New Year, new you! As this is a great time to make some changes, why not change up the color of your hair? Whether you’re looking for a rich shade of chocolate brown, glamorous platinum blonde, fiery red or striking silver, finding the hair color that’s just right for you can be a tricky business. Get it right and you look gorgeous. Get it wrong and you won’t be doing yourself any favors. The secret is to find a shade that enhances your complexion. And to do that, you first have to figure out what type of skintone you have—warm or cool. Here are a couple of ways to find out:
• Warm toned people tend to look great in earthy, yellow-based colors like olive, bronze, gold, peach, brick red, mocha brown and ivory. Cool-toned people come alive in blue-based jewel tones—think emerald green, sapphire blue, ruby red and violet—as well as silver and pure white. When it comes to jewelry, cool tones look better in silver; warm skintones glow against gold. Stand in good natural light and hold these colors up to your face to see which colors look best against your skin.
• The vein test is probably the most widely used way to determine your skintone. In natural daylight, look at your inner wrist. What color are your veins? If they have a blue tint, then you have cool skintone. If they have a greener tint, then you’re warm toned.
Blonde Ambition: If you were blonde as a child, chances are you’ll look good as a blonde now. Women with cool skintones generally look better in white blonde and platinum colors than women with warm skintones. If your skintone is super-pale, however, avoid platinum; it can wash you out. Instead, try choosing a blue-based hue that will add warmth to the cheeks—like flaxen or champagne blonde. Cool skintones with medium complexions should stick to ashy tones like sand or wheat blonde. People with fair, warm-toned skin should go for shades like butterscotch, honey or strawberry blonde; medium warm tones can deepen the color to tawny blonde, golden caramel and light honey to enhance the peachy undertones of their complexion.
Beautiful Brunettes: If your hair is mousy brown now, deepening the color is not a huge leap, so go for it! If you were a brunette as a child, your original hair color is the color you should try to aim for. Keep in mind, though, that too-dark hair can be aging—especially if you’re over 40. If you feel like dark hair is making you look tired, try going up a shade with highlights around your face. To make your brown tresses shine, give them a clear gloss treatment every couple of months.
If you have cool-toned skin, try colors like coffee, mahogany and
cool ash browns; stay away from golden or red undertones, which will wash out your complexion. If you have warm-toned skin, consider warm chocolate browns, golden brown or dark browns with a hint of rust; avoid ashy hues. If you have darker, olive-toned skin, you can go deeper and darker with your hair color; cooler olive complexions look lovely in shades like chestnut brown and cinnamon, while warmer skintones are enhanced by ebony brown and mocha. Dark-complected people should try to keep some contrast between the color of their hair and complexion; if your hair color is too close to your skintone, your features will disappear. Cool-toned dark complexions will look lovely with dark shades of espresso and inky black; if you have warm, dark skin, try mahogany, toffee and other rich, warm colors.
Red-Hot Redheads: Most shades of red are too warm for cool skintones, but colors with blue undertones, like burgundy, aubergine or mahogany can be flattering. For people with fairer complexions, strawberry blonde has just enough red to work with your skin’s pink undertones. If you have a warm skintone, try a ginger auburn, copper or deep, dramatic red.
Redheads tend to lose their luster faster than other colors. Over-shampooing is one of the culprits, so try to shampoo your tresses no more than three times a week. And consider getting a clear glaze treatment every couple of months to bring out your shine.
Black Beauties: Black hair can be gorgeous on some women, but it may not be the best choice for everyone. When choosing a hair color, it’s a good idea to stay within a couple of shades from your natural hair color. The best candidates for black hair are people with medium brown or dark brown hair.
Raven black hair has a blue undertone, which is more flattering to people with cool-toned skin. For someone with a warmer skintone, brown-black hair would work better. Opt for a shade of deep espresso or a rich dark chestnut instead of pure jet black. To make sure you’re getting the best color for your complexion, go to a professional hairstylist who has experience with color. Be sure to talk about what shade will look best with your skintone.
One more thing to keep in mind: Black hair is all about shine, shine, shine! Keep it glossy by getting a glaze treatment at the salon every couple of months. Matte black hair is dull and unflattering.
Going for Gray: Gray hair doesn’t have to be aging; it can be elegant, smart and sexy. (Think Helen Mirren, Jamie Lee Curtis or Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wear’s Prada”!) From gleaming silver to white to fawn to salt-and-pepper, gray has many tones and variations. Gray, silver or white hair tends to look best on people with pink, olive or dark complexions. If you’re very pale or sallow, you may look washed out in pure gray and should consider getting highlights or lowlights to blend with your natural color. People with warm skintones shouldn’t go all white, as it will wash out their complexions. Instead, get a warm allover base color with baby blonde and honey highlights to add warmth and dimension.
The outer covering, or cuticle, of gray hair is very porous, which means that it can get a yellowish cast from pollution or cigarette smoke. To counteract any yellow tones, lather with a gray-specific clarifying shampoo once or twice a month and get a violet-based gloss at the salon every six to eight weeks to bring your hair back to its beautiful color and punch up the shine.
A Few Final Hair Color Tips:
• Consider trying on wigs with the hair color you’re thinking of getting. This will help give you an idea if it will complement your skintone.
• Bring in a picture to the salon of the exact shade you love, to make sure that your stylist understands precisely what you’re looking for.
• Cool skintones should avoid warm colors with words like honey or golden in the name.
• Warm skintones should avoid cool colors with words like ash in the name.