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Hair Color Ideas for Aging Hair

Coloring your locks as they age can seriously backfire and even make you look older—unless you know these hair color ideas.

| January 7th, 2013
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Look Younger: Hair Coloring Tips for Aging Hair

If you really want to erase the unwelcome signs of hair aging (dull color, lack of shine, grays) try these hair color ideas before assuming any box of hair dye is the fountain of youth.

Luckily, you can ditch those grays and restore the vitality of yesteryear with a little hair coloring 101.

The first—and probably biggest—hair color idea is this: Don’t attempt to return to your roots. Meaning, the exact color you had when you were in grade school may not still be flattering against more mature skin.

Instead, look for a slight variation of your natural shade, says David Stanko, Redken Creative Consultant for Color. “Generally, nature is not wrong,” he says.

Coloring aging hair also requires taking our complexion into account. Not only do lines and wrinkles creep up, but skintone can change and become red (from conditions like rosacea) or yellow. The key is to find the right balance between hair color and skintone, says L'Oréal Professionnel Celebrity Colorist, Eva Scrivo, of the Eva Scrivo Salon in New York City. Otherwise, you can wind up looking too harsh or tired. “Women with yellow skintones need warmer hair colors, while women with red skintones need a cooler hair color to balance their look.”

MORE: The Best Hair Color for Your Skintone

Whether you want to go bold or stay subtle, following certain tricks when adding a new hue to your ‘do can shave years off your look. Just follow these expert tips depending on your hair’s natural color:

Choosing Hair Color By Skintone

The best hair color for your skin tone isn't a whim or a trend. The shade that'll make your skin glow and your eyes sparkle is rooted in color theory, chemistry and science. The biggest rule of thumb? Stay within three shades of your natural hair color. Go too far outside of it and you’re likely to wind up with hair that looks fake against your skintone. Why? Because your skin and natural hair color have the same underlying pigments.

Read More: Hair Color and Skintone

Black/Dark Brown Hair

“As a woman ages, it would benefit her to become slightly lighter,” adds Stanko. “So as a little girl, if you were a soft black or dark brunette, some degree of brunette would be appropriate, but not too dark because dark colors accentuate other dark colors.” Meaning, it can put the spotlight on age spots, dark circles under the eyes or flaws on the skin.

“When hair is really dark and the gray starts to kick in, it bothers women tremendously around the top or temples where they can see it,” says Stanko. “The idea is to blend and cover her gray, keep her dark, rich and shiny, but not make her too brassy chocolate-y.”

Try going one to two shades lighter than your natural hair color, and opt for some highlights around the face—just make sure they are a lighter brown or caramel color, not blonde because that would add too much contrast against a dark base. (Skunky highlights are never a good look.)

Medium/Light Brown Hair

All browns are not created equally, says Scrivo. “There is a world of brown and the key is to find the right one for you.” To do that, choose a shade that is one to two shades away from the natural color you had in your 20s, and add highlights that are two shades lighter. That way, you avoid a monotone look. “You want to have numerous shades within your palette,” adds Scrivo. “Go a little lighter through the ends, a little deeper at the roots, with natural-looking highlights. You want to mimic what nature would do on its own.”

QUIZ: How Old Does Your Hair Look?

Red Hair

As redheads age, they don’t necessarily go gray immediately, according to Scrivo. “They tend to fade, become a murkier and look washed out.” To reclaim youthful ginger locks, you have choices: brighten the hair with a glaze, use a color-enhancing shampoo to bring out its natural pigment, or add a few highlights.

Just be sure your red doesn’t come off looking fake. “There are reds that are obviously artificial,” Scrivo explains, “like blue-based or violet-based that look like red wine or sherry. These are not typically created in nature.” Dark or bright red locks can make a statement and be beautiful, but sometimes they need a few highlights or a bit more copper to look natural and make you look younger. “That way it’s softer, more believable and more flattering,” adds Scrivo.

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