A new method for color image segmentation is proposed. It is based on a novel region-growing technique with a growth tolerance parameter that changes with step size, which depends on the variance of the actual grown region. Contrast is introduced to determine which value of the tolerance parameter is taken, choosing the one that provides the region with the highest contrast in relation to the background. Color and texture information are extracted from the image by means of a novel idea: the construction of a color distance image and a texture energy image. The color distance image is formed by calculating CIEDE2000 distance in the L*a*b* color space. The texture energy image is extracted from some statistical moments. Then, a novel texture-controlled multistep region-growing process is performed for the segmentation. One advantage of the method is that it is not designed to work with a particular kind of images. This method is tested on 80 natural color images of the Corel photo stock collection with excellent results. Numerical evidence of the quality of these results is provided by comparing them with the manual segmentation of five experts and with another color and texture segmentation algorithm.