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Hair Color

Which Type of Hair Color is Best? A Guide to Choosing Your Ideal Shade

With so many gorgeous hair color options from rich chocolates to radiant coppers to sunkissed blondes, it can be tough deciding which shade is the most flattering for you. There’s no universal “best” color – but there are some key factors to consider when evaluating a new hair hue.

This comprehensive guide will overview everything you need to know to select your ideal hair color.

We will cover:

  • How to determine your skin’s undertone
  • Choosing colors that complement and enhance your complexion
  • Factoring in your eye color and hair texture
  • The maintenance required for different color options
  • Techniques like highlights, balayage, and ombré
  • Temporary vs. permanent hair color

Let’s get started! Here are some tips and techniques for choosing the most radiant, head-turning shades tailored just for you.


Determining Your Skin Undertone

Which Type of Hair Color is Best? A Guide to Choosing Your Ideal Shade Séchoir Beauty Bar


The first step is identifying your skin’s undertones. This provides the foundation for choosing harmonious hair hues that will make your complexion glow. There are three main undertones:

Warm – yellow, peach, golden undertones

Cool – pink, red, blue undertones

Neutral – balanced mix of warm and cool


Veins Tests and Characteristics of Each Undertone

Warm Undertones

  • Blue and purple veins are less prominent
  • Tan easily and turn golden brown
  • Silver metals wash you out
  • Look great in yellow gold

For those with warm golden undertones, avoid tones with overt violet, blue or ash. Stylists recommend warm chestnut browns, darker espressos, rich auburns and brighter copper and burnt oranges as ideal hair colors.

Redheads with warm peach complexions can boost the vibrancy of their color with warm cranberry red and strawberry blonde shades. The key is keeping the coloring within the warmth family, avoiding those with blue undertones.

To push the envelope, vibrant fire engine red oranges can electrify golden skin and hazel green eyes. Vibrant warm tones also fade beautifully on warm complexions, going from punchy oranges to softer peaches.

Another way to enhance warm undertones is with face-framing highlights. Think warm honey blonde accents around the face on golden brown hair. Or creamy beige babylights throughout chocolate espresso hair. The bright nuggets of light reflect and open up warm complexions.


Cool Undertones

  • Blue veins prominently visible
  • Burn easily, turn pink or red
  • Gold metals can look brassy
  • Favor white metals and platinum

For fair-skinned beauties with cool pink undertones, ultra-icy platinum is a showstopper choice. This works well with light blue eyes to create high contrast. To soften this, incorporate some platinum highlights into an ash brown base.

Those with medium cool complexions also dazzle with espresso brown hair with violet blue undertones. This adds definition while complementing the ruddier facial tones. Stay away from warm chocolate browns, which can clash with cool pink skin.

Cool complexions yearning for blonde should choose beigey ash tones like sand or wheat blonde. This prevents the yellow brassiness that can occur with warm golden blondes. Grayish lavender ombré ends are also ethereal and stylish on fair cool skin.

To stand out, cool-toned ravenettes can experiment with an icy platinum streak in the front. This amplifies your eye color and brightens up cool-dominant neutral skin. Study celebs like Katy Perry and Christina Aguilera rocking this look.


Neutral Undertones

  • Veins appear both blue and green
  • Can tan, but not strongly golden or pink
  • Both gold and silver metals look great

Once you’ve zeroed in on your skin undertone, you can use it as the compass for choosing complimentary hair colors with flattering undertones.


Nailing Down Your Skin Undertone

While the undertone tests provide a good starting point, undertones can be tricky to discern. Here are some additional tips:

  • Examine your skin in natural sunlight, which allows you to see its true colors. Artificial lighting can distort tones.
  • Look at the colors of your veins on the inside of your wrist. Blue veins indicate cool undertones, while greenish veins signal warm undertones.
  • Consider if your skin looks better with gold or silver jewelry. Gold flatters warm skin, while cool complexions shine with silver.
  • Analyze how your skin reacts to the sun. Those with warm undertones tan easily, while cool tones burn or freckle more.
  • Pay attention to any surface redness or ruddiness, which signifies cool pink undertones. Yellow skin leaning towards olive green has warm undertones.
  • Consult with a makeup artist, who can analyze your skin under various light temperatures to determine the predominant undertones.

The most foolproof way to identify your undertone is getting a professional color analysis. Many cosmetic brands like Clinique offer this service. A trained consultant will have you view fabric swatches under various light sources, choosing the most harmonious colors to see if you lean warm or cool.

While color analysis costs more, the accuracy can be worth it to find colors tailored for you. And when in doubt, neutral overlooking warm and cool tones is a safe default option. With some detective work, you can unlock the secrets of your skin’s undertones.


