There’s no body part that offers as much opportunity for change as your hair.
With a new colour, you can transform your look overnight – and when you get bored, you can change it again. But there's a bit more to picking the right hair colour than just grabbing a box at the drugstore.
To find the hue that works best for you, there are a few things you need to consider.
What’s your skin tone?
People generally fall into two skin tone categories: warm and cool.
If you’re a warm:
Your skin is brown with pink or gold undertones, pale with peach or gold undertones, or freckled.
Your eyes are golden brown, green, green-blue, or hazel with gold or brown flecks.
Your natural hair colour is yellow, golden, or amber.
If you’re a cool:
Your skin is very dark brown, olive, or medium or pale with little colour in your cheeks. You have undertones of pink, violet, or blue.
Your eyes are deep brown, black-brown, grey, dark blue, or hazel with grey or blue flecks.
Your natural hair colour is black, ash brown, or ash blonde.
As a general rule, it’s best to keep your hair colour in the same tone as your skin. Warm tones look best with shades like golden or strawberry blonde, red, and deep brown with hints of gold or red. Cool tones suit hair that is black, dark or golden brown, and ash or dirty blonde.
There are a few tricks to finding out what skin tone you have:
Wash off all your makeup and wrap a white towel or piece of clothing around your neck. Look in the mirror. What shade is your face? If your skin appears yellowish, you have a warm tone; if it appears bluish, you have a cool tone.
Look at the veins in your arm under natural light. If your veins appear green in colour, you’re probably warm-toned. If they look blue, you’re cool.
Hold up one piece of clothing that’s bright orange and one that’s bright pink against your skin. Which one looks better? If it’s the orange, you have warm skin; the pink means you have cool skin.
How high maintenance are you?
Depending on what colour you choose, you may have to put more or less effort into maintaining your colour.
Brown shades tend to be the most forgiving, so if you have hair that’s easily damaged, or if you’re not willing to go for regular touch-ups, brown may be your best bet.
Blonde dyes, on the other hand, require a fair bit of maintenance, especially if you have darker hair that will show at the roots.
If you’re thinking of going red, make sure your hair is healthy and you’re willing to put in the effort. Red hair needs to be in good condition – if it’s dry or damaged, it won’t hold the colour. Also, red dyes can fade easily, especially if you’re out in the sun a lot.
What’s your cut?
Your cut can determine whether or not you go for all-over colour or just highlights. If your hair is generally all one length, a deep, monotone hue will work. If your hair is short or layered, go with highlights or lowlights – they’ll add dimension to your hair and help to emphasize your cut.
If you’re unsure, go for just one shade lighter or darker than your current colour, as a test. From there, you can decide whether you’re headed in the right direction and can adjust it darker or lighter at your next appointment.
All-over colour requires more maintenance than highlights or lowlights, so choose your dye job accordingly. If you’re not willing to make regular trips to the salon, go with highlights or lowlights – the roots won’t be as noticeable and you can go longer between touch-ups.
If you’re going for a drastic change, talk to your hairstylist first, and have him or her do the dye. While home colouring is cheap and easy, you get what you pay for, and your stylist won’t be there to stop you if you’re going down the wrong colour path.
Tell us what you think! Do you have any hair colouring tips–or disaster stories–to share? Let us know in the comments!
Related Video: How to Keep Your Hair Colour from Fading