The art of choosing the perfect colour
When it comes to always looking your best, the right haircut is important – but the right hair colour might be even more important. Certain shades can look beautiful or blah on you, depending on how well they complement your skin tone. “I have clients on a daily basis requesting a hair colour they’ve seen on an actress or model that they just must have,” says celebrity colourist, Kari Hill. “The obstacle isn’t the colouring of their hair – it’s understanding whether or not the colour is going to match their skin tone.”
If you’re looking to colour your hair at home, you’ll undoubtedly find a walk down the pharmacy hair-care aisle to be overwhelming and confusing. And it’s too easy to make a hair mistake that ages your face or simply causes you to look less than amazing. Don’t worry – we’re here to help. We asked veteran stylists to explain exactly how to determine your skin tone and identify the best colours for you, whether you want to go natural or be a little more dramatic.
How to determine your skin tone
As with complexions, hair colours can be warm, cool or neutral. Cool-toned skin has pink, red, and blue undertones, while warm-toned skin has yellow, peach, and golden undertones. If your skin tone is neutral your undertone most likely matches your actual skin tone. No mystery there!
So, how can you determine your skin tone? An easy way to find out is with a “wrist test.” Simply flip over your wrist and look at the colour of your veins. If they are blue or purple, you’re likely cool-toned. Green and yellow veins mean your skin is warm-toned. Here’s another neat trick: “Place a silver piece of jewellery and a gold [one] next to your face, near your eyes,” says celebrity hairstylist Michelle Cleveland. “If silver complements you, go for a cool hair shade. If it’s gold that works best, then choose warm.”
You may have heard that the golden rule when it comes to hair colour is to select a shade that’s the opposite of your skin tone, but that actually may not be accurate. “My advice is to find a colour that brings you confidence but also respects your complexion,” says colourist, Sophie Georgiou. “Lots of women dream of being blonde, but it’s doesn’t suit all complexions.”
For fair skin with cool undertones
Fun fact: the paler your complexion, the lighter you can go with your hair colour. “Cool blonde shades (like platinum and baby blonde) are great on porcelain skin,” says Georgiou. And you’ll want to avoid overly warm tones, like golds, coppers and caramel, which can look unnatural. “Michelle Williams has a very pale cool complexion, so very light, icy blonde works perfectly on her. The reason I love this is because it also contrasts beautifully with her brown eye colour. It shows that, contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to have blue eyes and also pale skin to wear this tone,” says Hill. Considering a deeper hue? Matt King, a colourist, suggests dark red violets and jewel-toned colours, such as rich true red, solid jet (blue) black, and dark deep brown.