How To Choose The Right Hair Color For Your Skin Tone — And How To Figure Out What Type Of Skin Tone You Have
You know that you really should schedule an appointment with a stylist to go for that totally new hair color you've been lusting after, but for simpler treatments, it's tempting to save some money and do your own color at home. But knowing what hair color is right for your skin tone is difficult — especially with all of the ombre, blonde and, unexpectedly enough, even gray hair color trends of the past few years. It's easy to feel overwhelmed. Just take a peek in the hair color aisle of any beauty supply store and you'll quickly see that the options are much, much more complicated than simply blonde or brown.
While the old beauty rules don't really apply anymore (that is, you can really wear any hair color that you like, because it's a free country and also becuase hair coloring techniques have advanced a ton), it is important to know the right shade of hair color for your specific skin tone. That doesn't mean that you can't do, say, blonde hair on dark skin, it just means that in order for it to look as flattering as it possibly can, you should choose the warmth or coolness of the color depending on your unique skin tone. In case you're next big question is, "Um, what is my skin tone?" here are a few basic tips from stylists that will help you to zero in on your specific shade and decide how to apply that to the hair color of your dreams.
1. Wash your face completely.
In order to accurately determine your skin's undertones, you'll need to completely remove all traces of makeup that may be changing its natural color.
2. Choose a well-lit room.
Because your skin looks drastically different under different types of light (i.e., the awful experiences that we've all surely had in dressing room fluorescents), choose a room with a large window or other source of natural light before doing this test.
3. Do a color test.
Hold a shirt in a bright shade of green or blue against your face, then take it down and hold up a different shirt in a shade of red or yellow. If your skin looks better against the blue shirt, you likely have cool-toned skin. If it looks better against the red shirt, you have warm-toned skin.
4. Examine your veins.
If you're still unsure about your skin tone, look at the veins in your wrist. People with cool skin tones have blue or purple veins, while people with warmer skin tones have greenish veins.
After you've figured it out for yourself, you can move on to the fun part —choosing a hair color.
Warm Skin Tones
If you determined that you have a warm skin tone, you will want to choose a hair color in a cool tone to complement it. These types of hair colors often have the words "cool" or "ash" in their titles. For women with lighter skin colors who want to go for a pale blonde shade, choose a champagne or platinum hue like Julianne Hough. This skin tone also looks great with a hip, silvery-blonde color.
If you want to go for a darker hair color against your warm-toned skin, choose a brunette or red in a cooler shade. Think rich black-brown, fawn-colored brunette or dark red, such as amber or auburn. Celebs like Kim Kardashian and Jessica Chastain are great examples.
If you want to experiment with highlights or ombre fading and you have warm-toned skin, take a tip from everyone's hair guru Rachel Bilson and opt for cooler colors to prevent your hair from looking brassy against your skin.
Finally, if you have dark skin with warm undertones, choose a hair color that is either lighter or darker than your skin to avoid making the two look like the same color (yikes!). Kerry Washington's hair is a great example of this, as her hair that is darker than her skin -- and it even contains highlights for added depth.
Cool Skin Tones
If you determined that your skin contains cool undertones, do the opposite and choose a hair color that is warm and rich to avoid making you look washed out. At the beauty supply store, look for color that contains the words "warm," "honey" or "chocolate." No matter if your skin is very pale or very dark, you can't go wrong if you choose a hair color that balances it out.
If you determined that your skin contains cool undertones, do the opposite and choose a hair color that is warm and rich to avoid making you look washed out. At the beauty supply store, look for color that contains the words "warm", "honey" or "chocolate". No matter if your skin is very pale or very dark, you can't go wrong if you choose a hair color that balances it out.
For ladies who want to go blonde against cool-toned skin, avoid things like silvery champagne or platinum. Instead, try something like a beachy golden blonde to flatter your skin and eyes pop. Candice Swanepoel and Sofia Vergara are great examples of how to pull of this type of warm blonde on two very different skin colors.
If you want to go dark against your cool-toned skin, opt for something with a rich, chocolatey hue. Steer clear of stark black, unless this is your natural color and you just want to brighten it up. Celebrities like Penelope Cruz and Meagan Good rock dark hair with just the right amount of warmth.
If you want to try out a wilder color on cool-toned skin, it can be a bit more difficult than on skin with warm undertones — but it's definitely not impossible. Keep in mind that silvery pastels and grays might make your skin look more pale or washed out than the same colors would on warm-toned ladies. Instead, choose a fun pink, green or blue in more of a bubblegum shade, à la Kelly Osborne or Nicki Minaj.
Images: Getty Images (12)