You’ve experimented with ombre, you’ve dabbled in pastel, and even gone trendy with “golden bronde”. Or maybe you’ve rocked the same brunette shade since childhood and are looking for a change. Whether you’re dyeing your hair for the first time or the tenth, selecting the right shade comes down to a few factors. First and foremost is your commitment level. “How often do you want to be in the salon?” says Chelsey Pickthorn, the owner of Brooklyn’s Pickthorn salon and a colorist with over a decade of experience. Once you know how much time and money you want to devote to your new hue, you’ll want to consider your natural shade, skin tone, and eye color, Pickthorn says. Follow her advice to figure out the hair color that will best suit you.
Best for: Those with fair skin and light eyes. Pickthorn recommends trying out this color if your hair is already dark blonde, light brown, or a similar red shade. “Texture-wise, I would recommend a smoother finish so you can really see the depth in the color itself,” she says. If your hair is curly or has a lot of texture, make sure you keep it hydrated so that it really shines—and top off your style with a brightening finishing spray like this one from Bain de Terre to emphasize the copper tones.
Skip it if: You’re a deep brunette who’s not ready to deal with dark roots and frequent touchups.
Best for: Those with warm skin tones and darker hair colors. “The combination of light and dark highlights is really nice [because] you maintain richness and definition around the face, and the lighter sections really pop.” While this happy medium of brown and blonde tones works for most styles, Pickthorn especially loves it on textured hair types: “It will accentuate your curls,” she says.
Skip it if: Your skin is very pink, which can look “muddy” with a warm, golden-brown hair color.
Best for: “A lot of people can pull [this color] off,” says Pickthorn, explaining that a rich brown hue complements a range of dark to light skin tones, redheads, and most textures. It can also bring depth to brown eyes and contrast with light blue or green eyes in a beautiful way.
Skip it if: Your hair is naturally very light: “It can almost look like you’re graying when your roots come in,” Pickthorn says.
Best for: Accentuating dark hair color on fair-skinned gals. Since this particular shade is so bold, it can look like a mistake when used on the entire head, Pickthorn recommends using it as an accent instead, via chunky, wine-hued highlights, which will add dimension to straight-to-wavy textures.
Skip it if: Your skin gets red easily, since burgundy tones can emphasize redness.
Best for: Platinum can look great on a range of different skin tones, from Ora’s olive hue to Eva Marcille’s mocha. “It’s ingrained in our minds that platinum looks better with shorter cuts,” says Pickthorn. “But there’s something really special about a pure, long-haired platinum.” The most important requirement for this shade? Confidence.
Skip it if: You’re not down with damage. “Going platinum will change your hair texture until it grows out,” Pickthorn warns. So think twice before bleaching frizzy, brittle, or superfine hair.
Best for: Those with olive and porcelain tones and brunettes. Going dark can also add strength and sheen to otherwise dull strands: “Darker [dyes] seal the cuticle, adding shine to the hair, so most textures of hair can pull it off,” says Pickthorn.
Skip it if: You’re naturally blonde and a little indecisive. “Getting that blue black out of the hair is a lengthy process,” Pickthorn says. “It’ll take a lot of work to get you back to a blonde.”
In addition to touchups every four to six weeks, Pickthorn recommends caring for color-treated hair with specially formulated products. We’re fans of Bain de Terre’s paraben-free Color Preserving Shampoo and Conditioner, which are both infused with monoi oil to nourish and protect processed hair. To keep up the sheen of your new color, style with Bain de Terre’s Color Therapy Styling Oil, an alcohol-free formula that will hold your style without weighing it down.
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