantone Color of the Year is chosen by the Pantone Color Institute

Leatrice Wiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute explained how the color of the year is chosen. 

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Pantone has had many collaborations with brands over the years including; The Gap, Sephora, Kia, Cadillac, Wedding Wire, Lacoste, Macallan, various theater productions, television shows, movies, and much more. As with most trends, we see the colors spread among several product categories. The trends that start in fashion often end up creeping over into makeup, hair, and interior design.

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Car manufacturers and technology companies are among those who collaborate with Pantone

Pantone colors have become a common trend setter in the world of beauty, from fashion to hair and makeup

In our industry, the Pantone color of the year can be used in a direct way by using those specific shades in the hair. However, with past Pantone colors of the year like Tangerine Tango, Greenery, and Living Coral, these shades might not be wearable for every client. We are more likely to use these colors as an indirect influence on the hair color shades that we choose for our clients. The Pantone color of the year will likely show up in our clients’ handbags, nail polish colors, clothing, car colors, brand colors, makeup pallets and home goods. We can look to create their hair color in a way that will complement the colors prevalent in the world around them.

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Living Coral, 2019

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Pantone Colors of 2021

2021 Pantone Colors of the Year

2021 has two colors of the year; Ultimate Gray and Illuminating (a bright yellow shade). These two colors compliment one another really well. Here is an example of how to utilize this color trend directly using direct dye fashion colors.

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Photo Cred to EC Contributor, Jocelyn Vaughan, @jocelynstyles


Or you could consider choosing hair colors that are complementary. Shades that complement Ultimate Gray include navy, blue-black, blush pink, cool toned brunettes, and neutral toned blondes. Hair color shades that will compliment Illuminating would be soft copper, ginger brunettes, warm toned blondes, and strawberry blondes.

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Beautiful Blue Black. Photo Cred to EC Contributor, Kelly O’Day, @kellyoday_thekmcolorist

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Warm Summer Blonde. Photo Cred to EC Contributor, Julie Bailey, @jatbal

Keep your eyes on our social this week for more ideas and inspiration using the 2021 Pantone Colors of the Year. You can find us at @evolvecollective on social or www.evolvesalonsystems.com.




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