The Official Guide to Finding the Best Hair Color for Your Skin Tone

Aly Walansky
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Experimenting with your hair color is one thing; finding the most suitable color for you is another subject entirely. As far as choosing the best hair color for you goes, skin tone plays a key role in determining what makes you look like the best version of yourself vs. what looks amazing on Beyoncé but makes you look ill.

Most people fall into either warm or cool tones, but with that said, sussing out the best hair color for your skin tone without a little bit of help isn’t exactly easy—so we asked the experts to help hunt down the best hair dye shade for anyone who’s wondered, Which hair color for my skin tone?

“One way to figure out your tone is, after washing your face to remove all impurities, to hold a yellow or red piece of paper, then a white, green, silver or blue piece of paper against your face, preferably in a well lit room with natural light,” says Miguel Angarita, senior colorist at mizu new york salon. If your skin looks more flattering with the yellow or red piece of paper beside it, then you’re likely in the warm family. If your skin looks best with the other shades, you’re likely more cool-toned.

Another approach that doesn’t involve colored paper is to hold your wrists out and facing up under direct sunlight. If your veins seem be greenish in color, then you’re warm-toned. If they’re more of a cool-toned blue, then… well, you know what we’re getting at.

MORE: 7 Genius Hair Dye Tricks You Need to Know

“The trick is to look at the undertones of your skin, and not to forget that this can change year-round, with or without a tan,” says Amy Michleb, national director of the hair department at Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa. Olive skin has green undertones, which are best complimented by red-leaning shades. Someone with red undertones is better suited to cooler hair shades—violet reds, cool icy blondes, and mocha browns. A word to the wise: If you have a darker skin tone, stay away from medium browns and dark blondes, as the lack of contrast will wash you out.

Eye color also plays a big part, says Michleb. Blue eyes pop with copper tones placed around the face; hazel eyes can be made brighter-looking by choosing the perfect shade that complements their undertones. And if you’re trend-conscious, consider this: We’ve noticed that blondes have been going from warm golds and sunkissed skin to iced-out, almost silvery hues, even against pale complexions, like Julianne Hough. “She recently went from a warmer honey color to a bold, cool silver blonde that makes both her cool skin tone and cool blue eyes pop,” says Nick Penna Jr. of SalonCapri. See how that works?

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MORE: The Complete Simplified Hair Color Chart for Every Shade Imaginable

Brunettes who once boasted warmer shades with caramel or golden highlights have been moving towards cool chestnuts with icy brown-toned highlights. Note that brunettes with an olive skin tone should steer clear of hair colors that match their skin tone and stick with a cool espresso tint to add contrast to their darker complexion.

Penna loves the contrast of Adriana Lima’s dark, cool brunette and warm olive skin tone. Redheads, however, are moving away from stark, bold reds and shifting to the softer and significantly warmer rose-gold color. “[Rose gold] enhances the everyday strawberry blonde, creating a rich deeper hue with dimension,” says Penna.

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If you’re cool-toned…
You’ll do best with warm hair colors like orangish reds, golden blondes, rich honey almond browns, and chocolate brunette. Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Simpson, Halle Berry and Kim Kardashian all have cool-toned skin.

If you’re warm-toned…
Go cool, like with an ash brown, champagne blonde, cool dark brunette, or dark red shade. Kate Middleton, Miley Cyrus, Sophia Vergara, and Jennifer Aniston are all great examples.

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