Ever looked back at your hair color in an old snap and thought “WTF was I thinking?” Well, if you’ve been victimized by the #10yearchallenge, then it’s definitely a possibility – that yellow blonde of the 09s has been haunting us all week! But all jokes aside, your hair color can completely change the vibe of your look so there are a few things to consider before taking the color plunge. For instance, are you willing to deal with the upkeep if you’re going drastically darker (or lighter)? Does your hue of choice work with your current texture, skin tone, and level of hair health? These can be life-changing questions – okay so maybe that’s a little dramatic – but these are pretty major beauty questions, so we turned to the pros for their top hair coloring tips to help you in your journey to #LivingYourBestLife and #HairGoals.
Rule 1. Start With Your Skin Tone
Before you rush into the salon armed with saved Instas of your celeb hair color crush, just hold on a hot second. According to Courtney Goebel, eSalon expert colorist, and education lead, the most important thing when choosing a hair color is making sure the shade(s) complement your skin tone. “To determine what will work, you need to know if have a warm, cool, or neutral skin tone and one easy way to find out is to look at your veins,” she advises. If your veins are purple or blue, you’re cool; if they’re greenish, you’re warm; if you’re seeing both, you’re most likely a neutral tone. Still confused? Check out our guide to figuring out your undertone here.
“Once you know your skin’s tone, pick a hair color that’s the opposite – so for cooler skin, we recommend ash, cool beige, or coppery-red tones to bring out your natural blush and for warmer skin, try golds, warm beiges, chocolatey brunettes, and mahogany reds to get that glowy, highlighted finish,” she adds. If you have a neutral skin tone – you’re lucky, you can easily transition from cool to warm, and vice versa.
Rule 2. Take the Seasons Into Account
Marie-Antoinette Martinez, a colorist at Frédéric Fekkai Salon at The Mark Hotel in NYC, is quick to point out the need for seasonal awareness when it comes to dyeing your locks. “How much sun your hair is exposed to offers clues as to what type of processes your hair can handle,” she says. So sun worshippers beware, if your mane is already fried, you may not be able to do a complete overhaul. If your hair is on the healthy side, however, Martinez’s rule of thumb is usually to go for “richer warmer tones in the winter and brighter and lighter in the warmer months.” After all, if your hair already looks unhealthy, dying or bleaching it will never improve it.
Rule 3. Schedule Your Cut Before Color
“Color always looks more impactful on freshly cut, well-maintained hair, and your texture plays a big role in deciding what type of service to perform,” says Martinez. “Some haircuts might look great with a solid color with little dimension, while others with a lot of dimension, enhance layers.” Translation: cut before color always, and make sure you speak to your stylist and colorist prior to both services so everyone’s on the same page. For example, if you have your hair cut and colored to work with a naturally curly state, but always style it straight, those are things they should know up front.
Rule 4. Be Consistent With Maintenance
“The upkeep for highlights really depends on how far you deviate from your natural base,” says Amelie Lemoine, a stylist, and colorist at Yves Durif Salon in Manhattan, New York. “For example, if you already have a dark starting base color that drastically contradicts the brighter highlights, you will need to go to the salon for more frequent touch-ups every three to four weeks.” And if you have grays (damn you, aging!) then you’ll also have to get your roots touched up every two to three months.
As for which color techniques Lemoine loves for their low-maintenance appeal, she’s a big fan of the ombre-balayage look. “First you can utilize your natural color with the enhancements of highlights strategically located on the ends to complement your skin tone, and if you’re budget-conscious, this is the perfect type of color as it doesn’t require frequent touch-ups,” she adds.
Rule 5. Use Color Safe Products
Garnier celebrity colorist Nikki Lee works with mega babes like Sarah Hyland, Hilary Duff, and Emma Roberts, and nothing annoys her more than not protecting your new color at home, after shelling out big bucks for it in the salon. “A heavy conditioner/ deep conditioning mask will be your new best friend after color, so be sure to use one every time you wash, but also try to eliminate how many times you wash per week with really light hair,” she advises. “Those oils you produce will actually help your hair stay healthy.” Lee’s mask pick is Garnier Fructis Damage Repairing Treat 1 Minute Hair Mask + Papaya Extract, $5, which she says “is great for colored-treated hair because it’s super nourishing and helps boost color vibrancy.”
TOP TIP: Remember the Rules For Coloring Your Hair at Home
If you choose to take matters into your own hands and get to dying in the comfort of your own bathroom, we wouldn’t blame you. Not only is it seriously cheaper, but at-home color solutions are a lot more advanced these days. Just make sure you know what you’re doing before you whip out the latex gloves.
“When coloring your hair at home, we recommend going no more than a shade lighter or darker at a time and avoid coloring over previously colored hair so you don’t overlap,” explains Goebel. “This will help prevent going overly dark, seeing unwanted banding, dryness, or possibly even breakage.” If you’re not looking to commit and want to try a few different shades, Goebel suggests going with a demi-permanent hair color that lasts between 24 to 28 shampoos, enhancing your allover color without the commitment. “For anyone with more than 25 percent grays, demi won’t give you full gray coverage, but it’s a nice way to play with tones until you decide which looks best,” she says.
Our 3 Fave Hair Color Apps
Ok, so now we’ve covered everything you need to consider before you dive into the world of color, it’s time for the fun part – testing out new colors without the commitment, aka using an app. We realize they may not be the exact color you’re looking for, but it’ll give you a much better idea of what the finished color will look like against your skin tone. Here are our three go-to apps:
- YouCam Makeup: This app has SO many color options, we’ve been playing around with our color all day! It also lets you try out makeup looks. Plus, it’s free to download.
- Hair Color App: This app is amazing as it gives you a really realistic finished look. All you need to do is upload a photo and outline your hair to create a template then you color away.
- Hair Color Booth App: This one is similar to hair color, but it lets you experiment with some insane shades. So, if you’ve always wondered what your hair would look like in hot pink, then this is the app for you!