Stylist From Red Market Salon Tells Us How to Pick the Correct Color For Your Hair

Rachel Adler

Women dye their hair for many reasons — to cover up gray, to be the blonde they’ve always wanted to be, or just for a change of pace (brunette to blonde anyone?). About two out of every five women now dyes their hair — and a lot more are trying to do it themselves to save some money. To avoid any mishaps and some not-so-cute orange hues, we asked Krista Battaglia, a stylist from the Red Market Salon in New York City to answer our questions about getting it done right the first time, and the best way to make it last.

SC: How do you know what hair color will best complement your skin tone?

Krista Battaglia: First you have to determine what your skin tone is. Skin tones fall into two general categories — warm or cool. Cool tones will appear almost porcelain or olive with gray or light to dark brown eyes. Hair colors that complement cool skin tones are black, deep coffee brown, medium brown, ash brown, and cool blondes. Warm tones will appear golden or peachy with blue, green, or honey brown eyes. Hair colors that best complement warm skin tones are warmer blonde and rich brunette hues. If you have too much red in your skin, stay away from red hair.

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SC: If you have light hair and want to go darker, what shade should you pick?

KB: I always take into consideration how often my client is willing to maintain their color. That said, I would also consider their skin tone and eye color. I would select a warm light to dark brown base color with soft caramel or honey highlights. The natural highlights will allow the client to feel comfortable transitioning from light to dark. There is definitely a dark that is too dark; once you get into dark brown-black, the undertone is flatter and harsher, making clients appear washed out and unnatural.

SC: Who can pull off a red hair color, like Julianne Moore’s?

KB: People with pale to light cool skin tones with blue or green eyes. A vibrant red is very beautiful, but you have to be willing to maintain it often and use the correct shampoo to avoid fading and unnatural oxidation. People who have too much red in their skin should avoid red hair.

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SC: Why should someone color their hair versus highlighting? Is one better to do than the other?

KB: One is not better to do than the other. It comes down to what is right for the client. If a client is 50-100 percent gray, you will most likely use color. There are also different types of color depending on the amount of coverage and maintenance that your clients desire. The haircut is important as well — I think layered cuts look beautiful with lighter highlights on the ends and blunt cuts look great with a solid, rich color. One of my favorite looks is the darker, more natural root color with soft blended highlights on the ends such as Sarah Jessica Parker’s, giving the hair an overall beachy, natural hue.

SC: Should we be asking for a specific type of highlight when we get highlights done? What is the difference in techniques, and does one work better?

KB: I specialize in a highlighting technique called “Balayage.” I freehandedly paint the highlights where I want the contrast. This allows me to be more creative and really work with your texture and haircut. I always recommend that the client have the haircut first, so I can work with the stylist and apply the highlights accordingly. You will also have much less maintenance because the highlights will grow out softer than foils would. By painting the highlights, I can get much closer to the root, leaving you lighter longer. When foil highlights grow out, you can see a definite line or regrowth. Balayage is also much healthier for hair; the process allows the hair to breathe, while coloring in aluminum foils causes overprocessing to occur. My goal for you is to use as little maintenance as possible and to look natural as your hair grows out.

SC: What should we do if we’re unhappy with how our color turned out?

KB: I would never let a client leave unhappy. A thorough consultation along with my professional recommendation is key to achieving complete customer satisfaction. Magazine photos are a great way of visually communicating your desired color. If you are unhappy, let your colorist know so you can further discuss the next step.

Krista Battaglia is a colorist at Red Market Salon, a late night salon located in the Meatpacking District in New York City. Battaglia specializes in hair color and the highlight technique “balayage.” Battaglia started doing hair at a very young age in New Jersey, but always knew she wanted to come to New York City and work with the best of the best. She studied at Frederic Fekkai for three years before bringing her passion and skill to Red Market Salon. Her goal is to create beautiful hair, and to make every one of her clients feel special and happy.

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