Best Hair Color for Warm Undertones

Those with warm peachy, golden undertones will look radiant with warm hair colors in copper, ginger, strawberry blonde, golden brown, and auburn shades. I recommend steering clear of cool ash tones.

Great options include:

  • Copper redhead – A vibrant, attention-grabbing shade for fearless warm complexions. Requires commitment to upkeep.
  • Golden blonde – From honey to butterscotch, golden layered highlights brighten warm skin. Lower maintenance.
  • Chestnut brown – A rich chocolate brown with warm reddish undertones. Classic and versatile.
  • Auburn – Fiery red tones complement golden skin. More high-maintenance.


Best Hair Color for Cool Undertones

People with fair skin and veins that appear blue or purple will shine with cool-toned hair colors. Think platinum, ash blonde, dark ash brown, blue-black. Avoid warmer golden tones.

Stunning choices include:

  • Ash blonde – A crisp, clean blonde free of brassiness. Lower maintenance with root touch-ups.
  • Smoky ash brown – Deep, cool-toned brunette with blue/grey undertones. Sophisticated and striking.
  • Raven black – Inky, jet black hair provides contrast against light, cool-toned skin. High drama.
  • Platinum – Ultra light, cool blonde. Flattering for very fair skin, but requires heavy upkeep.


Best Hair Color for Neutral Undertones

With neutral undertones, you have versatility to go for warmer or cooler shades. Focus on choosing colors with both gold and ash tones.

Great options:

  • Beige blonde – A harmonious mix of icy and golden blonde woven together.
  • Neutral brown – Equal blend of warm chocolate and cool ash brown.
  • Strawberry fields – Blend of red, gold, and copper tones works with neutral skin.
  • Silver lavender – Unexpected cool pastel silver adds edge to neutral complexions.


Factor in Your Eye Color Too

Which Type of Hair Color is Best? A Guide to Choosing Your Ideal Shade Séchoir Beauty Bar

In addition to flattering your skin tone, hair color can make your eye color pop by either matching or contrasting it.

Blue Eyes

  • Copper red and auburn shades intensify blue eyes. The warm tones make the blue stand out.
  • Contrary to popular belief, platinum blonde doesn’t necessarily enhance blue eyes most. Dirty blonde, strawberry blonde and light brown bring out blue subtly.
  • Bold jet black hair and baby blues create striking contrast. Soft blue-toned black is especially electric.
  • Violet-tinted reds and burgundies also energize lighter blue eyes. Don’t be afraid to play with unusual colors!

Brown Eyes

  • Rich chocolates and espresso browns make brown eyes gleam with dimension. Matching the undertones is key.
  • For lighter brown eyes, caramel and honey blonde highlights open up and brighten the iris.
  • Vibrant ruby reds and bold platinum grays flatter medium warm brown eyes by contrasting.
  • Cool-toned neutrals like ash brown, slate gray and icy platinum intensify cooler brown eyes.

Green Eyes

  • Warm auburns, cranberries and strawberry blondes bring out green and hazel green eyes.
  • Emerald greens glow against chestnut browns. But avoid matching green eyes and hair too closely.
  • Soft gold and beige blondes flatter and accentuate green eyes beautifully.
  • For lighter greens, navy blue-blacks create striking, sexy contrast.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with hair colors that contrast your eye color. Often that high contrast can make your eyes mesmerizing and unforgettable. Consult a stylist to try colors outside your comfort zone!


Considering Your Hair Texture and Skin Tone

Hair texture and skin tone work together in determining ideal hair colors. Coarse, thick hair can generally handle more dramatic coloring and bleaching better than fine, fragile hair. The condition and integrity of your strands impact how much they can be lightened or altered.

In terms of skin tone suitability, there are some general guidelines but no definitive rules:

Fair Skin Tones

  • Porcelain and ivory complexions with pink undertones look beautiful with high contrast black or very light blonde and platinum shades. This creates drama against the pale skin.
  • Fair skin with neutral peach undertones can also pull off dark chocolate browns and lighter beige blondes. Too dark of shades can wash out very fair skin.
  • Freckled cream complexions look best with strawberry and coppery auburns along with neutral soft brown. This flatters the ruddiness. Avoid ash tones.

Medium Skin Tones

  • Light beige to tan skin with golden olive undertones shine with warm caramel, honey and butterscotch browns. Reflective bronde balayage adds dimension.
  • Neutral medium tan complexions open up with chestnut, milk chocolate and rich mocha browns. Lowlights and babylights amp up the luminosity.
  • Pinker medium complexions glow with sweet peach blondes, strawberry reds and ginger oranges. Neutral brown ombré ends work too.

Tan to Dark Skin Tones

  • Golden brown to deep brown skin look most vibrant in espresso brown-black with subtle caramel highlights around the face.
  • Neutral tan complexions can opt for dark mocha brown all-over color with babylights to show off texture.
  • Cooler brown complexions are complemented by black with blue undertones, gray highlight streaks and deep burgundy ombré shades.

