Let’s bypass the complicated stuff….
It’s true that there are some very intricate and involved formulas used in salons in order to find exactly the right color for each client.
Undertones. Base colors. Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary colors. Complementary colors. Levels. Single or Double-Process Lightening. Toning. Trust me…the list goes on and on!
These terms are all important, but if you are choosing to color your hair at home, or if you’d like to come to the salon armed and ready with a picture of your desired result, this article will be your go-to…especially after the exhaustion you have no doubt experienced if you have been researching this topic for a while.
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Stick To The Basics!
There are many people who color their hair, for many reasons. In fact, I’m one of “those” people…who probably couldn’t tell you exactly what my natural color was after the age of..say ten.
It’s a super fun thing to do, and hair color is one of the biggest (and most instantly gratifying) forms of self-expression!
Hair coloring also has the power to bring out the beautiful green in your eyes, or your perfect porcelain skin, or the flushed pink tones in your cheeks that give you an envied natural blush.
But if not chosen correctly, hair color can look muddy, wash out your skin color, or cause people to think you had your eyes closed when looking at color swatches…
Luckily, there are a couple of things that you can look at, at home, to determine the best color for you!
Let’s get started…without becoming overwhelmed. Shall we?
1. Skin Level
This is simply determining whether you have light, medium, or dark skin.
2. Skin Tone
The quickest and easiest way that I have personally used to determine skin tone is the wrist test.
Take a look at your wrist, in the area where you can easily see the veins.
Now, do the veins look like they are bluish or purple? Then you are most likely a cool skin tone. If the veins appear to have a more green or olive tone to them, you are most likely a warm skin tone.
And if you are one of the lucky few who could say that they’re veins look to possess all of these colors..congratulations.
You’re a neutral, and most anything will look fabulous on you.
If you need a secondary way of testing (because wrist veins are not that visible for everyone), then apply pink blush to one cheek. Like, a lot. More than you would normally wear.
And apply a peachy tone blush to the other cheek. If the pink blush seems to reveal a bit of a cool, flushed undertone, then you are likely leaning in the cool direction.
If the peach blush appears more flattering, and brings out a warm undertone, then warm is your direction.
3. Look At Pictures And Choose!!
It’s super important to take a look at pictures that depict the hair color that you are considering. You need to evaluate if the model has a similar skin tone to yourself.
Choose a few of your favorite pictures and compare them. Be sure, also to keep in mind that in pictures, the way a model’s hair is STYLED is also contributing to the overall look.
Here are a few pictures to give you an idea of different colors with different skin tones:
Light, pale blonde hair usually pairs best with cool skin tone and fair complexion. If you blush easily and have light colored eyes…this color will likely look great on you!
If you are going pale blonde, pick up a purple shampoo. It will take the brassy color out of the hair in between colorings.
Warm, caramel colored blonde hair will look appealing with warm skin tones.
Light colored eyes and a fair complexion may contrast too sharply with warm blonde hair.
People with warmer skin tone and slightly darker features will find that a darker blonde with gold or red undertones will look nice on them…
On the brunette end of things, a light, ashy brunette will look best on women with cool under notes in their complexion, and lighter skin color as seen below:
A dark brunette with cool undertones looks amazing on women with fair to medium complexions and light to dark features.
This brunette color is slightly more versatile than the warm, dark…
On the other hand, a warmer, deeper brown will look very flattering on women who have darker features and warm skin tone.
If coloring hair dark brown for the first time, be aware that it may cause the complexion to look washed out if you have a very light skin tone..
If you are desiring to be a brunette or a blonde and have a skin tone that might not be particularly warm or cool, you have the option to choose either, and hair colors such as these can be beautiful:
People with red and strawberry blonde hair who are looking to enhance their natural looks will want to make a definite evaluation of whether or not they should use a warm or cool based demi-permanent color based on the tests mentioned above as there are several variations of red hair:
Warm, cool, and vivid fashion color:
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4. A Few Things To Keep in Mind…
1. If you are searching for a hair color at the drugstore or market, note that the letter that comes after the number, ex. 4G, is the base.
This means that the color is a level four on the color scale, and has a GOLD base. Whichever base letter you choose will most likely show up in the finished product.
If you do not want a golden or warm undertone, choose a cool color as the base, or a neutral. Ex., 5A or 7NB.
2. If attempting to color gray hair COMPLETELY, I highly recommend choosing a permanent color with a NEUTRAL BASE. Ex., 8N. A demi-permanent color will only blend gray, most of the time.
3. Please remember that if you would like a light, pale blonde color, it is not a good idea to try to do this at home on your own.
Light blonde is often a double-process-lifting and then depositing, and it could turn out very wrong if you don’t have experience.
Definitely visit the salon if you do not want a red, orange, or golden undertone coming out. Clown hair is never in.
4. Have fun!! Hair color is so much fun! It can completely change your look, and often increase your confidence, and it can usually be changed if you are not thrilled with it, so go for it!
Thanks so much for taking the time to read, and I hope this cleared up a few things about choosing the right color! Questions and comments are always welcome!
Have a beautiful day!