The right hair shade can take years off your look, add a youthful glow, and even give the appearance of a thicker, fuller head of hair. But before you attempt to rechristen yourself a “blonde” at home, read these tips to understand how to pick the right type, color, and shade of hair dye and how to apply it for salon results sans the salon.
Tip 1: Don’t trust the picture on the box. Sure, the pretty redhead is smiling back at you, but that doesn’t mean your hair will look like hers when all is said and done. On the back of most boxes are color swatches that offer “before” and “after” shades – these are a better indicator of true results. Also, look for the name of the color (blonde, brown, black, red), the shade of the color (light, medium, dark), and the tone (golden, ashy).
Tip 2: Figure out if your skin color is warm or cool. The most flattering hair colors complement your skintone – not your favorite color, your beloved blazer, or your best friend. Skintones skew into two categories: warm and cool. The typical “warm” woman has golden, olive, or dark skin with brown or dark eyes (most Latinas, Asians, and African Americans fit in here). You tan easily and the veins in your inner wrists have a greenish cast to them. “Cool” cats most often have fair skin with blue or green eyes. Your attempts at tanning leave you lobster-like and the veins in your wrists are bluer.
Tip 3: Choose the correct shade within your color family. Once you narrow down if you’re a warm or cool complexion, you can hone in on a tone that’s right for you.
- Warm skintones can be divided into light and medium to deep. Folks with light warm complexions tend to have green, hazel, or brown eyes, while people with medium to dark warm skin typically have light green, topaz, amber, or coffee-colored eyes.
- Light warm complexions look radiant with hair colors like beige blonde, light golden blonde, strawberry blonde, light auburn, light brown with tones of golden highlights, or golden blonde with red highlights.
- Medium to deep warm skin glows when paired with deep, rich hair colors including medium to dark golden brown, golden brown with red highlights, honey brown, chestnut, copper, or mahogany.
- Cool skintones also break down into light and medium to deep. Women with light cool skin usually have light blue, gray-blue, or green eyes, while ladies with medium to deep cool complexions tend to have deep blue or green eyes, or cool brown or black eyes.
- Light cool skin looks prettiest with hair in cool or ash tones such as white blonde, platinum/silvery blonde, or taupe/light brown with wheat highlights.
- Medium to deep cool skin is best flattered with shades of burgundy brown, dark brown, or black hair.
Tip 4: Stay within two to three shades of your natural color. Trying to do something more drastic on your own – especially if you’re a beginner – is just asking for trouble. In addition to the color turning out completely wrong for you, you risk ending up looking like Little Orphan Annie when your blonde goes orange. Take dramatic makeovers to the salon to be safe.
Tip 5: Don’t be afraid of covering your silver gray. While silver or gray hair can be hard to color because of its lack of pigmentation or coarseness, there are plenty of options that cover without a trace. If your hair is less than 15% silver/gray, opt for a semi-permanent color (which is less damaging to already fragile hair) that’s a shade lighter than (or matches) your natural color – the silver/gray will blend right in. If your hair is noticeably gray, try a permanent ashy color, which will help your silver/gray appear blonder. You also have the option of adding golden highlights (think Diane Sawyer or Hillary Clinton), which can yield chic results without resorting to all-over color. A combination of high-lights and low-lights is often the perfect solution.