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How to Choose the Best Hair Color

Beyond trends and fashion, there are certain colors that, because of our natural tones, will work in our favor more than others. That’s why, in the world of colorimetry, there are hair colors that are ideal when it comes to highlighting our attributes and making our imperfections less visible.

Yaneli García is a makeup, nail, and hair artist with 16 years of professional experience in hair image and colorimetry, certified by Wella Professional and L’Oreal Professionnel. With her help, we’ll be able to find the right color for you.

Exclusively for Bright Side, Yaneli helped us create a complete guide to find the ideal hair color for you, according to your skin tone. Remember that this is just a guide, and your particular taste and preference will define what best suits you. As a bonus, at the end of the article, we will give you some tips on how to dye your hair on your own.

Step #1: Warm or cool undertones

Invision / Invision / East News, face to face / FaceToFace / REPORTER / East News

Beauty professionals usually categorize skin tones following the classification on which the colorimetry is based: warm tones or cool tones. This classification is used to find all the colors that suit you when you get dressed, apply makeup, or choose your hair color. To detect which category you belong to, there are several quick tests:

  • Find which colors suit you best.
    Choose one pink garment and another one that is yellow. Place each one under your chin, in the light, and see which one looks better. The wrong garment will highlight your imperfections, while the right one will brighten your face.

    Pink = cool tone
    Yellow = warm tone
  • Choose accessories that suit you better.
    The same goes for gold and silver accessories — wear both and see which one works better for your face.

    Silver = cool tone
    Gold = warm tone
  • Find out the color of your veins.
    Look at the veins in your wrist and detect if their color is among the blues, purples, or greens.

    Purple or blue = cool tone
    Green = warm tone

It’s worth mentioning that there is also a neutral tone, which mixes the characteristics of a cool tone with a warm one.

Step #2: skin tones

We’ll try to classify skin tones into only 3 types: light, medium, or dark. Match your skin tone according to the image above. This is a scale of brown tones, but if your skin has other tones, you can also classify it into one of the 3 types.

Step #3: skin and eyes, and applying color according to the year’s 4 seasons

Once you’ve found the right tone and undertone of your skin, we can now add your eyes to the mix. With all these elements, we can find the classification of your natural colors in a given season so that you can identify yours and discover which hair colors suit you best.

Spring

Elizabeth Goodenough/Everett Collection/East News, Dee Cercone/Everett Collection / East News, © casther / Depositphotos.com, © Subbotina / Depositphotos.com

Light or medium tone + warm undertone + light color eyes (blue, brown, green or with golden highlights) = spring

  • Yes: Medium brown, golden or reddish colors — you can also try chocolate shades.
  • No: Ash or darker colors should be avoided.
John Salangsang/Invision / AP / East News, © Cosmopolitan UK / Wikimedia Commons, © CC BY 3.0

Summer

Stephen Lock / i-Images / EAST NEWS, Gregorio Binuya / Everett Collection Staff / Everett Collection / EA, © casther / Depositphotos.com, © Subbotina / Depositphotos.com

Light or medium tone + cool undertone + light eyes (with blue-green or gray tones) = Summer

  • Yes: blondes, light browns, and ash colors — as long as you add light to them. Silver or platinum blond highlights will add light to your hair, as well as dark ones (2 shades higher.)
  • No: ash blonde alone, as it may make your hair look dull. If you choose this shade, you should think about adding some light to it. Avoid mahogany reds, copper, and golden blonde shades; they will make you look older.
EAST NEWS, EVERETT COLLECTION / EAST NEWS

Autumn

ROBYN BECK / AFP / East News, ANGELA WEISS / AFP / East News, © casther / Depositphotos.com, © Subbotina / Depositphotos.com

Light or medium tone + warm undertone + honey, turquoise, green or dark eyes (black or dark brown) = autumn

  • Yes: All golden brown tones, blond or copper, as well as chocolate, mahogany, and light brown — you can choose a hair color that can be accentuated with red or mahogany tones.
  • No: Ash blondes since they won’t help to brighten your face.
Photographer Group / MEGA / Mega Agency / East News, MEGA / EAST NEWS

Winter

JEAN-BAPTISTE LACROIX / AFP / East News, MEGA / Mega Agency / East News, © casther / Depositphotos.com, © Subbotina / Depositphotos.com

Dark, medium, or light tone + cool undertone + very dark (black, brown or gray) or very light (blue or deep green) eyes = winter

  • Yes: Dark colors like black, bluish-black, brown, and medium brown — you can highlight these shades with colors like bright bluish-black, purple, mahogany reflections, and ash blondes.
  • No: Very light golden blondes and browns dull the skin’s glow, while reddish ones could make you look older; or if you’re pink-cheeked, they’ll make you look as if you have a red tinge.
Wiese / face to face / FaceToFace / REPORTER/East News, Byron Purvis / AdMedia / Capital Pictures / EAST NEWS

All hair colors are beautiful, and at the end of the day, you can choose whatever color you want, with or without a guide. These are just some guidelines you can follow to start experimenting. More important than the color of your hair is if you’re a nice person.

