Switching up your hair color is never as simple as pointing at a model on the front of a hair dye box and proclaiming, “I want that!”
Either we’ve heard enough horror stories from friends, or worse, been the protagonist of our own, to know this.
In fact, it’s less about the hair color you like and more about what hair color your skin likes. The perfect hair color will not only complement your skintone and make your best facial features pop, it can also help you look years younger. Get it wrong and you could end up looking washed out, tired, unnatural and older!
This is a little known fact, even though 55 percent of women color their hair these days, and spend an average of $330 annually on hair color, according to a recent survey by Tresemme. “It’s a big point of confusion for a lot of consumers when they’re coloring their hair,” said Kelly Van Gogh, hair colorist and creator of Kelly Van Gogh Hair Color (who also majored in chemistry at Columbia University).
“The biggest rule of thumb is that your natural hair color is the shade range that you should stay within,” says Van Gogh.” Go too far outside of it and you’re likely to wind up with hair that is not only damaged and dull, but fake looking against your skintone. Why? Because though they may be completely different colors at first glance, your skin and natural hair color have the same underlying pigments.
Hair Color Pigmentation
When you change your hair color with permanent hair dye, it lifts the outer color and reveals the natural underlying pigments—or highlights—in the hair. So for the longest-lasting and most natural-looking color, think about the color that the sun turns your hair during mid-summer months. Those tones are what come naturally and what you should stick with when you dye your hair.
Hair color is measured in two ways: by the level and the shade. Color level runs on a scale of one to 10 with one being the darkest color, like jet-black and 10 being the lightest color, like platinum blonde. Within each of those levels are the color pigments—eumelanin (black-brown) and pheomelanin (red-brown), which control the shade of the hair. Dark hair (levels 1-4), contains many red pigments and blonde hair (levels 7-10) consists of mainly golden pigments. If your hair shade is somewhere in the middle (levels 5-6), you’re going to have more orange pigments, a combination of the red and yellow.
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