How to Pick Your Perfect Hair Color

22Mar10

Perfect Hair ColorGetting your hair color right isn’t a science. It’s actually quite simple: Stick to colors that compliment your skin tone, figure out if you’re better off with single-process color or highlights, and then decide if you’re going to pay someone else to do it or do it yourself.

Here are 11 hair color tricks from how to avoid the wrong color to how to do it yourself.
Can You Go Blonde?
Some women look good in any color (remember Linda Evangelista?) but most women don’t. If you had blonde hair as a kid, you’ll likely look good with blonde hair as an adult. You’ll also look good blonde if you have pink skin that burns easily, and blue or green eyes.

Remember: if you are going the bottle route, never color your hair more than 2 shades lighter than your natural shade. Learn more about DIY-coloring in How to Color Your Hair at Home.
The Right Way to Go (or Stay) Brown
If you have super pale skin and brown hair, consider going lighter. Super dark shades can wash you out and even make you appear older.

Once you’ve colored your hair, protect your investment with 8 best products for colored hair.

See this photo gallery of famous brunettes and this photo gallery of my favorite dark, short haircuts.
Can I Go Red?
Almost everyone can go red, what’s most important is finding the right shade of red. If you want to go red, I suggest not trying it on your own. Get a professional consultation. You won’t believe the number of emails I get from women writing in unhappy when they tried to go red and their hair turned out orange.

See this famous redheads photo gallery for color inspiration. Also check out these gorgeous red hairstyles and How to Pick the Right Shade of Red.
To Color or to Highlight, That’s the Question
If you have a great base hair tone, you’re better off with highlights. You don’t want to mess with nature; what you want to do is enhance it. If your base color washes out your skin tone or is “blah,” consider single-process color. Single-process color is cheaper than highlights.

Highlights look best when the stylist uses at least two different shades. Ask for more around your face, they can brighten your complexion.

Keep in mind that due to root growth, all-over coloring will need to be touched up every four to eight weeks, while highlights can last up to two or three months, depending on what kind you get. Ask your stylist about a gloss treatment following your color. Gloss boosts color and makes hair shinier.
You’re Going for Highlights, But Which Kind?
There are basically 4 types of highlights: basic foil highlights, baliage or “hair painting,” chunking or “piecing” and lowlighting.

Foil highlights add strands of color to hair. You can get up to 5 different shades in hair to make it look more natural.

Baliage, or “hair painting,” allows the stylist to add natural stripes of color to hair in large or smaller swaths. This is best for women with a great base color who want to go just a couple shades lighter. You won’t need to get roots touched up as much with baliage as you do foils.

Lowlighting allows the stylist to add darker shades to hair. This gives color more contrast.
Should You Do It Yourself?
Home-color kits have come a long way in the past few years. They are perfect for busy people and those who want cut the cost of professional colorings. (We know of a couple top fashion editors who color their hair themselves).

Some great hair coloring kits include:

L’Oreal Natural Match Hair Color Compare Prices

Clairol Nice and Easy Compare Prices

for 12 tips on do-it-yourself coloring, see Should You Color Your Own Hair?
If You’re Going With a Box, Stick With Semipermanent Color
Semipermanent colors wash out after a few washes, whereas permanent colors have to grow out.

Some home hair coloring tips: rub Vaseline around your hairline as a protective measure before applying color. To remove after coloring, rub a small amount of cream cleanser and wipe off with cotton balls. Always wear gloves and wrap an old dark-colored towel around your shoulders. Rinse your eyes with water if you get color in your eyes. If you forgot the Vaseline and stained your skin, rub the area with a cotton ball soaked in alcohol-based toner.
Gray, Gray, Go Away, Don’t Come Again Another Day
Gray hair can be resilient to hair dye because of its coarse texture. If your hair is less than 15 percent gray, opt for a semi-permanent color that’s a shade lighter than your natural color (or matches your color).

Many women who are more than half gray opt to dye their hair blonde. For more information on coloring gray hair, check out this Q&A with stylist Antonio Gonzales of Eva Scrivo in NYC.
So You Hate Your Color? Don’t Strangle the Stylist!
Don’t be afraid to go back to the salon and talk to your stylist if you are not pleased with the results. There are all sorts of ways to fix color that’s just not right. If you did it yourself with a semi-permanent color, look for a shampoo with “ammonium laurel sulfate” to wash away the color faster.

Get more tips on a bad dye job and how to fix it.
Your Color is Gorgeous, Now What?
You invested money for hair color, now protect your investment with color-enhancing shampoo and conditioner once a week. These products deposit miniscule amounts of color into hair. See 8 best hair products for color-treated hair.
Uh-Oh. Your Roots Are Growing In
You can expect your color to last about 6 to 8 weeks before roots begin to show. If your hair is colored, get your roots touched up or do them yourself with a store-bought kit. I like Clairol Nice and Easy Root Touch Ups.

If you have highlights or lowlights, avoid having your whole head colored by asking your stylist to do your hairline, crown and part. A word of warning: Foil highlights require precise application and fixing dark roots is nearly impossible. Consider baliage, which looks more natural.

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