A change of hair colour can give you an incredible mood boost – you can arrive at the salon a wallflower and walk out a bombshell. But before you take the leap into a dramatic new shade, hair colourists advise you to look carefully at your skin tone. The wrong choice can wash you out, while something that complements your natural colouring will give you a healthy glow.
There are many things to take into consideration when you are choosing a hair colour. “To begin with, a thorough consultation with your stylist should be booked before any colour is applied to your hair. Think about inspiration for the colour you would like and take a few examples to show your stylist. They will speak to you about your natural hair colour, any colour that has been applied previously, your eye colour, skin tone and lifestyle, and can then advise on the tones that would complement you.”
Warm and Cool Tones
What exactly do stylists mean by ‘warm’ and ‘cool’ tones? “We’re taught to divide colours into warm and cool, but it’s not an exact science,”. “Cool colours have an ash tone – that includes blue, violet, grey and beige. Warm tones include copper, gold and red. Mahogany can fall into either camp depending on how you mix it.”
To avoid that tired, washed-out look, those with pale skin should avoid dark and cool hair colours. “Stick with warm tones, which will reflect off your natural skin tone,”. “Golden sunkissed blondes are ideal – they’ll warm up your whole face.”
If you have light skin but with some redness to it, steer clear of red hair as it can make you look flushed. “A soft gold shade will bring out the best in your colouring,”.
“Warm, golden skin tones should stick with cooler hair colours for a natural look,”. “If you’ve got more of an olive skin, like Eva Longoria from Desperate Housewives, avoid golden or copper shades as they make the skin look yellow. Warm mahogany browns and reds will complement your skin.”
Black Skin or Asian Skin
If you have a dark or South Asian skin tone, look for colours that will bring out the healthy glow in your skin. “You’ll be best suited to warm reds and richer browns,”.
“Black skin often has a warm, golden base to it, so it will go best with warm reds or mahoganys – steer clear of oranges and golds,”. If you are mixed race and have a creamier skin tone (think Leona Lewis), try cool coffee shades for a sunkissed look.
Black hair has more red pigment, so if your natural colour is very dark you should go for a rich shade to flatter those tones. “There’s a trend in Japan for choosing shades like white blonde or pale blue,”. “The problem is that if you have naturally black hair, as that cool colour fades you’ll see an orangey tone appearing. Warmer, richer tones will give you a better result.”
Semi-Permanent Hair Colour
Once you’ve decided on the right colour for you, have a think about how you will care for it and what kind of dye will best suit your hair and lifestyle.
Go semi-permanent rather than permanent if you’re going darker, because it causes less damage to the hair. “Permanent colours mostly contain ammonia,”. “Ammonia puts stress on the hair because it swells each strand to allow more colour to get in.”
Lightening the hair is more damaging. “If you want to go blonder, do it for summer,”. “Summer styles need slightly less looking after – you can wear your hair in a more natural style. Change your shampoo and conditioner to something protein-based to repair the damage, and after washing just scrunch in leave-in conditioner and let it dry naturally.”
Hair Colour Care Tips
If you’re colouring your hair you need to limit your heat styling. “To give it some context, the average clothes iron is at about 130 degrees – hair straighteners go between 170 and 230 degrees,”. “They put your hair under extreme stress. Blowdrying is less damaging, so do as much as you can with that first. When you do straighten your hair, just do the mid-lengths and the ends, not the roots. Keep the straighteners moving to avoid scorching your hair and stripping off its protective layer.”