Can Wrong Colours Make You Ill? Thumbnail

Can Wrong Colours Make You Ill?

Can Wrong Colours Make You Ill?

access_time 2010/01/20 account_circle chat_bubble_outline 19 Comments
…or, title option, do your clothes make others feel, um, unwell?

colour mix

Women and men have told me that they buy clothing colour by feel. Both have asked me to remove a drape because they felt sick, one to the point of becoming faint.

Are they exaggerating? Too theatrical?

No! It is very real indeed. Everybody senses colour, more than we see it. We may not all feel it to the degree of physical revulsion, but we all experience a mild discomfort in the presence of wrong colours. We do not take the colour choices in our homes lightly for that reason.

Since most people go around in wrong colour, we have grown used to seeing it and compensating for the feeling. But why does it happen?

The short answer is sensory mismatch. It means that two of your senses are receiving information that your brain feels cannot make sense together. The result is nausea.

Motion sickness happens because your eyes are seeing movement but your brain is getting information from your ear balance system and your limbs saying stillness. The two do not jive. The brain decides you have been poisoned and are hallucinating, so it expels the toxin by vomiting. At least, it is believed to have evolved that way.

To explain it with colours, we go back to the most fundamental principle of how Personal Colour Analysis (PCA) achieves a harmonized appearance.

Every colour, in you and outside you, answers to 3 characteristics. How Light/Dark, how Warm/Cool, how Clear/Soft (ask me in a Comment if I can clarify those concepts). Every single shade in you, every single blue and red and purple in you, fits in the same place on those 3 scales. Fascinating in itself.

PCA finds you a group of colours that also fit in the same positions on those 3 scales. Your Colour Analysis swatch book is simply an exploded diagram of your own precise colours. When you then wear precisely the same colours that you already are, the colour energies are in absolute synchrony. The visual effect is strong.

With wrong colours, the sensory mismatch is not between your eyes and ears. It is between your eyes and subconscious colour associations. Your eyes are seeing one set of colour wavelengths emanating from the body’s natural colours. A whole other set of waves coming off the clothes. The signals are all jammed. It feels tiring to look at, and for some, nauseating.

ill colours

Most people dress in such a skelter of colour that there is no signal at all.  All the discordant colours together neutralize what colour potential exists.

Is my theory scientific fact? No idea. I did not read it anywhere. It just makes sense to me.



19 Thoughts on Can Wrong Colours Make You Ill?

  • Jelena

    Christine, it;s fascinating that you should point this out. and it’s interesting that there are many people who actually “feel” color to this extent. I think I’m one of those people lol. Looking at colors that don’t “jive” as you say, makes me really uncomfortable. for me, it either works or it doesn’t. When it doesn’t, it’s unsettling. It’s one of the reasons that I’ve altered my hair color quite a few times. for me it needs to be on target. sometimes, it is actually hard to pin point exactly “what” it is that is not working about a color, it more often comes down to a gut feeling. I think that color can have an extremly powerful effect on our emotion. In the right colors, I just feel better overall and more settled.

    • Christine Scaman

      Jelena and Trisha,

      The spectrum of reactions runs from tension to nausea. I’ve had MEN sweating and jittery, and confused as to why. It is a DEEP psychological imprint.
      Jelena, you recall how you could decide within 2 seconds or LESS if a drape worked…you could never have had time to look at it analytically, I think your reaction was very physical, and you trusted that. It took me about 35 PCAs to trust that feeling.
      Trisha, I get the most visceral reactions from makeup artists and photographers. I think many people are like I was, feeling something but suppressing it because our world demands analytical data.
      Women above all, with our huge resource of intuition, can be guided by these sensations. The reactions are all very real.

      [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

  • Trisha

    Hi Christine,

    I take it you’re talking about more than a feeling of dislike, or being uncomfortable around a colour, more actually feeling ill?

    I actually feel physically sick around certain colours and always have since a child – deep “overcast” purples like a stormy sky colour and deep, very cool red-blues have that effect, also some very bright pinks. Sometimes in a room with one of those colours, when I’m with people and can’t get away, I’ve developed a spltting headache or a migraine and actually thrown up shortly afterwards (always in private!). I wonder if certainly colours are programmed by Nature to make us unsettled, warning signs of impending storms, etc, or to suggest illness or something. At Art College I saw similar reactions in students, so are we artistic people more acutely attuned/ sensitized to feel these reactions? Or am I just averse to strong, violently cool pinks because not in my colouring as a deep Autumn, so seemingly against the familar and safe and perceived as something alien. My friend who is a doctor says there is a medical name for it (but shes forgotten and would have to look it up!) and is a known factor in some people, often migraine sufferers, not always and often in epileptics too and is to do with overload of sensory information as you suggest, a fascinating topic!

  • Holly Allen

    I sent a ton of photos of myself to Lora Alexander to analyse. Many of the photos had yellowed with age and weren’t of much use except to show how light my hair was as a child. All the photos are stored on my computer and when I later attached them to an e-mail they appeared much darker and more warm or yellow. That is what she saw. This led Lora to decide that I was a Deep Autumn. I had been feeling very confident at this point that I was a Soft Summer. In shock, I grabbed my stack of color books and viewed all the deep/dark autumn palettes. I felt sick to my stomach and tears came to my eyes. I hate those colors. I went to work early ( at my cosmetic counter) and put on deep autumn makeup just to see what reaction I would get. Everyone thought I was tired or had been crying. I was VERY surprised by my physical reaction/nausea to a group of colors. I also have given up on determining season by photos. If I had mailed actual current photos in the snail mail she would have seen how mousy, medium, and neutral my coloring really is.

