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Choosing the right hair color for your skin tone

Choosing the right hair color for your skin tone

By Claire Williams, The List

Have you ever tried out a hair color and found it completely didn't suit you after the stylist was done? The reason may lie in your skin. Beyond the basic choices of brown, blonde, red, or black, the infinite number of sub-colors and shades available can make picking a hair color from those tiny sample books next to impossible. If you like crazy or nontraditional colors, the choice becomes even harder. Just like choosing the right clothing colors, your hair color can drastically affect your looks and make your skin tone look vibrant or dull. Keep reading to learn how to assess your skin tone and find out exactly which hair colors will look best on you.


Figuring out your skin tone

Choosing the right hair color for your skin tone
Before you test your skin's undertones, make sure you're using natural light, as artificial light can change how your skin looks depending on the slight color shift caused by different types of light bulbs. This guide gives several great options to determine your skin's true undertone. For a quick check, we recommend flipping your palm face up and taking a look at the veins in your hand and wrist. If your veins have a blue or purple hue, then you have cool undertones. If the veins have a greenish cast, you have warm undertones. If you can't really say that they favor one shade over the other, then you likely have neutral undertones. If you've got neutral undertones, congratulations — any of the colors we describe below should look great on you. If you're cool or warm, keep reading to find out which shades work best for you, and why.



Ash blonde

Choosing the right hair color for your skin tone
Ash blonde, including shades like platinum, ice, silver, and champagne, look great on those who have cool skin with reddish undertones. The slightly blue cast in these blonde shades will counteract ruddiness in the skin. Celebrities who have rocked ash blonde correctly with their skin tone include Gwen Stefani and Taylor Swift. If you decide to go with one of these shades, make sure you use a purple shampoo and conditioner to keep the color from yellowing.


Warm blonde

Choosing the right hair color for your skin tone
If you have fair, cool skin with blue undertones, go slightly warmer with your blonde by choosing gold, caramel, amber, honey, or butterscotch for your shade. A honey or caramel blonde is also a good choice for those with olive skin and neutral undertones or deep skin, as going too light or ashy with your blonde can wash out your face. If you have very warm undertones, you want to avoid warm blonde, as too much yellow can make you look sallow. Use toner frequently to avoid your color going brassy.


Cool brown

Choosing the right hair color for your skin tone
Cool brown shades like chestnut, mocha, dark chocolate, and dark auburn go great with those who have skin with warm undertones. From fair to deep skin, if you've got yellow undertones, consider using a cool brown hair color to brighten up your complexion.


Warm brown

Choosing the right hair color for your skin tone
Pick a warm brown shade like golden brown, honey, amber, mahogany, or cinnamon if you have medium skin with warm undertones. When Emilia Clarke isn't wearing her platinum wig as the Mother of Dragons on Game of Thrones, her favorite hair color is warm brown.


Cool red

Choosing the right hair color for your skin tone
Cool reds including auburn, burgundy, and true red will look great on those with fair cool skin with reddish undertones. The bluish red cast of your hair will make your skin pop instead of looking flushed or ruddy. If you have deep skin, opt for a cool auburn over warm red, because warmer red tones will make your skin look greenish or sickly.


Warm red

Choosing the right hair color for your skin tone
If you have neutral skin undertones or bluish undertones in fair skin, then warm red is for you. Pick your favorite from strawberry blonde, amber, copper, or rust shades. Make sure to get shampoo for color-treated hair and avoid washing frequently to keep your color strong as long as possible between touch-ups.


Cool black

Choosing the right hair color for your skin tone
Cool black hair colors like espresso, licorice, blue-black or true black will look great on those with warm undertones. If you're fair or olive skinned, the contrast will take your yellowish undertones and give you an almost porcelain-doll look to your skin. If you have deep skin, you can wear cool black shades regardless of your undertone.


Warm black

Choosing the right hair color for your skin tone
If you crave warm black shades like dark mocha, cocoa, or brown-black, then make sure you have cool undertones to your fair or medium skin. If you have deep skin, then you can also use a mocha or cocoa shade to warm things up, no matter what undertone you have.


Nontraditional colors

Choosing the right hair color for your skin tone
Do you want to go crazy with your next hair color? While the sky is pretty much the limit and any color of the rainbow can look great if done correctly, there are a few pointers you should keep in mind. Warmer colors like pinks, oranges, and yellows will look best with cool-toned skin. Cool colors like blue and purple will be particularly flattering if you have warm yellow undertones in your skin. If you have deep skin, opt for darker, more saturated colors over pastels. And above all, remember that nontraditional colors will fade quickly because of the lifting process used before color is applied. Make sure you use specialized products to extend the life of your crazy shade.

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