How to Pick the Right Hair Colour for Your Skin Tone

Victoria Hoff

Deciding between blond, brown, and red is tough enough without considering the spectrum of tones that exist within those hues. And then you have to think about how those shades work with your complexion? (Can we take a nap now?)

But understanding the nuances of tone can actually make the difference between choosing a good hair colour and your most flattering one ever—and with a little crash course, it's actually not that hard to figure out. "It's all about placement, saturation, and what undertones in your skin you'd like to emphasise," says Roxie Darling, colouring guru at New York City's Hairstory. "The decision you and your colorists have to make is which colour you would like to bring out in your face."

But it helps when you have a basic knowledge of what cool vs. warm hair shades actually look like as well as an understanding of your skin's colouring to begin with. Consider this your foolproof guide to all of the above.

Understanding Your Skin Tone

Before taking your pick of hair colours, you need to ID your skin's undertones. Most people fall into one of three categories: warm, cool, and neutral. Figuring out where your complexion lies can seem confusing, but there are a few tricks:

1. Look for specific colours. "Cool-toned skin has pink and olive undertones, while warm-toned skin has yellow and gold," says Rachel Bodt, senior colourist at Cutler Salon. Got a combo of any of the above? You're probably neutral.

2. Match yourself with a celeb. When you're looking for A-list colour inspiration, try to pick out people with similar skin and eye colouring to your own. It Will give you a much better idea of how the hue will actually look on you in the end.

3. Check your wrist... "You'll see the pinks, reds, blues, greens, and yellows there," says Darling. This includes your veins, which are a great indicator of tone. "If your veins are blue or purple, you're likely cool-toned," says Bodt. "If they are green, you are warm."

4. ...Or your eyes. "If you have a lot of gold specks in your eyes, usually your undertones are warm," says George Papanikolas, Matrix celebrity stylist who works with the Kardashians and Miranda Kerr. "If you have a lot of blues and greens, then you are usually cool."

The rule of thumb for a hair colour that will flatter your complexion: Pick a tone that's opposite from your skin's undertones. So, those with warm undertones might opt for a cooler colour, and vice versa. The degree to which this matters varies from hair colour to hair colour, but it's a good guideline to remember. And if you have neutral skin, you're a lucky minority—everything looks good on you. 

Now that you're well-versed on your skin colouring, it's time to get schooled on different hair colours. 

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