    • Christine Scaman

      Your reaction happens often. Color really gets us where we live. But, you know, I see 2 things happen with equal frequency –

      One is that you’re right. The colors are not yours. It’s all you can do to bring them close to you, let alone wear them.

      The second is that you’re wrong. There’s just too much wrong advice, wrong habits, and wrong ruts for you to wade through with anything approaching objectivity. You have spent years looking at how your top matches your bottom, your hair looks with your top, your lipstick with your eyeshadow with your top …….. all but the one thing that clinches the whole deal : how the color looks with your skin. Mostly because we don’t know how, and second because we cannot look at ourselves easily.

      Most women who are quite sensitive to color are about 1/3 through their PCA before they call it right each time and start to see their skin react.

      Great comment. Also good testament to how important it is to neutralize all the variables because every single thing around affects the colour activity in your skin.

      [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

  • amie baker

    Not certain if it is even the same tHing as you are talking about here or not but the color coral induces vomiting in me upon sight. Everytime without fail. Its been this way since my childhood.

    • Christine Scaman

      It must be same thing, Amie. Funny that it would be coral. It tends to be a colour many people feel good in. Now green would not have surprised me 🙂

  • Zainab

    I’m not sure if this is the same thing, but every time I get violently stomach sick, I’m wearing some thing (could be nail polish/underwear/scarf) that is a bright pink and black. I have started to notice it and have been avoiding this color scheme. Funny thing is, the moment I take off the pink&black article, I feel MUCH better. Can anybody help me understand?

    • Christine Scaman

      I have to answer except that quite a few people have this visceral response to certain colours, just as we can to scent or sound.

  • Melina

    Zainab, my guess’d be that it’s been a coincidence, but of course I may be wrong 😉 If it’s really been those bright colors that have made you sick, you are probably a muted season, opposed to bright!

    Interestingly I had never come across this article before (maybe not surprising, seeing it’s an old one), but more interestingly, I don’t remember having this kind of violent physical reactions to a color ever, even though I’m highly sensitive in most other respects (to the point of being HSP)…
    But what Christine wrote in her comment above resonated with me:
    ” But, you know, I see 2 things happen with equal frequency –
    One is that you’re right. The colors are not yours. It’s all you can do to bring them close to you, let alone wear them.
    The second is that you’re wrong. There’s just too much wrong advice, wrong habits, and wrong ruts for you to wade through with anything approaching objectivity.”
    That would have been me and Autumn colors, until fairly recently – I’ve been strangely drawn to cool or cool-ish colors most of my life, and might even have said many Autumn colors (mustard, orange, moss) “make me sick” (not literally though) – until I saw them next to my skin… And had to admit all those colors I had shied away from for most of my life actually harmonize with me. Possibly being a True Autumn, one of the last seasons I’d ever suspected, is still mind-boggling to me (but in a good way). 😉

  • Melina

    Just to add (sorry, don’t mean to be bombarding the site! :)) that although I haven’t had a negative reaction to a color like that, I have indeed had some weird positive reactions – like when a few months ago I was wearing a curry yellow top with a warm red jacket (when normally wearing mostly dark colors), and noticed how this combination somehow made me in a better mood and to have more patience towards others (patience isn’t one of my strong points, usually)… I could hardly believe it. That was one of the things that made me to begin to suspect being a True Autumn 🙂

  • Roxanne

    Lavender induces nausea in me. Always has. I have Menieres disease too. I read once that lavender does that to many ppl.

  • Lucie

    I will remember this now ‘the colours are not mine’. I feel nauseous a lot because of colour and colour combinations I can’t look at pictures/paintings that are not ‘right’ I get a headache instantly Inc specific brush strokes. This is the same in buildings, lighting even plants it drives me insane. I think this is why I like night time it’s dark with lights and nice shadows and hues or specific countries. Since living back in England the greyness, light and plants really get to me this is the main reason I don’t want to live in England and this has made me realize how even more important it is to my well being to be some where brighter!!! Thank you I have tried to ignore it but there’s a reason for it! 🙂

  • Melina

    Lucie, where I live (Finland) it’s arguably even more grey than England, especially in winter, and I fully agree, it’s so depressing! The worst time for me is around February-March, when the winter’s been going on for so long and everywhere is just white & grey, nothing else; I remember last time on that time year I just had to put a picture of bright yellow lemons as desktop background because that was about the only place I could see some happy bright colours, and I really, really needed that!! 🙂

  • Phuong Vo

    I am so glad I stumbled upon this article because for so long, I thought I was a weirdo. When I was a child, I would get violently sick looking at red, orange, yellow, lime green, bright pink, especially if red, orange, yellow were present all together, such as color of a flame. I could never look at objects that had those colors, especially in clothes, paintings, shoes, books, furnitures, etc… without feeling horribly nauseated with severe headaches and had to throw up… I can now look at them, with uneasiness; I still do not like them and try to have as little of those colors around me as possible, even though I no longer get as violently sick as before. My car, room, and most of my outfit are blue. The combination of navy blue and white are especially therapeutic to me.

  • Saria Adams

    For some reason, when I look at dark purple (My least favorite colour) on my phone, it makes me nauseous. I think this is a good theory of why. Different forces attract or repel each other, which could be true for colours.

  • jen

    I would rarely get sensory overload by bright metallic color or worst, bright colors with hazed black designs in it. Every time I see one, my head started to hurt I feel like I’m about to pass out and wanted to vomit all over the place. I just couldn’t handle it at all. I have to wear very dark sunglasses just to see it at all.

  • Angel Gilreath

    A few years ago I saw a car that was a certain shade of blue, and my gag reflex went into overdrive and my mouth was watering, like what happens before you throw up. Even as I type this I’m getting nauseous, lol! It’s nice to know that this is a thing but would like to know if this can be fixed.

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