How to Pick the Best Hair Color for You
Updated: May 4
This is a big topic, so I’ll do my best to give you the short version. We’ll start with this: how do you figure out what color your hair should be and what will it take for your colorist to get you there?
Start with these questions:
How much do I want to spend?
How often will I get my hair retouched?
Do I currently cover my hair for grey coverage?
What texture is my hair?
How realistic is my goal and am I willing to keep spending the time and money it may take to maintain it?
All of these questions should be able to be answered by your colorist, and If they aren’t giving realistic or honest answers - leave! If you don’t, you may end up with some crazy color, damaged hair, and end up spending more money along with a whole day getting it fixed.
A professional’s opinion
What’s amazing in today’s world is that you can go to Instagram to your stylist’s profile to see the work they’ve done, with hopes that they aren’t just screenshotting another stylist’s work.
So, my rule of thumb, and a lot of people don’t like to hear this, is the further away from your natural color - the shittier it is going to look. It's just the truth. Unless, you’ve got short hair and don’t mind frying your hair off with a double process, because that does look amazing. But, here’s the truth: if it isn’t kind of close to what you had when you were a kid, it's going to be a harder task. Not to say it's impossible, but most likely will be difficult. You have to be willing to put in the time, money and work. This is where people ask: “why does my hair always look brassy?” Well, that’s because you’re not meant to have blonde hair, Linda!
Here's another one I hear ALLLLLLLL THE TIME: “I want to be brighter.” Here’s what I say, “okay, but you’re so blonde everywhere, and if I add more, your hair will be damaged”.
The real truth to this is that they are being over colored and highlighted so much that it's turning into one blanket of blonde, and there isn’t dimension. It’s actually the darker pieces that showcase the bright bits.
If you are lifting your natural root as well as highlighting on top, and then toning, it is not only going to look solid blonde all over, but it will also fade to what I call the “candy corn colors” (orange and yellow). And then, the absolute worst part of this is in three weeks, you’re going to have a root that looks ten times darker than it actually is. I know you’re going to come back more often which just leads to damage. Just listen to this PSA my sweet “blondorexics:” stop asking to go blonder.
Here’s what I suggest
I love when a brunette has super bright highlights, but not a ton of them. It looks so natural, as if they live in Hawaii or California. That’s actually surprisingly easy to achieve, and can look super natural. What's not natural looking, but can look amazing, is when you are getting toned with super cool tones. That’s because a natural highlight on a brunette is going to live in the gold family.
One thing that’s going to be virtually impossible, is if you're getting colored a dark brown for grey coverage. You cannot expect the same results as if you were a “virgin” brunette. And, if you want to travel back to the lighter side, the lightener has to not only get your dark hair light but it now has to eat through dark color which is going to lift to reds and oranges, and there is just really nothing any of us can do about it. So, for the sake of your hair's health, the best thing to do is be a dark brunette with espresso tones. This means the tones of the dark part of the espresso as well as the caramel toned foam of the milk (if that is how you take it). You need the golds, and if you're lucky, we can get you light, but it can be a challenge. So be prepared for that.
That’s just the thing with color, as much as I would like to say 2+2=4 every time, a lot of times, for some weird reason, 2+2=8. Then, you’re going to be more than annoyed that you spent $300 and three hours just to have to do it again, and again.
Working with your hair
If you are new in my chair, and we are correcting color, working towards a goal, or even just new to the area, even if I'm coloring an amazing colorist’s work, I’ll always say that I need three appointments for this to be mine. That means, I need three times before you make any complaints or judgements.
Hair is fragile, and the most important thing to me in the world is maintaining the integrity of your hair. If that ever seems like it may be compromised, I'm not your gal.
Should you start covering your grey? I say “NO!” If you’re not at least 20-30% grey, wait as long as you can. We can blend your grays with highlights pretty well. And, it will look so much more natural as well as be easy to maintain.
If you are someone that doesn’t want to see one grey hair, then ask your colorist about starting with a demi color, or even a semi. These are colors that fade with time instead of growing out like a permanent color. Once you get to a certain percentage of grey, and the semi’s aren’t covering, then it's time.
If you are of the age where your hair is silver or grey all over and you are still covering your hair the color you were at 30, this is where I'm going to intervene and just say: “stop.” You are no longer a level five (meaning a dark brown) you are a level eight in grey tones, and you are not only giving yourself a very difficult task that needs touched up every three or four weeks, but it makes your hair look thinner than it actually is.
My final plea to you
At the end of the day, if you’re bringing in a hair inspo pic to your colorist, my advice is to not bring something that is reminiscent of what your hair looked like when you were between the ages of five and thirteen. That is the age before puberty has hit, and everything beyond that point goes darker and texture even changes. Find inspiration from a look that we can get with ease, and the least amount of damage to your hair. Don’t forget, the key to beautiful color is dimension.