The general guidance is to avoid choosing hair colors more than two shades lighter or darker than your skin tone. But with the right stylist and techniques like balayage, you can bend the “rules” and find gorgeous options to brighten and complement your complexion.

Now let’s explore some different color application techniques and methods to find your perfect hue.


Hair Color Techniques

Highlights remain a go-to technique for creating depth, dimension and lift. But new color trends like ombré, sombre (subtle ombré) and balayage add modern, soft color gradation.

Here’s a breakdown of popular techniques:


Bleached pieces woven throughout the hair. From fine babylights to chunky streaks. Main maintenance is at the roots.

Highlights remain one of the most popular hair coloring techniques. They involve lightening select strands throughout the hair to create dimension.

  • Fine highlights like babylights focus on framing the face with delicate bright pieces. Great for a natural look.
  • Chunkier highlights work well on long styles, with lighter pieces throughout the ends and midlengths. Fun and bold.
  • Partial highlights apply color just to the top or midlengths leaving the ends natural. Subtle pop of brightness.
  • Full highlights lighten all sections. Requires commitment to frequent root upkeep. Maximum brightness.

Highlights allow you to go lighter while leaving some of your natural color. They create the illusion of fuller, thicker hair with depth. Great for blending away grays. The key drawback is the need for root touch-ups every 4-6 weeks as regrowth happens.


– Dramatic fade from dark roots to light ends. Must grow out harsh lines between colors.

Ombré remains a dramatic, dimensional option. It features a high-contrast fade from very dark roots to light tips.

  • Works best starting with natural dark brown or black base color. The roots stay saturated.
  • Usually uses bleached tips so requires healthy hair and heavy conditioning.
  • Allows you to try lighter ends without fully committing.
  • Downside is the grow out results in harsh lines as it fades. Require patience during transition.


– Subtle ombré with soft blend from roots to tips. Easier grow-out than ombré.

A “softer” ombré, sombre features a much more gradual blend from roots to ends.

  • Melts darker roots into lighter midlengths and tips seamlessly.
  • Works on most base colors from blonde to black. More versatile than ombré.
  • Easier grow out than ombré. Less obvious regrowth lines.
  • Requires very skilled and meticulous painting application to get the soft blend.

It gives dimension with a subtle, natural looking fade. Great option if you like ombré’s idea but not the high-contrast.


– Hand-painted pieces look like natural sun streaks on the face. Expensive but very natural effect.

Balayage is freehand painting of bleach directly on sections of hair to look like natural lightening from the sun.

  • Very soft, diffused results. Mimics how hair lightens naturally.
  • Lightens only selected pieces so low commitment and lower maintenance.
  • Hand-painted technique requires major skill by the colorist.
  • Most expensive option but pays off for the softness and multi-tonal results.

The painted effect is gorgeous. But it’s critical to find an expert stylist familiar with the technique. Do your research!

Which you choose depends on the time investment, level of contrast desired and how natural you want the results. Consult with a colorist to determine the best method for your hair goals and lifestyle.


Permanent vs. Semi-Permanent Hair Color

For longer lasting results, permanent color fully penetrates the hair shaft and must grow out over time. This lasts 4-6 weeks for dark shades, 6-8 weeks for medium brown, light brown, and blonde shades. (See our comparison of salon vs at-home dyes)

Semi-permanent deposits color without opening the cuticle for shorter durability. Lasts 4-12 shampoos fading progressively. Great for trying fashion shades.

Demi-permanent color is between permanent and semi-permanent, lasting around 24-26 shampoos. Ammonia-free.

When going lighter, permanent color is required for lasting results since semi-permanent can’t lighten. For retouching roots of permanent color, a demi-permanent is often used for gentle touch-ups. Talk to your stylist about your routine and needs.


Finding Your Color: Don’t Be Afraid to Make a Change!

After considering your skin tone, eye color, hair texture and maintenance commitments, explore new color shades with an experienced stylist. Stylists stay on top of trends and techniques to recommend flattering, face-brightening hair colors tailored just for you. The right color can enhance your beauty, boost your confidence and even increase your vibrancy!

While your new hair color will require some adjustments like makeup shades and clothing colors, don’t let fear hold you back. Hair color should be exciting, fun and express your style. Take inspiration from celebs like Kim Kardashian rocking platinum and Anne Hathaway’s chocolate pixie. With the right stylist, you can gradually make any color transitions.

Need a boost? Go for it! There are amazing options from subtle natural sun-kissed highlights to complete color transformations. Consult a pro to choose wisely. But once you find that special shade that makes your complexion glow, eyes dazzle and inner spirit shine, you’ll never look back.


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