Find Out What the Best Hair Color for You Really Is

Aly Walansky
Brown Hair


We may fantasize about having the same hair as the models in magazines or our favorite celebrities, but will the hair that works for them actually work for us? We often spend hours flipping through images in magazines – and pinning to our endless hair inspiration boards on Pinterest – just to figure out what we really want to request from our stylist to answer the age-old question, what’s the best hair color for me? But, aside from the cut, choosing the right hair color has a lot to do with the final look – and it comes down to more than just shade preference!

Don’t limit yourself
Los Angeles-based celebrity hairstylist Mitch Stone, who has worked on Jessica Alba, Lucy Liu and Tyra Banks, says that when advising his clients about switching out their hair color he suggests a mix of more than one color. “I always use at least two shades on hair to give it dimension, depth and contrast,” he said. One celebrity who has really gotten it right recently: Edgy supermodel Cara Delevingne, who switched to a darker chestnut shade from a paler one, matching her signature brows.

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Consider your hair color goals
Do you want to lighten or enhance your natural shade? Do you want to darken your color or add highlights? Also consider your natural shade in making your decision because usually the more dramatic the change to your natural hair, the more damaging the process can be to your hair, says Giovanni Mele, owner of Giovanni & Pileggi salon and creator of G Mele Hair Care System.

Have a chat
Don’t be afraid to have a conversation with your stylist and compare color swatches against your arm. You’ll be able to see the effect of certain color tones on your skin. Remember hair color is not only about lightness and darkness, but it’s also about the tones. You’ll know which colors “pop” on your skin tones and which ones will cause you to look washed out from reviewing the swatches.

Do you know your personal tones?
Stone suggests maintaining the traditional approach of letting your skin tone be your guide. “I always look at skin color,” he said. “If it’s a red base, I love to accentuate that with warm tones. If you are trying to brighten a sallow tone, then use brighter colors like blondes or even bright or warm reds that pop. And if you love your porcelain skin, go dark – with cool colors for a sexy, mysterious look.” Still, don’t overlook the importance of eye color, he said. “If you have light eyes, a dark color can really make them pop.”

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Usually if your natural color is black or brown, you have warmer, earthy undertones in your skin like orange, brown, gold or orange-based red. If you were born with blonde hair, you most likely have cooler skin undertones like blue, green, pink or blue-based red. Generally speaking, for warmer skin tones, the color that looks best have tones of gold or honey. For those with cooler undertones in their skin, you’re best going with cooler tones or ash.

To determine your undertones, try the vein trick, suggests colorist AJ Lordet from Pierre Michel Salon. Look at the veins in your arm in natural light – if you see a green tone then you fall into the warm category and if you see blue, then you are cool. From there you can check color swatches (with the help of a professional) for your shade!