BONUS: tips for dyeing your hair yourself

Once you’ve finally chosen the hair color or colors that look best on you, it’s time to move on with the coloring process. If you are one of those people that really like to dye their hair by themselves, these tips are for you. You can be confident that by the end of this tutorial, this task will be a piece of cake!

We know you’re excited to start, but first, you should prepare yourself with the best tools for the job. Buy a dye kit — normally these contain a bowl where you can mix the dye, some gloves, and a brush. If you’re like me, you probably like to have long hair. In that case, it’s better to buy 2 dye boxes just in case 1 isn’t enough. Additionally, buy some hair clips and, last but not least, some Vaseline, as it will be a life saver.

If you’re dyeing your hair at home, it’s best to choose a color that is 2 shades darker or lighter than your natural hair. If you want to go higher or lower than that, it’s better to pay a visit to a professional. Now that we have everything we need, we can start preparing our working station.

  • Being comfortable is key, and if this is your first time dyeing your hair, it’s going to take some time. We don’t want accidents, so it’s better to have patience and go slow. Wear something comfy that you don’t mind getting stained because we should always prepare for the worst.
  • Proceed by preparing the mix. Be careful and follow the instructions in the box.
  • The first thing you should do is apply some Vaseline to your hairline, as you don’t want to end up with a stained scalp, and this trick does wonders. You should also put on your gloves — if you don’t, your skin will get stained and it will be very difficult to wash it off.
  • Don’t, under any circumstances, skip the strand test. This test will let you know if it’s safe for your hair to proceed with the dyeing process. You can pick a small strand of hair, one that can be hidden, and test the dye on it.

    Make sure your hair is in the right condition to continue. You’ll be able to tell if the dye works for your hair this way. If you’re satisfied with the results, you can keep going.
  • Another test you shouldn’t avoid is the patch test. This test can help you to see if you have any allergic reactions to the product. It just may happen that you start to feel a burning sensation, swelling of your scalp or face, or more. If you start getting any type of reaction, it’s best to rinse the product out and contact your doctor immediately.
  • Use a brush to comb your hair — part it right in the middle and make 4 to 6 sections. Keep the sections out of your face with some hair clips. You need to be able to see what you’re doing, and it’s best to work in sections since, that way, the product can get to all the corners.
  • Now here comes the fun and difficult part. Start applying the hair color of your choice. It’s better to start at the front and work your way to the back. Take your first section and section it even more so that the product is evenly applied, as we don’t want any patchiness.

    Apply the hair color with the brush, and you can spread it by combing your hair with your hands. Don’t forget to wear gloves for protection, read all the instructions in the box, and follow them perfectly. Use 2 mirrors to check on the back of your head and make sure everything is even.
  • Keep track of how much time you leave the product on. The box must contain the setting instructions to guide you through the process. Set an alarm on your phone so that you don’t leave the dye in your hair for more or less time than is necessary.

    During that time, you can do some of the pending chores you have, but don’t forget to carry your phone with you. The last thing you want is damaged hair.
  • Once the alarm goes off, you can rinse the hair color by using your sink, but to be more comfortable is better if you get into the shower. Wash your hair as you would normally do and wait till the water runs clean without a trace of the dye. While in the shower, you may also rinse any stains off your skin.

    In this step, you can also ask for help, as there’s no shame in needing assistance to rinse all your hair. There might be some product left at the back that you can’t see or reach.
  • There are special hair products for colored hair, so look for the option that best suits your needs. With the proper care, your hair dye might last longer.

To what season do your natural colors belong? Did you already know how to choose the right hair color before reading this article? What shade of hair would you like to try?

Please note: This article was updated in September 2022 to correct source material and factual inaccuracies.
Preview photo credit EAST NEWS, EVERETT COLLECTION / EAST NEWS
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