The 14th Edition of the International Colour Association AIC 21 Congress has just ended. The most important and authoritative event in the world on the study of colour. Scientists, artists, researchers, and professionals from five continents from a wide range of fields engaged in a unique multidisciplinary digital event. They met to explore scientific and cultural issues of human activity in which colour plays an important role. The programme was extensive and featured an exceptional parterre of speakers. A total of 260 papers were presented in 32 thematic sessions.

The AIC Congress takes place every four years, like a sort of Olympics of Colour Science. This 14th Edition was hosted in Italy by the Italian Association of Colour and the University of Milan.

This year, for the first time in the history of the AIC Congress, a Special Session dedicated to Beauty was included: INNOVATION AND RESEARCH IN COLOR FOR BEAUTY CARE AND HAIRSTYLE, organized by a scientific committee composed by Professor Alessandro Rizzi of the University of Milan, Christine Fernadez-Maloigne of the University of Poitiers and Helene de Clermont-Gallerande R&D Chanel.

Cosmetics is a very important field of application for colour and is a fundamental part of our society. The formulation of decorative cosmetics, where colour is fundamental, involves various sectors of Cosmetology, from Make-up, to Nail, to Hair Colouring.

The Special Session dedicated to Beauty opened the congress with 14 speakers ranging from the coloured textures of lipsticks, skin colours and foundations, to a session dedicated entirely to hair colouring, in which I participated together with our Research and Development division, presenting 5 papers.

For years, I have been involved in academic research to promote scientific research in the field of hair colouring, a young and very complex science, some of which is still unexplored.

Hair colour is a key element of a person’s identity, especially for women. The way people feel about their hair colour is intimate and unique, involving cultural, social, psychological, and anthropological aspects. Each shade conveys one’s personality, sense of aesthetics, desire for change, state of mind, desire to play and to look younger. For very young girls, it is an accessory to be shown off on a par with make-up.

In Italy, 67% of women between the ages of 15 and 75 dye their hair 6-8 times a year, and 50% of these go to a professional.

In hairdressing salons, colour represents the core business and is one of the highest-producing and highest-volume services.

Despite the high potential of the colouring service, there is a very high percentage of dissatisfaction and disappointment with consumers’ expectations.

In the paper I presented at the AIC 21 Congress: Hair Colouring and Customer Satisfaction, I analysed the reasons for this dissatisfaction with the help of the most authoritative scientists and experts in the national and international colouring world to investigate where the short circuits between expectations and results are generated and where misunderstandings between operator and customer arise. Several causes emerged, mainly attributable to the lack of appropriate training by professionals during their time in Italian Professional Training Centres.  In addition to this, there is the non-academic approach based on habits, the lack of attention to the importance of adequate lighting in technical workstations, the lack of detection of the incidence of colour blindness, the habit of cosmetic companies to determine tone heights in a totally subjective way, the use of non-standard colour charts, the use of an inadequate colour space in the colour theory adopted in training.

In the professional hair sector, the scientific approach to colour and light is almost non-existent. Apart from some information about pigment mixing and some mention of additivity and subtractivity, we find nothing about colour appearance and colour measurement. This gives ample room for a redesign of training and the construction of an objective method for measuring colour that can control, as much as possible, everything that makes the appearance vary.

As I showed in my article, there are solutions, and the solutions start with knowledge and training. I am working hard on this. With the start of the new school year, the 6th of October will see the inauguration of Milan’s first Poliestetico, a new academic category that will aim to train the practitioners of the future to an advanced level, guiding them into new avant-garde professionals: professionals aware of the cultural value of their profession and the importance of what they do for the identity and well-being of others.

Scientific training on colour in the Poliestetico will have a pre-eminent place, not only through in-depth scientific studies, but also using innovative tools introduced into the teaching process. In addition, from October the Poliestetico di Milano will be offering an IFTS course for COLOUR TECHNICIAN IN THE COSMETIC INDUSTRY, which will be open, not only to students with a High School Diploma, but also to those with a Professional Technical Diploma from the IeFP courses. The 1000-hour course has been designed in collaboration with the University of Milan, the Pino Hensemberger Industrial Technical Institute and the IIT – Liceo Scientifico E. Molinari and will be taught by teachers of the highest technical and scientific level.

Taking part in the Congress of the International Color Association AIC 21 was truly an intense and stimulating experience, an opportunity to explore aspects of colour that usually remain in the shadows, but which are fundamental for understanding the artistic, anthropological, psychological, and social depth that this world encompasses. I was able to attend some wonderful lectio magistralis, first and foremost the speech by the great Vittorio Storaro, one of the world’s most important directors of photography, winner of three Oscars for Apocalypse Now, Reds and The Last Emperor, who was awarded the GdC Color Award by the AIC. It was exciting to hear what studies precede every single choice of light and colour and to see the sources of inspiration that determined the emotional writing of the films Storaro worked on. A spearhead of Italian cinema in the world. A great master of emotional calligraphy!

Many thanks to all the speakers.

Until the next chromatic adventure!