A Foolproof Guide to Choosing the Best Hair Color for Your Skin Tone

Victoria Hoff

Deciding between blonde, brown, and red is tough enough without considering the spectrum of tones that exist within those hues. And then you have to think which of those shades works best for your complexion? (Can we take a nap now?)

But understanding the nuances of tone can make the difference between choosing a good hair color and your most flattering one ever—and with a little crash course, it's not as difficult as you think. "It's all about placement, saturation, and what undertones in your skin you'd like to emphasize," says Roxie Darling, coloring guru at New York City's Hairstory. "The decision you and your colorists have to make is which color you would like to bring out in your face."

But it helps to have a basic knowledge of what cool tones and warm tones look like, as well as an understanding of your skin's coloring to begin with. Consider this your comprehensive, foolproof guide to finding the best hair color for your skin tone.

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Understanding Your Skin Tone

Before taking your pick of hair colors, you need to ID your skin's undertones. Most people fall into one of three categories: warm, cool, and neutral. Figuring out where your complexion lies can seem confusing, but there are a few tricks:

1. Look for specific colors. "Cool-toned skin has pink and olive undertones, while warm-toned skin has yellow and gold," says Rachel Bodt, senior colorist at Cutler Salon. Got a combo of any of the above? You're probably neutral.

2. Match yourself with a celeb. When you're looking for A-list color inspiration, try to pick out people with similar skin and eye coloring to your own. It'll give you a much better idea of how the hue will actually look on you in the end.

3. Check your wrist… "You'll see the pinks, reds, blues, greens, and yellows there," says Darling. This includes your veins, which are a great indicator of tone. "If your veins are blue or purple, you're likely cool-toned," says Bodt. "If they are green, you are warm."

4. … Or your eyes. "If you have a lot of gold specks in your eyes, usually your undertones are warm," says George Papanikolas, a Matrix celebrity stylist who works with the Kardashians and Miranda Kerr. "If you have a lot of blues and greens, then you are usually cool."

The rule of thumb for a hair color that will flatter your complexion: Pick a tone that's opposite from your skin's undertones. So, those with warm undertones might opt for a cooler color, and vice versa. The degree of importance varies from hair color to hair color, but it's a good guideline to remember. And if you have neutral skin, you're a lucky minority—everything looks good on you.

Now that you're well-versed on your skin coloring, it's time to get schooled on different hair colors.

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