How Can I Find What Auburn Shade Works For My Skin Tone?

Dana Ionato

Dear Dana,

I love dark hair (right now my hair is auburn) but how can I figure out what hair tone would work for my skin?



Hair color is so tricky, best advice, leave it up to the professionals. The perfect hair tone is achieved by combining the entire person as a palette. Starting with the skin tone, then look at the shape of the hair, then look at lifestyle, and how you want to maintain. The perfect hair tone can only be selected by determining season, texture of hair, and what the desired effect is you’re trying to achieve.

To decide what skin tone you are is very simple. It may be easy to tell if you’re a pale, medium or an olive skin coloring. I always look on the inside of the wrist of my client.  If the veins there are more blue, you have cool melanin in your skin tone, if more green, you’re most likely a warm skin tone complexion. Once you have determined that, you can experiment with depth of any blonde, brunette or red hair color, as long as the proper tone is applied.

Auburn is a cool violet red. It doesn’t work for everyone, I always recommend my clients first decide what they want to be viewed as — a brunette, redhead, or blonde. Then I decide their lifestyle, and maintenance of coloring their hair to best pick the perfect shade for them. I try to keep them closer to their natural, for lower maintenance, and work with their eye color and skin tone to decide placement for highlights.

Auburn is tricky, and can make your skin look too pink if on the wrong skin tone.If you have to apply a full face of makeup to look alive after your new hair coloring, chances are it’s the WRONG tone. A good hair color can make you look more vibrant, complimenting your skin tone, or it can make you look sickly and washed out. It’s worth your effort to try to determine where you fall in the spectrum of warm or cool skin tones and what hair color work best for you

What do cool skin tones look like?
•    True olive complexions
•    Medium with no color in the cheeks
•    Medium with faint pink cheeks
•    Medium with golden undertones
•    Pale with no color in cheeks
•    Pale with pink undertones
•    Brown or bronze when tanned golden brown when tanned
What hair color should naturally cool skin tone people avoid?
•    Avoid gold, yellow, red and bronze tones, which can make you sallow and drawn.
What hair color will complement a cool skin tone?
•    Cool reds, as in burgundy or bordeaux
•    Intense browns with a warm base, like red or blonde to the brown.
•    High light with cool shades like, wheat, honey or taupe or a cool ash brown.
What do warm skin tones look like?
•    Skin with gold, Indian people, Latin people, all golden beige skin
•    Pale with peach or gold undertones
•    Golden brown when tanned
What hair color should naturally warm skin toned people avoid?
•    Naturally warm people should avoid blue, violet, white and jet-black hair. These hair colors next to your skin can make you look washed out.
What colors will most complement warm skin tones?
•    Deep rich browns like, chocolate, chestnut or auburns as a base.
•     Highlight with warmer tones, and browns that are more golden. Also warmer reds with less violet or copper with red, less blue.

Hair colorist Dana Ionato graduated college with a degree in public relations and relocated to New York City to further her studies at the Aveda Institute with hopes of eventually opening her own spa. Planning to immerse herself in the business side of the beauty industry, it was actually the creative component that sparked Dana’s interest and she quickly developed a passion for the art and science of coloring. Dana apprenticed at Rita Hazan where she assisted top colorists and worked with celebrities such as Jessica Simpson, Jennifer Lopez and Britney SpearsUnder the tutelage of one of the French master colorists, Dana perfected the art of Balayage, a modern “hair painting” technique that allows her to produce natural, dimensional color without foils. With her cheery disposition and her remarkable attention to detail, Dana is the colorist to watch at Sally Hershberger Downtown.
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